A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1951
Act I It’s a Saturday night in Brooklyn at the turn of the century. The denizens of a small neighborhood under the Brooklyn Bridge rejoice at not having to work again until Monday – “Payday”. The handsome young singing waiter Johnny Nolan learns that he has been hired for a one-week gig, and he and his friends celebrate by retrieving their prized possessions from the local pawnshop – “Mine ‘Til Monday”. Johnny goes to meet his girlfriend Hildy, but he’s captivated by Hildy’s best friend, Katie Rommely. It is a few weeks later, and we are in the living room of Cissy, the sister with whom Katie lives. Cissy is with her latest “common-law” husband, whom she insists on calling Harry, after the first one, who left her to return to his wife. Katie appears and admits to Cissy that her relationship with Johnny, who has a reputation for drinking and not working steadily, has grown serious – “Make the Man Love Me”. Johnny, now in the waiters’ union and hired for a six-month position, proposes to Katie and tells his cronies he intends to become a different man – “I’m Like a New Broom”. Johnny and Katie decide to get married in a week, in spite of Cissy’s warnings that Johnny may not be able to reform so easily. At Max’s furniture store, Katie and Johnny are shopping for a bed. Johnny has wasted the money allocated for the bed on a night of carousing, so Katie must pay for it with the money she had put aside for her wedding dress. But Katie is too happy to care – “Look Who’s Dancing”. The scene shifts to the modest flat of Johnny and Katie, who have been married for a year; they have a month-old baby girl named Francie. Johnny, drinking again, has been laid off, and Katie has been forced to become janitress of their building. Cissy arrives. Her current Harry won’t let her adopt a child, so Cissy has decided to pretend she’s pregnant; when the baby she has arranged to take in is born, Cissy will claim it’s her own. Months later, Cissy is “about to give birth” and tells her friends that love and babies are what life is all about – “Love Is the Reason”. A few hours later, and with Johnny and Katie as accomplices, Cissy presents Harry with what he thinks is their very own boy. On the rooftop of the Nolans’s tenement, the neighbors join in singing a popular song of the day – “If You Haven’t Got a Sweetheart”. Johnny returns after an unexplained absence of two nights, and Katie tells Johnny that she’s decided to leave him. Johnny asks for one more chance and promises her things will be different – “I’ll Buy You a Star”. Act II Twelve years have passed, and Francie is now thirteen. On a mild Halloween Eve, the neighbors take up the song of an old-clothes man (“That’s How It Goes”), while Cissy prepares for a reunion with her first Harry, now a widower – “He Had Refinement”. Johnny has been dropped by his union because of his chronic drinking. Meanwhile, Francie, to whom Johnny is always a “shining prince,” is taking her first difficult steps into adolescence, and Johnny comforts her – “Growing Pains”. Cissy is gravely disappointed when she sees her first Harry again – “Is That My Prince?” To make matters worse, her current Harry walks in on the reunion and promptly walks out on Cissy. Johnny, reduced to playing piano at a local brothel, wins a second-hand piano for Francie in the house raffle. But the proprietor won’t let him have it; a fight ensues, and he is thrown out into the street, where he is tormented by local urchins and his own delirium – “Halloween Ballet”. . Francie tells her mother she’s thinking of quitting school and taking a job to help the family. Johnny insists Francie stay in school so as not to wind up a failure like him – “Don’t Be Afraid”. Katie goes out to claim the piano; Johnny resolves to try again and takes a job as a sandhog working on the construction of a tunnel. Cissy is reunited with her current Harry, and she informs him that she’s pregnant (and this time, it’s true). In the autumn, Johnny collapses at work and dies. The following June, Francie graduates from the eighth grade, receiving the first diploma in the family. Francie carries the flowers that Johnny paid for and arranged for her to receive shortly before his death. At the graduation block party, Francie has her first dance with a boy. Katie is without a partner, but she holds Johnny’s roses and Francie’s diploma – Finale.
(in order of appearance) Willie: Billy Parsons Allie: Joe Calvan Hildy: Dody Heath Della: Beverly Purvin Petey: Lou Wills, Jr. Katie: Marcia Van Dyke Aloysius: Jordan Bentley Johnny Nolan: Johnny Johnston Cissy: Shirley Booth Harry: Nathaniel Frey Max: Bruno Wick Mae: Ruth Amos Moriarty: Roland Wood Annie: Claudia Campbell Old Clothes Man: Harland Dixon Florence: Janet Parker Edgie: Donald Duerr Francie: Nomi Mitty Junior: Howard Martin Swanswine: Albert Linville Hick: Alan Gilbert Judge: Harland Dixon Salesman: Art Carroll Girls in Mae’s Place: Beverly Purvin, Claudia Campbell, Jane Copeland, Marta Beckettl, Mary Statz, Dorothy Hill Maudie: Celine Flanagan Singers: Elaine Barrow, Claudia Campbell, Jane Copeland, Jeanne Grant, Beverly Purvin, Beverly Jane Welch, Eleanor Williams, Doris Wright, Art Carroll, Delbert Anderson, Johnny Ford, James McCracken, John Mooney, Feodore Tedick, Kenneth Utt Children: John Connoughton, Donald Duerr, Celine Flanagan, Buzzie Martin, Howard Martin, Patti Milligan, Janet Parker