Music by Harvey Schmidt
Lyrics by Tom Jones
Book by Tom Jones

Celebration | Book Musical | Rated PG

  • About the Show

    Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt bring the bold, adventurous theatrical techniques they pioneered inTHE FANTASTICKS a step further withCELEBRATION, an allegorical winter's tale.

    On a magical New Year's Eve, a young Orphan stumbles into the home of the richest man in the world, whose bizarre entourage includes a beautiful fallen Angel. With the Orphan's help, the jaded Mr. Rich regains his humanity, only to find himself locked in ritualistic battle with the youth for the Angel's love.

    The show's small cast is perfect for an intimate community theatre space. Audiences are encouraged to participate in this very original piece of theatre.



    It begins with a stairway to a simple platform, and behind it, a dark disk of the sun eclipsed. The narrator, Potemkin (no, not that Potemkin, the favorite of Catherine the Great, but rather a kind of master of ceremonies for the evening), addresses the audience with his opening number, "Celebration," expressing his philosophy of "seize the day," fearing that if, as some believe, that the world is on the brink of destruction, he wants to celebrate being alive. The Revelers, like a primitive tribe, enter and climb the steps to the platform and join Potemkin in a ceremonial dance. They are wearing strange masks and playing unusual musical instruments in an atmosphere of firelight--all contributing to the ritual.

    Potemkin urges the audience to participate in this flight of imagination. He sets the scene. A cold winter night. New Year's Eve. A young fellow named Orphan introduces himself with his song, "Orphan In The Storm," a simple but upbeat prayer expressing his hope to survive the cold and the cold-heartedness of the world around him. The Revelers taunt and tease the unfortunate innocent.

    The versatile Potemkin, now in the guise of a tramp, approaches and befriends Orphan who relates his tale of woe. His orphanage was purchased and eventually destroyed by a Mr. Rich, whom he wants to find so as to have his garden at the orphanage restored. Potemkin offers to be Orphan's guide, to show him the ropes, and to help him "Survive," a song in which the flexible Potemkin demonstrates how to bow and scrape, how to cheat and steal; ergo: survive in this world. The Revelers join in impersonating wealthy socialites adorned with jewels, demonstrating how to achieve success by deceit and disguise.

    Mysterious music and strange forms usher Orphan and Potemkin into the old man's dwelling where they lay eyes on an angel, a beautiful (but rather flexible) girl complete with wings and halo who does a quick striptease down to sparkling pasties on her breasts and a devilish red bikini, knocking the socks off Orphan and Potemkin and finally ending up in Orphan's arms.

    The Revelers begin arriving for the New Year's Eve bash. Angel, the featured entertainer for the party, rushes off to do her number, "Sombody," spelling out her determination to get a taste of success

    "Posin' in the magazine
    Dancin' on the movie screen"
    and to be somebody
    "Before they lay me in my grave."

    The guest of honor is announced: Mr. Rich, bored, bitter. The guests watch in awe as he cracks the shell of a lobster and feeds himself while bellowing his anthem, "Bored," itemizing his complaints about food, health, and his severe case of ennui.

    Orphan innocently intrudes upon the scene holding a piece of glass (the eye of God) from a stained glass window of the orphanage chapel. Possibly recognizing trouble, Mr. Rich orders him out, but Potemkin comes to the youth's defense and strikes a deal with Mr. Rich. If the boy can make Mr. Rich feel emotion once again, the orphanage will be restored. The Orphan sings "My Garden." Angel, accompanied by the Revelers, joins in. Mr. Rich is intrigued and starts conducting the group. His pleasure in the course of the number produces a teardrop that he considers a minor miracle--that he can feel again. Recognizing that Orphan resembles himself thirty years earlier, another tear comes into his eye. He recounts his own history, starting out like Orphan as a penniless youngster and eventually blossoming into an entrepreneur of the first order: manufacturing glass eyes, artificial limbs, dentures, wax fruit, paper flowers, falsies--an inventory of unreal products. Recalling his youth he pines "Where Did It Go?" backed up by the Revelers. But his recollections only add to his despair. Orphan, the optimist, urges Mr. Rich to see the world as beautiful, to see roses where Mr. Rich sees only thorns.

    Potemkin strikes a deal for Orphan. If he wants the garden restored he's got to make Mr. Rich feel alive again. Potemkin comes up with a plan. Since Mr. Rich identified his own youth with this boy, Orphan must play the role of a youthful Mr. Rich and pretend to fall in love with Angel via a romantic ballad. Angel has her doubts; she doesn't believe in romance but is willing to give the "Love Song" a spin. Potemkin, Mr. Rich and the Revelers all join in.

