Irma La Douce


Irma, the title character of the French musical IRMA LA DOUCE, is a young woman working the streets of Paris. Nestor le Fripé, a poor law student, falls for Irma and grows jealous of her clients. To remain Irma’s only lover, Nestor assumes the disguise of a rich older man named Oscar, taking numerous jobs to support himself and Irma. Unable to sustain his exhausting life, Nestor ultimately “kills” Oscar. But the authorities, believing the murder actually took place, convict Nestor and send him to the Devil’s Island penal colony. Nestor ultimately escapes and returns to Paris to prove his innocence and reunite with Irma.

Photos by Joan Marcus, courtesy of New York City Center.

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Materials
  • Cast
  • History
  • Musical Numbers
  • Upcoming
  • Irma, one of Paris’ most successful poules (prostitutes), falls in love with Nestor, a penniless law student. Nestor is jealous of Irma’s customers, and decides he must become her only client. He disguises himself as Monsieur Oscar, a rich old fossil who asks only companionship, yet provides enough money to become Irma’s exclusive patron.

    Nestor soon becomes exhausted from his numerous jobs, studies, and lovemaking. Irma decides that Oscar is not getting his money’s worth and seduces him more passionately than she ever has Nestor. This makes him more jealous than ever, and he decides that Oscar must die. Nestor stages the death of “Oscar,” but is soon convicted of murder and sentenced to Devil’s Island. When he learns Irma is expecting his child, he escapes on a raft and finally proves (by paying off the judge) that he and Oscar are one and the same. Oscar returns to Irma on Christmas Eve, just in time to witness the birth of their child.

    Original Book and Lyrics by Alexandre Breffort
    Music by Marguerite Monnot
    English Book and Lyrics by Julian More,
    David Heneker and Monty Norman
    Produced for the American Stage by David Merrick
    (By arrangement with Henry Hall)

    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
    Tams-Witmark, A Concord Theatricals Company

    Additionally, you agree to include the above language hyperlinked to on all websites on which you promote the play.

  • Instrumentation: 8 Parts

    1 Bass
    1 Reed I: FLUTE & PICCOLO
    1 Trombone I
    1 Trombone II
    1 Percussion:
    Timpani (2 Drums)
    Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
    Bass Drum
    Bongo Drums
    Tom Toms (2 pitches)
    Suspended Cymbal
    Hi-Hat Cymbal
    Tambourine (small)
    Wood Block
    1 Guitar-Banjo
    1 Accordion

  • Rehearsal Materials

    2       Piano/Conductor Scores
    20     Libretto/Vocal Books

  • Irma La Douce – a Poule
    Nestor Le Fripe – a law student
    Bob Le Hotu – proprietor of the Bar des Inquiets
    Polyte Le Mou – A Mec
    Jojo Les Yeux Sales – A Mec
    Roberto Les Diams – A Mec
    Frangipane – A Mec
    Persil – A Mec
    Police Inspector
    M. Bougne – a ballroom owner
    Counsel for the Prosecution
    Counsel for the Defense
    an Usher
    3 Warders
    a Tax Inspector
    a Priest
    8 Bar Loungers
    2 False Mecs
    an Honest Man

  • IRMA LA DOUCE premiered in Paris at the Théâtre Gramont, November 12, 1956, where it ran for four years. It was then produced at London’s Lyric Theatre, opening July 17, 1958, and playing for 1,512 performances. The show opened on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre, September 29, 1960. It later moved to the Alvin theatre and played for a total of 524 performances starring Keith Mitchell and Clive Revill, and with Elizabeth Seal as the title character.

    Awards (1961)

    Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical
    (6 other nominations, including Best Musical, Best Director, Best Choreography and Best Musical Director)

  • Act I

    1. Overture – Orchestra
    2. “Valse Milieu” – Bob & Irma
    3. “Noble Sons of France” – Bob, Inspector & Mecs
    3a. Irma’s Entrance – Orchestra
    3b. “Noble Son’s” Tag – Mecs
    4. “Bridge of Coulaincourt” – Irma & Nestor
    5. “Our Language of Love” – Irma & Nestor
    6. First Entrance: She’s Got The Lot – Orchestra
    7. “She’s Got The Lot” – Inspector & Admirers
    8. Reprise: “Language of Love” – Irma
    9. Melos – Got The Lot – Orchestra
    10. Dis Donc: Incidental – Orchestra
    11. Reprise: “Language of Love” – Irma
    12. “Dis Donc” – Irma & Men
    12a. Dis Donc Dance – Irma, Nestor & Men
    13. “Le Grisbi Is Le Root Of Le Evil In Man” – Bob, Nestor & Mecs
    14. Incidental Music – Orchestra
    15. Scene Change – Orchestra
    16. Effect – Orchestra
    17. Crosses – Orchestra
    17a. Crosses – Orchestra
    17b. Crosses – Orchestra
    17c. Crosses – Orchestra
    18. “Wreck of a Mec” – Nestor
    19. “That’s A Crime” – Bob, Nestor & Mecs
    20. Incidental Music – Orchestra
    21. Fight Scene – Orchestra

    Act II

    22. Act II Overture – Orchestra
    23. Reprise: “Bridge of Coulaincourt” – Irma & Nestor
    24. “Prison Cell” – Nestor & Men
    25. Melos: She’s Got the Lot – Orchestra
    26. “Irma La Douce Routine” – Irma & Men
    27. “The Letter” – Irma
    28. Prison Cell Routine – Orchestra
    29. “There Is Only One Paris For That” – Nestor, Mecs & Prisoners
    30. “Freedom Of The Seas” – Nestor & Mecs
    30a. Arctic Ballet – Orchestra
    30b. Reprise: “Paris” – Nestor & Mecs
    30c. Second Reprise: “Paris” – Nestor & Mecs
    31. Reprise: “Language of Love” – Irma
    32. “But” – Nestor, Tax Inspector, Police Inspector & Men
    33. Underscore – Orchestra
    34. Finale: “The Christmas Child” – Full Company
    35. Curtain Calls – Orchestra
    36. Exit Music – Orchestra

  • Find upcoming performances near you.

    Search for performances near you
    Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance