Book by Richard Morris
Music & Lyrics by Meredith Willson

INFO:
Opened at the Winter Garden   November 3, 1960   532 performances
Original Director: Dore Schary
Original Choreographer: Peter Genarro
Original Producer: The Theater Guild and Dore Schary
Original Leads: Molly: Tammy Grimes    Johnny Brown: Harve Presnell
Cast Size: Male: 6    Female: 3    Ensemble: Large    Total Cast Size: 9 plus a large ensemble, at least about 30. I know experiments have been recently underway to do a smaller cast version of this show, with Kathleen Marshall directing. That sounds to me like a fine idea.
Orchestra: 17-18
Published Script: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Production Rights: MTI (Music Theater International)
Recordings: The original Broadway, the film. The Broadway is more complete.
Film: 1964, starring Debbie Reynolds and Presnell.
Other shows by the authors: The Music Man
Awards: Reynolds received a Best Actress nomination for the film version.

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW:
A large show, and somewhat adult in some of its material. Colleges, Dinner Theaters, Regional Houses and Professional productions such as on Broadway could be considered. If you edit the script and cut down the sets (which is going to take some real creativity), it might become a lot more produceable by smaller, more frugal groups. As is, only the largest stages and richest groups can do it.

Be Warned:
As written, this is a huge show. Too huge. It needs some rather expert editing. A Director and Set Designer working this show must find ways to get the sets down from 10 major locations to a unit set of some sort, or a few sets that can serve the needs of the script. It needs too fine leads, who must act and sing quite well. In short, not a show for beginners.

THE STORY:
ACT ONE: Outside the Tobin shack in Hannibal, Missouri. Turn of the century. Tween-age hellion Molly Tobin, dressed in a burlap sack, held to the ground by her two elder brothers (in play), announces “I Ain’t Down, Yet”. Her brothers and father think she’s crazy, but she thinks she can grow up from their extreme poverty to be a queen. The brothers prepare to go out in the world, and their father gives them some parting advice. “Drink your share, be good to the ladies, remember me in your prayers…” and count on your Irish blood to get you out of trouble more often than in trouble, marginally. Molly waves as her brothers depart. She knows they’re illiterate, but she believes that out in he world, anyone can get rich. Her father warns her against love of money. She tells her Pa she’s leaving too, next morning, to Denver, to find a rich man to help take care of her and her family.

(There’s a brief scene II where she leaves the next morning. It’s redundant, I would cut it.)

The Saddle Back Saloon and Flophouse, Leadville, Colorado. Where miners go for a drink or a break. The proprietor, Christmas Morgan, is a solid, happy man. But business is slow. Everyone’s at another bar where they have entertainment. The few customers he has depart. Enter Molly with Morgan’s “boy wanted” sign. He tells her his saloon is not place for a girl, and he’s almost sure she is one. He offers her a meal but no job, and she tells him to hell with his charity. He gets interested, asks if she can sing. She says so. He asks if she plays piano, and she says she can. She has a job and a bed in the back. He heads off to bed and she sits at the piano, which is totally foreign to her. She starts to play it…

Later. Molly has fallen asleep on the floor by the piano. She slaps herself awake, sits at the piano, plays one chord over and over, and with boundless enthusiasm as miners fill the place, sings “Belly Up To The Bar, Boys”. She dances with the men, triumphant…but then, three prostitutes enter, gain all the men’s attention. She watches them closely. At the song’s end, one miner lends her his hat so she can collect donations. When the others don’t put something in, she harasses them until they laugh and contribute.

A miner runs in and announces a gold strike. Miners and prostitutes run out, and Molly is about to go when Christmas stops her, pointing out she’s got a hat full of “Denver money,” and if she sticks around, she’ll have more. She dances happily until another man steps in, Johnny “Leadville” Brown. Johnny approaches her, she breaks a chair over his head and jumps him. He can’t stop laughing, but he subdues her. Christmas asks Johnny to let her up, but Molly cries out she ain’t down, yet. She keeps attacking him, and he thinks she’s beautiful. He apologizes to her, and Christmas introduces them. Molly says she’s please to meet him, and then breaks a mop over his head.

