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The Nervous Set

Cover to original Broadway cast recording

A Musical in 2 Acts, 10 Scenes.

Book by Jay Landesman and Theodore J. Flicker. Based on the novel of the same name by Jay Landesman. Music by Tommy Wolf. Lyrics by Fran Landesman.

Henry Miller's Theatre, New York: Opened 12 May, 1959; closed 30 May, 1959 (23 perfs).

Directed by Theodore J. Flicker.
Settings and lighting by Paul Morrison.
Costumes by Theoni Vachlioti Aldredge.
Music arrangements and direction by Tommy Wolf.
Produced by Robert Lantz.


The first scene of The Nervous Set is Washington Square Park, where we find Bunny, an author, Brad, the editor of Nerves, a wildly avant-garde magazine and Danny, the poet. Together with other indigenous Village fauna they state their credo. Jan then appears; she is an attractive young woman, and the boys know she is from uptown because she is wearing a skirt rather than pants. Jan loves living in New York, but Brad and Danny explain that they are tired of such nonsense, and Brad invites her to his apartment. Jan capriciously accepts sensing that she may be falling in love.

A turn of the panels brings the action forward to the following Spring. Brad and Jan are now married, and find it a Fun Life. Their apartment is invaded by the wild-eyed Yogi whom Brad takes on as an associate editor for Nerves, despite the fact that Yogi has nearly assaulted the landlady. When Jan returns home from work, she persuades Brad to spend the weekend with her family in Connecticut, and another turn of the panels takes them to Fairfield County, where a party is in progress.

Dismayed by the squareness of the squires, Brad takes refuge in the bottom of an empty swimming pool, where he is joined by Sari Shaw, who is strikingly beautiful and strikingly available, and after a brief preliminary discussion, Brad makes the most of his opportunities. Back in New York, he and Jan agree that they really like the Night People, and set out for a party given at Bunny's apartment. There Jan discovers that she must learn to adjust to Brad's friends, particularly when she hears Danny explain how to make the most of one's psychoses. In an attempt to be carefree and beat, she flirts with Bunny, but finds herself unable to continue and, looking about her, muses on the waste she sees.

Brad, who is touched by her sentiments, agrees to spend a quiet evening at home, and they discuss plans for the future, when he can become a country gentleman. Their plans are interrupted by Danny, who urges them to join him at dinner at the Melancholy Pigeon with Max the Millionaire whom Danny is tutoring in poetry at fifty dollars an hour. Max explains the pleasure he takes in the company of his friends but Jan is distressed, and accuses the group of fleecing Max. He agrees with her, but points out the fun that he finds with them. Jan rushes out, and Brad defiantly goes off with Danny and Yogi to a Sutton Place party given in honor of Bunny, who has just sold his novel.

Bunny, better able to cope with the complexities of the pace than the others, explains his formula. And Brad, impressed by his idea, finds he misses Jan and returns to the apartment while the party goes riotously on.

Musical Numbers

  1. Man, We're Beat - (The Company)
  2. New York - (Brad, Danny, Jan)
  3. What's to Lose - (Jan, Brad)
  4. Stars Have Blown My Way - (Jan, Brad)
  5. Fun Life - (Brad)
  6. How Do You Like Your Love? - (Yogi)
  7. Party Song - (The Company)
  8. If I Could Put You in a Song - (Brad, Jan)
  9. Night People - (Brad, Jan)
  10. I've Got a Lot to Learn About Life - (Jan)
  11. Rejection - (Danny, Company)
  12. The Ballad of the Sad Young Men - (Jan)
  13. A Country Gentleman - (Brad, Jan)
  14. Max the Millionaire - (Max, Brad, Yogi, Danny)
  15. Laugh, I Thought I'd Die - (Brad)
  16. Travel the Road of Love - (Bunny, Company)
  17. (Fun Life reprise) - (The Company)

Original Cast

in order of appearance

Scenes and Settings

Act 1

Scene I: Sunday Afternoon, late summer. Washington Square Park, New York City. Now.
Scene 2: The following spring, Brad and Jan's apartment on Perry Street.
Scene 3: That weekend. Jan's parents' home, Fairfield County, Connecticut.
Scene 4: The same evening. The bottom of an unfilled pool.
Scene 5: Later. Inside the house again.
Scene 6: The next weekend. Bunny Carwell's apartment on Avenue A.

Act 2

Scene 1: A few days later. Brad and Jan's apartment.
Scene 2: Later the same day. The Melancholy Pigeon.
Scene 3: That evening. Katherine Sloan Wittiker's apartment on Sutton Place.
Scene 4: Later at Brad and Jan's apartment.