A CONCORD THEATRICALS TITLE

Full Length Musical, Comedy  /  3f, 6m

Music and Lyrics by Irving Berlin / Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse

Ambassador Sally Adams, with slim credentials, is sent off to administer in the tiny duchy of Lichtenburg. It's not long before her down-to-earth, typically undiplomatic manner has surprised and charmed the local gentry, especially the handsome Prime Minister.
Call Me Madam
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OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    3f, 6m
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Romantic Comedy
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • Winner! 1952 Tony Award, Best Original Score
Description
Once President Harry S. Truman appointed Washington hostess Perle Mesta as Ambassador to Luxembourg, the foundation was laid for a musical comedy that would kid politics-foreign and domestic alike. Ambassador Sally Adams, with slim credentials, is sent off to administer in the tiny duchy of Lichtenburg. It's not long before her down-to-earth, typically undiplomatic manner has surprised and charmed the local gentry, especially the handsome Prime Minister. A second romance is blossoming between her young Ivy League aid and Lichtenburg's enchanting young Princess. The course of love is threatened by the stuffy opposition, who eventually succeeds in wrangling Sally's recall, but not before all has resolved happily for both pairs of lovers.
History
About Call Me Madam
Written By: Robert Kimball

October 12, 1950. War was raging in Korea. The US Army had advanced north of the 38th parallel. Harry S. Truman was flying to Wake Island in the Pacific for the first-ever meeting with General Douglas MacArthur. Back home, rainfall was dampening New York’s Columbus Day parade. Americans were listening to "Goodnight, Irene" and Bing and Gary Crosby's interpretation of a 1914 song by Irving Berlin, "Play a Simple Melody." And Berlin's new musical, Call Me Madam, was opening at New York's Imperial Theater with an advance of over one million dollars, by far the largest in Broadway history.

Call Me Madam was the summer-of-1949 brainchild of writers Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a presidential election, State of the Union was a triumph of the 1945-46 theatrical season. It was President Truman’s appointment of noted party-giver Perle Mesta as Ambassador of Luxembourg that gave them the idea for MADAM. Ethel Merman was a natural choice for the starring role, having been the leading lady of Lindsay & Crouse’s first Broadway collaboration, Anything Goes (1934), and Berlin’s most recent hit Annie Get Your Gun (1946). Leland Hayward, who presented State of the Union, Mr, Roberts and South Pacific, was the producer. George Abbott directed. Jerome Robbins staged the musical numbers.

While Call Me Madam was not really in big trouble during its mid-September 1950 New Haven break-in, it needed work and received what Variety’s Hobe Morrison, an ardent cheerleader, described as "a heroic job of tryout doctoring." One important change occurred when the 26-year-old juvenile lead, Russell Nype, scored a sensational success singing "It's a Lovely Day Today." Merman, noting the cheers for Nype, whose crew cut made him look as if he’d just stepped off a college campus, said to Berlin, "I want a duet with the kid!" She got it—the show-stopping double song "You’re Just in Love" was fashioned in a hotel room in less than two days. A month later Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times, "When Miss Merman and Mr. Nype sing "You’re Just in Love," which is Mr. Berlin’s top achievement for the evening, Call Me Madam throws a little stardust around the theatre and sets the audience roaring." Both Merman and Nype went on to win Tony Awards for their performances.

Another change occurred a few days later in Boston when Robbins told Berlin that the second act needed "something to dance about." Berlin took Robbins at his word and promptly gave him a song with that very title. Years later Berlin told me, "One of the many reasons I love Jerome Robbins is that he always seems to know what to fix and how to fix it, but just as important he knows what to leave alone."

RCA was Madam's sole investor, putting up the entire $225,000 plus $30,000 needed for union bonds in order to secure all radio, television and cast album rights. The top ticket price, $7.20, was the highest on Broadway at that time.

Call Me Madam received generally splendid reviews and notched up 644 performances. A national tour followed featuring Elaine Stritch and Kent Smith. Two London productions were mounted, one with an American, Billie Worth, and another with England’s own Dora Bryan. 20th Century Fox released the film version starring Ethel Merman, George Sanders, Donald O’Connor and Vera-Ellen in 1953.

In 1995, Tyne Daly lead a glorious concert revival at New York City Center's Encores! series, leading to a cast recording from DRG Records, and sparkling numerous revivals, including a Papermill Playhouse (Millburn, N.J) production in 1996 starring Leslie Uggams.
Keywords

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • Elementary School / Primary
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Church / Religious Groups

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 1950s, 1940s / WWII
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Setting:

Call Me Madam takes place in New York and Lichtenburg during the Truman era.