Outside the Saloon. Three weeks later, night. A lovely night, miners parade with their ladies. Christmas enters with other men, and let’s them know that Johnny and Molly will probably wed soon, since the level of violence between them has decreased each of the three weeks since they met. Johnny waits for Molly, who shows up. They admire each other. But she’s not going to get interested unless he gets rich. He swears to make her happy, and do whatever it takes. She swears “I’ve A’ready Started In” how she’ll get everything she wants – married and rich. He thinks she likes him until, at the end, him smiling stupidly at her, she screams for the sheriff.

Johnny’s simple, crude log cabin, a main room, a tiny bedroom. The Rocky Mountains are in the background. A month later. Molly runs in, Johnny following. She’s come to see his claim. He said it could be a rich claim if they both work it, and she doesn’t see anything. He tells her the cabin is his claim, and he’s built it for her. He proudly shows her around. There’s even another room behind a door, for her Pa. That moves her. He’s ordered a matching pair of dishes, built her a rocker on the porch. He’ll do whatever she asks. (“I’ll Never Say No”) She’s about to leave when he shows her the bedroom – with the big brass bed she asked for. And he asks her to marry him. (“My Own Brass Bed”) She wants to know what they’d live on, and he tells her gold and silver call out to him, but he hasn’t needed anything so he wasn’t listening…but he will, now. In self-defense, she reminds him she’s no bargain. They kiss.

Three weeks later, people on the road are on their way to visit the newlyweds. In the cabin, Christmas makes it to the door, to pay a visit. She tells Christmas she hasn’t seen Johnny since the wedding, he upped and vanished. She figures he ran off, Christmas knows he didn’t, he loves her. She asks for her job back, he agrees and leaves. (Awful short visit. It would be best if he left with a purpose, like to find Johnny.) Night falls, and Johnny arrives. She’s furious, starts to pack. He says he went to get her a present, and here it is…a whole lot of money. Three hundred thousand dollars. (Which today would be the same as many millions.) He found a claim and sold it. He wants to head to the bar and stand a round of drinks for everyone to celebrate. She’s left with this huge amount of cash, and works hard to hide it. She ends up hiding it…in the stove. Lights dim.

Molly is asleep on the bed, shotgun beside her, to protect the cash. Johnny enters. He’s with Christmas, a few of the boys, they’re all tanked. It’s cold, so…yup. She wakes and suddenly screams “fire!” She explains. She even reaches her hand into the flamer desperately. He tells her not to worry – gold and silver call to him. She dreams of going to Denver rich. He steps outside, and asks the gold and silver to talk to him – because he’s got a gal that burns money up.

Pennsylvania Avenue, Denver. “The Denver Police” sing a hymn to their job, protecting rich Mrs. McGlone’s party and booze. Of course, the safest place for the booze in inside the stomachs of the Denver Police, so… The terrace of Mrs. McGlone’s Denver mansion. The “Beautiful People of Denver” attend a party, gossip, show themselves to the world. Monsignor Ryan is in attendance to raise money for a new cathedral. He’d planned to build it on Pennsylvania Ave., but the J.J. Browns bought it all for the grand house they’re building. The cream of Denver society spurn the Browns – he’s nothing but a lucky prospector. A very wealthy prospector. And they hate Molly. Mrs. McGlone makes fun of Molly, who every day invites people to tea and ends up alone. She insists they should have stayed in the hills and acquired some breeding before coming to Denver. The Monsignor points out that if Mrs. McGlone’s folks had stayed in the hills, there’s be no Denver.

Molly shows up with Johnny – and she announces he’s the owner of the richest mine in the United States. She was not invited. Molly’s there anyway, overdressed. Johnny is not sure they will be welcome. Mrs. McGlone tries to put a face on things, and Mollly introduces Johnny to his new neighbor. Things do not go well. They meet the Monsignor, and being Catholics, Miolly compliments him on his last sermon. And she hands him $5,000 for his new church (which would be like maybe $200,000 now.). And Molly insists Johnny match or double her contribution, and he does, because he never says no to her. The Monsignor is thrilled.

