Two By Two
Music by Richard Rodgers: Book by Peter Stone: Lyrics by Martin Charnin
Based on The Flowering Peach by Clifford Odets
Imperial Theatre, New York - November 10, 1970 (343 perfs)
Imagine Noah as your average 600-year-old, working-class guy from the Bronx, somehow transported back to the days of Genesis. He has a loving wife, three sons, two daughters-in-law and a chicken farm. One day, God pays a visit, informs him that the world is going to be destroyed and gives him the job of saving two of every living species, along with his own family. Noah reacts as many of us would, he calls his family together: his long-suffering wife, Esther; his eldest son Shem and his wife Leah - they're the materialistic ones, successful in the olive business; his second son Ham, the prodigal one, who gambles and neglects his wife Rachel; and the youngest son Japheth, the idealistic one, an angry young man who still lives at home. When Noah explains what God has told him to do, they too react as many of us would.
Noah can't convince them; it takes the intervention of God, with the aid of a "gitka," a magical Old Testament creature that would sing in the presence of God. Together Noah and the gitka win over the family. As pairs of animals begin to gather around them, Noah and his family follow God's instructions in building a boat from gopher wood, but Japheth is outraged at the supreme being. How can He destroy the entire world? Doesn't He like something, somewhere?
The construction continues, but very soon religious faith and engineering conflict. Noah finds no mention in God's plans of a rudder with which to steer the boat. Japheth, also the practical one and family engineer, can't believe God intends them simply to drift. An argument ensues between father and his sons, one which Noah wins.
More problems: Japheth can't board the ark without a mate; there are no obvious candidates. And of the existing marriages, at least one, Ham's and Rachel's, is in trouble, as she confides to her mother-in-law. Noah's attempts to lead his family only seem to fail. Japheth says he would rather stay behind and drown, as a final protest against a God who would destroy his own creation.
With the ark not yet complete, Japheth walks out, leaving Noah to finish the job, but, as Esther observes, Noah is an old man. God, observing the crisis, makes a miracle, and Noah reappears 510 years younger.
Japheth returns, out of loyalty, but is taken aback by the change in his father, who has now acquired an unseemly interest in matters sexual. Noah, to his credit, more readily accepts the change in Japheth, who has brought home a woman named Goldie. Japheth, it seems, had gone to town to warn his countrymen about their impending doom, which only served to enrage them, and he would have died prior to the flood had not Goldie saved his life. On the other hand, she is Not of Our Persuasion -she's a Golden Girl from the nearby Temple of the Golden Ram - but Noah, at least, is glad to see her. With the storm approaching, she joins the family on the now-completed ark.
But there is another complication: Japheth's real reason for running off, we learn, was that he has been secretly in love with Rachel, his brother's wife. Alone with her for a moment, he confesses, then tries again to run away. Noah knocks him out and has him carried aboard, then begs God once more to reconsider. But the rains are already falling.
Noah and his family emerge after a forty-day downpour to see a vast ocean and a sunny day, and they make plans for the future. Japheth remains estranged, but Noah's attention is now directed to his wife, who feels ill and needs reassurance from her now much-younger husband. Elsewhere on the ship Ham has become infatuated with Goldie. In her unsuccessful defence against his advances, she reminds him about her sacred untouchable status as a temple girl.
Relationships in a jumble, the family watches the rudderless ark collide with floating debris from the old world. Again Japheth wants to install a rudder, but Noah refuses. Immediately the ark hits something and begins to sink, and Japheth takes charge, while Noah goes off to get drunk.
Japheth and Rachel now understand that they can't live without each other. Across the boat, Shem and Leah are conversely looking for reasons to stay together, which they decide to do, grudgingly.
When Noah returns as an old man again, he finds the family in turmoil. Ham wants to divorce Rachel and marry Goldie. Japheth and Rachel want to marry. Esther is on their side, but Esther is dying. Noah resists, but as Esther dies in his arms, he finally agrees.
With the earth dry once more, Noah must now say goodbye to his children: each couple goes off in a different direction, each wife now big with child. His work is completed, but Noah is not content. He demands that God give him a sign, a promise not to destroy the world again. Noah offers God a deal: if God will preserve the earth, people will remember His name. God signals agreement and a rainbow appears as the curtain falls.
- Why Me? - Noah
- Put Him Away - Noah, Shem, Ham & Esther
- The Gitka's Song - The Family, Noah, the Gitka
- Somewhere, Somewhere - Japheth
- You Have Got To Have A Rudder On the Ark - Noah, Shem, Ham & Japheth
- Something Doesn't Happen - Rachel & Esther
- An Old Man - Esther
- Ninety Again! - Noah
- Two By Two - Noah & the Family
- I Do Not Know A Day I Did Not Love You - Japheth
- When It Dries - Noah and the Family
- You - Noah
- The Golden Ram - Goldie
- Poppa Knows Best - Noah, Japheth, Shem and Ham
- As Far As I'm Concerned - Shem, Leah
- Hey, Girlie - Noah
- The Covenant - Noah
Original Broadway Cast - Sony Broadway SK 30338