Specific Locations 
Office of the Secretary of State Sally's Washington Living Room
Lichtenburg Public Square
Office of the Embassy
A fair in a public square
Corridor in the Palace Sally's Sitting Room in the Embassy
Embassy Garden

Casting

3f, 6m
Cast Attributes
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)
PRINCIPALS
2 Women
3 Men

FEATURED
1 Woman
3 Men

ENSEMBLE
Large singing-dancing ensemble with several small roles.

CHARACTERS
Mrs. Sally Adams
The Secretary of State
Supreme Court Justice
Congressman Wilkins
Henry Gibson
Kenneth Gibson
Senator Gallagher
Secretary to Mrs. Adams
Butler
Senator Brockbank
Cosmo Constantine
Pemberton Maxwell
Clerk
Hugo Tantinnin
Princess Maria
Court Chamberlain
A Maid
Grand Duchess Sophie
Grand Duke Otto
Sebastian Sebastian
Principal Dancers
The Ocarina Players

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Difficult
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: X-Large
  • Chorus Size: Large

Act I

1. Overture
1.1. "Opening Act One"
2. "Mrs. Sally Adams"
3. "The Hostess With The Mostes"
3.1. "The Hostess With The Mostes (Encore)"
4. "The Washington Square Dance"
4.1. Lichtenburg (Intro)
5. "Lichtenburg"
5.1. Lichtenburg Scene Change
6. "Can You Use Any Money Today?"
7. "Marrying For Love"
8. "Ocarina Cues"
9. "It's A Lovely Day Today"
10. "It's A Lovely Day Today (Encore)"
11. Corridor Cue
12. "It's A Lovely Day Today (Reprise)"
13. "The Best Thing For You"
14. "Finale - Act I"

Act II

15. Entr'acte
16. "Lichtenburg (Reprise)"
17. "Something To Dance About"
17.1. Dance About (Playoff)
18. "Once Upon A Time Today"
18.1. "The Scene Continues"
19. "They Like Ike"
19.1. They Like Ike (Playoff)
20. "Lovely Day (Misterioso)"
21. "You're Just In Love"
21.1. "You're Just In Love (Encore)"
22. "Farewell"
23. "It's A Lovely Day Today (Act II Reprise)"
24. "Mrs. Sally Adams (Reprise)"
25. Finale: "You're Just In Love"
26. Bows
27. Exit Music

Full Orchestration

1 Piano
1 Reed I (Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax)
1 Reed II (Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Sax)
1 Reed III (Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet, Tenor Sax)
1 Reed IV (Flute, Clarinet, Tenor Sax)
1 Reed V (Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Sax, Baritone Sax, Optional Bassoon)
1 Horn
1 Trumpet I
1 Trumpet II
1 Trumpet III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Percussion
1 Guitar (Doubles Banjo)
1 Violin A-C (Divisi)
1 Violin B-D (Divisi)
1 Viola (Divisi)
1 Cello (Divisi)
1 Bass
1 Percussion
Trap Set
Bells
Xylophone
Timpani
Wood Blocks
Triangle
Vibraphone

Materials

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
28 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor
1 Piano
1 Reed I
1 Reed II
1 Reed III
1 Reed IV
1 Reed V
1 Horn
1 Trumpet I
1 Trumpet II
1 Trumpet III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Percussion
1 Guitar
1 Violin A-C
1 Violin B-D
1 Viola
1 Cello
1 Bass
1 Logo Pack < br/>
Piano Only:

22 Libretto Vocal
1 Piano Conductor
1 Logo Pack < br/>

Additional Resources And Services Available

Media

Press

"Sailing on one of Irving Berlin's most rhythmically propulsive scores, Call Me Madam soars like a musically-powered balloon. And what a ride it turns out to be!" — The New York Times

"A reminder of how much sheer fun it used to be to go to the theater!" — New York Daily News

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Authors

Irving Berlin

With a life that spanned more than 100 years and a catalogue that boasts over 1,000 songs, Irving Berlin (1888-1989) epitomized Jerome Kern’s famous maxim that “Irving Berlin has no place in American music – he is American music.” Berlin wrote scores to 13 Broadway musicals, contributed to seven rev ...

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Howard Lindsay

Howard Lindsay (1889-1968) was an actor, stage manager, director and playwright before teaming up with Russel Crouse. Lindsay and Crouse's partnership stands today as the longest collaboration of any writers in theatrical history, lasting for more than 28 years. The two men first joined forces in 1934, when the prod ...

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Russel Crouse

Russel Crouse (1893-1966) was a newspaperman, a press agent for the Theatre Guild, the author of several books and a librettist before partnering with Howard Lindsay. Lindsay and Crouse's partnership stands today as the longest collaboration of any writers in theatrical history, lasting for more than 28 years. The t ...

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