North Atlantic
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Grab a bloody mary and enjoy an enchanted evening of musical satire with this New York Drama Critics Circle award winner for best musical. Set on the remote icy shores of a mysterious island a long way from Bali Hai, All-American members of the Iowa Teaching Corps arrive, eager to teach Eskimo children their modern ways. In true Rodgers and Hammerstein spirit, unexpected romance, unadulterated bigotry, and deceptive situations lead to an epic dream ballet. Complete with every delightful cliché you’d expect from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, journey to the ends of the earth (and bring your thermals) for a comedic homage to the classic, good-old-fashioned musical.


SYNOPSIS


Act I. Scene 1:  The musical opens in the mysterious Eskimo land of North Atlantic—somewhere on the opposite side of the globe from South Pacific, sometime after World War II.  Breaking through the mists, the ship Chow Mein enters port, bringing with it musical crescendos and the Americans, Honey Snodgrass and Melanie Fong.  Honey and Melanie are members of the Ioway branch of the Teaching Corps. They have ventured from their hometown to teach illiterate Eskimo children.  Honey Snodgrass is a rosy, ambitious beauty; and Melanie Fong is a peppy, adorable, All-American Asian—Midwestern accent and all.

With good reason, Melanie is a-jitter at the freezing surroundings.  But, despite the primitive conditions, abominable snowmen, and constant blizzards, Honey is delighted.  For it is her motto to always see "The Happier Side."  Once Honey has calmed Melanie, the pair discuss the ways in which folks back home will envy them—a brief discussion.  One person back home whom Honey wants to forget is her boyfriend, Johnny Joe, the prize-pig farmer.  Honey admits she never really loved him and has learned there’s more to life than “champeen hogs.”  Their conversation is interrupted by Esie Norton, their mezzo-soprano supervisor and Teacher Superior.  Essie greets them first, then leads them to their rickety barracks.

Act I. Scene 2:  Meanwhile, on a North Atlantic coast. Eskimo men await Eskimo Annie, with her bootlegged booze:  ("Where the Hell Is Annie?")  They also request girls to warm them up.  Eskimo Annie, a vulturine one-woman haberdashery (Same actress who plays Essie), hints that Eskimo doxies are in short supply.  But she promises to try and deliver the goods which—echoed by siren voices—will be "Someting Special."

Soon, Honey dashes in; Annie tries to set her up with the Eskimos. Honey, softshoeing around the guys, declares that “Monkeys will lay eggs” ("Before I Fall [For Any Guys]").  Still, as Honey runs off, Eskimo Annie suspects otherwise.

Act I. Scene 3:  We visit a moonlit party, given for the North Atlantic natives and newcomers.  Clinking champagne glasses, the poshly parka-ed Ensemble rejoices that "Now Is Here."  The location is the home of the secretive Sir William Littlewood, a widower and Lieutenant Governor of the area. Ostensibly from Britain, the dashing Sir William is played by a continental actor sporting a thick Italian accent (à la Ezio Pinza and Rossano Brazzi).  When Sir William and Honey see each other—across the crowded room—they instantly fall in love.  As their eyes lock, they seem to be the only two people in the world (or at least on-stage).  Separately, though, they have doubts about suitability, as each drifts into a reverie ("Duo Thoughts")

 

Their doubts turn to declarations, as Sir William is touched by Honey’s sensitivity to his favorite local plant, reindeer moss.  He expresses his burning love, "I've Held a Hope," emphatically holding Honey and every note he sings.  Honey swiftly reciprocates. Then, they pause to catch their breath, as their romance begins and the scene ends. 

Act I. Scene 4:  The following day, Honey and Melanie prepare to teach classes at the local Children’s Shelter.  Nanook, the village wise man, warns the girls—in Confucius-like couplets—that they should not corrupt Eskimo children with modern ways. The girls respect Nanook’s fight to maintain tradition but oust him anyway.  Minutes later, the girls encounter the straight-as-an-arrow Major Sandy Shore of North Atlantic’s Sociological Division.  Cupid strikes again, as Sandy and Melanie take a fancy to each other.  They dance off, he asking her to take a ride in his "Sleigh With the Cream Colored Team" of dogs.

