Wonderful Town


Set in the summer of 1935, this Tony award-winning musical tells the story of sisters Ruth and Eileen, one an aspiring writer and the other a dancer, who move from rural Ohio to seek success in Greenwich Village, New York. Together the sisters take on the Big Apple, pursuing their dreams and finding love. The score, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Comden & Green, features “Ohio,” “Conga,” and “One Hundred Easy Ways.”

Music samples provided courtesy of Jay Records.

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Materials
  • Cast
  • History
  • Upcoming
  • WONDERFUL TOWN is about the adventures and misadventures of two sisters who move from their comfortable hometown in Ohio to Greenwich Village, a bohemian area in New York City –Christopher Street to fulfill their dreams. Ruth is an aspiring writer, average in appearance and can’t keep a man’s attention – no matter what. Eileen, a fledgling actress, is Ruth’s opposite. She is a beautiful dancer, who – without even trying – has men falling at her feet.
    The girls end up with a one month lease on a tiny, basement studio apartment near a subway construction site. What it lacks in charm and privacy, the room makes up for in location. They are homesick – Ohio. The neighborhood is full of interesting people like Appopolous, their landlord and an artist, Wreck (a former football player) and his live-in fiancée Helen, Mrs. Wade (Helen’s mother who comes for a visit), Violet (a lady of the night and the previous tenant of the apartment the girls are renting) and a precinct of friendly police officers.
    Ruth and Eileen venture into the city to make their dreams come true, and have very different experiences. Ruth is ignored and Eileen is greeted. Eileen has a hard time breaking into show business, but falls A Little Bit in Love. Somehow she ends up inviting three men to the same dinner party. Social disaster results when the men: Frank Lippencott, the sweet manager of a Walgreens drugstore, Chick Clark a sharp newspaper man and Bob Baker a lonely editor of ‘The Manhatter’ meet. Frank leaves with a wine-stained suit, Bob is too honest with Ruth about her writing so is forced to leave –A Quiet Girl, and Chick plays a prank on Ruth so he can be alone with Eileen. Ruth’s One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man gives good examples of how she unconsciously scares away men. At least she convinced Bob to interview her and read her work, but his response is What a Waste. Thanks to Chick, Ruth ends up at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to interview Admirals on a Brazilian training ship. The sisters act like good neighbors and let Wreck sleep in their kitchen while Helen’s mom visits. From the moment they meet, Wreck makes a terrible impression on Mrs. Wade. He looks like a ‘good-for-nothing,’ and still recites his past glories –Pass That Football. At the end of the first act, Eileen is in jail for carrying on with the Brazilian Admirals that followed Ruth back home from the Navy Yard-Conga.
    Bob bails Eileen out of jail, and she actually gets a legitimate audition in Speedy Valenti’s nightclub –Wrong Note Rag. She will always have plenty of male companionship. Ruth gets a job carrying a sandwich board on her back to make money. Chick’s editor unexpectedly likes her story on the Brazilian training ship, so her career has promise. Bob actually loses his job at ‘The Manhatter’ over a fight with his editor about the merits of Ruth’s training ship story. Eileen helps Bob see that he is in love with Ruth. In an elaborate scam involving Appopolous, Helen and Wreck convince Mrs. Wade to like Wreck. Everyone joins in to sing It’s Love.

    Book by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov
    (Based upon the play “My Sister Eileen”
    by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov and
    the stories by Ruth McKenney)
    Music by Leonard Bernstein
    Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
    Sketches for “What A Waste” by Betty Comden and Adolph Green

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  • Full Orchestration

    2 Violin I (4 players)
    2 Violin II (3 players)
    1 Viola (2 players)
    1 Cello (2 players)
    1 Bass

    1 Reed I: Flute, Bb Clarinet, Eb Clarinet (or Flute) & Alto Saxophone
    1 Reed II: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Baritone Saxophone
    1 Reed III: Oboe, Engligh Horn (or Clarinet), Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
    1 Reed IV: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
    1 Reed V: Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Bass Saxophone (or Baritone Saxophone) & Bassoon

    2 Trumpet I & II
    2 Trumpet III & IV
    2 Trombone I & II (both Tenor Trombone)
    1 Trombone III (Bass Trombone)

    1 Piano/Celeste

    2 Percussion I & II:

    I. Traps, Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Tom-toms, Timbales, Hi-hat, Suspended Cymbal).
    II. Tam Tam, Triangle, 2 Woodblocks, Xylophone, Alarm Clock, Cowbell, Glockenspiel

    Piano-Conductor’s Score (sent with rehearsal material)

  • Rehearsal Materials

    2       Piano/Conductor Scores
    20     Libretto/Vocal Books

  • (In order of speaking. Singing principals are indicated with an asterisk.)

    *Tour Guide – shows tourists around Greenwich Village
    Mr. Appopolous – modern painter; Ruth’s and Eileen’s landlord
    Helen – Wreck’s girlfriend
    *Wreck – former college football player
    Violet – villager
    Officer Lonigan (John) – neighborhood cop
    Modern Dancers – villagers
    A Radical Villager
    A Yogi Villager
    Speedy Valenti – proprietor of the Village Vortex
    *Eileen – Ruth’s sister, a recent arrival from Ohio
    *Ruth – Eileen’s sister, a recent arrival from Ohio
    A Strange Man (Fletcher) – Villager
    A Kid – villager
    Two Drunks – villagers
    Eskimo Pie Man – villager
    *Robert Baker – editor at the Manhatter
    *First Associate Editor – fellow employee at the Manhatter
    *Second Associate Editor – fellow employee at the Manhatter
    Mr. Mallory, Rexford, Danny, Woman Guest, Trent, Male Guest – characters in Ruth’s stories
    Mrs. Wade – Helen’s mother
    Frank Lippencott – manager of the local drug store
    Chef – the cook at Nino’s, a local restaurant
    Waiter – employee at Nino’s
    Delivery Boy – villager
    Chick Clark – newspaperman
    Shore Patrolman – guard at the Brooklyn Navy Yard
    First Cadet Brazilian naval officer
    Second Cadet – Brazilian naval officer
    Timothy, Dennis, Dan, Pat, Fifth Cop – policemen at the Village Station House
    Man With Sign (Ruth’s Escort) – advertising the Village Vortex

    Tourists, Greenwich Villagers, New York City Crowds, Characters in Ruth’s Stories, Brazilian Cadets, Policemen, Hepcats, Village Vortex Patrons

  • WONDERFUL TOWN originally played for 559 performances on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre starring Rosalind Russell as Ruth and Edith Adams as Eileen. It was revived on Broadway in 2003 at the Al Hirshfeld Theatre, where it played for 497 performances starring Donna Murphy and Jennifer Westfeldt as Ruth and Eileen.

    Awards (1953)

    5 Tony Awards for Musical, Conductor and Music Director, Scenic Designer, Choreographer and Actress
    The New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical
    The Outer Critics Circle Award for Musical
    The Theatre World Award (Edith Adams)

    Awards (2004)

    The Tony Award for Best Choreography
    2 Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Actress and Choreography
    The Theatre World Award (Jennifer Westfeldt)

  • Find upcoming performances near you.

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    Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance
    Indiana University BLOOMINGTON, IN 04/12/2019 04/20/2019
    Falls Patio Players, Inc. MENOMONEE FALLS, WI 04/26/2019 05/05/2019