Book by Elmer Rice
Music by Kurt Weill
Lyrics by Langston Hughes
adapted from the play of the same name, by Elmer Rice

INFO:

Opened at the Adelphi Theatre    January 9, 1947    148 performances
Original Director: Charles Friedman
Original Choreographer: Anna Sokolow
Original Producer: The Playwright’s Company, Dwight Deere Wiman
Original Leads: Frank: Norman Cordon    Anna: Polyna Stoska    Rose: Anne Jeffreys    Sam: Brian Sullivan
Cast Size: Male: 10+ 1 boy   Female:  7   Ensemble: at least 12    Total Cast Size: 30
Orchestra: 35 (Yup, it’s an opera! And gorgeous orchestrations they are, by Weill.)
Published Script: None
Production Rights: EAMC (European American Music Corporation)
Recordings: Numerous. The English National Opera cast recording is quite good. The original Broadway has not got anywhere near the whole score, but it’s fun to listen to.
Film: None.
Other shows by the authors:  Weill: The Threepenny Opera, The Rise And Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Happy End, Johnny Johnson, Knickerbocker Holiday, Lady In The Dark, One Touch Of Venus, Love Life, Lost In The Stars

Awards: The first show ever to win a Tony for best score. It is a glorious score!

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW:

This show has a history of being performed with success by both opera companies and theater companies. It is lovely, effective Musical Theater, and lovely, effective opera. Opera companies can (and should) do it. Colleges and universities with large and active music (and theater) departments could do it, if they have the singers and the orchestra. Larger regional theaters could do it.

And, I’ll be daring and controversial, now. I think this show will work with a far smaller orchestra, and could work in that way for regional houses, stock companies, and perhaps

Be Warned:

This is a musically complex, rich, difficult score. A company without a lot of experience with Musical Theater should not start with this show. The story is very dramatic, even melodramatic, and there is a murder toward the end of a major character. Not for kids.

THE STORY: (Outline from Wikipedia and other sources.)

ACT ONE: As the curtain rises, we are introduced to some of the residents of the apartment block where the action takes place. Emma Jones and Greta Fiorentino lament the incredible heatwave that is gripping New York (“Ain’t It Awful, The Heat?”, one of the most musical and wonderful of all opening numbers.). They are joined by another neighbor Olga Olsen, who tells of the stress of dealing with her newborn baby and her husband Carl, and an old man, Abraham Kaplan, who sings of the murders and scandals in the press, whilst joining in with the opening number. Henry Davis, the janitor, enters from the basement and sings of his ambitions to greater things (“I Got A Marble And A Star”).

Young Willie Maurrant enters and calls for his mother, who enters at the window and throws him a dime to buy a soda. The three women (Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Fiorentino and Mrs. Olsen) persuade Mrs. Maurrant to come downstairs and be sociable, and as she descends, they gossip about the rumour that Mrs. Maurrant and Steve Sankey, the milkman, have been having an affair (“Get A Load Of That”). Mrs. Maurrant comes down to chat and Mrs. Olsen goes back down to her cellar apartment to tend to her baby. Sam Kaplan comes out of the house and asks after Mrs. Maurrant’s daughter, Rose, but she hasn’t got back from work yet. He leaves to go to the library.

Daniel Buchanan enters, jittery; he’s nervous because his wife is upstairs about to have a baby. He and the women sing of the perils of childbirth, “When A Woman Has A Baby”. Just as he runs upstairs to tend to his wife, Mrs. Maurrant’s husband Frank comes home. He mentions that he is going on a business trip to New Haven tomorrow, and argues with his wife about Rose not being home yet (“She Shouldn’t Be Staying Out Nights”). Fuming, he storms into the house, just as George Jones returns home from work and chats with the ladies for a while. Anna Maurrant sings an aria about the importance of putting your faith in a brighter tomorrow (“Somehow I Never Could Believe”).

Steve Sankey enters and a tense scene ensues between him and the suspecting women. Almost immediately after he departs, Mrs. Maurrant heads off in the same direction, under the guise of going to look for her son. Mr. Jones, Mr. Olsen, Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Fiorentino sing more about the scandal (“Whatcha Think Of That”). Mrs. Olsen runs in excited and says that she has just seen Sankey and Mrs. Maurrant standing close together around the back of a local warehouse.

