As Sondheim puts it, “Broadway theater has been for company vocal score pdf years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems. Sondheim to read the material.
Prince thought the plays would make the basis for a musical. The theme would be New York marriages with a central character to examine those marriages. In the early 1990s, Furth and Sondheim revised the libretto, cutting and altering dialogue that had become dated and rewriting the end to act one. This synopsis is based on the revised libretto. Joanne and Larry, Peter and Susan, Harry and Sarah, David and Jenny, and Paul and Amy. It is Robert’s 35th birthday and the couples have gathered to throw him a surprise party. What follows is a series of disconnected vignettes in no apparent chronological order, each featuring Robert during a visit with one of the couples or alone with a girlfriend.
Sarah and Harry taunt each other on their vices, escalating toward karate-like fighting and thrashing that may or may not be playful. The caustic Joanne, the oldest, most cynical, and most-oft divorced of Robert’s friends, comments sarcastically to the audience that it is “The Little Things You Do Together” that make a marriage work. Harry then explains, and the other married men concur, that you are always “Sorry-Grateful” about getting married, and that marriage changes both everything and nothing about the way you live. Robert is next with Peter and Susan, on their apartment terrace. Robert with the news of their upcoming divorce.
At the home of the uptight Jenny and chic David, Robert has brought along some marijuana that they share. The couple turns to grilling Robert on why he has not yet gotten married. David tries to tell Robert privately that Jenny didn’t like the marijuana, after she asks for another joint. I married a square,” he reminds his wife, demanding she bring him food.
Robert first gets to know April, a slow-witted airline flight attendant. New York, and babbles on about topics as diverse as true sophistication, the difference between uptown and downtown New York, and how you can always tell a New Yorker by his or her ass. Robert, the best man, and Paul watch as she complains and self-destructs over every petty thing she can possibly think of and finally just calls off the wedding explicitly. Paul dejectedly storms out into the rain and Robert tries to comfort Amy, but emotionally winds up offering an impromptu proposal to her himself.
Paul, at last ready to marry him. The setting returns to the scene of the birthday party, where Robert is given his cake and tries to blow out the candles again. He wishes for something this time, someone to “Marry Me a Little. The birthday party scene is reset, and Robert goes to blow out his candles. This time, he gets them about half out, and the rest have to help him. What Would We Do Without You?
Robert brings April to his apartment for a nightcap after a date. Isn’t she a little bit, well–Dumb? She’s tall enough to be your mother. When the inevitable sex happens, we hear Robert’s and April’s thoughts, interspersed with music that expresses and mirrors their increasing excitement. The next morning, April rises early, to report for duty aboard a flight to “Barcelona. Robert tries to get her to stay, at first wholeheartedly, parrying her apologetic protestations that she can’t, with playful begging and insistence. This takes Robert by surprise, and his astonished, plaintive “Oh, God!
In the following scene, Robert takes Marta to visit Peter and Susan, on their terrace. Apparently, Peter flew to Mexico to get the divorce, but he phoned Susan and she joined him there for a vacation. Bizarrely, they are still living together, claiming they have too many responsibilities to actually leave each other’s lives, and that their relationship has actually been strengthened by the divorce. Susan takes Marta inside to make lunch, and Peter asks Robert if he has ever had a homosexual experience. They both admit they have, and Peter hints at the possibility that he and Robert could have such an encounter, but Robert uncomfortably laughs the conversation off as a joke just as the women return. Joanne and Larry take Robert out to a nightclub, where Larry dances, and Joanne and Robert sit watching, getting thoroughly drunk. She blames Robert for always being an outsider, only watching life rather than living it, and also persists in berating Larry.
She raises her glass in a mocking toast to “The Ladies Who Lunch”, passing judgment on various types of rich, middle-aged women wasting their lives away with mostly meaningless activities. Her harshest criticism is reserved for those, like herself, who “just watch,” and she concludes with the observation that all these ladies are bound together by a terror that comes with the knowledge that “everybody dies. Larry returns from the dance floor, taking Joanne’s drunken rant without complaint and explains to Robert that he still loves her dearly. When Larry leaves to pay the check, Joanne bluntly invites Robert to begin an affair with her, assuring him that she will “take care of him. The reply this elicits from him, “But who will I take care of?