Molly tries to talk to Mrs. McGlone, but the woman is disdainful of Molly’s lack of education regarding art and manners. The Monsignor thanks Molly again., and she says she just wants to fit in, and she’s sure that the other rich people in the room have done their share. Mrs. McGlone admits the cathedral fund has been slow to get started. Molly grabs her husband’s hat, and passes it around for donations, asking the people there “Are You Sure” God hasn’t answered your prayers. She rallies them to donate. The hat is full, and she wants to “hit the next room,” but the Monsignor, stunned, has collected enough. He admires her “technique.” But Mrs. McGlone, who has lost control of her party, has dinner served – and no places were set for Molly and Johnny. The Monsignor is embarrassed for everyone, but Molly wasn’t expecting dinner, she just wanted to say hello. Johnny gets the snub, though. On their way out, Johnny invites the Monsignor to dinner when their house is done, in a month. Molly takes the opportunity to invite them all to that dinner, loudly.

On Pennsylvania Avenue, Johnny and Molly learn from what they’ve just seen. The people are as trimmed and placed as the lovely trees on the streets in this part of Denver. But Johnny isn’t sure he wants to be like them.

Later that week, in Mrs. McGlone’s morning room. Roberts, her butler, bears an invite to her from Molly and Johnny. McGlone decides to place a call to everyone Molly has invited.

The housewarming. The Monsignor is the only guest who shows up. Maids and Butlers stand around, with nothing to do. The Monsignor feels awful for them. They send people home with food, and donate the rest to the orphanage. Johnny knows Mrs. McGlone “gave them the ax.” Molly is very unhappy. The Monsignor tries to explain in a kindly that they are one generation too late/ The Denver elite is just second generation, too close to people like Molly and Johnny, and doing their best to pretend they never came from such people. He suggests they take a long trip in Europe, and soak in some culture. Johnny wants to go back to Leadville, whee they belong. But Molly is determined. But Johnny really does not want to go. She sings “I’ll Never Say No”, and he weakens. He gives in. They’ll go, and they’ll get “civilized.”

ACT TWO: A spring afternoon, years later. The Brown’s Paris salon. It’s beautiful, with a piano, artwork. Molly sits at the piano, playing “The Minute Waltz.” There are a lot of errors, but she keeps going after it. Her French maid tells her there’s a phone call, in French, which Molly is slowly staring to understand. Molly steps out, the maid quickly runs to the main doors and throws them open, and the cream of European royalty hurry in. Molly returns to find a surprise birthday p[arty for her, where counts and countesses, a Grand Duchess and Prince and Princess sing “Happy Birthday, Mrs. J.J. Brown”. They lovingly imitate her down home verbiage and style. They adore her.

She’s thrilled, and calls them by their titles rather than their names, out of the pride of knowing such people. They ask what Johnny gave her for her birthday. She tells them $ 300,000 and a match – it’s a sentimental gift. She claims he’s out on business, but she’s lying. They appreciate her, her generosity, her curiosity. She knows opera and art, now. She can paint. She has the world now, and has no use for Pennsylvania Avenue.

She demonstrates her understanding of numerous Euro languages. (“Bon Jour”, a long song that feels unnecessary to me. We get that she’s acquired some culture, and that these people admire and love her.) She describes how beautiful Denver and the Rockies are, and a Princess asks if they can visit her there, and she is thrilled. They depart and Johnny arrives, drink in hand. She wants him to learn with her, he’s not interested. He’s going nuts in Europe, and wants to go home. She does, too. With ten or so of their closest friends. Alone, he thinks “If He Knew” more about life, he might at last understand Molly.

(Scene II Act II can be cut entirely.) The upper hallway of the Brown’s Denver mansion. Roberts, McGlone’s butler, now works for Molly. The room is filled with great art. Molly is throwing a party, and all of Denver will be there that night. (“Chick-A-Pen”) Molly’s Pa is there, stunned at the house. But he hates all the fuss and dressing for the party. Johnny’s glad Molly’s Pa is there. Johnny’s invited the boys from Leadville, as well, and Molly is appalled. But he loves her, and has bought he a Tiffany’s wedding ring to replace the cigar band they used – and the ring is a golden cigar band.

