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Goodbye Mr. Chips

Original Cast Album Cover

Music & Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse : Based on the novel by James Hilton

Chichister Festival Theatre - August 11, 1982 (38 perfs)


At Brookfield, the school day begins with Arthur Chipping - Mr Chips - taking the class register. Then the boys sing the school song, in which they hope for a meaningful role in their future lives. Mr Chips, the classics master at Brookfield, yearns for the more elevating values - honour, peace, brotherly love which marked the Ancient Greek world. The boys, clearly, do not share his enthusiasm as, ungrammatically, they drone their way through a translation of Homer, the Ancient Greek poet. They sing of their boredom and the hard grind they must endure.

Mr Chips has a rueful contempt for the boys' philistine values: 'They have mud in their brains,' he claims. All the same, he feels a failure because he cannot communicate to them his own love of the classics. The boys rush off as the eagerly anticipated holidays begin.

Despite his cynical mood, Chips realizes sadly how brief schooldays and youth can be and how soon, or so it seems, they become regretted memories of the past. Mr Chips has planned to spend the holidays in Harrogate, a very humdrum choice according to his friend Max Staefel, the German master at Brookfield. Max wants Chips to do something more exciting.

Unknown to either of them, Max's success in getting Chips to join him on holiday in Austria has given the lonely classics master a wonderful chance of happiness. In Austria, Chips meets a young woman, Katherine Bridges. Although until then a confirmed bachelor, Chips warms to the delightful Katherine, who is bright, intelligent and charming - not at all the sort of woman Chips has met in his restricted academic life. For her part, despite the difference in their ages, Katherine falls in love with Chips. She sees the kindliness beneath the fuddy-duddy exterior Chips shows to the world and to his pupils at Brookfield, who think him a tyrannical bore. Katherine resolves to tell Chips at the earliest opportunity how she feels about him.

The holidays are over. The masters' trips abroad and the boys' time at home have ended and they return for another term at Brookfield. The boys, of course, are not exactly happy, but cheer themselves up by contemplating the magic age of 17, when they can leave school behind for ever.

Katherine, meanwhile, has achieved her wish to tell Mr Chips that she loves him. He is, at first, rather taken aback. It has never occurred to him that a beautiful young lady like Katherine could possibly find him attractive. However, much to his own surprise, he proposes to her and she, even more amazingly to him, accepts. They marry and he brings her to Brookfield. There, she becomes very popular with the boys as she brings some brightness into their tedious lives.

Katherine's new position at the school does not turn out to be an easy one. Chips has shocked some of his stuffier teaching colleagues and their snobbish wives by marrying a woman from outside the narrow confines of the school world and the wives are, frankly, jealous of her popularity. Chips and Katherine are, however, determined that love will see them through all the difficulties the future may hold.

After all his years alone and unappreciated, Chips is now truly happy at last, all the more so because he and Katherine are expecting a child. Sadly, tragedy awaits and, after Katherine's death in childbirth, time moves on many years into the future, making her and her dead son only a sad, long-ago memory. Chips is now a very old man, steeped in fond nostalgia for the past. As he lies dying, he looks back on his youth.

As Chips nears his end, Katherine's voice comes back to him, singing once again of the great love they so briefly shared and the happiness they enjoyed together.


Mr Chips
Band Player
Headmasters 1, 2 & 3
Katherine (Kathie)
Mrs Kirby

Schoolboys, Passengers, Climbers and various character roles

Musical Numbers:

Roll Call - Chips
Fill The World With Love - School
Would I Had Lived My Life Then - Chips
School Days - Boys
That's A Boy - Chips and Max
Where Did My Childhood Go? - Chips
Take A Chance - Max and Chips
Walk Through The World - Katherine
When I Am Older - Boys
The Miracle - Chips, Mr Bingham, Mr Vickers, Mr Shane, Mr Murdoch, Max, Dr. Weatherby and Boys
A Day Has A Hundred Pockets - Katherine and Boys
You And I - Katherine and Chips
What A Lot Of Flowers - Chips
When I Was Younger - Chips
Goodbye Mr Chips - Katherine
Fill The World With Love (Reprise) - School


Original Cast Recording - TER -1025