August 18-September 6, 2015
Book by Dennis Kelly
Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin
Directed by Matthew Warchus
“Welcome to the deliriously amusing, heartwarming, head-spinning world of Matilda The Musical. You won’t want to leave.” – Bloomberg News
Winner of 50 international awards, including four Tony Awards®, Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.
Based on the beloved novel by Roald Dahl, Matilda continues to thrill sold-out audiences of all ages on Broadway and in London’s West End. The Wall Street Journal says, “The makers of Matilda have done the impossible – triumphantly! It is smart, sweet, zany and stupendous fun.”
This marks the Seattle premiere of this extraordinary Tony Award®-winning show. To get tickets to this sensational hit in your subscription, you need to choose at least a 6-show package!
October 1-25, 2015
Book and Lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr.
Music by David Shire
Choreographed by Dan Knechtges
Directed by Tak Viravan
Don’t miss this stunning visual and musical sensation coming to The 5th this October: Waterfall. Based on the contemporary Thai novel Behind the Painting, this tempestuous romance is set in 1930s Thailand and Japan as the monarchy crumbles with Japan on the brink of war. In this turbulent time, a young Thai student and the American wife of a Thai diplomat fall into forbidden love whose dangers parallel the shifting world around them.
This 5th Avenue Theatre/Pasadena Playhouse co-production features a captivating dynamic score and spectacular visual design, and marks the U.S. debut of Thai music superstar Bie Sukrit as Noppon, the student at the center of the ill-fated affair.
The 18th new musical produced by The 5th, this is an unprecedented, groundbreaking collaboration between Oscar and Tony®-winning American and Asian theatrical artists. See it before it heads to Broadway.
November 24, 2015-January 3, 2016
Book by Russell Crouse and Howard Lindsay
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein
Directed by David Bennett
Long before Julie Andrews sang from the mountaintops in the legendary1965 film, The Sound of Music captured the imagination of theatergoers world-wide. This story of the young governess Maria, who brings much-needed tenderness and joy to the Von Trapp family, has everything – romance, danger, bravery, and love.
The Sound of Music is one of the most beloved musicals and with good reason. Who could forget such memorable songs as “My Favorite Things,” “Do Re Mi,” “How You Solve a Problem Like Maria,” and, of course “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” This year marks the 50th anniversary of this iconic film.
If you’ve never seen a fully staged professional production of this classic, this is your chance to experience this Broadway musical done as only The 5th can – with a full orchestra, stunning sets and costumes and of course a stellar cast of Seattle favorites.
Never before on our stage!
January 28-February 21, 2016
Book by Abe Burrows, Jack Weinstock, and Willie Gilbert
Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser
Directed by Bill Berry
The title says it all. J. Pierpont Finch is a man on a mission – to achieve stunning success at the World Wide Wicket Company while doing as little as possible to deserve it. This musical satire of corporate ladder-climbing and office hanky-panky opened on Broadway in 1961, ran for a remarkable 1,417 performances and earned seven Tony Awards®, the Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, and the 1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Audiences will love this swingin’ tune-filled musical set in the era of TV’s Mad Men, boasting an exhilarating score including “I Believe in You,” “Brotherhood of Man,” and “The Company Way.” This Northwest production will be directed by 5th Avenue Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry.
Power, sex, ambition, greed... it’s just another day at the office in this classic satire of big business.
A co-production with and performed at ACT—A Contemporary Theatre
February 27-May 8, 2016
Book by John Weidman
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Directed by John Langs
Welcome to the carnival, where everybody has the right to be happy! In this tawdry carnival’s shooting gallery, you’ll find yourself in the company of some of the most notorious figures in American history—the assassins who tried (and in some cases succeeded) to kill the president. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, John Hinkley and others reveal the stories of their troubled lives and deadly deeds. Created by one of the undisputed masters of musical theater, Stephen Sondheim, this powerful work is by turns funny, dark, and haunting.
This provocative musical directed by incoming ACT—A Contemporary Theatre Artistic Director John Langs is one musical that you won’t want to miss.
March 25-April 17, 2016
Book by Rachel Sheinkin
Music by Brendan Milburn
Lyrics by Valerie Vigoda
What if, after dozing peacefully for a millennium or so, Sleeping Beauty awoke to find herself in a modern-day sleep-disorder clinic? Such is the fantastical premise of Sleeping Beauty Wakes. With beguiling characters, hypnotic lyrics, and a rocking score, Sleeping Beauty Wakes delves into the mystical space between dreaming and waking in an unexpected twist on the classic tale.
When Rose is brought to the clinic to wake her from her 900-year nap, strange things start happening for the other patients. But when a handsome young orderly (with an unusual form of narcolepsy) falls in love with the sleeping princess, fantasy and reality collide, and medicine becomes permanently intertwined with a healthy dose of magic in this new musical tale.
Sleeping Beauty Wakes fuses the magical world of the original story with the quirky and inventive imagination of Rachel Sheinkin (writer of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and the contemporary rock/pop/jazz flair of composer/lyricists Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda (two members of the trio GrooveLily). The result is a modern day fairy tale about the magic of the ordinary world that will have you captivated from the start.
First time on our stage in 24 years!
June 2-25, 2016
Music by Frederick Loewe
Book and Lyrics by Alan J. Lerner
New Book Adaptation by Jon Marans
Directed by David Armstrong
A sweeping saga of the mythic west and the pursuit of the American Dream, Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon is filled with some of the greatest songs ever written for the musical stage—“They Call the Wind Maria,” “I’m On My Way,” “I Talk to the Trees,” and “I Was Born Under a Wand’rin Star.” Now, audiences can experience this lusty musical set in the rough and tumble world of the 1849 California Gold Rush as it has never been seen before. The 5th is famous for inventing new musicals—this time we are reinventing a classic.
The 5th Avenue Theatre commissioned celebrated writer Jon Marans to create a new book for the show, and Seattle audiences will be the first in the world to see this new incarnation of this thrilling musical adventure under the direction of 5th Avenue Theatre Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong.
July 12-31, 2016
Book and Lyrics by Robert L. Freedman
Music and Lyrics by Steven Lutvak
Directed by Darko Tresnjak
Getting away with murder can be so much fun… and there’s no better proof than the knock-‘em-dead hit show that’s earned unanimous raves and won the 2014 Tony Award® for best musical—A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder!
Coming direct from New York, where a most gentlemanly NPR critic said he’d “never laughed so hard at a Broadway musical,” Gentleman’s Guide tells the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession, by any means necessary. All the while, he’s got to juggle his mistress (she’s after more than just love), his fiancée (she’s his cousin but who’s keeping track?), and the constant threat of landing behind bars! Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way to his inheritance… and be done in time for tea.
This new musical will have you dying with laughter!
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The working-class boys and girls of Grease, which is set in an urban high school in the 1950s, are not star football players or perky cheerleaders and they do not live next to Beaver Cleaver or Donna Reed; they are the “greasers” and their hip-swinging girlfriends. These working-class kids probably will not attend college and one day they may be stuck in dead-end, monotonous jobs; they are not among the prosperous go-getters who attend the Rydell High School reunion. But Grease celebrates the high school years that were their brief moment in the sun, commemorating their energy, their rebelliousness, and, above all, their solidarity as a group – all of the things that made them a force to be reckoned with.
Grease is not recommended for children under the age of 12. It contains some adult language, including some mildly vulgar words (samples: “Make one little joke and she goes apeshit,” “You suckers’ll be laughin’ out your ass.”) The “f” word is used multiple times, always as an expletive rather than in a sexual context. In addition, a bare butt is exposed briefly during a “mooning” song, and the middle finger gesture is used a couple of times.
There are a few sexual references (samples: “She’s havin’ her period and wants to be alone,” “She put out?”, “Those ain’t leaves. They’re used rubbers,” “Hey, Rizzo, I hear you’re knocked up”). At one point, one of the girls is worried she may be pregnant (“The guy was usin’ a thing, but it broke”), but by the end, this turns out to be a false alarm (“I think I’m gettin’ my friend.”) In addition, a few dance moves during the performance include sexual gestures.
Matilda is a currently-running, Tony Award-winning Broadway hit based on the classic children’s book by Roald Dahl; it tells the tale of Matilda Wormwood, an extraordinarily imaginative and intelligent little girl who loves words, reading, and making up stories. Unfortunately, Matilda has spectacularly bad parents. Neglectful and self-absorbed, her father favors her lazy, TV-addicted brother and seems unaware that Matilda is a girl; her mother wonders if her daughter is an idiot, since reading is a waste of time and “looks are more important than books.” The Wormwoods may be awful, but the headmistress of Matilda’s school, Miss Trunchbull, is even worse (her motto is “Baminatum est Magitum,” or “Children are Maggots”)! Will Matilda find happiness with a real family that values her special qualities? Will her schoolmates escape from the tyranny of Miss Trunchbull?
Mrs. Wormwood’s comment when told she is about to give birth: “Bloody hell!”
Mrs. Wormwood asks her doctor, “Am I fat?” and wonders if her problem might be “gas.” The audience then sees she is nine months pregnant. This is not welcome news, and she asks the doctor, “Isn’t there something you can do? Antibiotics?” Mrs. Wormwood will then retreat behind a curtain, where we will hear the flurry of activity as Matilda is born.
Mr. Wormwood, holding his unexpected child, complains that he cannot find his boy’s “fingie. His whatchamacallit. His doo-dah. I can’t find his frank ‘n’ beans!” Told that the baby is a girl, he asks if he could “exchange it.”
The violence perpetrated by the show’s villainous characters is not staged realistically, but in a humorous, cartoon-like, Lucy-and-Linus manner. Miss Trunchbull , the horrible headmistress, is constantly threatening the students with dire consequences: “I shall feed you to the termites! And then I shall smash the termites into tiny fragments!” At one point, Miss Trunchbull grabs a little girl by her pigtails, swings her around and flings her into the air (the audience sees the little girl land safely – from a great height – on a pile of coats). In addition, Miss Trunchbull is rumored to keep a cupboard in her office called the “Chokey,” lined with nails, spikes, and broken glass, where she locks up rebellious kids. She is also seen grabbing students by the ear, and Matilda’s father drags her by the wrist and flings her into her room.
In the second act, the Russian mafia, who have been cheated by Mr. Wormwood, show up wielding crowbars and bats, looking for revenge; Matilda will deflect their plan with her own special skills.
Mr. Wormwood comes into a hospital’s maternity ward smoking a cigarette. When a doctor protests, he puts it out and lights a cigar.
Patrons should be aware that Waterfall is a brand-new musical and its script is still subject to revision.
Waterfall is a musical romance set in Bangkok and Tokyo in the years before World War II. 22-year-old Noppon, a student in Thailand (which he describes as “a beautiful world where everyone is polite and nothing ever happens” ) who yearns to see more of the world and declares, “I want my life to matter!”, is amazed when a peaceful revolution brings democracy to his country and the opportunity to study in Japan –“the most modern country in Asia!” He is appointed to assist a special envoy from Thailand – Chao Khun, a 65-year-old diplomat with a beautiful 35-year-old American wife (Katherine), with whom Noppon immediately falls in love.
Noppon’s friend Kumiko, who was born in New York, is an American citizen (a privilege not extended to her parents, who were born in Japan), “but at the dance clubs,” she says, “they’d see my slanty eyes and throw me out.” She sings:
She promises such promises
Bountiful and rich
America will break your heart . . .
Her smile is wide and open but
Truth is: she’s a bitch
America will break your heart.
Noppon’s friend Surin looks forward to meeting geishas: “Beautiful tiny women who dance for you and do anything you want!”
When Katherine asks Noppon if he’s ever been in love, they suddenly come upon three men in loincloths pounding on Japanese Taiko drums who “move around each other in a ballet of masculine power.” She jokes that “If your secret plan was to get me aroused, you certainly succeeded!”
At the end of act one, we see two characters, one of them married to someone else, embrace on the banks of a stream as the lights go down.
The characters drink sake at an embassy reception.
Noppon and his friends drink champagne to celebrate his new appointment as a member of the diplomatic service.
An assassination attempt (offstage) is made on the American ambassador in Tokyo.
Important Issues: Waterfall’s script highlights prejudices common to the period. While Noppon says that he loves everything American, his friends inform him that Americans don’t love Asians in return: their Immigration Act (passed in 1924 and not modified until 1965) declares that America will not admit “epileptics, alcoholics, idiots, mental defectives, homosexuals, polygamists, anarchists, and Asians.”
The Sound of Music is a family show and should be appropriate for most theatergoers. The show contains no adult language, sexual references, or violence. Guests at Captain von Trapp’s party are seen drinking brandy and champagne.
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which first opened on Broadway in the fall of 1961, could be called the original Mad Men; like the television series, the musical satirizes the foibles, faults, follies, and failings of the mid-20th Century business world. The show concerns the rise of J. Pierpont Finch, who is young, ambitious, and following all the hints offered in a self-help book with the same title as the show.
This is mild, for the most part, with lots of “damns,” occasional “goddams.”
Mr. Gatch makes a pass at Rosemary, who rejects him (“Please, Mr. Gatch!”). He comments, “I’ve got to stop reading Playboy!”
Boss J. B. Biggley fights with his wife over the phone (wives are regarded as nags) and then is heard talking to another woman, obviously his girlfriend. Later this girlfriend, Hedy LaRue, will appear in the office to apply for a job as a secretary. She is described in the script as “a dish. A real dish,” and all of the men are staring at her. When she is told that the company will need her “particulars,” she responds with her measurements. One of the mesmerized businessmen exclaims, “I win the pool!”
Office staff, male and female, join together to declare in song that “A Secretary is Not a Toy, / No, my boy, / Not a toy, / To fondle and dandle / And playfully handle / In search of some puerile joy.” Nevertheless, in a subsequent scene, the men are seen waiting for the elevators as they discuss their business goals and ambitions; they are followed by the women, who discuss how to handle the men’s unwanted advances.
The “executive secretaries” are invited to a reception “to act as hostesses.” One secretary, Smitty, who wants to be popular, says she is “thinking of starting a secret rumor that I’m a nymphomaniac.”
Smoking is unapologetically indulged in, as is alcohol.
The leading character, J. Pierpont Finch, is seen smoking a cigar; another member of the staff declares he is going out for a smoke. Characters are seen drinking at an office reception, some of them to excess.
The characters take the period’s rigid gender roles for granted: secretaries/typists are female (and called “girls”), business executives are male. The company line is that “A Secretary is Not a Toy,” but the female employees are nonetheless seen discussing their efforts to repel unwanted overtures from their bosses. Rosemary’s song, “Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm,” which is echoed by the other secretaries in the company, satirizes what is supposedly the secret wish of every working woman in the late 50s/early 60s: “Oh, to be loved / By a man I respect / To bask in the glow / Of his perfectly understandable neglect. / Wearing the wifely uniform / While he goes onward and upward.”
Intrigue, flattery, deceit, and sabotage are all weapons used in the ruthless struggle to climb the corporate ladder. For instance, Finch is alarmed when he is assigned Hedy LaRue as a secretary: his book warns him that “The smaller her skills, the bigger her protector,” and Hedy’s complete lack of skills indicates she is the boss’s girlfriend. He sends her to Mr. Gatch’s office, where she is grabbed by him (the lights go down). When the lights come up, Finch is sitting at the desk of the unfortunate Mr. Gatch, who has been transferred to Venezuela.
Assassins first opened in New York in 1991, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a script by John Weidman. “Everybody’s got the right to their dreams” says one of this show’s songs, and its people have dreams and ambitions not unlike the characters in Gypsy, Dreamgirls, or Jersey Boys: they want to see their names in lights, they want to get the girl, they want to be remembered. However, this misbegotten group is made up of all the men and women who have ever killed or tried to kill a U.S. president and their stories bring into focus the dark side of the American dream. With a brilliant score, Sondheim gives a genuine voice to characters who could be called losers, misfits, or freaks.
Charles Isherwood, reviewing a recent London production, observed that “The yearning to inscribe their names in the history books – to be somebody – that drives so many of the would-be assassins feels like an ever more delusional wish in our era of a rapidly widening economic divide. We can’t all be Steve Jobs, of course, but these days, landing a fulfilling middle-class job seems like a lottery win, and gun violence born of desperation an ever more prevalent blight.”
A note from the playwright:
Thirteen people have tried to kill the President of the United States. Four have succeeded. These murderers and would-be murderers are generally dismissed as maniacs and misfits who have little in common with each other, and nothing in common with the rest of us.