Lippo Fiorentino returns home from work with an armful of ice cream cones for everybody. The two Fiorentino’s, the two Olsen’s, Mr. Jones and Henry Davis sing a jubilant sextet praising ice cream (“Ice Cream Sextet”). Maurrant has been watching, and when his wife comes back he questions her about where she’s been. She tells him she’s been looking for Willie, and Maurrant and Abraham Kaplan argue about parenting, and later economics. Kaplan uses the example of the Hildebrand family who live upstairs, who are run by a struggling single mother who is unable to pay the rent, to illustrate his point. Maurrant and Kaplan’s argument almost becomes physical, but the neighbors and Kaplan’s granddaughter Shirley hold the two men back. Maurrant sings about how he longs for a return to traditional moral values. (“Let Things Be Like They Always Was”).

Immediately after, Jennie Hildebrand and other high-school girls enter the street coming home from their graduation ceremony, and the neighborhood celebrates. (“Wrapped In A Ribbon And Tied In A Bow”) Steve Sankey’s entrance causes an abrupt end to the celebrations. After the awkward silence of the neighbors forces him to leave, Sam brings Willie Maurrant on in tears. Willie has been fighting with a local kid and Sam stepped in to break it up. Mr. Maurrant leaves to go to the local bar to have a drink, warning that there’ll be trouble if Rose isn’t home by the time he gets back, whilst Mrs. Maurrant takes Willie upstairs. As soon as they leave, the neighbors all begin gossiping about the Maurrant family. Sam gets passionately upset, chiding the neighbors for gossiping so much behind their backs, and then storms off.

All the neighbors say goodnight and go to bed, except Mr. Jones, who goes to the bar to shoot some pool. Sam returns onstage and sings of his crippling loneliness. (“Lonely House”, perhaps the most emotionally eloquent number ever written for a musical.) Sam goes into the house, then Rose enters with her boss, Harry Easter, who has walked her home. Easter attempts to charm Rose, taking her in his arms and kissing her. He then tries to win her over with a tempting song, promising her that if she were to run away with him he could get her a gig on Broadway. (“Wouldn’t You Like To Be On Broadway?”) Rose, however, sticks to her convictions, and sings about how she will always choose true love over showy promises. (“What Good Would The Moon Be?” A beautiful introduction to this character.) Rose sees her father returning home and tells Easter to leave. Maurrant questions her about who she was talking to, and gets angry when she tells him that they had been out dancing. He goes upstairs to bed, furious. Buchanan rushes out of the house and asks Rose to go and phone the doctor, as his wife’s baby is about to be born. He heads back upstairs, and as Rose is leaving, she passes young Mae Jones and her suitor, Dick McGann. The two have been out dancing and are flirting, and they sing a fast-paced jitterbug about their infatuation with one another. (“Moon-faced, Starry-eyed”) After they dance on the sidewalk, they passionately run upstairs into the house, after saying a drunken good-night to Rose, who has returned from phoning the doctor.

Mae’s brutish elder brother Vincent returns home, and begins harassing Rose. Sam sees him hassling her out of the window, and comes outside to confront him, however Vincent violently lays him out on the sidewalk. Vincent is about to continue his attack when his mother, Mrs. Jones, comes outside to see what the commotion is. He immediately seizes up and innocently goes upstairs at his mother’s order. Sam and Rose are left alone, and Sam is embarrassed that he was humiliated by Vincent in front of Rose. Sam laments the terrible strife of living in the slums, but Rose calms him down by reminding him of a poem he once read her. (“Remember That I Care”) Dr. Wilson arrives and goes upstairs to tend to Mrs. Buchanan, and Mr. Maurrant calls Rose and tells her to go to bed. Sam and Rose share a kiss on the sidewalk, and then Rose runs up to bed, just as Henry Davis comes upstairs and starts sweeping the stoop for the night. (“I Got A Marble And A Star” reprise). Rose calls goodnight to Sam from the window and Sam is left alone on the midnight street as the curtain slowly falls to end Act 1.

ACT TWO: Daybreak, the next morning. Mr. Jones drunkenly returns home from the bar and reels into the house. Dr. Wilson leaves the house, telling Buchanan to let his wife get plenty of rest, and Dick McGann and Mae Jones share a much less passionate goodbye in the cold light of day than their energetic exchanges the night before. Willie Maurrant, Charlie and Mary Hildebrand, Henry’s daughter Grace, and other local children play an energetic game (“Catch Me If You Can”), which ends in a large scuffle. Rose calls for them to stop it from the window, whilst Sam comes outside and physically breaks the fight up. The children all disperse.

