Wonderful Town


Based on the hit play and film My Sister Eileen, WONDERFUL TOWN tells the comical and heartwarming story of two Midwestern sisters, newly arrived in New York. In the summer of 1935, Ruth, an aspiring writer, and Eileen, an actress and dancer, leave rural Ohio to seek success in the big city. Due to their limited budget, the sisters wind up sharing a less-than ideal basement apartment in Greenwich Village. Together and individually, they pursue their dreams, overcome heartbreak, encounter a motley assortment of colorful characters, and – ultimately – find love.

The Tony Award-winning Best Musical features a thrilling score by Leonard Bernstein with lyrics by Comden & Green. Highlights include “Ohio,” “Conga,” “One Hundred Easy Ways” and “Wrong Note Rag.”

Music samples provided courtesy of Jay Records.

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Materials
  • Cast
  • History
  • Musical Numbers
  • Upcoming
  • Act I

    In the summer of 1935, a tour guide leads a group of sightseers through Greenwich Village, a Bohemian neighborhood teeming with colorful residents (“Christopher Street”).

    Ruth Sherwood, a witty and forthright journalist, enters with her younger sister, Eileen. The two have just arrived from Columbus, Ohio, determined to forge a life in New York City; Ruth hopes to be a writer and Eileen an actress. They rent a modest basement apartment, recently vacated by coquettish Violet and overseen by the temperamental and artistic landlord, Mr. Appopolous. The sisters soon discover two of the apartment’s many drawbacks: a steady stream of visits from Violet’s “gentlemen callers” and a relentless blasting from nearby subway construction. On their first night in the new apartment, Ruth and Eileen long for the simple quiet of home (“Ohio”).

    The next morning, the sisters set out (“Conquering New York”), but they meet with little success. Eileen, at least, earns the attention of several gentlemen, including Frank Lippencott, a local Walgreens manager who has developed a crush on her. Ruth marvels at her sister’s magnetic appeal and laments her own failure in romance — Ruth’s talent for repelling men is so successful she could write a book (“One Hundred Easy Ways to Lose a Man”).

    Eventually, Ruth talks her way into the offices of a short story magazine, where she meets Bob Baker. Bob likes Ruth but tells her she has little chance of success in New York; considering the competition, she’d have been better off staying home (“What a Waste”). Undaunted, Ruth leaves three stories with Bob and vows to return.

    Eileen, who has been eating all of her lunches free at Walgreens, finds herself infatuated with Frank (“A Little Bit in Love”). She invites him over to dinner so Ruth can have free lunches when she goes to Walgreens, too. Bob arrives at the apartment, looking for Ruth, and Eileen invites him over for dinner as well. The phone rings; it’s Chick Clark, a predatory newspaper editor whom Eileen met in an elevator, calling for Eileen.

    The upstairs neighbors, an out-of-season American football player named Wreck and his live-in girlfriend Helen, ask the girls to hide Wreck during a visit from Helen’s mother, Mrs. Ella Wade. Apparently, Mrs. Wade doesn’t know her unmarried daughter is cohabitating with a man. Eileen happily agrees to stow Wreck in their apartment, much to Ruth’s hesitation. Wreck describes his lucky history as a student at Trenton Tech, where he survived thanks to his athletic ability (“Pass the Football”).

    Eileen has invited Frank Lippencott, Bob Baker, and Chick Clark over for a potluck supper. Unaware of each other’s feelings, both women find themselves attracted to Bob. Soon, all five of them are seated around the cramped apartment trying to fill the awkward silence (“Conversation Piece”). Meanwhile, Helen deals with her overbearing and exaggerated mother.

    Ruth and Bob talk over the quality of her stories, and he advises her to write about what she knows rather than flights of fancy. Both say several wrong things, and he finally tells her off. Ruth rushes inside in tears, and Bob is overcome with remorse (“A Quiet Girl”).

    Chick Clark, anxious to be alone with Eileen, creates a bogus assignment for Ruth. He sends her off to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to interview a group of Brazilian navy cadets. Ruth rushes to Brooklyn and quickly realizes the cadets’ sole interest is to sing and dance (“Conga!”). The sailors follow Ruth home, wreaking havoc as all the citizens of Christopher Street join the conga line. Ruth runs into Bob and gives him a piece of her mind, and Eileen is hauled off to jail for causing the riot.

