The Rothschilds – Original Broadway Cast Recording 1970
The action takes place in Europe between 1772 and 1818. Act I The curtain rises on a 1772 study in contrasts: A dazzling ballroom wherein Prince William of Hesse (Keene Curtis) entertains the aristocrats (“Pleasure and Privilege”), and the Frankfurt ghetto, with Jews restricted in their comings and goings and victims of violence and oppression. Mayer Rothschild (Hal Linden), returning home after a year as an apprentice banker in Hanover, announces to his fiancée, Gutele (Leila Martin), that he has decided not to take up permanent residence in Hanover but to remain in Frankfurt and attempt to prosper there. Although Frankfurt’s strict marriage quota for Jews permits only twelve Jewish weddings each year, Gutele wants to marry Mayer right away and start a family. But Mayer believes he can circumvent the quota and vows to Gutele that she will have more in life than just “One Room”. Mayer reopens his shop which handles goods and rare coins. Later at the annual Frankfurt Fair, he attracts the curiosity of Prince William through his ingenious peddling of rare coins – “He Tossed a Coin”. Mayer bribes the prince with a coin of his choice in exchange for permission to wed Gutele. Soon Mayer becomes agent for the court bankers, but he wants much more and knows that “alone I can go just so far.” Mayer needs sons, and by 1788 Gutele has given him five “Sons”. The boys – Amshel, Solomon, Nathan, Jacob, and Kalman – work in the shop and prove to be adept salesmen. The ghetto, however, remains a place of oppression and pogroms, and the sons, now young men, are no longer content to wait for that which other men already have – “Everything”. It’s 1804 and Prince William finds himself obliged to lend funds to his cousin King Christian of Denmark in order to help fight a war. Mayer offers his sons to the prince as agents to negotiate the loan, and the Rothschild “chutzpah” finally wins over the dubious prince. The boys, now “superior court agents,” embark for Denmark – “Rothschild and Sons”. Mayer and the boys proceed with business in Copenhagen, but at home, Hesse falls to Napoleon, and Napoleon’s Minister of Police, Joseph Fouché (Keene Curtis), takes control – “Allons” / “Rothschild and Sons” (reprise). The Rothschild men return home to discover that Prince William has fled, leaving no court for which Mayer and his sons can be agents. But Mayer decides to send his sons off across Europe to surreptitiously collect the prince’s debts before the French can get their hands on the funds. Nathan (Paul Hecht) will go to England, where he will invest the money accumulated by the other four brothers. Gutele protests that Mayer’s decision breaks up the family, but she stands by her husband as the five sons go off to do their duty – “Sons” (reprise)/First Act Finale. Act II At London’s Royal Stock Exchange in 1805, Chancellor of the Exchequer Herries (Keene Curtis) leads a hymn in the hope that England can withstand the imminent French invasion. The flame of British free enterprise, however, still burns brightly, and Nathan, after one mistake involving the purchase of tea, soon makes a killing – “Give England Strength”/”This Amazing London Town”/”They Say”. Nathan meets the aristocratic Hannah Cohen (Jill Clayburgh), devoted to charitable causes, and falls immediately for this “Jewish Joan of Arc,” despite Hannah’s doing little to encourage him. In Hannah’s garden, the lovesick Nathan continues to be rejected by Hannah for his lack of ideals. Nathan offers to lend England the money it needs to end the war if Hannah will marry him. But when Herries arrives, Nathan offers different conditions for the loan: he will provide the money if Herries will see to it that Germany and Austria lift their restrictions on Jews. When Hannah realizes that the loan does not depend on her acceptance of Nathan’s proposal but on his insistence on civil rights for his people, she is won over – “I’m in Love! I’m in Love!” At the Rothschild home, Mayer, satisfied that Prince Metternich will honor his pledge to lift restrictions on the Jews after receiving the loan, believes that he may actually live to see the ghetto walls come down – “In My Own Lifetime”. It is 1818, the war has ended and a peace treaty will be signed at a congress at Aix-la-Chapelle – “Have You Ever Seen a Prettier Little Congress?”/”Stability”. In the presence of Mayer and his sons, Prince Metternich (Keene Curtis), however, decides not to keep his half of the bargain; the Jews will not receive their declaration of rights after all. Back home, the ailing Mayer makes a will, leaving one brother to another, and their mother to all of her sons. After Mayer dies, the sons concoct a scheme to get what had been promised to them: They will risk everything, selling bonds at a lower price than that of Metternich’s peace bonds, thus forcing Metternich to come to terms – “Bonds”. Metternich comes to Frankfurt and has no choice but to concede. He agrees to sign the declaration of rights, but the sons now want more: Metternich must guarantee that all state bonds will be handled by the house of Rothschild and that the brothers will be made barons. Mayer Rothschild’s greatest joy – his sons – have torn down the ghetto walls – “The Will”.
– Ken Mandelbaum
(in order of appearance) Prince William of Hesse: Keene Curtis Mayer Rothschild: Hal Linden Gutele (Mama) Rothschild: Leila Martin First Vendor: Thomas Trelfa Second Vendor: Kenneth Bridges Third Vendor: Jon Peck Budurus: Leo Leyden Young Amshel Rothschild: Lee Franklin Young Solomon Rothschild: Robby Benson Young Nathan Rothschild: Michael Maitland Young Jacob Rothschild: Mitchell Spera Amshel Rothschild: Timothy Jerome Solomon Rothschild: David Garfield Jacob Rothschild: Chris Sarandon Nathan Rothschild: Paul Hecht Kalman Rothschild: Allan Gruet Joseph Fouché: Keene Curtis Herries: Keene Curtis Hannah Cohen: Jill Clayburgh Prince Metternich: Keene Curtis