Irma La Douce


The title character of the French musical IRMA LA DOUCE is a successful prostitute living and working in Paris. Nestor le Fripé is a poor law student who falls in love with her and is jealous of her clients. In order to keep her for himself, he assumes the disguise of a rich older man, “Oscar”, and takes many jobs. Finally, unable to sustain his exhausting life, Nestor “kills” Oscar, is convicted of murder, and is transported to the Devil’s Island penal colony. Nestor eventually escapes and returns to Paris, to prove his innocence and be reunited with Irma.

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

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Materials
  • Cast
  • History
  • 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.

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