    Gradually the scene is changing from cold and bleak to green and summerlike with Potemkin playing ring master, increasing the pace of the revelry as Rich/Orphan seem to become one and the same and Angel is torn between the two. It's an hour before midnight and Potemkin is assigned to conduct the New Year's Eve pageant. All parade out to an up-tempo reprise of "My Garden" as Orphan is left alone behind. But Potemkin circles back to Orphan with a note from Angel to meet her in the garden before the others arrive. The young optimist rushes off full of joy and anticipation.


    Before midnight Orphan and Angel meet in the garden as planned and sing "I'm Glad To See You've Got What You Want." He has his garden. She is decked out in gems and furs.

    Mr. Rich arrives with his entourage and expresses his joy in his song "It's You Who Makes Me Young" and dances wildly with Angel until he finally collapses but quickly recovers, squabbles with Orphan about who owns the property, and finally sends the Revelers out to tear up Orphan's garden.

    Orphan recruits his guru Potemkin for help, but Potemkin turns a deaf ear as he pleads in song: "Not My Problem."

    The machines that are about to destroy the garden stop in their tracks as Orphan holds up his amulet (the eye of God) and sings "Fifty Million Years Ago," outlining the spiritual evolution of mankind. He presents himself as an intermediary between the past and the future, and in his determination to save the garden, declares war on Mr. Rich.

    Moments before the party, the Revelers, acting as attendants and beauticians, prepare Mr. Rich, enhancing his appearance with cosmetics, shots, a costume, and some toning up. Like Narcissus looking into the pond, Mr. Rich looks into a mirror and sees Orphan in his reflection. They do a "mirror image" dance and Mr. Rich is overjoyed at what he believes is his transformation.

    Nearly midnight. Champagne! Noise makers! The New Year's entertainment is conducted by the many-faceted Potemkin costumed as Father Time. A carnival atmosphere prevails complete with belly dancers, masks, hand-maidens, and a carnival climate of music and ritual runs rampant. Angel, wrapped in silk, is presented as Eve and sings "Under The Tree" followed by a seductive dance focused on Mr. Rich but played out by Orphan in a unicorn mask. As the number ends, off comes the mask, and Mr. Rich sees he's been tricked and confronts Potemkin.

    As stand-ins for Mr. Rich and Orphan, the Revelers act out the conflict between the two as age vs. youth, as winter vs. summer. Both plead for Angel's attention. Mr. Rich claims her for himself as the Revelers sing "Winter And Summer." Potemkin as Father Time announces the hours, one by one, as Mr. Rich's costume, toupee, makeup fall off of him; he's coming apart at the seams. Angel looks away from the ugly spectacle. Potemkin persists through twelve strikes of the clock, announcing each hour as Mr. Rich frantically pleads for help and collapses at twelve.

    Slowly the Revelers line up, face the audience directly, and solemnly remove their masks. All confront reality. Angel admits she'll never be a star. Orphan admits the garden is destroyed. After being blessed by Potemkin with a prayer for their survival, Angel and Orphan, hand in hand, walk through the theatre aisle to the world outside as Potemkin and the Revelers raise disks of the sun and reprise "Celebration" as the huge image of an eclipsed sun slowly changes into a full glowing disk. "And the play is done."

    Casting Information

    ANGEL An ideal of youth and beauty, she desperately wants to be somebody in the world and is willing to do whatever she has to do to be that. Unintentionally falls in love with Orphan despite how little he can give her materially.
    Female, 18-25 yrs old
    Range: F3 - F5

    MR. RICH Cold, greedy, and old. He wants everything Orphan stands for, but destroys the meaning of such things in his pursuit of them.
    Male, 55-65 yrs old
    Range: G3 - E5

    ORPHAN An idealist himself and the epitome of youth, naiveté, and promise. He falls in love with Angel, and wants to get his beautiful garden back.
    Male, 18-25 yrs old
    Range: G3 - F5

    POTEMKIN The narrator of the story. He is wise to the ways of the world, lives by a code of survival of the fittest, and tries to convince Orphan that he, too, must adopt this theory to survive.
    Male, 35-50 yrs old
    Range: G3 - F5

    Production Material


Partners & Associates

  • cipc
  • bsa
  • samro