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House of Flowers

Cover to Original Cast Recording

A Musical in 2 Acts, 13 Scenes. Book by Truman Capote, based on his novela of the same name. Music by Harold Arlen. Lyrics by Truman Capote and Harold Arlen.

Alvin Theatre, New York: Opened 30 December, 1954; closed 21 May, 1955 (165 perfs)


It begins on the afternoon before Mardi Gras on the verandah of Modame Fleur's brothel, Maison des Fleurs, where the girls, each named after a flower, are looking for business. Madame Fleur explains her philosophy to them.

Capt. Jonas arrives with the news that a wealthy white Frenchman, Monsieur Jamison, has taken an interest in the prize of her establishment, Violet, whose actual name is Ottilie. When Madame Fleur goes off to negotiate with Jamison, Ottilie reveals that she has consulted a witch doctor, a Houngan, who has explained to her how she will know her love is true.

The girls go into town to see a cockfight. One of the country boys who has brought a cock to fight is the handsome Royal, whose innocence is comparable to Ottilie's. The two are immediately attracted to each other, and Royal invites her to live with him in his House of Flowers. She agrees.

Back at Maison des Fleurs M. Jamison comes to meet Ottilie.

Madame Fleur has learned that Ottilie has gone off with Royal and, worse, plans to marry him. She recalls that she disposed of one of her husbands by having Capt. Jonas seal him in a barrel and toss him into the shark-infested waters. She proposes dealing with Royal similarly. Jonas balks at this but reluctantly, he consents. It will be easier to do, Fleur notes, in the commotion surrounding Mardi Gras.

Ottilie brings Royal to meet Madame Fleur, informing her they will be married the next day. Fleur tells them it's bad luck for the bridal couple to spend the night before the wedding together. Fleur end Jonas enter followed by two men carrying a barrel.

The next morning Ottilie appears in her wedding dress and informs the assembled she is getting married. The groom, however, has disappeared. Knowing Fleur's plans for Ottilie, the girls wonder if she had anything to do with his disappearance. They threaten to desert her. She lures them back with promises. Capt. Jonas, feeling guilty, goes to see Fleur's rival, Madame Tango, who promises him free run of her house if he shores information that can put Fleur behind bars.

He goes off with one of her girls. As it turns out, Royal has escaped the dangers of the sea by taking refuge on the back of a turtle. Royal recounts his adventures. When Tango and Jonas come to accuse Fleur of murder, Royal turns up, which allows her to accuse them of malicious slander. Ottilie and Royal go off together.

Original Cast

(in order of appearance):

Scenes & Settings

The action takes place on an island in the West Indies during Mardi Gras weekend.

Act 1

Scene 1: Maison Des Fleurs.
Scene 2: On the way to the Cockfight.
Scene 3: At the Cockfight.
Scene 4: Maison Des Fleurs.
Scene 5: The Houngan's Hut.
Scene 6: The harbour of the town.

Act 2

Scene 1: Maison Des Fleurs.
Scene 2: Madame Fleur's Salon.
Scene 3: The Houngan's Hut.
Scene 4: Madame Tango's Salon.
Scene 5: Madame Fleur's Salon.
Scene 6: Maison Des Fleurs.
Scene 7: Finale.

Musical Numbers

  1. Waitin' - Pansy, Tulip, Gladiola
  2. One Man Ain't Quite Enough - Madame Fleur
  3. Madame Tango's Tango - Madame Tango, Tango Belles
  4. A Sleepin' Bee - Ottilie , Pansy, Tulip, Gladiola
  5. Bamboo Cage - The Champion, The Steel Band, Do, Don't, Pansy, Tulip, Gladiola, Madame Tango, Chief of Police, Ensemble
  6. House of Flowers - Royal, Ottilie
  7. Two Ladies in de Shade of de Banana Tree - Pansy, Gladiola, Tulip, Dancer
  8. What Is a Friend For? - Madame Fleur
  9. A Sleepin' Bee (reprise) - Ottilie , Royal
  10. Mardi Gras - Duchess of the Sea, Ensemble & Dancers
  11. I Never has Seen Snow - Ottilie
  12. Husband Cage - Pansy, Tulip, Gladiola, Ensemble
  13. I'm Gonna Leave Off Wearing My Shoes - Ottilie , Ensemble
  14. Has I Let You Down? - Madame Fleur, Pansy, Tulip, Gladiola
  15. Voudou - The Houngan, Ensemble, Drummers
  16. Slide, Boy, Slide - Madame Tango, Ensemble, Dancers
  17. Don't Like Goodbyes - Madame Fleur
  18. Turtle Song - Royal, Ottilie , Ensemble
  19. Finale: Bamboo Cage/Banana Tree - Entire Company