    Act II

    In the local jail, Eileen finds herself practically running the place, with Officer Lonigan and his brigade of doting Irish police officers at her beck and call. Convinced that she’s Irish, the policemen serenade her (“My Darlin’ Eileen”). Ruth arrives and assures Eileen that she’ll bail her out with money from her new job; she’s now a promoter for the Village Vortex, a local nightclub.

    At the club, Ruth digs the rhythm of the music (“Swing”). Meanwhile, Wreck awkwardly masquerades as a wealthy art collector to meet the approval of Helen’s mother, and Chick keeps calling Eileen, trying to make things right.

    Thanks to Bob, Eileen is soon released from jail. The sisters learn that Appopolous was so scandalized by Eileen’s arrest and the theft of a picture he painted (which Helen and Wreck actually stole and sold for $2 to pay for Wreck’s stay at the Y) that he has threatened to evict them. Eileen discovers that Ruth is also attracted to Bob Baker, and the two of them wish, for a moment, that they had never left home (“Ohio” Reprise).

    Eileen’s fame reaches the front page of the news. The rhythmical Speedy Valenti, owner of the Village Vortex, hires Eileen to sing at the club. Appopolous, thrilled that one of his tenants has a paying job, extends their lease.

    Eileen learns that Bob Baker quit his job after disagreeing with his boss about Ruth’s story on the Brazilian sailors. Eileen, thrilled that Bob quit his job, helps Bob acknowledge his feelings for Ruth (“It’s Love” Reprise).

    At the Vortex, a repentant Chick presents Ruth with a press pass; his boss loved her story about the Brazilian sailors and has offered her a job, starting the following Monday. Just before she goes out onstage, Eileen is overcome with stage fright. She convinces Ruth to join her, and the sisters lead everyone in a spirited sing-along (“Wrong Note Rag”). Eileen is a hit! As she takes her encore, Bob finally lets Ruth know how he feels, and the entire company joins in to celebrate (“Finale: 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

    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 https://tamswitmark.com/ on all websites on which you promote the play.

  • 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)

  • Act I

    1. Overture – Orchestra
    2. “Christopher Street” – Guide, Tourists, and Villagers
    2a. Christopher Street Exit – Guide
    2b. Change to Scene 2 – Villagers
    3. “Ohio” – Ruth & Eileen
    4. “Conquering New York” – Ruth, Eileen & Chorus of New Yorkers
    5. “One Hundred Easy Ways To Lose A Man” – Ruth
    5a. One Hundred Easy Ways Scene Change – Orchestra
    6. “What a Waste” – Ruth, Baker & Editors
    6a. Waste Utility – Orchestra
    7. “Ruth’s Stories” – Baker, Ruth
    8. “A Little Bit In Love” – Eileen
    8a. Reprise: “A Little Bit In Love” – Eileen
    9. “Pass The Football” – Wreck
    9a. Football Exit – Orchestra
    10. “Conversation Piece” – Frank, Eileen, Ruth, Chick & Baker
    11. “A Quiet Girl” – Baker & Men’s Chorus
    11a. “Quiet Ruth” – Ruth
    11b. Scene change – Orchestra
    12. “Conga” – Ruth & Brazilian Cadets
    12a. Conga Change of Scene – Orchestra
    12b. Conga Reprise (Finale, Act One) – Orchestra

    Act II

    13. Entr’acte – Orchestra
    13a. Opening Act Two – Orchestra
    14. “My Darlin’ Eileen” – Policemen & Eileen
    14a. Scene Change – Orchestra
    15. “Swing” – Ruth & Village Hepcats
    15a. Swing Change of Scene – Orchestra
    16. Quiet Incidental – Orchestra
    16a. “Ohio” Reprise – Ruth & Eileen
    16b. Change of Scene – Orchestra
    17. “It’s Love” – Eileen, Baker & Villagers
    18. Ballet at the Village Vortex
    19. “It’s Love” Reprise (Finale, Act One) – Eileen, Baker, Ruth & Entire Company
    20. Bow Music – Orchestra
    21. Exit Music – Orchestra

  • Find upcoming performances near you.

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    Organization City, State First Performance Last Performance
    Dean College Franklin, MA 11/21/2019 11/25/2019
    TheatreZone Naples, FL 01/09/2020 01/19/2020
    Manhattan Youth New York, NY 03/13/2020 03/14/2020
    Yorba Linda High School Yorba Linda, CA 03/20/2020 03/29/2020
    River Valley Players Henry, IL 03/22/2020 03/30/2020