Assassins suggests otherwise. Assassins suggests that while these individuals are, to say the least, peculiar – taken as a group, they are peculiarly American. And that behind the variety of motives which they articulated for their murderous outbursts, they share a common purpose: a desperate desire to reconcile intolerable feelings of impotence with an inflamed and malignant sense of entitlement.
Why do these dreadful events happen here, with such horrifying frequency, and in such an appallingly similar fashion? Assassins suggests it is because we live in a country whose most cherished national myths, at least as currently propagated, encourage us to believe that in America our dreams not only can come true, but should come true, and that if they don’t someone or something is to blame.
The “f” word is used fourteen times, twelve times as an expletive (“F-k me, f-k you”) and twice as a sexual term (“Does she kiss you? And f-k you?”) “Shit” is heard frequently (“you don’t have to sit / And put up with the shit”), as is “bullshit,” as are “damns,” one “Goddam” and a few “hells.” One character calls a whining child “an asshole.”
Booth uses a racial slur when referring to Lincoln.
Squeaky Fromme observes that she was called a whore by her father. Sam Byck, who tries to kill President Nixon (and who has an obsession with Leonard Bernstein), accuses the composer of ignoring his telephone messages because “you and your shit hot buddies had a plane to catch to Paris, France, for dinner and a blow job.”
The characters are seen at one point in a late 19th century saloon where they drink beer and whiskey.
In the opening scene, set at fairground shooting gallery, the assassins (and would-be assassins) appear together and are sold guns by the proprietor, who sing, “No job? Cupboard bare? / One room, no one there? / Hey, pal, don’t despair -- / You wanna shoot a President?”
John Wilkes Booth is seen shooting a Union soldier, then killing himself. The assassinations or assassination attempts usually take place offstage or are staged in a stylized manner.
Guiseppe Zangara, who attempted to kill President Roosevelt, and killed Miami’s mayor, is seen strapped into an electric chair. Charles Guiteau (who assassinated President Garfield) is seen dancing and singing his way up to the gallows (Guiteau did in fact dance on the occasion and recited a poem he had written, “I am Going to the Lordy,” which provides the lyrics for his song).
Squeaky Fromme (who attempted to assassinate President Ford) describes “Helter Skelter,” “Charlie” Manson’s violent prediction of America’s fate (“Charlie says that in the Armageddon which ensues, women will be raped and disemboweled. Men will be castrated, lynched, and burned alive. Blood and gore will choke our streets.”)
Dean Czolgosz, who assassinated President William McKinley, sings the “Gun Song:” “What a wonder is a gun! / What a versatile invention! / First of all, when you’ve a gun -- / Everybody pays attention.”
Sleeping Beauty Wakes is the story of Rose, a beautiful girl who has apparently been asleep for over 900 years – at least, according to her father, a Mr. King, who has brought her to a sleep disorder clinic. Is Rose really an enchanted princess and can she be awakened from her slumber?
Parents and concerned theatergoers should peruse the following guidelines carefully; also please note that because this is a new show, the creators will be making changes throughout its run.
None except a “damn” or two.
Some lines and lyrics contain innuendoes, but are not explicit. Sample: When Beauty dreams that she is a teenager flirting with the palace gardener’s son (actually an orderly in the clinic), they sing: “You wanna get in hot water / Well, I know how to swim / You wanna turn it up hotter / Let’s fill it up to the brim / Why don’t we get our feet wet / Let the heat get / Under our skin.”
Rose’s doctor, looking at her EEG, observes that one area “mimics the patterns of sexual arousal,” but her father says, “No, she’s been kissed before. The prince came. He kissed her. The rest of the kingdom woke, but she slept on.”
Sleep-inducing drugs are injected into the patients at the clinic.
At one point, the patients share Rose’s dreams and sing about fairy-tale and modern-world dangers that might threaten: “Keep her away from the needle / Keep her away from the spindle / Keep her away from that crowd / Keep her away from those drugs / Keep her away from that man.”
One patient, observing that everyone in the clinic shared the same dream, says, “They’ve got to be slipping us experimental drugs – which I don’t mind if they keep it up. Give us some to take home.”
The doctor slaps a patient to keep him awake.
