Broadway By the Book - The Story

Performed June 2016 at Wolf Performance Hall

Chapter 1

The Voices of Broadway Show Choir’s mission is to bring Broadway Musicals to Londoners and at the same time to educate and entertain.  Broadway By The Book's theme is about Broadway Musicals that were based on books.  There were many to choose from: The opening number, Chapter One of our show, was Tonight, from the adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet to the musical West Side Story


Wouldn't It Be Loverly?

I Could Have Danced All Night

Chapter 2

In Chapter Two, we told the story Pygmalion as it was presented in My Fair Lady, which follows the book fairly closely, except for creating a happier ending for the stage version.  Linguistics Professor Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can transform a “rough around the edges” Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a “proper” upper class lady, and unbeknownst to him, Eliza has dreamed of a better life, as heard in Wouldn't It Be Loverly? and I Could Have Danced All Night. Both On The Street Where You Live and Get Me To The Church On Time reflect various love plots in the story, but I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face is the song that sets the tone for the happy ending. Professor Higgins, a self-proclaimed bachelor, is furious to discover he is in love with Eliza.

Chapter Three is our most current novel in the anthology. Ragtime, written in 1975, a work of historical fiction set in the early 1900s. Fictional and historical events, characters, and ideas are woven into the narrative creating a fabric of fame and success on the one hand, and poverty and racism on the other. The plot revolves around three distinct groups in New York City: the white upper class, Black Americans, and Jewish immigrants – and as it progresses, their stories gradually blend together and lines become blurred. One of the main characters is a successful Harlem ragtime pianist, Coalhouse Walker Junior. In one scene, he & his love, Sarah, are on an idyllic picnic, Coalhouse proudly polishing his new Model T, and telling Sarah of his hopes and dreams for a rosy future. Together they sing of the promise of freedom that the car represents for them and their infant son in Wheels Of A Dream.  Sadly, the story does not end well for Coalhouse. Sarah is killed at a political rally and Coalhouse embarks on a path of violence to avenge her death and achieve social justice for all. Through a series of events, he comes to realize violence is not the answer. Facing his own death, he implores others to carry on the fight in a peaceful way in Make Them Hear You.

Chapter 3

Wheels of a Dream

Chapter 4

Chapter Four focuses on another American tale, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, adapted into the musical Big River. Set in Missouri and all along the Mississippi, the show's music is a blend of bluegrass, country and gospel, with the story revolving around Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and the runaway slave “Big Jim”. At the beginning, in Do Ya Wanna Go To Heaven, we see Huck in trouble with the whole town for his mischievous behaviour, but later he meets up with Tom and their friends in We Are The Boys and I Huckleberry Me, and we see no sign of Huck changing his ways, in fact, he has run away from home. He meets up with Big Jim who has just run away from his master, and they team up for rMuddy Water and River In The Rain as they raft down the mighty Mississippi toward freedom. On a brief stop, they encounter some con artists looking to bilk townsfolk in When The Sun Goes Down In The South, and this is when Huck starts to realize mischief may be okay, but cheating and hurting people is not acceptable. As they continue on their journey, Huck & Jim become much closer friends, but the reality is that Huck truly can't understand Jim's situation, as explained in Worlds Apart. Unfortunately, soon afterwards, Jim is captured and sold back into slavery. In Waitin' For The Light To Shine, Huck expresses his determination to set his friend free, regardless of the consequences. We hear of Jim's plight from his cell in Free At Last. Tom Sawyer joins Huck to rescue Jim, who escapes and heads North to freedom.

Do You Wanna' Go To Heaven

Waitin' For The Light to Shine

Chapter 5

Already Home

Our final Chapter of Act 1 is L Frank Baum's the Wizard of Oz, which has been adapted for the stage more than once. The central character, Dorothy Gale, lives on a farm in Kansas, but runs away from home when things don't go her way. She is swept up by a cyclone, and lands in Oz, where she becomes friends with a scarecrow, a tinman, and a lion. Under the guidance of the good witch Glinda, they embark on an adventuresome journey to meet The Wizard. Throughout her travels, Dorothy longs for home, and hopes this Wizard will be able to send her back.  The most recent version of this stage production debuted new songs – one of which you will hear next. Already Home is sung at the end of the show. The Wizard failed to find a way for Dorothy to get home, but Glinda assures her that she always had the power to return home on her own. Another adaptation of The Wizard of Oz is an urbanized retelling of the story called “The Wiz: The Super Soul Musical “Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. The song we've chosen occurs when Dorothy destroys the wicked witch of the west – Everybody Rejoice.