Left alone, Honey faces her first students, including Sir William’s son, Robert Littlewood.  Although the Eskimo students don’t understand a word of English, Honey quickly edifies them—singing "The Sign Song" (wherein she teaches words through gestures).  Sir William enters to congratulate Honey on her instant success. They decide to marry that evening and then go for dinner.  However, they are interrupted when Essie Norton bolts in with the shocking news that Honey’s barracks have collapsed, with all belongings destroyed—even Honey’s Steinway harmonica.  Honey feels crushed.  Nonetheless, Essie spreads hope, booming out a spiritual tune based on the sympathy card Honey once received when her pet chicken died ("There’s a Rainbow at the End").  Thus, seeing the “happier side,” Honey agrees to join the others in building her new quarters, a genuine igloo.

Act I. Scene 5:  Inspired, Honey helps the ensemble as—piecemeal—they boisterously construct the new igloo ("Raising An Igloo").  Moments later, Honey’s spirit is dampened when Sandy Shore confidentially imparts how Sir William is under investigation: suspected of having a questionable past and abetting Eskimo Annie at bootlegging.  Stupefied, Honey rushes off to ferret out the truth. She finds and nearly throttles Eskimo Annie, pleading to know everything about Sir William.  Annie admits to being his confidante.  Then, hating to see a grown woman wail, Annie almost spills the beans to Honey; but Sir William arrives, stopping them.  Honey concludes Sir William must indeed be guilty as sin, then runs off (for a change) in a flood of tears.  Quite upset himself, Sir William soliloquizes, pondering whether he should reveal the truth to Honey or simply let her go.  His plaint, "Solo Thoughts," ends Act One in profundo heartbreak.

Act II. Scene 1:  Act Two begins as Honey surmounts her sorrow, finding solace in her singing students, who reprise ("The Happier Side").  When class is over, Melanie and Essie enter.  They support Honey’s decision to erase Sir William forever—with school supplies and a ditty, "Erase Him!"  The ladies are in a jovial mood until Sandy Shore shows up.  Tired of his being the bearer of bad news, Essie and Honey leave.

Alone together, Sandy tells Melanie how crazy he is about her.  Though she feels similarly about him, Melanie bemoans how there would be racial problems between them—he being Anglo-Saxon and she being Asian (albeit an apple-pie American).  In fact, back in Ioway, Melanie was often the target of prejudice.  Her family home was frequently stink-bombed; and even Honey wasn’t much of a friend until Melanie was the only one who’d accompany Honey to the North Atlantic.  Sandy reassures Melanie, disclosing he’d be the last person to harbor prejudice—being descended from an Indian witch doctor.  Relieved, they plan for a future together ("And Ya Won’t Complain").

Act II. Scene 2:  Elsewhere, Sir William tries to convince Eskimo Annie to halt her bootlegging, which has stigmatized him and their great district.  Rousingly backed by Nanook and the ensemble, Sir William succeeds in making Annie stop operations—anything for their beloved country and a show-stopping number ("North Atlantic"). 

Act II. Scene 3:  Now that Sir William has been vindicated, Honey returns to his arms.  Harmonically, they divulge their joy ("Who’d Have Guessed It?").  Afterwards, Sir William works up the nerve to tell Honey his true secret.  And it’s a lulu!  He is not really British at all, but a royal, Austrian part-Jew, who was married to the former singing nun, Sister Bettina.  With his devout wife and their child, he fled the Nazis during the tough war years in Austria.  Thereupon, the mountains they climbed proved fatal to Sister Bettina—who died of exhaustion.  Sir William and his son plodded on, to ultimate refuge in the North Atlantic, where Eskimo Annie welcomed them with open mittens.

