Through the struggles and triumphs of a determined, talented, and resilient leading lady, HALLELUJAH, BABY! celebrates the African American experience in the first half of the 20th century. Arthur Laurents’ inventive book follows Georgina Franklin as she rises from domestic work in the 1920s to stardom in the late 1960s—all without aging a day. The glorious score by Jule Styne, with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, includes “My Own Morning,” “I Don’t Know Where She Got It,” “Being Good,” and the title song.
Georgina Franklin, a vibrant young African-American woman, enters carrying an umbrella. She addresses the audience directly, explaining that her story will go from the turn of the century right up to the present – but she and her loved ones will remain the same age.
In the early 20th century, Georgina and her Momma work as domestics on a South Carolina plantation (“Back In The Kitchen”). Momma urges Georgina to accept her lot as a housemaid, but Georgina yearns for more (“My Own Morning”). Georgina’s boyfriend Clem, who works as a Pullman porter, tells Georgina that he had saved up enough money for a down payment on a house, but he lost it all when a local white policeman confiscated his poker winnings (“The Slice”). A young white theatrical producer named Harvey hires Georgina to play a maid in a melodramatic Civil War play (“Farewell, Farewell”). Unfortunately, the play’s benefactor objects to black actors appearing alongside white ones, so Georgina loses her job. Distraught, she turns to Clem, who assures her things will improve (“When The Weather’s Better”).
In the Roaring Twenties, Harvey manages the 711 Club, a Harlem night spot where Clem works as a waiter and Georgina appears as one of the “Congo Cuties” (“Feet, Do Your Stuff”). A foreign customer, oblivious to bigoted local laws, insists that Georgina join him at his table. Conflicts arise and a fight ensues. After Georgina and Clem are fired, Clem vows to stop struggling in menial jobs and find success as a bootlegger (“You Ain’t Gonna Shake”). Harvey resigns in support of his friends. Georgina, unaccustomed to expressing gratitude, struggles to thank him (“Hey/You’re Welcome”). Georgina, Momma, and Clem return to their service jobs, mocking the obsequious tone they have to take with their employers (“Smile, Smile”).
During the Depression, Georgina manages to avoid the breadline by appearing in a WPA-funded stage adaptation of Macbeth (“Double, Double”). But the “subversive” show is shut down, and Georgina is again out of work. Clem, Harvey, and castmate Mary attempt to cheer her up (“Another Day”). Clem becomes involved with the growing Communist movement, telling Georgina the Communists call him “comrade” and not “boy.” They argue and Clem storms out, leaving Georgina to ponder her situation (“I Wanted To Change Him”).
Harvey tells Georgina about his feelings towards her. She cares about him, too, but realizes they cannot overcome the forces against their relationship. Harvey leaves, and Georgina vows to work twice as hard to achieve success (“Being Good”).
In the 1940s, Georgina is performing with a USO troupe while Clem and Harvey serve in the army. Both men remain attracted to Georgina, who struggles to sort out her feelings (“Talking To Yourself”). When she learns that her training camp audiences will be segregated, Georgina quits. Clem and Harvey support her decision (“Another Day” Reprise). Harvey attempts to join Clem and Georgina in the back of a bus, but the driver refuses to move until Harvey sits up front. Georgina, fed up, vows to “get out and go on.”
A decade later, Georgina has succeeded, headlining at an elegant nightclub (“Hallelujah, Baby!”). Harvey, who owns the club, proposes to Georgina, but she doesn’t give a definitive answer. Harvey wonders if they’ll ever be together (“Not Mine”). Clem, who has become a prominent civil rights activist, enters the club. He expresses his disappointment in Georgina, who seems to be overlooking her community in exchange for personal success. Clem and Harvey bond over their mutual interest in Georgina. Momma joins them, raucously telling them how surprised she is by Georgia’s success (“I Don’t Know Where She Got It”).
Georgina, who is now hobnobbing with white society, attends an otherwise all-white party. When a guest mistakes Momma for Georgina’s maid, Georgina realizes she must stop being so selfish and begin to “sing for everyone’s supper—not just my own” (“Now’s The Time”).
In the 1960s, Georgina and Momma prepare to move into a luxurious high-rise apartment, thanks to some strings pulled by Harvey. Clem resents Harvey’s interference, and the two men argue. After Georgina steps in, Harvey realizes he can never have a real relationship with Georgina. He leaves with Mary, and Clem and Georgina vow to make a better life together (“Finale: Now’s The Time”).
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
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is presented by arrangement with
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Instrumentation: 21 Parts
1 Bass (Electric, Acoustic & Tuba)
1 Reed I: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax Soprano Sax and Alto flute
1 Reed II: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet Alto Sax and Soprano Sax
1 Reed III: Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet, Tenor Sax and Soprano Sax
1 Reed IV: Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Bassoon & Tenor Sax
1 Reed V: Flute, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Sax & Bass Saxophone
2 Trumpet I & II (both doubling Flugelhorn)
1 Trumpet III (doubling Flugelhorn)
1 Trumpet IV
1 Trombone I (Tenor)
1 Trombone II (Tenor)
1 Trombone III (Bass)
1 Percussion I
Trap Set (Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Tom Tom, Hi-Hat, Suspended Cymbals), Wood Blocks
1 Percussion II
Snare Drum, Field Drum, Bass Drum, (with Cymbal attached), Piatti, Suspended Cymbal,
Timpani (2), Bells, Xylophone, Vibraphone, Triangle, Wood Block, Bongo Drums, Ratchet,
Tambourine, Slapstick, Wind Whistle (Mouth Siren) Maracas, Scratcher
2 Piano/Conductor Scores
20 Libretto/Vocal Books
(3 female; 2 male)
Georgina – Determined and resilient young African-American woman
Momma – Her mother; practical, sassy and world-weary
Clem – Her boyfriend; ambitious, proud and intelligent
Harvey – A young white theatre producer; kind and open-minded
Mary (“Betty Lou”) – Young white actress; becomes Georgina’s friend
Featured Roles (Singing):
Tip – Nightclub performer
Tap – Nightclub performer
Featured Roles (Speaking):
Captain Yankee – Character in Southern melodrama
Mr. Calhoun – Character in Southern melodrama
Mr. Charles – Racist theatre owner
Mrs. Charles – His wife
Nightclub Announcer – Emcee
Sugar Daddy – Heckler at nightclub
Prince – Entitled foreign dignitary
Princess – His sister
Mistress – Head of wealthy household
Master – Her husband
Director – Overseer of WPA play
Ethel – Actress and passionate young communist
Official – Government bureaucrat
Brenda – Wealthy debutante
Winston – A breadliner
Timmy – Young communist
2 G.I.s – Admirers of Georgina
Bus Driver – Tired city worker
Hostess – Wealthy socialite
Suzanne – Mary’s friend
Justin – Mary’s friend
Young Maid – Job Applicant
Ensemble Roles (Non-Speaking):
Dan (Young Communist)
Other Ensemble Roles:
Poker players, stagehands, nightclub patrons, waitstaff, actors, breadliners, G.I.s, people on bus, party guests
HALLELUJAH, BABY! opened on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on April 26, 1967 and played for 293 performances starring Leslie Uggams.
5 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Music & Lyrics, Actor, Actress and Featured Actress.
The Theatre World Award for outstanding debut performance (Leslie Uggams)
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