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Irma la Douce

Cover to Original Broadway Cast Album

A Musical Play in 2 Acts: Book and lyrics by Alexander Breffort; Music by Marguerite Monnot;
(English Book & Lyrics by Julian More, David Heneker & Monty Norman)

Théâtre Gramont, Paris - 12 November, 1956
Saville Theatre, London - 17 July, 1958
Plymouth Theatre. Broadway 29 September, 1960 (527 perfs)


Irma is one of Paris' most successful poules (tarts). She falls in love with Nestor, a penniless law student. She decides for the first time in her life she will have a mec (pimp). Nestor is jealous of Irma's customers and decides he must become her only buyer, so he disguises himself as Monsieur Oscar, a rich old fossil who asks only companionship, yet provides enough grisbi (money) to become her exclusive patron.

Nestor soon becomes exhausted from his numerous jobs, studies, and lovemaking. Irma decides that Oscar is not getting his money's worth and seduces him more passionately than she ever has Nestor. This makes him more jealous than ever and he decides that Oscar must die. However, in killing-off his alias, Nestor is convicted of murder and sentenced to Devil's Island. When he learns Irma is with child he escapes on a raft and finally proves (by paying off the judge) that he and Oscar are one and the same - all this in time to witness the birth of his child on Christmas Eve.

Musical Numbers

Act I

  1. Valse Milieu --Bob-Le-Hotu
  2. Sons of France --The Mecs, Polyte-Le-Mou and Police Inspector
  3. The Bridge of Caulaincourt --Irma-La-Douce and Nestor-Le-Fripe
  4. Our Language of Love --Irma-La-Douce and Nestor-Le-Fripe
  5. She's Got The Lot --Police Inspector and Irma's Admirers
  6. Our Language of Love (Reprise) --Irma-La-Douce
  7. Dis-Donc --Irma-La-Douce
  8. Le Grisbi is le Root of le Evil in Man --Bob-Le-Hotu, Nestor-Le-Fripe and the Mecs
  9. Wreck of a Mec --Nestor-Le-Fripe
  10. That's a Crime --Bob-Le-Hotu, Nestor-Le-Fripe and the Mecs

Act II

  1. The Bridge of Caulaincourt (Reprise) --Irma-La-Douce and Nestor-Le-Fripe
  2. From a Prison Cell --Nestor-Le-Fripe and the Mecs
  3. Irma-la-Douce --Irma-La-Douce
  4. There Is Only One Paris for That -- Nestor-Le-Fripe, the Mecs and Prisoners
  5. The Freedom of the Seas --Nestor-Le-Fripe and the Mecs
  6. There Is Only One Paris for That (Reprise) --Nestor-Le-Fripe and the Mecs
  7. Our Language of Love (Reprise)--Irma-La-Douce
  8. But -- Nestor-Le-Fripe, Police Inspector, A Tax Inspector, M. Bougne and Polyte-Le-Mou
  9. Christmas Child --The Company


Bass, reed I (flute, pic), reed II (clar, bari sax), trombone I, II, percussion, guitar, accordion, piano-celeste.


21 roles, 9 principals.

Other "mecs", gendarmes, prisoners, admirers; bar patrons are the all male chorus roles.

They usually perform as a group, should include several good solo voices and a couple of lead dancers.

Total cast - 21.

Scenes and Settings

2 acts, 23 scenes, 6 full stage sets, 4 partial stage sets, 1 scrim, 2 drops, 1 darkish sky drop.


Scene 1: Outside the Bar-Des-Inquiets, Pigalle.
Scene 2: Inside the Bar.
Scene 3: Irma's Room.
Scene 4: The Pont Coulaincourt (Hotel Rapid in Background).
Scene 5: Same.
Scene 6: Same.
Scene 7: Hotel Rapid.
Scene 8: The Bar.
Scene 9: Hotel Rapid.
Scene 10: Nestor and Irma's Room.
Scene 11: Same.
Scene 12: Narrow Street.
Scene 13: The Banks of the Seine
Scene 14: The Bar.


Scene 1: A Law Court
Scene 2: Prison Ship
Scene 3: Street Outside Irma's House
Scene 4: Devil's Island
Scene 5: The Raft
Scene 6: A Paris Street
Scene 7: The Police Station
Scene 8: The Street
Scene 9: Irma's Room

Period and Costumes

Old Paris, anytime: Irma wears black dress and black tights. Males wear French-flavored sweaters, shirts, slacks, caps, and coats. Black cutaway suit and bowler, tourist suits, overcoats, hats, prison uniforms, gendarme uniforms. judge robes, wig, and magistrate hat.


French-accented modern and modern ballet, traditional French steps and dance specialities, "Valse Milieu" (waltz-like).

Lighting and Special Effects

Dramatic lighting, special lighting effects, "electric" sparklers, searchlights and street lamps on stage. Smoke (optional).