Allegro

Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Music by Richard Rodgers. The original Broadway production opened on 10 October 1947 and was directed and choreographed by Agnes de Mille. The production closed on 10 July 1948, running for a total of 315 performances.

Synopsis and Musical Numbers

ALLEGRO

Father and Son: Will Gartshore and Harry A. Winter as Joe Taylors Junior and Senior - photograph by Carol Pratt from the Signature production.

The story of Allegro begins in 1905 with the birth of JOSEPH TAYLOR JUNIOR, the first child of Marjorie and Joseph, the doctor in the small town where they live. The proud parents and grandmother proudly observe little Joe’s first sensations and experiences: recognising voices, holding a rattle, taking a spoonful of medicine, crying for attention, standing and, finally, walking (I KNOW IT CAN HAPPEN AGAIN / PUDGEY LEGS / ONE FOOT, OTHER FOOT). As a toddler, he makes friends as a toddler with Jenny Brinker, the girl next door (CHILDREN’S DANCE). Joe also faces his first emotional loss when his grandma dies (GRANDMOTHER’S DEATH). As THE WINTERS GO BY, Joe becomes a young teenager who has his first date with Jenny – with another emotional hurdle provided by the agony of whether he dares to kiss her or not (POOR JOE). Joe graduates from high school and is determined to follow his father into the medical profession (DIPLOMA) . On his last night before he is due to leave for college, he overhears his parents talking and realises just how much he means to them and how close they are to each other (A FELLOW NEEDS A GIRL).

At college, life gets off to a jovial start with the FRESHMEN GET TOGETHER (including a danced DREAM SEQUENCE and PAS DE DEUX). By the END OF (the) COLLEGE DANCE, Joe is all set for life on campus. This includes exciting things like sport (WILDCATS), but also all the other social trials of life away from home: homesickness, peer pressure and loneliness (JENNIE READS THE LETTER). Letters pass back and forth as classes continue at college, and Joe never forgets how he feels about Jenny (SCENE OF PROFESSORS). When Jenny writes to him with the news that her father has taken her to Europe where she has met another boy, he experiences jealousy, even looking for comfort by going on dates with other girls (SO FAR). Still, his feelings for Jenny endure and his despair at losing her turns to triumph when they find each other once more (YOU ARE NEVER AWAY).

ALLEGRO

Joe's dead mother (April Harr Blandin) disappoves of his (Will Gartshore) marriage to Jenny (Laurie Saylor) - photograph by Carol Pratt from the 2004 Signature production.

Joe is done with his undergraduate studies and is ready for med school. However, Jenny’s friends are all married and she is impatient at the idea of waiting years for a penniless doctor to establish himself (POOR JOE – REPRISE). Although she says that Joe must follow his own path, she comes up with what seems to be a brilliant solution: she will convince her wealthy father to offer Joe a position in his business. Both Joe and Jenny’s respective families are strongly against the idea of a marriage between the two. Joe’s mother feels that Jenny’s plan proves that her prospective daughter-in-law is quite prepared to deprive Joe of his promising medical career in order to appease her own selfishness. She confronts Jenny, telling her that she is not a suitable wife for Joe, but the strain of the situation causes Joe’s mother to collapse and die from a heart attack (MARJORIE’S DEATH). The marriage ceremony goes ahead (WHAT A LOVELY DAY FOR A WEDDING / IT MAY BE A GOOD IDEA / FINALE ACT I).

Joe manages, in the face of opposition from Jenny and her family, to carve out a medical career for himself. Things change as the Depression hits the United States of America. Jenny’s father loses his business and his fortune and he has to live with his daughter and son-in-law. His disdain for Joe has turned to envy, as it now appears that Joe is what he once was: a professional man who is capable of earning a decent living. Jenny and her friends envy the lifestyle of the people they see in the magazines trying to convince themselves that MONEY ISN’T EV’RYTHING. But Joe now has another conflict; he is offered a partnership in a wealthy Chicago practice, but it means moving and leaving his aging father to manage the small-town practice alone (POOR JOE – REPRISE). He succumbs to the temptation (YOU ARE NEVER AWAY – REPRISE / A FELLOW NEEDS A GIRL – REPRISE).

ALLEGRO

Donna Migliaccio as Mrs Lansdale and Will Gartshore as Joe in the 2004 Signature production of ALLEGRO - photograph by Carol Pratt.

In Chicago, ambitious Jenny is in her element, hosting a cocktail party for rich and influential patients and hospital trustees (YA-TA-TA), while Joe’s lovelorn assistant Emily tries in vain to make him concentrate on his duties (THE GENTLEMAN IS A DOPE). After a particularly ruthless ploy of hospital politics by Chief Physician Dr. Digby Denby, whose nephew, Charlie, is Joe’s old philandering friend from medical school and has got him the job, Joe, Emily and Charlie comment on life in the big city (ALLEGRO). Joe finds out that Jenny has been cheating on him with one of the hospital trustees. Al seems lost and he hears the voices of his father and small-town friends calling him back (COME HOME). However, one final choice awaits Joe when he is offered the post of Chief Physician at a new hospital in Chicago. Joe’s speech at the dedication ceremony is the turning point of his life and he finds the courage to announce that he is not taking up the appointment, but returning home to be his father’s assistant. Jenny is outraged, but Emily – and, to general amazement, Charlie – impulsively decide to join him. Joe leaves, having lost his wife, but feels as if the world belongs to him (FINALE ULTIMO).

Discussion

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