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Hans Andersen


A musical in two acts by Tommy Steele and Beverley Cross. Lyrics and music taken from the film score and other works by Frank Loesser. Additional songs by Marvin Laird.

Produced at the London Palladium 17 December 1974 with Tommy Steele (Hans), Colette Gleeson (Jenny), Milo O'Shea (Otto), Bob Todd (Meisling) and Lila Kaye (Madame Meisling). Revived there 17 December 1977 with Steele, Sally Ann Howes, Anthony Valentine and Miss Kaye.


Act I

Hans Christian Andersen, a young shoemaker who dreams of being a second William Shakespeare, is interrupted in his work by the village children on their way to school, demanding a story ("Thumbelina"). This incurs the wrath of their crusty old schoolmaster Rector Meisling who pours scorn on Hans' dramatic ambitions, aided and abetted by his wife Louise.

Encouragement appears in the form of Otto, an itinerant musician who persuades Hans to accompany him to the Odense Theatre where he has been engaged as rehearsal pianist for the celebrated soprano Jenny Lind. The warm-hearted Jenny offers to read a play Hans has written, brushing aside the protestations of her sardonic manager Max Klaus. She gently suggests Hans goes back to school to improve his writing skills and he carries back to Rector Meisling an instruction from the genial Colonel Guldberg, Governor of Odense, for his education to be completed.

Studying alongside the children, Hans is reprimanded by the Rector when he catches him telling them another story ("Inchworm"). When his wife succumbs to the spell of Hans' storytelling, the Rector misinterprets the situation and threatens Hans with dire punishment, but he is rescued by the magical appearance of Otto. Discovering he can at last spell, Hans sets off with Otto to seek his future ("Anywhere I Wander") and after an inspiring encounter with Jonas, a young midshipman also making his way in the world, arrives in the capital ("Wonderful Copenhagen").

Act II

Tommy Steele in the London Production of Hans Andersen

Tommy Steele in the London production of
Hans Andersen"

Several months later. Hans tries in vain to interest publishers in his manuscript and from the ensuing scuffle finds himself - with a little help from Max - in prison. His cellmate is none other than Otto, who quickly revives his spirits. What's more, he has good news in the form of a newspaper advertisement placed by Jenny Lind, seeking news of Hans. Armed with this credential, their release is assured.

At Max's house an elegant reception is being held in Jenny's honour to celebrate her triumphant American tour. Max is all for having the shabby Hans thrown out, but Jenny receives him warmly, anxious for news of his progress. Hans' attempts to expound his cumbersome manuscript draw amusement from the guests and scorn from Max. Hans confesses to the servants that he feels out of place and, reminiscing, relates a tale from a childhood memory ("The Ugly Duckling"). Jenny overhears and is enthralled; Hans is astonished when she predicts he has a great future - not writing operas or masterpieces, but children's stories - the "make-ups" that have always been second nature to him.

Time passes and Hans achieves fame. Both he and Jenny now have busy careers and only one thing is lacking - love. But while Hans pours out his feeling for her, Jenny is thinking of someone else ("No Two People"). As always at times of crisis, Otto appears. He convinces Hans he will find consolation in his work and urges him to accept a Royal Command to appear at the Castle of Kronberg, where he tells a daring story for the best-dressed monarch ("The King's New Clothes"). The King confers on Hans the Royal Order of Danneborg, but it is the locket that Jenny gives him that Hans will cherish for ever.


Musical Numbers:

  1. Ecclesiasticus
  2. Don't Talk To Me About Those Happy Days
  3. I'm Hans Christian Andersen
  4. For Hans Tonight
  5. Thumbelina
  6. Inchworm
  7. Anywhere I Wander
  8. This Town
  9. Wonderful Copenhagen
  10. The Ugly Duckling
  11. No Two People
  12. The King's New Clothes
  13. Dare to take a chance
  14. Happy days
  15. Have I stayed away too long?


Reed 1: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet
Reed 2: Piccolo, Flute, Alto Sax
Reed 3: Tenor Say, Bass Clarinet
Reed 4: Baritone Sax, Clarinet
3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones
2 Percussion
Harp, Piano, Electronic Organ
Electric and Acoustic Guitar
Bass Guitar, Banjo