Paint Your Wagon, created by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, is the story of a small mining town founded during the California gold rush. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1951, where it ran 289 performances – at that time a successful run. The show was much praised for its songs, which became very popular and some tunes, such as “Mariah” became folk standards. The script, however, was thought to need revision, and the 5th Avenue Theatre has received permission from the Lerner and Loewe estates to commission a brand-new book for the show by playwright Jon Marans.
Please note that because this is a new script, there will be some changes made throughout the show’s run.
The language consists mainly of “hells” and “damns.” A few vulgar expressions are used (“Get off, lard asses!” “bullshit, “You boys betting or pissing in the wind?”). “Jesus!” is also used as an exclamation.
The “f” word is used when a character declares that the wagon train is in the middle of “West Bumf-k nowhere.” A version of it is used again when the Irishman, William, receives upsetting news from home and cries out, “Feck , feck, feck!”
A boy is left an orphan when his parents die as a result of the hardships of following the trail to California.
One character, a Mormon with two wives, bullies and mistreats them, especially the second wife, Cayla; he is seen twisting her arm, hitting her in the face, and accusing her of acting “like a whore.”
A fight breaks out between Armando and Jake over payment for mining equipment; Jake pulls a knife, but the newly-arrived trapper Ben forces Jake to drop it and pay what he owes.
In the second act, the gold is no longer plentiful and many of the characters find themselves in hopeless debt as a result of gambling in Jake’s Palace. In a choreographed piece, we see the world of the town beginning to collapse: fights break out among the desperate gamblers, an attempted rape is prevented and the attacker is branded with a hot iron, a man who attempts to rob a miner is stabbed, and a trapper is caught in one of his own traps.
The founders of No Name City (all men) express their frustration with the dullness of their lives: “Lord, we’d dig straight down to Hades / To kiss the lips of scarlet ladies!”
Cayla’s husband is persuaded by the miners to sell her and she agrees (“Any of these men would be a better husband than you!”). Ben objects (“You can’t sell a woman!”), but when Jake bids on Cayla, thinking of using her to start a new business, Ben, who marries her, places the highest bid. The lyrics of the song “In Between,” sung by Ben and Cayla on their wedding night, contain some innuendo: “You’re a beauty who needs lovin’ / And to rise to that, I’m game / But the past might weigh me down / And that would be a shame.”
Later Jake opens a new business featuring gambling and girls: “Jake’s Girls” dress scantily (for 1878), dance suggestively, and occasionally disappear upstairs with customers. The miners sing of their arrival: “There’s a coach comin’ in, hurry, hurry, did you hear/With a cargo of joy from Paree/In a week, maybe less, we’ll have sins to confess/Venial sins, mortal sins, no, all three!” One girl, Pearl, announces to Jake that she is “at your service, Mr. Rutland – and anyone else’s – who can pay!”
Characters are frequently seen drinking alcohol (whiskey, bourbon, champagne), sometimes to excess, as well as using chewing tobacco.
Paint Your Wagon addresses the status of women in this frontier community (Cayla observes that “Out here, either you’re married or a prostitute! I don’t want to be a prostitute.”) It also shows the conflicts resulting from prejudice as people from different backgrounds (wives, Mormons, dance hall girls, Southern slaveholders, slaves, free people of color, Chinese, Irish, and Greek immigrants, Mexicans, trappers, businessmen) succumb to gold fever.
In this currently-running Broadway hit, a penniless British commoner, Monty Navarro, learns that he is ninth in line to inherit the earldom of Highhurst. He proceeds to get rid of the ghastly D’Ysquith (pronounced DIE- squith) family members that stand in his way. The action all takes place inside the frame of an English music-hall stage, a locale that fits both its music and its farcical humor.
Monty has a mistress, Sibella Hallward, who has been considering leaving him for a richer man, while at the same time he is attracted by the lovely Phoebe D’Ysquith (who is sweet and innocent and, fortunately for her, not in line to inherit).
A number of innuendoes and double entendres are heard, particularly in a duet (“Better with a Man”) between Monty and the gay beekeeper Henry D’Ysquith.
Monty Navarro does indeed bump off his inconvenient relatives, most of whom are quite unlovable (and all played by the same actor), but the “accidents” are played for comedy, not horror. The New York Times review observed that “you’ll be laughing too hard to shed a tear for any of them” and that “there’s nothing here to frighten children.”