Babes in Toyland
Operetta in Two Acts
Music by Victor Herbert
Lyrics by Glen McDonough
New book/additional lyrics by Eric Stedman
5 men, 5 women & very large ensemble of singers/dancers
Originally created rather hastily in 1903, Babes In Toyland was designed to cash in on the box office success of the previous year's immensely successful The Wizard of Oz. The production was four hours long, with a cast of over 200, and a plot lifted from a play that was old even then (entitled The Merry Christmas of the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe), and an abundance of special effects scenes, from spectacular parades of toys to glittering fairies and a fight between a giant spider and a bear. It was originally designed with spectacle in mind, and as such, its loosely-connected comic songs and dances didn't have to make any sense. In this new adaptation, the cast has been trimmed substantially, the original four leads replaced with two, and the bear and other extraneous nonsense have been cut in an attempt to simplify the story while retaining most of the original music, and the charming spirit of the original production. The production also incorporates additional numbers by Herbert from other sources, such as "On the Promenade" (included as a pas de deux between Simple Simon and the Toy Ballerina), and "Punchinello." Though the characters are many, the plot is simple: Can Tom-Tom the Piper's son help Bo Peep find her lost sheep and defeat wicked Barnaby's schemes to blackmail her into marriage? It takes a trip through a spooky forest to Toyland to do so. The grand finale includes the spectacular March of the Toys (toy soldiers) and a unique surprise audience participation element.
MOTHER GOOSE LAND: Fantasy rustic backdrop, Giant Shoe-house with opening at roof, Pumpkin house, maypole, well, little white fence with gate (sheep pen), grandfather clock, low brick wall for Humpty Dumpty, working stocks with openings for hands and feet.
SPIDER'S GROVE IN FOREST: Spooky forest drop or scrim (lifts to reveal Toyland behind), spooky trees, giant spider web, flash pots rigged behind stumps
TOYLAND: Christmas-town backdrop with snow-covered houses and evergreens, Toy Shop exterior that opens up to reveal Toy Shop interior, workshop table with tools, Toys on walls and shelves and ceiling, Evergreen trees on sides of stage, fantastic Toy-making Machine with working lever
ACT I SCENE 1
MOTHER GOOSE LAND
Shepherdess Bo Peep loses her sheep, and refuses a proposal of marriage from Barnaby, the crooked man, who vows revenge on her for spurning him. Barnaby's nephew, Tom-Tom the Piper's son, offers to help Bo Peep look for her sheep in the forest, and they go, accompanied by Jack, Jill, Boy Blue, Miss Muffett, Jumping Joan and Simple Simon.
"Mother Goose Land" - Company
"I Can't Do the Sum" - Mary and Peep Children
"Don't Cry, Bo Peep" - Tom-Tom and Company
"He Won't Be Happy Till He Gets It" - Widow Peep and Little Children
THE SPIDER'S GROVE IN THE FOREST
Bo Peep, Tom-Tom and the children are saved from the web of a giant spider by the beautiful Moth Queen, who points the way to Toyland.
"Go to Sleep, Slumber Deep" - Bo Peep, Tom-Tom and Children
"Butterfly Dance" - Moth Queen and Butterflies
Our heroes take time out from their quest to help the Toymaker and his fantastic Toy Machine, and sing a few musical numbers, while they visit Toyland. But when Barnaby finds them, he enslaves the toymaker, transforms the children into puppets, and finally extracts an acceptance of his marriage proposal from Bo Peep.
"Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" - Toy Soldiers and Company
"Work Shop Song" - Toys
"On the Promenade" (Dance) - Simon and Ballerina
"Song of the Poet" - Toymaker and Peep Children
"Castle in Spain" - Tom-Tom and Bo Peep
"Before and After" - Barnaby
MOTHER GOOSE LAND
The wedding-in-progress of Barnaby and Bo Peep is interrupted by the appearance of a caravan of mysterious dancing gypsies. Their leader, Floretta, accuses wicked Barnaby of crimes present and past, which he cannot deny. Turns out Floretta is actually the banished Tom-Tom in disguise. Barnaby uses the toy machine to create giant-sized toy balls, which he flings at the children on stage (and in the audience), but is foiled in his attempt to escape with Bo Peep by the Toymaker and his army of Toy Soldiers, who arrive just in time and march up the aisle to save the day. Barnaby falls into the toy machine and is transformed into a helpless miniature doll, and Bo Peep and Tom-Tom (and Bo Peep's sheep) are safe at last!
"Toyland" - Widow Peep and Company
"Floretta the Gypsy" - Floretta (Tom-Tom) and Company
"Punchinello" Mary and Peep Children (as puppets)
"March of the Toys" - Toy Soldiers
"Merry Christmas" - Company
Though it may seem gigantic, this adaptation was designed with easy casting in mind-you will need a few good adult leads but the various other characters easily fall into the following groups, according to age:
High School/Adult Actor/Singers: Leads
Dancers/Non-singers: Mother Goose, Humpty Dumpty
Junior High Actor/Singers: Peep Children
Dancers/Non-singers: Toy Soldiers & Toyland Toys
Younger ChildrenActor/Singers: Little Peep Children
Dancers/Non-singers: Butterflies & Sheep
Music for this show is available in printed form and the show is available to producers who intend to perform it with live musicians. Backup synth tracks are available for producers who might wish to use them in combination with a live pianist and percussionist. A perusal script is available upon request.