The Girl Who Came to Supper
A Musical Comedy in Two Acts, 16 Scenes. Book by Harry Kurnitz. Based on the play The Sleeping Prince by Terence Rattigan. Music and lyrics by Noel Coward.
Broadway Theatre, New York - 8 December, 1963 (112 perfs)
On the night before the coronation of George V in 1911, London is in a gala mood. At the Majestic Theatre, the first act finale of a charming period musical The Coconut Girl ends. At its conclusion, the Grand Duke Charles - Prince Regent of Carpathia - visits the company, who honour him by singing the Carpathian National anthem, while his body guards in patriotic fervour fly into a czardas. The Prince Regent then explains his colorful ancestral background.
Chorus girl Mary Morgan has caught the Regent's eye, and Northbrook, assigned by the British government to the Carpathian retinue during their stay in London, brings Mary an invitation from the Prince Regent to dine at the Carpathian Embassy after the show. Mary imagines herself as the toast of the international set, cleverly and wittily dazzling all the guests. At the Carpathian Embassy, the normal routine is somewhat upset. The Prince Regent arrives, perturbed by reports of riots in his homeland. Northbrook enters with Mary, who is nervous about how to behave in the presence of nobility. Northbrook instructs her to address royalty as Sir or Ma'am and to obey the rules of protocol. She is suspicious of the prepared supper for two; however, after Northbrook refers to closer Anglo-Carpathian relations, the Congress of Vienna and balance of power, she agrees to stay-for only forty-five minutes.
When the Prince Regent and Mary are alone, they seem pleased with one another. He plies her with vodka but is soon interrupted by a series of arrivals: the elderly Queen Mother of Carpathia comes to plead with her son for greater leniency toward his teenage son, King Nicolas, who has been conspiring with the rebels at home against his father's autocratic rule. Further interruptions include a telephone call reporting the arrest of Carpathia's opposition leader, a verbatim recital by Mary of the Bill of Rights, and the arrival of King Nicolas protesting his arrest. When they are alone at last, the Prince Regent pleads that he is lonely, but Mary, who has had too much vodka, passes out.
Mingling with the people in St. Martin's Lane, Nicolas meets Ada Cockle, Cockney extraordinaire, peddler of fish and chips, glowing lover of life and London, who belts out Cockney ballads.
The next morning, Mary, clad in a bedspread and under
the euphoric misconception that she has given all for love, proclaims
her newborn love for the Prince Regent. Her "darlings"
addressed to him bring only an icy "Miss Morgan" in return,
and her rapturous references to last night are met with the acid comment
that he was unfortunately unable to be present. Mary dresses hurriedly,
and, when Nicholas returns, tells him she is rooting for him against
the "mean, stubborn tyrant." She is only partially flattered
by the boy's worldly compliment
that he likes her better than any of his father's other mistresses.
Northbrook's attempts to smuggle Mary out of the Embassy are intercepted by a fanfare and the Carpathian royal retinue in full regalia on their way to the coronation. However, when her lady-in-waiting becomes ill, the Queen Mother appoints Mary to the position for the occasion and bedecks her in diamonds and sable, while the infuriated Prince Regent is forced to invest Mary with the Order of Perseverance, given only for personal service to the head of state.
At Westminster Abbey, the assembled nobles lament their boredom, punctuated by Mary's enthrallment. Mary goes back to the Embassy to return the jewels but is interrupted by Nicholas, who prevails upon her to place a conspiratorial phone call for him to the German ambassador. The call is cut short, however, by the arrival of the Regent, who has had the wires tapped and places his son under house arrest. Mary delivers a lecture on fatherly love, then is dismissed by the Regent, who finds, for the first time, that he has lost the mastery of a situation.
The Prince Regent relents enough to command Nicolas to attend the Foreign Office Ball and orders him to have a good time, while the Queen Mother drafts Mary to accompany Nicolas. The Regent has invited the elegantly beautiful and compliant Lady Sunningdale to supper after the ball. She has every virtue but virtue itself.