Sam and Rose have a brief conversation, as Rose tells him that she has to go to the funeral of the head of her real estate firm this morning. Shirley comes outside and tells Sam to come in for breakfast, as Rose goes back inside to do the dishes. Buchanan comes outside and tells the Fiorentino’s that he has had a little baby girl in the night. Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Maurrant enter, and Mrs. Jones asks her about Mrs. Buchanan, who Mrs. Maurrant has been looking after all night. Mrs. Jones leaves to walk her dog, and Mrs. Maurrant leaves to go to the grocery store. Rose and Mr. Maurrant come out of the house and Rose tries to persuade him to be nicer to her mother. Mrs. Maurrant returns and the three have a family argument about Mr. Maurrant’s behaviour. Mrs. Maurrant asks him nonchalantly how long he’ll be gone on his business trip for, and Mr. Maurrant accuses her of having an affair, which she denies. He leaves in a rage, and Mrs. Maurrant and Rose lament his behavior. (“There’ll Be Trouble”) Willie comes on and Rose chides him for looking scruffy. Willie and Rose have a verbal disagreement and Rose quickly storms into the house. Mrs. Maurrant tells him that that is no way to talk to his sister, and that she is relying on him to turn into a good man when he is older. (“A Boy Like You”) Willie leaves for school and Mrs. Maurrant goes into the house, as Rose comes out. Shirley Kaplan comes out of the house and asks Rose why she spends so much time with Sam, when he should be concentrating on his work.

Shirley leaves for work, and Vincent Jones comes out of the house and starts harassing Rose again, but promptly leaves as Sam comes out of the house. Rose mentions Easter’s tempting offer of running away to Sam, and Sam gets upset, saying that she would be better off running away with him, and the two sing of their intention to run away together. (“We’ll Go Away Together”) Easter arrives to walk Rose to the funeral, and the two leave. Sam goes into the house, as Sankey appears. Mrs. Maurrant appears at her window and tells him to come upstairs, as Mr. Maurrant has gone on his business trip and Rose will be at the funeral all morning. As Sankey hurries upstairs he passes Sam coming out of the house, who looks up at the window and sees Mrs. Maurrant pulling the shades shut.

Sam sits on the stoop and reads a book, as James Henry, a city-marshall, and Fred Cullen, his assistant, appear. They call Henry Davis up and tell him that they’re here to dispossess the Hildebrand family, and that since she has made no arrangements to have the furniture taken away, they’ll have to dump it on the sidewalk. Henry goes back into the cellar as the two men enter the house. Mr. Maurrant returns, having changed his mind about the business trip. He sees the shades pulled shut and becomes furious. Sam pleads with him not to enter the house but he pushes him aside and runs upstairs. Mrs. Maurrant is heard screaming, and then two gunshots. Sankey appears at the window in terror, he tries to escape but Maurrant pulls him back inside and shoots him.

Panic ensues, as Maurrant exits the house, covered in blood, and points his revolver at the crowd of gatherers in order to make his escape. Policemen, paramedics, concerned neighbors flood the scene. Rose returns from the funeral and sees the concerned crowd. Sam tries to keep her back but she cannot be restrained. The ensemble sings a tragic chorus number about the killing, “The Woman Who Lived Up There”. Mrs. Maurrant’s body is brought out of the house on a stretcher and taken to the hospital and the citizens rush after the ambulance, as Rose, quietly crying in Sam’s arms, follows. The curtain slowly falls as the two city-marshalls continue bringing the Hildebrand furniture out onto the sidewalk.

