The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
A Musical in 2 Acts Book by Joe Manchester. Lyrics by Earl Shuman. Music by Leon Carr.
Based on the story by James Thurber
Opened 26 October 1964 - Players Theatre (Off-Broadway) - 96 perfs
The action takes place at the present time in Waterbury, Conn. in the everyday and secret life of Walter Mitty.
The short story deals with a vague and mild-mannered man who drives into Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife for their regular weekly shopping and his wife's visit to the beauty parlour. During this time he has five heroic daydream episodes. The first is as a pilot of a U.S. Navy flying boat in a storm, then he is a magnificent surgeon performing a one-of-a-kind surgery, then as a cool assassin testifying in a courtroom, and then as a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot volunteering for a daring, secret suicide mission to bomb an ammunition dump. As the story ends, Mitty imagines himself facing a firing squad, "inscrutable to the last."
Each of the fantasies is inspired by some detail of Mitty's mundane surroundings:
- The powering up of the "Navy hydroplane" in the opening scene is followed by Mrs. Mitty's complaint that Mitty is "driving too fast", which suggests that his driving was what led to the daydream.
- Mitty's turn as a brilliant surgeon immediately follows his taking off and putting on his gloves (as a surgeon dons surgical gloves) and driving past a hospital.
- The courtroom drama cliché "Perhaps this will refresh your memory", which begins the third fantasy, follows Mitty's attempt to remember what (besides overshoes) his wife told him to buy; and also a newspaper vendor using news of a trial to sell his papers. (Thurber once used the same line to caption a cartoon in which a prosecutor shows the defendant a kangaroo.)
- Mitty's fourth daydream comes as he waits for his wife and picks up an old copy of Liberty, reading "Can Germany Conquer the World Through the Air?", and visions himself fighting Germany while volunteering to pilot a plane normally piloted by two people.
- The closing firing-squad scene comes when Mitty is standing against a wall, smoking.
- Don't Forget
- Drip, Drop
- Fan the Flame
- Hello, I Love You, Goodbye
- Lonely Ones
- Marriage Is For Old Folks
- Now That I'm Forty-Five
- The Secret Life
- She's Talking Out
- Two Little Pussycats
- Walking With Penninah
- The Walter Mitty March
- You're Not