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Of Thee I Sing and Let 'Em Eat Cake – BAM Concert Version 1987

Of Thee I Sing and Let ‘Em Eat Cake – BAM Concert Version 1987

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Synopsis

Of Thee I Sing It’s an election year in the early 1930s. National Party campaigners publicly hail their presidential nominee, John P. Wintergreen (“Wintergreen for President”), while inside the campaign headquarters Party Committee members are less than jubilant. Public trust in the Party is low (especially since they have sold Rhode Island), and their candidate’s only real qualification is his presidential-sounding name. Newspaperman Matthew Fulton suggests they adopt a platform that “everybody is interested in, and that doesn’t matter a damn.” What could be better than a platform based on love, already a national obsession? Plans are laid: the party will sponsor a beauty contest in Atlantic City, and Wintergreen will marry the winner. On the boardwalk in Atlantic City, bathing beauties from every state vie for the title of Miss White House (“Who Is the Lucky Girl To Be?” / “The Dimple on My Knee” / “Because, Because”). But while the judges are deliberating, Wintergreen falls in love with Mary Turner, a secretary at the pageant, and proposes. The announcement of the winner – Diana Devereaux, the fairest flower of the South (“Never Was There a Girl So Fair”) – comes too late. Wintergreen has pledged his heart to Mary, a girl who can make corn muffins, even without corn (Some Girls Can Bake a Pie). One taste of Mary’s muffins, and the Committee and judges rally around Wintergreen. The campaign is a joyous one. National Party secretaries Jenkins and Miss Benson observe that “Love Is Sweeping the Country” as John and Mary reenact their courtship in each of the forty-eight states (“Of Thee I Sing”). On election day, the Wintergreen ticket wins by a landslide. Appropriately, John and Mary choose Inauguration Day for their wedding. After Wintergreen bids a musical farewell to his bachelor days (“A Kiss for Cinderella”), he and Mary exchange vows. Diana Devereaux shows up to serve Wintergreen a summons for breach of promise, but even the Supreme Court turns a deaf ear to her complaints. Months pass, and the new Administration settles into a comfortable routine (“Hello, Good Morning”). The most pressing item on Wintergreen’s agenda is picking a horse to bet on at Pimlico. But Diana has been spreading her tale of woe across the country and has turned public sentiment in her favor. Wintergreen manages to appease the press with his old campaign strategy (“Who Cares?”) until the French Ambassador arrives to join Diana’s cause. Diana Devereaux, it seems, is of French descent (“The Illegitimate Daughter”), and France insists that Wintergreen declare his current marriage invalid and marry her. Wintergreen refuses, and the National Party threatens to have him impeached. At the Senate impeachment proceedings, Vice-President Throttlebottom leads the roll call (“The Senator from Minnesota”). Following testimony by the French Ambassador, Diana tells of the suffering she has endured (“Jilted”). Before the Senators can vote on the impeachment, in bursts Mary: “I’m about to be a mother!” The United States has never impeached an expectant father; the charges against Wintergreen are dropped, as he assures everyone that “Posterity Is Just Around the Corner.” Months later, Americans everywhere anxiously await the baby’s arrival (“Trumpeter Blow Your Golden Horn”). When Mary delivers twins, congratulations flood the White House, but the French Ambassador is still unwilling to forget how his country has been slighted. With the President unable to fulfill his duty, Wintergreen reasons that responsibility for Diana should fall to the Vice-President. Throttlebottom happily agrees, and the company bursts into song (Finale Ultimo). – Tommy Krasker Let ’Em Eat Cake Nearly four years have passed since John P. Wintergreen became President of the United States, and his re-election campaign is in full swing. But this time, he and Vice-President Throttlebottom face serious competition (“Tweedledee for President”), and their glib slogans (“The Same Promises as Last Time”) fail to impress an electorate mired in the Depression. Tweedledee receives the greatest popular vote ever accorded a Presidential candidate. When the Supreme Court Justices refuse to throw out the election, Wintergreen accepts defeat; he and his wife Mary arrange to move to New York. They set up shop in Union Square, selling blue shirts that Mary makes. But business is slow, owing largely to the country’s sagging economy. Outside, a malcontent named Kruger warns of impending revolution, furnishing Wintergreen with an inspiration: Why not lead the revolution? Italy has its black shirts, Germany its brown shirts. Wintergreen will sell blue shirts to every man in America and promise a revolution, or your money back. Months pass, and from the now prosperous store (“Shirts by the Millions”) Throttlebottom anticipates the impending coup (“Comes the Revolution”) while Mary and John reveal the secret of their success (“Mine”). Mary plots to secure the backing of the female constituency (“Climb Up the Social Ladder”), but what they need most is the support of the Army. Unfortunately, General Snookfield belongs to the Union League Club, a conservative social group that frowns on revolutions. Throttlebottom, whose uncle is a waiter at the club, is sent there to seek an endorsement. The League members are a few centuries behind the times (“The Union League”): for them, news of a revolution conjures up visions of the British marching on Bunker Hill, and they eagerly join such a patriotic cause. Soon a confident Wintergreen and crew are heading for Washington (“On and On and On”). On the lawn of the White House, General Snookfield summons his troops in preparation to join up with the revolutionary forces (“I’ve Brushed My Teeth”). Wintergreen and his followers disrupt Tweedledee’s Fourth of July speech only to receive some bad news: summoned away by his playmate Trixie, “The General’s Gone to a Party.” Mary urges the Army to support her husband (“All the Mothers of the Nation”); when Wintergreen promises them the war debts, they eagerly overthrow Tweedledee’s democracy. Wintergreen announces a new dictatorship of the proletariat (“Let ‘Em Eat Cake”). As the White House is repainted in the spirit of the revolution (“Blue, Blue, Blue”), Wintergreen settles into his new job, relishing his absolute power in song (“Who’s the Greatest?”) and deed: “Take George Washington’s picture off those stamps and put Mae West on.” He turns the Supreme Court into a baseball team and appoints Throttlebottom umpire. When ten representatives from the League of Nations arrive to discuss their war debts, only Finland is willing to pay. Wintergreen devises a solution: a baseball game for the war debts – double or nothing – with the Supreme Court Justices playing the nine remaining members of the League of Nations. Outside the ball park, the judges exert pressure on Umpire Throttlebottom as they warm up (“Up and At ‘Em”). The League of Nations also tries to strong-arm Throttlebottom. And the game begins. The results are revealed later in a military courtroom where Throttlebottom is being tried for conspiracy (“That’s What He Did”). Despite the defendant’s protests (“I Know a Foul Ball”), prosecutor Kruger convinces the court to “Throttle Throttlebottom” and sentence him to the guillotine. The ensuing trial of Wintergreen brings a similar verdict as Wintergreen and his Committee are sentenced to be beheaded at dawn. As Kruger proclaims himself dictator, he and Trixie celebrate their new regime (“First Lady and First Gent”). The following day reveals the crowd in a merry mood (“Hanging Throttlebottom in the Morning”). Wintergreen and his cohorts are led to the guillotine, but Mary halts the proceedings with a “Fashion Show” of the latest Paris styles. Only blue can be worn under the revolution, Mary reminds the ladies present; however, if Kruger is overthrown, they will be free to dress as they please. Acquiescing to the female populace, the Army seizes Kruger. Wintergreen restores the Republic, but gives up his dreams of the Presidency to open a new clothing store. Since Tweedledee has accepted an offer to run Cuba, Throttlebottom becomes President. All join in a reprise of their first campaign song (Finale Ultimo). – Tommy Krasker

