Play the Songs
An updated musical adaptation of the film classic All About Eve, APPLAUSE uncovers the ruthless world of show business, where a conniving young actress attempts to sabotage the career of a seasoned musical theatre star. With sass, wit, and a pulsing 1970s score, APPLAUSE presents show biz in all its glory and ruthlessness.
Book writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote, “The strength of All About Eve, so soundly conceived and executed on the screen, lay in the timelessness of its basic story. It is a tale of treachery… told in terms of the witty, glamorous theatre star and the mousy, adoring girl from the sticks who ingratiates herself into the star’s private world, and then systematically attempts to take over her career, her lover, and her life.“
Hit songs include “But Alive,” “Applause,” “Welcome to the Theater,” and “Something Greater.”
Music samples courtesy of Universal Music and Strada Music Co.
Interview with composer Charles Strouse and lyricist Lee Adams
At the 1970 Tony Awards, seasoned theater and film star Margo Channing presents the Best Actress trophy to newcomer Eve Harrington, who graciously thanks “my producer, my director, my writer, and above all… Margo Channing.” In flashback, Margo recalls the opening night, less than two years before, when Eve first entered her life.
After Margo’s successful opening performance, admirers crowd her dressing room and fill the air with “Backstage Babble.” Eve Harrington, a young fan who “spent her last penny” watching every preview just to see Margo, is ushered into the star’s dressing room. Shy and modestly dressed, Eve recounts her bleak and difficult past, congratulates Margo, and thanks her for “lighting up” her life. Charmed, Margo invites Eve to stay and celebrate.
Margo’s fiancé, the show’s director Bill Sampson, has to fly to Rome to direct a movie. Margo begs him to stay, but Bill lovingly tells her he’ll return soon (“Think How It’s Gonna Be”). Margo dreads facing the opening night party alone. Seeking a good time, she persuades Duane, her gay hairdresser, to take her and Eve to a gay nightclub in Greenwich Village (“But Alive”). The lively evening ends back at Margo’s apartment where Eve dubs it “The Best Night of My Life.” Alone in her room, Margo watches one of her old movies on TV, sarcastically commenting on her advancing age (“Who’s That Girl?”)
Four months later, Eve has become Margo’s indispensable assistant, impressing Margo’s close friends, including her producer, Howard Benedict. Howard takes Eve to Joe Allen’s, a gypsy hangout. “Gypsy,” Howard explains, “is the name dancers affectionately give themselves as they go camping from show to show.” The gypsies, led by Bonnie, celebrate their lives in show business (“Applause”).
Late that night, after a phone call from Bill in Rome, Margo longingly wishes he would “Hurry Back.” Bill does return two weeks later, but at his welcome-home party, Margo grows jealous of Bill’s flirtatious relationship with Eve, leading to a disastrous evening (“Fasten Your Seat Belts”).
Over time, Eve, continuing as Margo’s ever-present assistant, memorizes all of Margo’s lines, and she contrives to get herself hired as Margo’s understudy. Margo, feeling betrayed and threatened, bitterly denounces Eve’s treachery (“Welcome to the Theatre”). Bill, shocked by Margo’s behavior, accuses her of paranoia. After a bitter fight, they end their relationship, and Margo finds herself alone on an empty stage.
Margo is visiting her friends, playwright Buzz Richards and his wife Karen, in their Connecticut home (“Inner Thoughts”). Karen, thinking Margo behaved unfairly to Eve, arranges for Margo to miss a performance; she drains the car’s gas tank to delay their return to New York. Stuck in the country for the night, they express their warm feelings as “Good Friends.” Back in New York, Eve gives a triumphant performance in Margo’s role. After the show, Eve flirts with Bill, but he resists.
Howard again takes Eve to Joe Allen’s, but Eve snubs Bonnie and her friends, who do a scathing parody of the girl who became an overnight star (“She’s No Longer a Gypsy”).
