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MAKE ME AN OFFER A Musical in 2 Acts: Book by Wolf Mankowitz; Music & lyrics by David Heneker and Monty Norman Theatre Royal, Stratford East - 19th October 1959 New Theatre - 16th December 1959 (267 perfs) Awards - Evening Standard Award for Best Musical 1959 SYNOPSIS Make Me An Offer is set in the world of the small-time antique dealers in and around the Portobello Road Market in London. Charlie, an expert in Wedgwood china, longs to own a beautiful piece for himself. His chance comes when he is involved in an auction for a complete (fake) Wedgwood room - and he ends up with a valuable (genuine) vase. Charlie's main rival dealer in the saga is the stunning Redhead, and his wife, Sally. STORY Act 1 It is a few years ago (well, quite a few now), in the days when Wedgwood china and the Portobello Road were both fashionable. Charlie is a little market dealer who has a special knowledge of Wedgwood. It isn't a special knowledge which is particularly paying and so Charlie and Sally and baby Charles inhabit an undersized apartment where there isn't really space to live and where Charlie constantly barks his shins on the baby's pram trying to get into the kitchen and wishes there were no pram. And, although he doesn't know it yet, Sally is pregnant again. In the Portobello Road Charlie has his stall. The top dogs of the market are the rival dealers Abe Sparta, who is also Charlie's landlord, and Morris Wendl. The two have only spoken in insults for years since an incident over the sale of some stuffed gorillas. Of course, they still do business with each other for men must live, but even now the stuffed gorillas need only to be mentioned to bring both men to apoplectic silence. Today, for once, both of them have need of Charlie. There is to be a big demolition sale at Cramping Grange and both men have noticed the description in the catalogue of 'a panelled room with a superb frieze of Wedgwood bas-reliefs.' Each in turn tries to force Charlie to rally to his side with his expertise on Wedgwood. They know how, they are dealers to their guts. Charlie isn't. A vase which he can't sell by giving chapter and verse on its manufacture, Wendl straightaway sells to the same customer at twice the price by a heavy ladling on of sharp talk. Charlie, unfortunately, cares about the objects he sells and that's no way to make money enough to buy his dream home. Perhaps a little less honesty might get him out of the hated flat, away from the omnipresent pram. In the meantime he can't give Sally enough money for the groceries: she gets sour, and he gets mad because he knows he can't provide. Together they get worse. A stunning redhead with a cultured accent arrives in the market. She's not a customer; she's come to set up business and not on a barrow. She's taken the shop behind Charlie's stall, the shop he always meant to have when the day came that he had money. When she asks him to shift his barrow away from its traditional place at the front of her shop a little war breaks out, but the redhead wins. After all, 'Business Is Business'. And business, big business promptly turns up in the form of Messrs Mindel and Sweeting from the US of A, representing Mossie, the Chicago Antique King, and Andy's House of Antiques, California, in combination. They go through the market like vacuum cleaners to the acknowledgement of the stallholders, quite conscious of their own significance and aware of the resale value of the mixture of culture and junk they are