That night, the Monsignor is there, and the boys from the Saddle Rock (in monkey suits). And then, right on time, the guests arrive. McGlone can’t help herself, she comments on the decorations. Johnny tries to welcome her, but she moves quickly to the Monsignor. Molly enters, overdressed. Molly introduces her Pa, who seems to remember a railroad man named McGlone who married a half-brewed, and in a huff, McGlone walks away. (He’s struck a nerve.)It’s then that Roberts introduces Molly’s European friends, royalty all. McGlone freezes, stunned, and Molly explains she’s supposed to curtsy. Molly speaks French to McGlone, and the nasty woman is impressed Molly’s learned any language – until Prince DeLong states that Molly speaks ten languages. A reporter, Broderick, arrives from the local paper, and both Molly and McGlone latch on to him. Molly shows off all her belongings and friends, rather baldly, and plays piano to top everything. One Denver elite makes a snide comment, and a miner friend of Johnny’s punches the man. The brawl is on. Molly is furious. Afterwords, McGlone tells the reporter what nasty things he can write about Molly.

The next morning. Roberts straightens the house. The Princess steps down and finds the entire place destroyed, and is horrified. Molly enters, waving the paper around furiously. The Princess is mortified – invitations have shown up overnight at the house by the dozens from all the Denver elite for Molly’s royal friends, but not Molly. The Princess finds these people to be “barbarous bitches.” The Prince tries to console her, but it’s time for the royals to go home. And she wants to go home with them. Alone, she reads the article and weeps with anger and disappointment with herself. Molly, livid, shoots at sight-seers looking at their house, Johnny shows up and stops her. She’s furious at Johnny, it was his friends that destroyed the place. He wishes they’d finished the job. He hates it here, which is fine by her. She wants them both to return to Europe. But he wants to go to Leadville. She says she’ll live where she pleases, which shocks her God-fearing father. She is miserable, but Johnny is going to Leadville, and promises her there will be no divorce.

The street in front of the Saddle Rock Saloon. Johnny, Christmas and others enter, and he’s a happy man again. Girls flirt, fun is had. (“Keep A-Hopping” or “Hop-A-Long Peter”) But alone, he sings his “Soliloquy”, in which he declares to Molly, thousands of miles away, that this is his home. He begs her to stay away, a broken man.

A club off the Casino at Monte Carlo. Spring, 1912. The wealthy and dissolute dance. (“Up Where The People Are”) Enter Mrs. McGlone, and another rich American couple. They sit at a table in a cafe, but are told they can’t, it’s reserved for Mrs. Johnny Brown of Denver, she bought it years ago. They’re taken to a lesser table. Molly enters, with Prince Delong. But thee is an air of desperation about her, she’s trying far too hard. She’s in her thirties now, years have passed. She invites just about anyone to a party. They sit, and the Prince proposes. She’s let’s him know she’s already married. He sings a love song to woo her. (“Dolce Far Nienete”) She’s drunk, they waltz. She agrees to marry him. She suddenly plays at being a Princess. It’s a bit embarrassing, and people gather around to be entertained. Everyone bows, and Molly then spots Mrs. McGlone. Molly has her, and demands she bows like the others. But when McGlown, an old woman now, complies, Molly has had enough. She helps the woman up, and they find a sort of peace. Molly hurries out, the Prince follows.

Molly is deeply upset, and finally cries “uncle.” She’s married, and she’s going home. On the Titanic.

The mid-Atlantic. The stage is screened in mist. In the distance, the Titanic is sinking. Molly is seen in a lifeboat, in a full-length fur and carrying a gun. When a man panics and stands, rocking the boat, she pulls the gun and points it, and tells him to sit before she colors the Atlantic with his yellow guts. She keeps everyone rowing and alive, and gets them singing.

The Brown’s Denver mansion. Shamus (her father) carries a newspaper, Molly made the front page. The house is full of congratulatory flowers. And her father is at last proud of her – after all, he taught her to row when she was a child. She’s to be decorated by the French government. Molly joins them. There are telegrams from everyone but Johnny. Then, the maids walk through carrying a familiar brass bed and a note. She’s invited to Johnny’s home, in Leadville.