While filming a TV commercial, Margo fumes over a nasty newspaper interview in which Eve has bashed “mature actresses.” Bill, realizing what Eve’s true intentions have been, rushes back to reconcile with Margo (“One of a Kind”). Margo, however, remains too focused on her career to think about Bill (“Think How It’s Gonna Be” Reprise).
Eve, who has begun having an affair with Buzz, delights in her successful rise to the top (“One Hallowe’en”). But Howard interrupts her private celebration to reveal he’s learned the truth; Eve lied about her life story, and despite her string of affairs, she remains married to a man serving in Vietnam. When Eve curses him, Howard slaps her. Threatening to reveal the truth, he brutally orders Eve to end her affair with Buzz and remain with him exclusively.
Karen, who has learned about her husband’s affair with Eve, apologizes to Margo. Margo immediately forgives her, explaining that Eve will undoubtedly wind up empty and alone. Margo suddenly realizes that Eve’s treachery has given her an opportunity to find “Something Greater” for herself, and she ardently reunites with Bill. In the finale, Margo and Bill join with the entire company, asking, “Why do we live this crazy life?” Answer: “Applause.”
Book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Music by Charles Strouse Lyrics by Lee Adams
(Based on the film “All About Eve”
and the original story by Mary Orr)
Original production directed and choreographed by Ron Field
Originally produced by Joseph Kipness and Laurence Kasha
Such credits to the authors for all purposes shall be in type size equal to or greater than that of any other credits except for that of the star(s) above the title. In the programs, the credits shall appear on the title page thereof.
The title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:
is presented by arrangement with
Additionally, you agree to include the above language hyperlinked to https://tamswitmark.com/ on all websites on which you promote the play.
3 Violins I & II
1 Bass and Electric Fender Bass
1 Reed I: Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo (Optional Alto Flute)
1 Reed II: Alto Saxophone, Clarinet & Flute
1 Reed III: Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet & Bass Clarinet
1 Reed IV: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet (Optional Eb Clarinet)
1 Reed V: Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet, Bassoon (Optional Flute)
2 Trumpets I & II (Both double Flugelhorn. Trumpet I with electric attachment to lower pitch)
1 Trumpet III (and Flugelhorn)
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
1 Trombone III (Bass Trombone)
2 Percussion I & II
Wood Block (2)
1 Electric Organ
1 Guitar (Electric & Acoustic), Banjo, and Mandolin, cued for stage Ukulele
Piano-Celeste (Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material. This is the Orchestra and Stage Piano part)
Orchestra parts have been cross cued to make the following parts optional: Violins I & II, Viola, Cello, Harp, Organ & Guitar.
2 Piano/Conductor Scores
20 Libretto/Vocal Books
Optional Additional Materials
1 Stage Manager’s Guide
Tony Awards Announcer
Tony Awards Host
Margo Channing — actress, queen of the theater
Eve Harrington — actress, a generation younger than Margo
Howard Benedict — theatrical producer
Buzz Richards — playwright
Duane Fox — Margo’s hairdresser
Bill Sampson — Margo’s lover and her director
Karen Richards — Buzz’s wife
Peter — Margo’s agent
Bob — Margo’s lawyer
Stan Harding — newspaper columnist
Bonnie — principal singer among the show biz gypsies
Bert — stage manager for Margo’s play
Sammy — one of the Village Bar patrons
Orrin — TV director and stage piano player for gypsies
Danny Burns — dedicated show biz gypsy
Debi — solo voice among show biz gypsies
Show Biz Gypsies: Carol, Joan, Mike, Gene
American and Italian telephone operators’ voices
Stage hands, show business gypsies, autograph seekers, party guests, waiters, three musicians,
Village Bar customers, TV technicians and script girl.
APPLAUSE played on Broadway for 896 performances at the Palace Theatre, starring Lauren Bacall, Len Cariou, and Penny Fuller. Bonnie Franklin sang the title song.
4 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Choreography, Director, and Actress
2 Theatre World Awards for Best Actor and Best Featured Actress
3 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Director, Choreography, and Performance
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