Strolling through the streets after the ball, Mary entertains Nicolas with the hilariously complex plot of The Coconut Girl, the touching story of a nut tycoon and his daughter, The Coconut Girl, who becomes involved variously with two Yale men, an Italian villa, a garden swing, some gambling casino chorus girls, a coconut blight and a dance called The Walla Bolla Boola. Back at the Embassy, Mary confounds the Prince Regent by reading him a proclamation she has drafted for Nicolas, renouncing his conspiracy with the Germans to overthrow his father, who insists that firmness toward his son has brought order to Carpathian chaos. Mary's comforting sympathy elicits the Prince Regent's happy admission that this is the time for true love.
In the morning, the Prince Regent, a new man, makes arrangements for Mary's return with him to Carpathia and decrees free elections at home. But Mary realises the impossibility of his happy plans. With tender longing the lovers bid adieu, with the frail hope that someday - perhaps in Paris - they will be reunited. Weary now of the power he had clung to so fiercely, the Prince Regent wistfully reflects that he will remember her and leaves. As all the gilt and grandeur about her silently recedes, Mary departs, lingering only to pluck one rose, fragrant with memories.
Taken from original notes by Curtis F Brown
Swing Song - Jessie Maynard, Tony Morelli, Ensemble
Yasni Kozkolai (Carpathian National Anthem) - Ensemble
My Family Tree - Charles, Peter, Regent's Aides
I've Been Invited to a Party - Mary
Waltz - Ensemble
I've Been Invited to a Party (reprise) - Mary
When Foreign Princes Come to Visit Us - Major-Domo, Footmen
Sir or Ma'am - Peter
Soliloquies - Charles, Mary
London Is a Little Bit of All Right - Ada
What Ho, Mrs. Brisket - Ada, Ensmble
Don't Take Our Charlie for the Army - Ada, Ensemble
Saturday Night at the Rose and Crown - Ada, King Nicholas, Ensemble
London Is a Little Bit of All Right (reprise) - Ada
Here and Now - Mary
I've Been Invited to a Party (reprise) - Mary
Soliloquies (reprise) - Charles, Mary
Coronation Chorale - Mary, Charles, Principals, Ensemble
How Do You Do, Middle Age? - Charles
Here and Now (reprise) - Mary
The Stingaree - Charles, Lady Sunningdale, Ensemble
Curt, Clear and Concise - Charles, Peter
Tango - Charles, Mary, Dancing Ensemble
The Cocoanut Girl: Welcome to Pootzie Van Doyle/Paddy MacNeil and His
Automobile/Swing Song/Six Lillies of the Valley/The Walla Walla Boola - Mary
This Time It's True Love Mary
This Time It's True Love (reprise) - Charles
I'll Remember Her - Charles
Scenes and settings
The play takes place in London, just prior to and during the Coronation of His Majesty George V.
Scene 1: Backstage at the Majestic Theatre.
Scene 2: A Dressing Room Backstage.
Scene 3: Backstage.
Scene 4: The Regent's Apartment, Carpathian Embassy, Belgrave Square.
Scene 5: St. Martin's Lane.
Scene 6: Trafalgar Square.
Scene 7: St. Martin's Lane.
Scene 8: The Regent's Apartment. The next morning.
Scene 9: The Great Hall of the Embassy.
Scene 1: Westminster Abbey.
Scene 2: The Regent's Apartment.
Scene 3: A Drawing Room, Carpathian Embassy.
Scene 4: The Foreign Office Ball.
Scene 5: St. Martin's Lane.
Scene 6: The Regent's Apartment, after the Ball.
Scene 7: The Regent's - Apartment. The next morning.
(in order of appearance):
Grand Duke Charles, Prince Regent of Carpathia
King Nicholas III of Carpathia
Original Broadway Cast recording (Mel Ferrer and Florence Henderson) - Sony Broadway SK 48210