As aspen grove in the Rockies. Molly joins Johnny, and they are united. (This scene can be cut.)

A huge lodge in the Rockies, the biggest ever built of the red rock of Colorado. Johnny presents his new “cabin” with pride to Molly. They’re home.

THE SONGS:
“I Ain’t Down, Yet”, “Belly Up To The Bar, Boys”, “I’ve A’ready Started In”, “I’ll Never Say No”, “My Own Brass Bed”, “The Denver Police”, “Beautiful People Of Denver”, “Are You Sure?”, “Happy Birthday, Mrs. J.J. Brown”, “Bon Jour”, “If I Knew”, “Chick-A-Pen”, “Keep ‘A Hoppin’”, “Leadville Johnny Brown (Soliliquy), “Up Where The People Are”, “Dolce Far Niente”, “I May Never Fall In Love With You”

Hits include “I Ain’t Down, Yet”, “Belly Up To The Bar, Boys”, “I’ll Never Say No”

MY OPINIONS:
As ever, feel free to skip[ or ignore my opinions and rating.   Just don’t be surprised when Molly stays afloat while you go down with the ship…

Titanic was not the first musical about the Titanic. So far as I know, that honor goes to The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Meredith Willson’s second musical, this one is not anywhere near as brilliant and original as his first, The Music Man. But then, few shows are.

This show is tuneful, fun, and interesting. It’s also huge for a show that is tuneful, fun and interesting, but not sensational. And there’s too much book, it can be cut by fifteen-thirty minutes, just by eliminating plot redundancies and a few bridges between scenes that are unnecessary. And it very much needs the edit, it’s far too long.

This show is based on a true story, and real people, Margaret “Molly” Brown and her wealthy husband, Johnny.

Here’s two postcards of Johnny’s incredibly successful mining camp.

Molly Brown is perhaps the most famous survivor of the sinking of the great passenger ship, The Titanic, on its maiden voyage, the most modern and high-class ship of its day. Over 1,500 people died when the ship sank.


Here’s a photo from the famous movie. (Molly Brown is a character in the film, played by the incomparable Kathy Bates.)

Of course, Molly survived and earned the nickname “Unsinkable.” But the Titanic is just a brief episode in the musical. This is a show all about a survivor, a woman who makes her way up from poverty to become wealthy, accepted by “society” all over the world – except her home town of Denver. The idea is a very good one, I think, for a Musical (or film). The execution, the actual show, is not quite as good as the idea, but certainly, well, tuneful, fun and interesting. And worthy of consideration. But for a show almost entirely focused on two characters, the production values called for are enormous. I’ll attempt to come up with ways to cut the show way down in size.

But listen, in hard times, when lots of people think about giving up, they need a show and a character like Molly to remind them that they ain’t down, yet. That makes this a very fine choice if you can pull it off, during hard times like recessions, depressions, wars, and you name it. This show and the memory of the woman it’s about deserve to survive. It also deserves a serious edit.

MY RATING: * (A better-than-average and interesting show, right for many groups.)

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:
Willson’s music is often creative, especially its use of rhythm. His opening number here, as in The Music Man, is another example of his fertile compositional skills in this regard. The show has a lot of music (though not enough given the length of the book). Some of it is complex. You’ll need a Musical Director with some experience doing slightly more difficult music than the run-of-the-mill Musical.

Molly – A big belt voice, alto, real power and rawness in the voice.

Johnny (J.J.) Brown – Big baritone voice, classic Musical Theater leading man kiond of voice, lots of strength in mid-register.

Prince DeLong – Baritone, speaks and sings French fluently.

Mrs. McGlone – Non-Singing.

Shamus (Molly’s father) – Baritone, character-based voice of an older, Irish man.

Monsignor Ryan – Doesn’t sing much.

Christmas Morgan – Lyric Baritone, good mid-range, some high notes.

Princess DeLong – Mezzo, sweet, loving voice, European.