Mid-afternoon, the same day. Two young nursemaids appear at the house and sing about the scandal of the murder that has already spread around the city, as they try to quiet the children they are looking after. (“Lullaby”) As the nursemaids leave, Rose enters, dressed in black. She asks Officer Murphy, the policeman who is still in her apartment, if they have found her father yet, and he tells her that they haven’t. Sam enters and tells Rose that he has taken Willie from school round to her aunt’s house. Shirley enters and expresses her condolences to Rose, and the two of them go up to Rose’s apartment together, as Rose is afraid to go up alone. Sam tells his grandfather that the police are going to make him testify against Maurrant, when two shots are heard in the distance. Buchanan and Olsen run on and tell Sam and Rose (who has run out of the house, alerted by the noise) that the police have found her father hiding in the basement of a house down the street. Two policemen bring on Maurrant, who is covered in blood and dirt. The officers are taking him away when he begs for one minute with his daughter, which they grant him. He and Rose talk about the murder, as the crowd looks on (“He Loved Her Too”). The officers take Maurrant off, and Rose and Sam are left alone onstage. Rose starts to enter the house when Sam asks what she’s going to do. She tells him she’ll go away, but when he says that he’ll go with her like they discussed that morning, Rose says she has to go off alone. Sam finally confesses to Rose that he is in love with her, and that his life is nothing without her. Rose says that her parents have proved that two people do not belong to be together, and she says goodbye to Sam. (“Don’t Forget The Lilac Bush”) Shirley comes out of the house and hands Rose a suitcase full of her things. Rose starts walking off, then returns and swiftly kisses Sam, but he breaks away and goes abruptly into the house. Rose stands looking after him, then picks up her bag and walks off. Mrs. Fiorentino, Mrs. Olsen and Mrs. Jones appear and immediately begin gossiping about Rose and Easter hanging around on the street late last night (“Ain’t It Awful, The Heat? reprise), as they once again lament the unbearable heat and the curtain slowly falls.

THE SONGS:

“Ain’t It Awful, The Heat”, “I Got A Marble And A Star”, “Get A Load Of That”, “When A Woman Has A Baby”, “Somehow I Never Could Believe”, “Ice Cream Sextet”, “Let Things Be Like They Always Was”, “Wrapped In A Ribbon And Tied In A Bow”, “Lonely House”, “Wouldn’t You Like To Be On Broadway”, “What Good Would The Moon Be”, “Moon Faced, Starry Eyed”, “Remember That I Care”, “Catch Me If You Can”, “There’ll Be Trouble”, “A Boy Like You”, “We’ll Go Away Together”, “The Woman who Lived Up There”, “Lullaby”, “I Loved Her Too”, “Don’t Forget The Lilac Bush”

Hits include “Lonely House”, “What Good Would The Moon Be” (One of the most beautiful scores ever composed. If I had to select one score as the most dramatic and beautiful, it would be this one.)

MY OPINIONS:

As always, feel free to ignore or skip my opinion and rating of the show. However, don’t be surprised if you do, if your production suffers a lonely house, indeed.

I’m not sure why I’m not giving this show three stars, to be frank. Yes, it’s an opera, but as Musical Theater, I believe it is one of the most creative, extraordinarily musical, powerful, fun pieces in all of the repertoire. The score is completely unique. Hughes lyrics (with assists by Rice) are clever, tight, impactful. They work, nearly all of them, which is saying something for a piece with this much sung material. Hughes was a masterful poet, and his depth of feeling and genius organizing words is on full display. Hughes, like Rice, understands all too well the people who live on this street in New York. “Lonely House” is a lyrical masterpiece of sorrow and loneliness, written by a man who understands life in a big city where you’re surrounded by people, but always alone.

And the music. I don’t think I can communicate well in words the power and beauty of Weill’s achievement with this score. The range of emotion expressed is unprecedented in opera or in Musical Theater. The comic numbers are funny, energized, great fun. The pain you hear in pieces like “Somehow I Never Could Believe” and “Lonely House”, the fear in “The Woman Who Lived Up There” have few equals in any form of Musical Theater. Even the opening number, the music alone sets the audience sweating in their chairs as the merciless summer sun beats down on their heads through quarter and eight notes, and harmonies no one but Weill could devise. Put simply, there is no score in all of Musical Theater with more range, more emotion, more beauty or genius. And the fact that Weill also constructed the note-perfect orchestrations is a final reminder that in this man, we had the Broadway Theaters most sophisticated and complete composer.

The story is dynamic, and as current today as when Rice wrote the play which the opera is based on, in 1929. The show deals with murder, violence, sexual harassment, and I haven’t noticed a decline in these things over the past 50 years. As long as we have big cities, and we squeeze a lot of people into a small space and expect them to find ways to co-exist, with a massive heart and something important to say. The “concept musical was not, contrary to popular belief, invented by Stephen Sondheim and Harold Price, though they certainly exploited it brilliantly and to the theater’s gain. The concept musical starts with Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. Street Scene was the first winner for best score at the first Tony Awards. It is a concept musical (as was The Threepenny opera, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Johnny Johnson, Knickerbocker Holiday, Lady In The Dark, and Love Life, all created by Weill and his collaborators long before Masters Prince and Sondheim dipped their impressive quills into that creative inkwell. (Not to mention the work of Mark Blitzstein in The Cradle Will Rock, inspired by both Brecht and Weill.)

