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OCR Album SleeveRobert and Elizabeth

A Musical in 2 Acts, 15 scenes. From an original idea by Fred G. Moritt; Music by Ron Grainer: Book and Lyrics by Ronald Millar: Based on The Barretts of Wimpole Street by Rudolph Besier

Lyric Theatre, London - October 20, 1964 (948 perfs)


We are introduced, through the eyes and voices of the members of the large Victorian era family Moulton-Barrett - especially the tyrannical, unyielding father and his invalid elder daughter, Elizabeth. She confides to her sister, Henrietta, that she has been receiving letters from a fellow poet, Robert Browning, that have been highly complimentary about her work.

Browning is rehearsing one of his plays at the Theatre Royal at Haymarket, and things are going badly. The mood takes an abrupt turnaround, however, when his manservant brings him word that Elizabeth Barrett has agreed to see him. There, upon their first meeting, Browning expresses his love.

Love has a remarkable effect. Elizabeth begins to gain strength. Her brothers and sisters now move her to the sunlight of the garden each day. Her father believes he is losing his grip on the only one of his children he really loves and disapproves. Elizabeth's growing self-confidence and independence cannot be dominated. Browning's devotion and continuous optimism encourage her to try to walk. Father arrives on the scent and forbids Browning to visit the house again. Respecting his wishes, they part.

Elizabeth has a relapse. Browning, in a state of some agitation, arrives at the conclusion that all the properness of England is not enough to keep him from her. The whole family is on the verge of revolt against their father's aggression. Father Barrett decides the best solution is to close the house on Wimpole Street and move the family to seclusion in the country. Hearing this, Browning - in a secret meeting - tells Elizabeth that they must elope to Italy or she must face the remainder of her days in a sickroom. Family ties give her pause for the first time, and Browning leaves without an answer. His eternal optimism deflated, he waits, frustrated, until her letter arrives conveying her consent. Their train has arrived: happiness cannot be denied as they board to begin their life together.

Musical Numbers


  3. TRIO (Arabel, Septimus and Octavius) … "Love and Duty"
  4. OCTET (George, Charles, Henry, Alfred, Septimus, Octavius, Arabel and Henrietta) … "The Family Moulton-Barrett"
    4a SCENE CHANGE (2,-3)
  5. DUET (Elizabeth and Henrietta) .. "The World Outside"
  6. (Deleted)
  7. (Deleted)
  9. SONG (Browning and Ensemble) … "The Moon In My Pocket"
  10. SCENE CHANGE … (4-5)
  11. SONG (Browning) … "I Said Love"
  12. DUET (Browning and Elizabeth) … "Want To Be Well"
  13. REPRISE (Elizabeth and Browning) … "I Said Love"
  14. SCENE CHANGE (5-6) AND MONTAGE AND SONG (Henrietta) … "You Only To Love Me"
  15. SONG (Elizabeth and Ensemble) … "The Real Thing"
    15a BALLET
    15b SONG (Elizabeth and Ensemble) … "The Real Thing" (Coda)
  16. DUET (Elizabeth and Browning) … "In A Simple Way"
  17. DUET (Elizabeth and Browning) … "I Know Now"
    17a - ACT I. CURTAIN


  1. SOLILOQUY (Elizabeth)
  2. SEXTET (George, Charles, Henry, Alfred, Septimus and Octavius) … "Pass The Eau-de-Cologne"
  3. SONG (Bella) … "What's Natural"
  4. SONG (Barrett and the Brothers) … "I'm The Master Here"
  6. SONG (Browning and Chorus) … "Escape Me Never"
  7. DUET (Henrietta and Captain Cook) … "Hate Me, Please"
  8. DUET (Browning, Cook and Ensemble) … "Under A Spell"
  9. CONCERTED NUMBER (The Family and Wilson) … "The Girls That Boys Dream About" .
  10. SCENE CHANGE (11-12)
  11. SONG (Barrett) … "What The World Calls Love"
    28a - SONG (Elizabeth) … "Woman And Man"
    28b - SCENE CHANGE (12-13)
  12. SONG (Browning) … "Frustration"
    29a - REPRISE (Wilson and Captain Cook) … "Frustration"
    29b - MELOS
    29e - MELOS
  13. REPRISE (Elizabeth, Browning and Ensemble) … "I Know Now"
  15. FINALE


Lead violin, 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello bass, flutes I-II, clarinet I, bass clarinet, clarinet II/tenor sax, horns III, trumpet, trombone, percussion, harp, organ.


40 roles, 4 principals, plus large singing and dancing chorus.

Singing Principal

Henrietta and Arabel, her sisters.
Bella, their cousin.
Wilson, Elizabeth's maid.
Robert Browning.
Edward Moulton-Barrett.
George, Alfred Henry, Charles Septimus and Octavius, his sons.
Captain Surtees Cook, in love with Henrietta.
Doctor Chambers. 

Smaller Roles

Mrs Butler, an actress.
Lady Mary and Lady Sarah, friends of Browning.
Evans, Browning's manservant.
Mr Macready, the actor-manager
Mr Harrison and Mr Langton, members of his company.
Henry Bevan, Bella's fiancé
Travers, the gardener

Total cast 40-60.

For the Chorus

Above-average opportunities for the creation of individual characterisations. A highly intelligent score, very much in the modem idiom, calls for precise preparation if its highly rewarding potential is to be realized. The chorus appear as passers-by in a moodsetting opening sequence, as visitors to the garden of 50 Wimpole Street, as theatre staff and members of Macready's stage company, guests at the Cremorne Gardens fancy-dress ball, passengers at Vauxhall station, and the crowd at Florence Station.

Scenes and Settings

2 acts, 15 scenes, and 5 full stage sets, including two painted backdrops. Two insert sets, 1 painted scene front drop. Insets are on wagons, as is the telescoping train in Act II, Scene 8.


Scene 1: The Vicinity of Wimpole Street
Scene 2: The Hall of No. 50 Wimpole Street
Scene 3: Elizabeth's Room
Scene 4: The Stage of the Theatre Royal, Haymarket
Scene 5: Elizabeth's Room
Scene 6: The Hall of No. 50 Wimpole Street
Scene 7: The Garden of No. 50 Wimpole Street


Scene 1: Elizabeth's Room
Scene 2: The Hall of No. 50 Wimpole Street
Scene 3: Cremorne Gardens, Chelsea
Scene 4: The Hall of No. 50 Wimpole Street
Scene 5: Elizabeth's Room
Scene 6: Outside Browning's Study
Scene 7: Vauxhall Station
Scene 8: Florence

Period and Costumes

1845-1846, London. Victorian costumes for street vendors, policemen, street sweeper, lamplighter, elegant ladies and gentlemen, townspeople, postman, cook, working boys and girls, pickpocket, barmaid, the Barrett children, servants and maids, Browning's suits and casual clothes, sandwich-board man, uniforms for train station workers. Two fantasy ballet sequences.


Stylised opening number, folk dance steps, ballet, choreographed dance and movement.

Lighting and Special Effects

General dramatic lighting, fireworks, rising steam from train. Model train behind scrim travels across rear drop ground row. Lampposts.

NOTES: Due to legal complications, Robert and Elizabeth has not been performed on Broadway. Apart from the Papermill Playhouse production US presentations have been restricted to professional dinner theatres, stock companies, and non-professional groups. It is still restricted in some areas at various times when a professional production is mounted.