Roberts – Non-Singing.

Ensemble – Many roles. The wealthy of Europe and Denver. Miners and others in Leadville. Gamblers in Monte Carlo. Passengers aboard the Titanic. Your ensemble will be busy. All must sing well, most should move well. Belts, some clear sopranos and tenors on top.

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:
There’s a lot of movement in this show, though not much “dance.”  Numbers should be like Molly – kinetic, vital, active, a bit disorganized but purposeful.

Numbers a Choreographer will need to work probably include “I Ain’t Down, Yet”, “Belly Up To The Bar, Boys”, “I’ve A’ready Started In”,  “The Denver Police”, “Beautiful People Of Denver”, “Are You Sure?”, “Happy Birthday, Mrs. J.J. Brown”, “Bon Jour”,  “Chick-A-Pen”, and “Keep ‘A Hoppin’”.  The rough-and-tumble mid-western mining community feel should permeate numbers Johnny and Molly are a part of.  The movement should be scrappy, edgy, a bit violent perhaps, sometimes drunken.

“I Ain’t Down Yet” revolves entirely around Molly, regardless of what her brothers do.  It must establish her, her personality.  “Belly Up” is a classic bar number, rough-and-tumble.

The contrast with the Denver elite should be striking, even startling.  They are stiff, unyielding, unemotional.  The Euro Royals are more human and looser, less aware of their position in life.

CASTING CONCERNS:
Molly – From a blooming teen-ager to a wealthy and established matron of Denver, an age range that is not insignificant. But she is always energized, vital, determined, scrappy, tough. Of course she loves Johnny Brown, but she wants everything and will allow nothing to get in her way. And poverty, which she’s experienced, terrifies and disgusts her. Tom-boyish at first, in the extreme. Cast for acting, type (Irish, red hair if possible), voice (can be a bit rough and edgy, but sings a LOT and must survive it), and dance. But she’ll need to be strong in all categories. A star role.

Johnny (J.J.) Brown – Tall, dark, handsome, tough, gritty but huge-hearted Colorado miner. Apparently, silver and gold in the ground really did speak to him, the results are undeniable. The most successful locator of mines of his time, he became one of the wealthiest men in the world. And does he love Molly, from first sight! A romantic under all that toughness. Cast for voice, type, acting, some movement. Looks, singing and acting must be very strong.

Prince DeLong – A tall, handsome, regal charmer in his mid-30s. European, sophisticated, astute, well-mannered, actual royalty (if broke). A fine man who does not make value judgments about people. Cast for type, voice, acting, some movement. Could double as a miner in Act I.

Mrs. McGlone – A mature woman (say in her 40′s at first), Denver elite second generation, one removed for Molly’s toughness and crudeness, and doing all in her power to hide that fact with veneer and polish. Instantly dislikes Molly (the anti-Johnny), and uses her contacts and back door commentary to bury Molly in polite society. Thing is, she probably genuinely thinks she’s doing the world and even Molly a favor, sending her back where she came from, and protecting the current order. Cast for type, acting.

Shamus (Molly’s father) – Irish to his bones, probably in his mid-late 40s at first, older later. A laid-back kind of father who allows all sorts of fighting amongst the kids, but he’s somehow raised them alone while extremely poor, and they’ve lived. A God-fearing man who is unhappy he has a daughter, and one as rough as Molly, but later learns to respect and admire her. Cast for type, acting.

Monsignor Ryan – Could be any age above, say 35. A good man, gentle, accepting, fairly wise to the way things are. Not an ascetic. Cast for acting, type.

Christmas Morgan – Tough, grizzled, lazy owner of a failing bar in the middle of nowhere, in mining country, Colorado. But he’s bright, and he sees something in Molly he likes well enough to give her a chance when his own common sense says no. And he knows Johnny well enough to be the first to see where he and Molly are headed. Cast for acting, type, voice and movement.

Princess DeLong – Younger than her brother, a sweet, good-hearted woman, truly a lady. She loves where she decides to love, and since she establishes propriety, others follow. Cast for type, acting.

