Oh, Captain! – Original Broadway Cast 1958
The action begins in “A Very Proper Town,” a splendidly British suburb of London, where Captain Henry St. James (Tony Randall) lives with his wife Maud (Jacquelyn McKeever). The Captain is a ghastly example of self-satisfaction and punctilio, while Maud is a charming woman somewhat beaten by her husband’s ways. She would like to go out once in a while and have some fun, but the Captain feels that fun is not for people like them. “Life Does a Man a Favor,” he feels, allowing him to have a strictly run home and a tightly run ship. The Captain’s run with his ship gives him a weekend in London, five days at sea, a weekend in Paris, and then back again. His weekend at his suburban home over, the Captain returns to his ship, aglow with conceit (“Life Does a Man a Favor”), and is greeted by his crew (“Captain Henry St. James”). Aboard the S.S. Paradise, the Captain explains to Manzoni, his mate (Edward Platt), that he has “Three Paradises”: one at home, one his ship, and the third an establishment in Paris. Meanwhile, Maud has won first prize in a recipe contest, and impulsively decides to fly over to see her husband (“Surprise”). His arrival in Paris produces an astounding change in the Captain (“Life Does a Man a Favor”), who sheds his priggishness for wild gaiety (“Hey Madame!”). It further shows that he shares his Paris apartment with a splendid young woman named Bobo (performed on this recording by Eileen Rodgers) whose “Femininity” is so staggering that she is forced to be a sex symbol rather than the retiring woman she would like to be. Back on the ship, the crew asks Manzoni why he never goes ashore, and he replies that “It’s Never Quite the Same” when one returns to old scenes. Maud, having spent a discouraging weekend, turns up looking for the Captain and is induced to go off on a sightseeing tour on her last night. In the bus, she meets a dangerously amorous Spaniard (Paul Valentine) and surprises him with her reactions to his advances (“We’re Not Children”). The tour takes them to a nightclub run by Mae (Susan Johnson) who welcomes the customers (“Give It All You Got”) and then introduces her ladies of the ensemble (“Love Is Hell”). The next artist on the program is Bobo, who is performing her number (“Keep It Simple”) when the Captain enters. He is furious to find Maud and the Spaniard in a wild flirtation, and she is amazed to find him involved with Bobo, while Bobo is equally incensed. After the rigors of the night before, Mae is glad to relax to “The Morning Music of Montmartre.” Maud, on the other hand, is determined to confront Bobo, and does, but although each feels she has the stronger claim to the Captain (“You Don’t Know Him”), they also find a firm bond of friendship in the fact that he has deceived both of them. Hiding on his ship, the Captain seeks Manzoni’s advice, and Manzoni urges him to give up his duplicity (“I’ve Been There and I’m Back”). Thereupon the Captain goes to Bobo’s flat to confront the women who accuse him of operating on a “Double Standard,” and Bobo, tired of the whole thing, walks out with Manzoni (“You’re So Right for Me”). The Captain urges Maud to stay with him (“All the Time”), but she too decides to leave him. The Captain, broken by the sudden dissolution of his three paradises, gives Bobo and Manzoni his beloved ship. At the Finale, the forgiving Maud returns and reconciles with her foolish Captain.
Captain Henry St. James: Tony Randall Maud: Jacquelyn McKeever Manzoni: Edward Platt Bobo: Eileen Rodgers The Spaniard: Paul Valentine Mae: Susan Johnson Book by Al Morgan and José Ferrer, based on an original screenplay by Alec Coppel Music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans Directed by José Ferrer Orchestrations by Robert Ginzler, Joe Glover, Ray James, Philip Lang, Walter Eiger, Sy Oliver, Cornell Tanassy, Oscar Kosarin Musical direction, vocal and ballet arrangements by Jay Blackton