A Musical Comedy in 2 Acts. Book by Al Morgan and Jose Ferrer. Based on an original screenplay ("The Captain's Paradise") by Alec Coppel. Music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.
Alvin Theatre, Broadway - Opened 4 February, 1958. closed 19 July 1958 (192 perfs)
Described by Frank Aston in the World Telegram and Sun as a "splendiferous, gaudy. songful, comical, dancing joy that happens none too often!, José Ferrer's production of Oh, Captain! had smooth sailing all the way. It was the outstanding musical success of the Philadelphia season, and found New Yorkers equally eager to absorb its high spirits and salty humours. With no aim other than entertainment, it instantly became one of Broadway's biggest hits and seems securely berthed at the Alvin Theatre for many months to come."
Principally a song-and-dance show, Oh Captain! employs the standard ingredients of such musicals to brilliant effect. The songs are merry and tuneful, the settings and costumes are both comic and beautiful, and the story itself is gloriously improbable without leaving the realms of possibility.The show has a score that bubbles along its merry way spilling out with songs that are alternately romantic and agreeably bawdy. And, of course, the story is based on that fine British comedy, The Captain's Paradise, employing suitable changes for the musical stage - and the fact that the locale has been switched to England and Paris.
The action begins in "A Very Proper Town," a splendidly British suburb of London, where Captain Henry St. James lives with his wife Maud. The Captain is a ghastly example of self-satisfaction and punctilio, while Maud is a charming woman somewhat beaten by her husband's ways. She would like to go out once in a while and have some fun, but the Captain feels that fun is not for people like them. "Life Does a Man a Favour " he feels, allowing him to have a strictly-run home and a tightly-run ship. The Captain's run with his ship gives him a week-end in London, five days at sea, a week-end in Paris, and then back again. His week-end at his suburban home over, the Captain returns to his ship, aglow with conceit ("Life Does a Man a Favour"), and is greeted by his crew ("Captain Henry St. James"). Aboard the SS Paradise the captain explains to Manzoni, his mate, that he has "Three Paradises": one his home, one his ship and the third, an establishment in Paris. Meanwhile, Maud has won first prize in a recipe contest - a trip to Paris - and impulsively decides to fly over to see her husband ( "Surprise").
His arrival in Paris produces an astounding change in the Captain ("Life, Does a Man a Favour"), who sheds his priggishness for wild gaiety ("Hey, Madame"). It further shows that he shares his Paris apartment with a splendid young woman named Bobo whose "Femininity" is so staggering that she is forced to be a sex symbol rather than the retiring woman she would like to be. Back on the ship, the crew asks Manzoni why he never goes ashore, and he replies that "It's Never Quite the Same" when one returns to old scenes. Maud turns up looking for the Captain, having spent a discouraging weekend, and is induced to go off on a sight-seeing tour on her last night. In the bus, she meets a dangerously amorous Spaniard and surprises him with her reactions to his advances ("We're Not Children"). The tour takes them to a night-club run by Mae who welcomes the customers ("Give It All You Got") and then introduces her ladies of the ensemble ("Love Is Hell"). The next artist on the program is Bobo, who is performing her number ("Keep It Simple") when the Captain enters. He is furious to find Maud and the Spaniard in a wild flirtation, and she is amazed to find him involved with Bobo, while Bobo is equally incensed.
After the rigors of the night before, Mae is glad to relax to "The Morning Music of Montmartre." Maud, on the other hand, is determined to confront Bobo, and does, but although each feels she has the stronger claim to the Captain ("You Don't Know Him") they also find a firm bond of friendship in the fact that he has deceived both of them. Hiding on his ship. the Captain seeks Manzoni's advice, and Manzoni urges him to give up his duplicity ("I've Been There and I'm Back"). Thereupon the Captain goes to Bobo's flat to confront the women, who accuse him of operating on a "Double Standard," and Bobo, tired of the whole thing, walks out with Manzoni ("You're So Right for Me"). The Captain urges Maud to stay with him ("All the Time"), but she too decides to leave him. The Captain, broken by the sudden dissolution of his three paradises, gives Bobo and Manzoni his once-beloved ship.
At the "Finale", the forgiving Maud returns, and is reconciled with her foolish Captain
- A Very Proper Town - Captain Henry St. James, Company
- Life Does a Man a Favor (When It Gives Him Simple Joys) - Mrs. Maud St. James, Captain Henry St. James
- A Very Proper Week - English Townspeople
- Life Does a Man a Favor (When It Leads Him Down to the Sea) - Captain Henry St. James, Enrico Manzoni, the Crew
- Captain Henry St. James - Crew of the S.S. Paradise
- The Dock Dance - Dockworkers
- Three Paradises - Captain Henry St. James
- Surprise - Mrs. Maud St. James, Neighbours
- Life Does a Man a Favour (When It Puts Him in Paree) - Captain Henry St. James
- Hey Madame - Captain Henry St. James, Lisa
- Femininity - Bobo
- It's Never Quite the Same - Enrico Manzoni, Crew
- It's Never Quite the Same (reprise) - Mrs. Maud St. James, Enrico Manzoni, Crew
- We're Not Children - Mrs. Maud St. James, A Spaniard
- Give It All You Got - Mae, Tourists
- Love Is Hell - Mae, Ladies of the Ensemble
- Keep It Simple - Bobo, Dancing Companions
- The Morning Music of Montmartre - Mae, People of Montmartre
- You Don't Know Him - Bobo, Mrs. Maud St. James
- I've Been There and I'm Back - Enrico Manzoni, Captain Henry St. James
- Double Standard - Bobo, Mrs. Maud St. James
- All the Time - Captain Henry St. James
- You're So Right for Me - Enrico Manzoni, Bobo
- All the Time (reprise) - Mrs. Maud St. James
- Finale - Entire Company
Male - 10 : Female - 6
CAST (in order of appearance):
- Captain Henry St. James
- Mrs. Maud St. James
- Enrico Manzoni
- The Crew, S.S.. Paradise
- A Clerk
- The Neighbours
- The Guide
- A Spaniard
English Townspeople, Dockworkers, Tourists, Parisians
Scenes and Settings
- The action takes place in suburban London, on board the S.S. Paradise , and in Paris.