Roberts – Anywhere from age 30 up. A snootier-than-thou “gentleman”, who is available to the highest bidder, and who serves whoever his master is with his nose in the air, buit with a will as well. Cast for acting, type.

Ensemble – They play many roles, as mentioned earlier. Cast strong singing dancers who can do some acting. They will need decent belt voices, and some high notes.

SETS:
Okay, far too many sets, 10 major sets! The technical requirements for this show are much too large for anyone to do them as intended, no one can afford it. Nor is the trotting on of all these sets the best way to tell what is, in essence, an intimate love story (with colorful diversions). I’d go with a unit set, almost a bare stage.

I’d use perhaps a backdrop of headlines from Molly’s life, including Johnny’s two discoveries of mines, her social “gaffs” in Denver, the Titanic. The audience then has something to look forward to. And you could use either photos of the real actors, or of the real Molly and J.J. Brown in the newspaper articles, blown up so as to be easily read and visible to the audience. You could also use the Rockies as a backdrop, and then a Euro skyline in Act II, as needed. These drops can be somewhat layered and three-dimensional, but they would need to drop, and raise quickly. These along with the related headline, perhaps as a part of each drop, could tell us where we are and when we are, and would help make it real that Molly was a real person, as was J.J.

Outside the Tobin shack starts us out. A headline about dirt-poor farmers would help place us in Hannibal, and in time. Pa just needs a rocker, and a jug. This scene could play on the apron of a proscenium stage, in front of the main drape. Then you could open the drape to reveal the Saddle Rock Saloon, in Leadville. (If you’re working on a stage without apron, isolate the lighting. Open it for the saloon.

The Saloon needs a working upright piano, beat up and ill-tuned, a bar, stools, maybe a table. All of this needs to be trucked or rolled or carried on, perhaps by miners in the scene even as the scene starts. Lots of action takes place here. It would all be pre-set on a proscenium stage, perhaps about ½ way back. That way, behind it, you can have Johnny’s cabin set up, the next set. But it would be even better if the Saloon, and the cabin, were part of one set mid way back. It’s “Leadville.” Johnny’s could have a few pine trees around it, and the mountains in the background would be a common factor. Then, truck out or raise up “Leadville”, and have set up behind it the McGlore mansion. Drop the Red Parlour of the Brown mansion in front of the McGlore’s.

Unit set-up would need to be even simpler. I still like a single set for Leadville. Walk on the bar and piano, say stage right, and a few trees (painted and free-standing), a pot-bellied free-standing stove and a brass bed (or the view of a part of one, perhaps through a free-standing door). If you’re going unit set, these sets need to be suggested rather than literal, obviously. A circular staircase (going off stage) and chandelier, at the back, for McGlore. Move the stair case and light a backdrop (neutral) red for the Browns, perhaps.

Act II, Molly’s salon in Paris. Large but homey, with art works in progress, and a piano. With a proscenium stage, place this half way, in front of a drop, Then roll the piano out, life the drop, and reveal the Red Parlour again, near (but not at) the back. Then, to the Saloon, further toward front again. Pull it to reveal Monte Carlo, which should really just be a backdrop, and some che-che tables and chairs. Play the Titanic scene in front of the drape “in one”, on the apron. Roll the prow of the rowboat on, and use sound effects to create the sea, and sinking Titanic. Behind the drape, set up the Brown’s Parlour again. Drop it (or pull it up) to show a view of the Rockies and the new “cabin” painted, or partially three-dimensional, just the edge on stage).

A unit stage? Use a piano, a new chandelier, and an easel to show Molly’s salon. Place it near the front and restrict the action if possible, in lighting it. Then, already have the Brown Denver mansion set at the back. Place a few chairs up front with tables, for Monte Carlo, again isolating the area in light. Place the Titanic ship in the aisle (if possible), with sound effects, or roll it on stage center, and reveal it as the tables and chairs are pulled off. Then, the Brown manse, still in place. Then, isolate lighting and let Johnny and Molly be alone for the last scene, and their dialogue create the “set.”