Credits

Of Thee I Sing Alexander Throttlebottom: Jack Gilford John P. Wintergreen: Larry Kert Mary Turner: Maureen McGovern Diana Devereaux: Paige O’Hara French Ambassador: Jack Dabdoub Sam Jenkins, Chief Flunkey, Doctor: George Dvorsky Miss Benson: Louise Edeiken Louis Lippman (Committee Member): Merwin Goldsmith Senator Robert E. Lyons (Committee Member): Walter Hook Francis X. Gilhooley (Committee Member): Frank Kopyc The Chief Justice: Casper Roos Matthew Arnold Fulton (Committee Member): Raymond Thorne Senator Carver Jones (Committee Member): Mark Zimmerman Beauty Contestant Girls, Photographers, Judges, Supreme Court Judges, Boys and Girls, Reporters, French Soldiers, Senators, etc.: New York Choral Artists New York Choral Artists Director: Joseph Flummerfelt Music Director and Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas Orchestra of St. Lukes (Michael Feldman, Artistic Director) Let ’Em Eat Cake Alexander Throttlebottom: Jack Gilford John P. Wintergreen: Larry Kert Mary Turner: Maureen McGovern Kruger: David Garrison Trixie Flynn: Paige O’Hara General Adam Snookfield, France, China: Jack Dabdoub Speaker, Lieutenant, Dignitary, Chief Flunkey: George Dvorsky Louis Lippman (Committee Member): Merwin Goldsmith John P. Tweedledee: Haskell Gordon Senator Robert E. Lyons (Committee Member): Walter Hook Francis X. Gilhooley (Committee Member): Frank Kopyc The Chief Justice: Casper Roos Matthew Arnold Fulton (Committee Member): Raymond Thorne Senator Carver Jones (Committee Member): Mark Zimmerman Paraders, Henchmen, Wives, Salesgirlsm Members of the Union League Club, Waiters, Blue Shirts, Army, League of Nations, Interpreters, Supreme Court Judges, etc.: New York Choral Artists New York Choral Artists Director: Joseph Flummerfelt Music Director and Conductor: Michael Tilson Thomas Orchestra of St. Lukes (Michael Feldman, Artistic Director)