This piece is, however, an opera. The vocal requirements are prodigious. Few theater companies will be able to deliver what the show requires in way of singers and orchestra. It’s technical needs are few, interestingly enough, and easily confronted. It is in the area of its music where a production is going to be challenged. That said, this piece should be done, and often. It will entertain a modern audience if the dramatic values of the script are given real weight, as they deserve. The score stands in service of a story and set of characters, and not on its own simply as great music, as is the case in most classic opera. This is a fantastic work of Musical Theater.  Weill considered it is Masterpiece.

MY RATING: ** (An excellent show, well worth considering.)

 

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:

Kurt Weill was a world-renowned composer of modern opera. Famed for his use of atonality and modern compositional techniques, when he came to America, he softened and colored much of his music. I believe that his German works and American works are equally valid, and that Street Scene, his one true American opera, may be his masterwork.

I have actually just reviewed the written score again, something I like to do about once a year. I was surprised, as I am each time, by the richness of rhythmic and tonal variation in this score. It is a difficult score to play well, and your Musical Director must be a total pro with serious chops in theory, to do a good job with this. Teaching the score is going to be some work, even with a cast who reads (and that is rare outside of opera). This is no job for a beginner M.D. Get someone with serious experience not just in musicals, but dealing with classical art song and with opera, if possible. They must read very well.

Try to cast people who read music, as well. It is not typical in Musicals for the actors to have any real ability to read, though there are obviously (thankfully) exceptions. But the difficulty of this score is very high, and you will really want trained singers, who are also ideally trained musicians to some extent, if possible.

Anna Maurrant – Dramatic soprano, full mid-range, good upper register, power in the voice, and warmth.

Frank Maurrant – Bass-baritone, very full voice on the bottom, with a powerful belt, and clear, ringing high notes for his register. Very expressive voice.

Rose Maurrant – Lyric soprano, sweet, clear voice.

Sam Kaplan – Tenor, pure high notes, strong mid-range, very emotional expression.

Harry Easter – Broadway baritone, clear, smooth voice.

Willie Maurrant – Boy soprano.

Abraham Kaplan – Tenor buffo.

Mrs. Fiorentino – Coloratura soprano.

Mrs. Olsen – Alto.

Henry Davis – Baritone.

Lippo Fiorentinio – Tenor.

George Jones – Baritone.

Carl Olson – Bass.

Mrs. Jones – Mezzo-soprano.

Sankey – Tenor.

Mrs. Hildebrand – Mezzo-soprano.

Daniel Buchanan – Buffo-tenor.

Jenny Hildebrand – Mezzo-soprano, young, pure, clear voice, sweet, naïve quality.

2Nd Graduate – Soprano.

3Rd Graduate – Mezzo-soprano.

Nursemaids – Soprano, Mezzo-soprano.

Ensemble – Everyone is ensemble in this show with the exception of Anna, Frank, Rose, Sam, Harry, and Willie. All must sing, and have trained voices, preferably trained for opera. Healthy mid-registers, good ability to harmonize.

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:

There’s a surprising number of opportunities for movement, and even dance, in Street Scene, provided in large part by Weill’s unerringly rhythmic approach.

You may feel tempted to stage the first part of the first piece of music, the “Introduction”, given its extraordinary energy and evocation of busy New York streets. I would not succumb to that temptation. Use this music in the dark as an “overture”, and a b ridge into the action and the world of a Musical.

“Ain’t It Awful, The Heat”, the opening, is less “choreographed” than staged to music, as characters wander in and get caught up in a unified complaint against the oppressive heat and life in a tenement. Their movement should be staged, rhythmic, and introduce the idea that this is, in fact, a Musical where people do two unnatural things, sing and dance. Your Choreographer should have a hand in this, but what is done should be very simple and based in the profound rhythm of the piece, so as to stay out of the way of the singing that must take priority.