Chapter 6

Act 2 starts with Chapter 6, and is probably the least-known book in our anthology. The String of Pearls: A Romance, was first published as a penny dreadful serial in the 1840s. It tells the story of the infamous Demon Barber of Fleet Street,  Sweeney Todd for whom the show is named. Todd is a barber who murders his customers and turns their remains into meat pies, which are sold at the pie shop of his partner in crime, Mrs Lovett. The stage is set with the narrative The Ballad of Sweeney Todd, followed by Mrs. Lovett's lament about the scarcity of meat The Worst Pies In London. When this problem is solved with Sweeney's assistance, and business is now booming at the shop, she then dreams of a better lifestyle in By The Sea. The charismatic style of our murderous barber is heard in Pretty Women as he calms his unsuspecting customer in anticipation of his eventual fate. Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett have a young simple minded assistant,Tobias, who is completely unaware of what is actually happening in their meat pie business, but knows that there is something sinister about Mr. Todd. Toby sings of his desire to protect Mrs. Lovett, whom he adores, in Not While I'm Around

Sweeney Todd Medley

The Ballad of Sweeney Todd

It’s amazing how many musicals are based on the works of Shakespeare – this time, a comedy – Twelfth Night, a play of riotous confusion where servants dress up as their masters, men as women, women as men, masters become slaves. There are several musical adaptations, we've chosen All Shook Up which uses the music of Elvis Presley. In this musical, many characters fall in love with different people; in fact, there are lists: first, one of each character and who they fall in love with, second, a list of the characters and who falls in love with them, and finally, a list of the couples who are together at the end of the show.  At the close of Act One, everyone gathers at the fairgrounds searching for someone to love, singing Can't Help Falling In Love.  Next from All Shook Up was the opening number of the show, which featured our men. Somewhere in the midwest USA in the 1950s, Chad, a hip-swiveling, guitar-playing roustabout, (no wonder they used the music of Elvis -  Jailhouse Rock.) 

Chapter 7

Jailhouse Rock

Oh The Thinks You Can Think

Green Eggs and Ham

Chapter 8

Chapter 8, and FINALLY a children's book!! or bookS! Seussical The Musical, based on selected works of Dr. Seuss, the musical Seussical features well loved and well known characters – Horton The Elephant, Gertrude McFuzz, Mayzie LaBird, the Who's of Whoville...and JoJo...and The Cat in the Hat – who kicks off the show by introducing all of the characters in Oh The Thinks You Can Think. When Horton tries to convince others that there are tiny beings living on a speck of dust, and who he is trying to protect, the Sour Kangaroo ridicules him in Biggest Blame Fool. Horton connects with Jo Jo from Whoville, and they discover they have much in common, including BIG imaginations, as sung in It's Possible. The Cat In The Hat returns later to give some advice about how to handle bad situations in How Lucky You Are. Jo Jo and Horton, both feeling alone and frightened, dream about a faraway place called “Solla Sollew”. Not a part of the actual show, Green Eggs and Ham is the curtain call.

Our last chapter features another series of children's books, which tell the tale of a magical nanny who is blown by the East Wind into a household in London to care for the children. They encounter chimney sweeps, shopkeepers, and go on many adventures together. Of course, we’re talking about Mary Poppins. The chimneysweep Bert sets the stage for magic and adventure with Chim Chim Cher-ee. The practically perfect Mary explains her outlook on life in A Spoonful of Sugar, as the children learn how to make unpleasant tasks more enjoyable. Mary, Bert, and the children go on a magical outing in Jolly Holiday.  While on another outing, Mary takes the children to St. Paul's Cathedral and introduces them to the Bird Woman. Jane is suspicious of her, but Michael responds to the Bird Woman and throws crumbs for the birds in the song, Feed The BirdsStep In Time, the song in which Bert introduces the children to his fellow chimney sweeps, and they all go for a romp around London....on the rooftops!  On the trip home from the Cathedral, the children meet the enigmatic Mrs. Corry who runs a magic sweet shop that also sells words – such as - Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Chapter 9

Step in Time