Fiddler on the Roof, composed by Jerry Bock, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and book by Joseph Stein, is set in Tsarist Russia in 1905 and is very closely based on the books Tevye and his Daughters and Tevye the Dairyman by Jewish author Sholem Aleichem. The story focuses on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his family and Jewish religious traditions while outside influences encroach upon their lives. He tries hard to cope both with the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters - each one's choice of husband moving farther away from the customs of their faith - and with the edict of the Tsar that will eventually evict his family and all the Jews from their little village of Anatevka.
Anne of Green Gables is a story that draws deeply on the spirit of a place where integrity is as natural as the roll of the tide, and the sincere encouragement of friend and neighbour fits seamlessly into a contented landscape of furrowed hills that, like those who work them, remember to reach up and embrace a sunset.
Anne Shirley comes to Avonlea having already learned to live by imagination and fancy, full of romantic ideas, poetic notions, and equipped with a tongue "that must be hung in the middle, it flaps so" in order to cope with the tragedies of her life thus far.
It is the honesty of her survivor's soul that prevents us from seeing her as a precocious child. Anne needs to belong, to be accepted, and to be loved but, as the years unfold, her temper and her stubbornness continue to stand in the way. Until she learns to control her temper, show forgiveness, and trust her own worth, Anne cannot find that for which she longs.
Gypsy’s plot centres around Rose, a domineering stage-mother, who moves her two daughters to New York to break into vaudeville. Needing an agent, she cons Herbie, a candy salesman, into the job. She builds an act around her star daughter June, but when June has the chance for a big break, and Rose refuses, June runs away to pursue her own interests. Although Rose feels defeated and shaken, she soon designates Louise to become "the biggest star in show business”. Vaudeville is dying, bookings are sparse, and Rose realizes that they have hit rock bottom. Nevertheless, plain Louise does get that needed break, and brings to the burlesque stage the freshness of youth and a winning style that soon elevates her to the top as Gypsy Rose Lee.
Li'l Abner is the clever musical theatre adaptation of one of the world's most beloved daily comic strips. The title may seem quite foreign to anyone born after 1970, mainly because the strip hasn't run in most newspapers since then.
Due to the popularity of Al Capp's wonderful array of characters, though, not only did the world see the birth of a great musical comedy, but this same show was made into a successful Hollywood movie and, years later, most of the characters in the popular television situation comedy The Beverly Hillbillies were faithfully based on the personalities created by Al Capp.
The story unfolds during the late 1950's in the mythical town of Dogpatch, U.S.A. Almost the entire town is unemployed. The men spend their days fishing while the single ladies scheme about how to catch their men come next Sadie Hawkins Day.
Things are rolling along quite smoothly when, thanks to the "feds", their little town is suddenly deemed the most unnecessary place on the face of the map and is chosen as the site for atomic bomb testing. Unless they can prove themselves worthy, they have 48 hours to evacuate their homes.
Mammy Yokum almost saves the day with her wonder drug, Yokumberry Tonic, but what finally gets them off the hook is the plaque they find in the town square, signed by Abraham Lincoln and declaring their monument in honour of their local hero, Jubilation T. Cornpone, a national shrine.
South Pacific is a World War II story of a Navy nurse who falls in love with a French planter many years her senior. It is also the story of a young Marine Lieutenant’s poignant attachment to a Tonkinese girl which is ruined by his inability to lose his Princeton background prejudices. Both romances are flavoured with the accents of two worlds meeting, of alien individuals thrown together in a remote part of the world against the background of war’s boredom and violence.
Indian Territory (soon to be Oklahoma) early 1900s
The story of Oklahoma! concerns the romance of a young cowman, Curly McLain, who is in love with Laurey Williams, who lives on a Territory farm with her Aunt Eller. The two women operate the farm with the aid of a hired hand, Judy Fry, whose warped passion for Laurey is a cloud in her otherwise sunny existence. Also of some concern to Laurey are the machinations of Gertie Cummings, her chief rival for Curly’s affections.
Laurey’s friend, Ado Annie Carnes, is promised to another young cowman, Will Parker, but has great difficulty in making up her mind, even with the help of her strong-minded father. The current visit of Ali Hakim, a traveling salesman, has made Ado Annie even more uncertain.
Guys and Dolls has been called the quintessential Broadway musical. It sets wonderful Loesser music to Damon Runyonland, the Broadway of the 1940's inhabited by gamblers, nightclub performers, and Salvation Army members trying to cure the sins of the Times Square population. The rich plot revolves around a bet made by gambler Sky Masterson with Nathan Detroit, organizer of a floating crap game.
Sky bets Nathan that he can woo any doll Nathan chooses and take her to a romantic Havana getaway. Nathan chooses none other than straight laced Sarah Brown of the Salvation Army.
The status of the bet, the crap game, and the end of the 14-year engagement of Nathan and his girl, Adelaide, result in confusion amidst great song and dance.
Maria Rainer, a postulant at Nonnberg Abbey in Austria, is sent to the home of a widower, Captain Georg Von Trapp to serve as governess for his seven children.
Although the Captain is engaged to wealthy Elsa Shraeder, both he and Maria find themselves falling in love with each other. After their marriage their happiness is short-lived because the Germans, who have invaded Austria, want Von Trapp to serve in their navy.