“Get A Load of That” is high-energy, women gossiping and carping – but it isn’t “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A Little”! It’s not a cartoon, as Willson so ably gave us in The Music Man, about a decade later. The entire evening is steeped in a near-realism and the character’s actions should feel real. (Of course they sing and that’s not what “real” people do. But your set will most likely be real, and the murders and other acts should certainly feel real enough to shock, to stun the audience. That pretty much means the evening must feel real, as if in the universe of this Musical, people may sing, but life goes on pretty much like in our universe.) So keep the motions perhaps rhythmic, staged enough to feel a little like a “number,” and to provide structure, and use your movement to emphasize the emotional content, not just the ideas carried in the lyrics. The same will go for “When A Woman Has A Baby”, and even “The Woman Who Lived Up There”.

There are points where the community joins in a more joint expression of life. The “Ice Cream Sextette” is a celebration of the little things that make life bearable, and not just a song about ice cream. These people live lives largely made of drudgery, and a small thing like an ice cream cone provides relief, entertainment, a break, even a view of a better life. This can be staged, even choreographed, so long as the singers can sing. This is a “big” number. Let it take over the street,

“Wrapped In A Ribbon…” is also one of those community moments when everyone celebrates one of their own actually graduating school, something that apparently doesn’t happen often enough on that street. This can be more staged, more choreographed, as characters are added in. Like the sextette, this number can fill the stage with coordinated movement, a bit of dance (perhaps focused on the young graduates).

“Lonely House” is also a chance to create some beautiful movement. Sam, the soloist, should be still, unmoving, caught in the light of a spot (or street lamp). Around him, in the shadows, swirl couples, lonely people, other people passing by without ever making contact, or even noticing him. The street cannot fail to be alive with people, and this number must emphasize how they never connect, never mean anything to each other. I would be very careful not to pull focus from Sam as these shapes pass in the shadows, but I would choreograph them beautifully, a ballet of people not touching. And to help keep Sam as the focus, have him occasionally, perhaps healf-heartedly, reach out for passer-bys and fail to connect. At the end, have the outside movement dwindle to nothing. He’s alone.

“Wouldn’t You Like To Be On Broadway” is a typical Broadway number, about a sleazy boss trying to pick up on his young secretary. This can be fun, and choreographed to some extent. Again, and as always, remember the singing has to happen.

“Moon-faced, Starry-eyed” is a big duet dance between a young man and woman (late teens), expressing their extreme joy of life and love and, well, um, sex. This number should explode with energy, and is your one chance to outright choreograph something impressive. The two kids singing it should be all over the stoops, and climbing the lamp posts if possible. The street belongs to them alone for a few moments, and they own every inch of it, so the choreography should cover space, both horizontal and vertical. Yet they should join, and join again in intimate celebration. You should use dance moves from the period (the forties if you like, now if you like though the music may not support it).

A creative Choreographer who respects the primacy of the music is going to have a wonderful time and a real challenge with this show. Get someone quite experienced, but who doesn’t go in for “flash” of the Bob Fosse variety, say. The movement should feel a part of these people’s lives, an extension of their musical expression of their everyday existence.

CASTING CONCERNS:

Anna Maurrant – Mid-late 30s, a housewife. Desperately unhappy in her marriage to a brutal, violent man. Warm, loving with nowhere to place that love but into an affair. Lovely, hard-working, probably not very good at the lies necessitated by her affair. Cast for voice, type, acting.

Frank Maurrant – 40s. A man who works on a crew for Broadway shows. Tough, brutish, violent, opinionated in the way only the stupidest people can be, reliant on force to control the world around him. A large man, muscular and dangerous. Cast for voice, type, acting.

Rose Maurrant – Late teens, a rose growing from the dead pavement below. Lovely, bright, passionate. She has inherited both her mother’s warmth and her confusion about life. Cast for voice, type, acting.

Sam Kaplan – Late teens, shy, poetic, a good heart and a good soul, but timid when around others. In love with Rose. Cast for voice, type, acting.

Harry Easter – Rose’s sleazy boss. A “Broadway type”, but it’s all a put-on, he runs an office. Cast for type, voice, acting.

Willie Maurrant – Mischievous little boy, perhaps 8-9. He’s got a mouth that will someday get him in trouble, and is a product of the streets. Cast for type, acting, voice – but must sing well.

Abraham Kaplan – Radically opinionated elderly Jewish man. Cast for type, voice, acting, accent.

Mrs. Fiorentino – Age 30-45, immigrant from Italy. Friendly, gossipy. Cast for type, voice, acting, accent.

Mrs. Olsen – Immigrant from Sweden, gossipy, reasonably friendly. Cast for voice, type, acting, accent.