For the unit set, perhaps fancy red drapery could flow high up, from end to end, and be lowered and raised as needed to help create the Brown manse in Denver. And could they look something like the Rockies? Hmm…

A huge job no matter how you do it. And the Brown’s are fabulously wealthy, we must get some sense of that in the sets – from dirt poo to wealth. It can be suggested, represented rather than presented. Get an early start and work closely with your Director as far as both design and the flow of scene changes.

COSTUMES:
A huge job, no matter how you edit the show. The show moves from around the turn of the century, through the sinking of the Titanic. Styles change. And varying degrees of poverty, wealth, and even royalty must be clearly displayed. Dirt poor, to working miners, to the elite of Denver, to European Royalty. You’ll be doing a lot of research.

Poverty needs to be distressed and even dirty. These are costumes you can generally buy off the rack, and then ruin. But the miners must sing and dance, so make sure they can.

The elite of Denver, all period of course, will need to be rented from a shop or built, almost certainly, for the women. Men’s tuxes haven’t changed all that much. The European Royals, pretty much the same, but with more wealth and old-school charm apparent.

And Molly escalates her over-the-top clothing choices, wears ever bigger and grander furs until, on the Titanic, she’s in a full-sized fur bound to keep her warm, and big enough to hide a small gun,.

Get started early. And remember that Molly is always a bundle of energy, regardless of how she’s dressed. She must be able to breathe and move.

PROPS:
Miners gear, including shovels, pans, etc. Canes and such for the rich. Bottles of booze for parties, and at the bar, plus appropriate glasses. A jug for her dad. Molly’s gun on the titanic, two oars. Molly’s painting things, an easel. Could be some challenges.

LIGHTING:
A very rich show for lighting. The Rockies should be magical, cool and majestic, and the Denver lighting unique. The Euro lighting should have a feel all its own. There will be many cues, meant to isolate action and top help create a mood. The red of the Brown Denver mansion should be emphasized. Not a job for a beginner, way too much to do. Get a Lighting Designer and crew that work quickly and expertly. You’ll need a good board.

MAKE-UP:
Subtle and unobtrusive. Dirt has to be able to be removed from faces quickly, especially Molly and Johnny. You won’t be able to do much out of the normal. Miners can be filthy. The rich, more delicately made-up.

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):
Director, Musical Director, Choreographer, Set Designer, Molly, Johnny

MY THOUGHTS:
This show has some wonderful dialogue scenes, and well-developed lead characters that feel real as the show moves on. I’d go so far as to say its book is better written, if a bit too episodic, than most. There are strong songs, and some weak ones that might be cut or edited.

The entire show probably needs to be trimmed by a good 20-30 minutes, anyway. Consider cutting at least the following: Act I – Scene 2; Act I – Scene 6; Act I – Scene 8 (“The Denver Police”); “Are You Sure?”, in Act I – Scene 9, a number that seems to contradict how the elite of Denver feels about Molly, and makes no sense. Just cut around it from the Monsignor thanking Johnny and Molly for the contribution, to where Roberts announces Dinner; the end of Act II – Scene 1, John’s song and dialogue lead in, “If I Knew”; Act II – Scene 4; Most of Act II – Scene 6. It can be cut down to Johnny’s friends and the prostitutes leaving at the end of a long night, a party atmosphere, directly into his soliloquy. That cuts “Hop-A-Long Peter”; Cut Act II – Scene 7; Act II – Scene 12. You could also trim some of the longer scenes that have short, built-in redundancies. Look for anything the audience already knows, and which does not require more emphasis. Thee are several such small moments, a few lines hee or there, which will at least make the show feel like it’s moving faster through cutting.

Now that’s a fair amount of cutting, and would trim the show by as much as 20-30 minutes. You’re cutting three numbers, but again, the show has 17 and that’s too much for this story. None of it will be missed. Some of it was put there to act as a visual and time transition from one large scene to the next. But this show needs to move along, and mini-scenes hiding set changes make it long and slow.

Sadly, the Titanic scene, Act II – Scene 10, is not long enough. It should have been more central to the story, a demonstration of what Molly’s kid of courage and gumption can be about when it really does matter. Make thew most of this scene that you can.

This is a show that should receive a real opportunity. It offers many delights.