Henry Davis – A Black janitor. Cast for type, acting, voice.

Lippo Fiorentinio – Age 30-45. Italian, happy-go-lucky, even joyous man, loves America. Cast for voice, type, acting, accent.

George Jones – Alcoholic, in his late 30s-40s. Cast for acting, voice, type.

Carl Olson – Immigrant from Sweden. Cast for voice, type, acting, accent.

Mrs. Jones – Direct, intrusive, gossipy woman, age 30-40. Cast for voice, acting, type.

Sankey – A milkman, a bit of a nebbish, having an affair with Anna. Not much of a manly-man. Cast for voice, type, acting.

Mrs. Hildebrand – A struggling single mother, hard-worker, late 30s. Cast for voice, acting, type.

Daniel Buchanan – Young married man expecting his first baby, and in an utter panic. Cast for voice, type, acting.

Jenny Hildebrand – The newest High School graduate, a sweet, charming girl, starry-eyed and innocent. Cast for type, voice, acting.

Mae Jones – Teenager just blossoming into womanhood, hot-blooded, a product of the streets. Cast for type, dance, voice, acting.

Dick – The male equivalent of Mae, looking for a good time with her. Cast for type, dance, voice, acting.

Vincent Jones – Angry, violent, dangerous young man, early 20s, with a terrible temper and not too much going in the smarts department. Cast for type, acting.

2Nd Graduate – A girl who’s just graduated High School. Cast for type, voice.

3Rd Graduate – A girl who’s just graduated High School. Cast for type, voice.

Nursemaids – Middle-aged women, gossipy, judgmental. Cast for type, voice, acting.

Ensemble – Cast for voices, types (New York immigrants, for the most part), some acting.

SETS:

There’s just one set, the sidewalk in NYC in front of the tenement buildings where the people who fill this Street Scene live.

There is an enormous number of photographs, and there’s film, of this period in NYC. And the ghetto in NYC changed slowly. The set should feel like a tenement and the street in front of it. Windows should open and close, drapes open and close and flutter when an electric fan blows on them, lights come on and off in apartments. Street lamps should work. Laundry should dry hanging out some windows. The detailing will help make this show really work.

You’ll be building this set, most likely. Get a good crew.

COSTUMES:

Stick to the period you place the show in. Most of the people on this street work all day, and are not particularly dressed up. (Look at the photos.) A hat for Fiorentino, who seemingly has money to buy ice cream for everyone. Easter should be in a period suit, but sleazy. Sam is a perpetual student. The High School grads should be in their best dresses, having come home from Graduation.

Anna must look like a lovely woman who has been worn down by life. They have little money, and though she keeps clothes in good repair for the family, the clothes are not new. Rose must stand out as particularly lovely, attractive. She has her own job, and has perhaps bought herself a few simple, lovely accessories and articles of clothing. The story of Street Scene focuses on these two women. Have them stand out visually if at all possible, without going overboard.

Most of the costumes for this show can be found in thrift stores, in closets, and even on the rack. You can probably rent most of the rest. But remember, the singing is all-important in this show, and your leads especially must be able to breathe. Probably too large a show for a “beginner” to costume.

PROPS:

Ice cream cones! A gun. Other guns for the cops. Three diplomas. Books for Sam. A stretcher. Things for the women on their stoops to sew or crotchet. A newspaper with Hebrew lettering for Mr. Kaplan. A broom, dustpan, for Henry. There’s bound to be more, but it shouldn’t be an overwhelming assignment.

LIGHTING:

A big show, lots of music with cues inside songs. Likely to require a versatile plot, as you’ll be doing a lot to direct attention, while developing moods. Not a job for a beginner. For the most part, the lighting should feel “real world.” It should not feel like “theater.” Real light sources like the sun at the beginning, the moon and street lamps later on, should be emphasized.

MAKE-UP:

Keep everything unobtrusive. The younger women can be more made-up, but the older women as a rule don’t care much what they look like. Except Anna, who is in love.

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):

Director, Musical Director, Choreographer, Set Designer, Anna, Rose, Frank, Sam.

MY THOUGHTS:

A glorious piece of Musical Theater, but only the companies with the best singers, the most resources, can probably pull it off. That said, it was always intended to work in theatrical situations, not just as an opera. It has a book, and the dialogue works well enough. There is only a single set. It can be produced – except it has a huge cast! And they all must sing very well indeed.