Honey is stunned by this news.  Impelled by her streak of prejudice, she again rebuffs Sir William's marriage proposal.  As the shattered Sir William wanders away, Honey attempts to make up her mind on what she really wants.  After singing "Deep In My Mind (My Mind Is Turning in Circles)," she wafts into an Agnes DeMille-like dream ballet.  Therein, her entire recent life flashes before her on toe shoes.  The dream is all it takes to make Honey realize that her place truly is to be with Sir William.  Yet, just as Honey wakes, Melanie Fong arrives with tragic news.  It seems that Sir William, Nanook, and Eskimo Annie went to close down the bootlegging shack and a scuffle ensued.  The brawl ended only when the shack slalomed down the mountainside in an avalanche.  Nanook and Sir William are among the missing. 

People gather at the site of the disaster.  Sir William remains missing, but the body of Nanook—in the throes of a rhymed couplet— has been located.  Honey comforts little Robert Littewood.  Everyone mourns till Essie Norton reprises the spiritual "There’s a Rainbow at the End".

Thereupon, Honey snaps together and organizes a benefit show for victims of the disaster.  Immediately, the show commences—with everyone singing "Reindeer Moss," a tribute to Sir William’s beloved lichen, considered a symbol of growth and survival in the wilderness.  As the ensemble delivers the fungus song, Sir William hobbles into view.  He is battered and on crutches, but alive and singing.  He and Honey are reunited as the musical ends blissfully for the surviving Company of "North Atlantic".

QUOTE


Playful entertainment— Outstanding Production of the Year! 

–Show Business


Characters:

Honey Snodgrass: 20-26. Lovely soprano. Bouncy ingénue whose optimism is constantly challenged; strong-willed but fragile inside; a mix of Mary Martin, Shirley Jones, and Julie Andrews. 

Melanie Fong: 20-26. Alto soubrette. Adorable and brash. A cross between Ado Annie and Linda Low (Flower Drum Song). All-American Asian with a strong mid-Western accent.

Sir William Littlewood: 40-55. Booming baritone voice. Ostensibly a handsome, older Englishman, but talks with a heavy Italian accent and sings like Ezio Pinza or Pavarotti.

Sandy Shore: 25-35.  Tenor/Baritone. Alternatively straight-laced and goofy official; a cross between Lieutenant Cable and Will Parker. Like the young Jim Carrey or Tom Hanks.

Essie Norton / Eskimo Annie: 40-55. Hilarious character actress with rangy contralto voice. Doubles as Nettie Fowler and Bloody Mary type characters.

Nanook: 30-60. Confucius like philosopher; authoritatively speaks in rhyme couplets in a pose like King of Siam. Doubles in the Ensemble.

4 Ensemble Members (2 male, 2 female), playing Eskimos, Eskimo Students, and Other Characters.

Setting: Sometime after World War II on a small island in the North Atlantic

 

Michael Colby is the librettist/lyricist of such musicals as Charlotte Sweet (Drama Desk Award nomination), Tales Of Tinseltown (numerous productions), North Atlantic (Show Business Award), Delphi Or Bust (Amas Musical Theatre), Ludlow Ladd (various regional productions), Slay It With Music (off-Broadway and London), They Chose Me! (Tada!), and MRS. Mcthing (Goodspeed At Chester). He has written for The Theatre By the Blind, The 92nd Street Y, and numerous benefits. Among the personalities for whom Colby has written are: Angela Lansbury, Linda Lavin, Michael Feinstein, Tony Randall, Cicely Tyson, Susan Stroman, Paul Shaffer, Lainie Kazan, Jane Powell, and Julie Wilson. Recent projects include: Dangerous, They Changed Broadway (a revue about Broadway Jewish talents) and First Family Of Second Avenue (cited by NJ Star Ledger as “Best Original Score of the New Jersey season”). Mr. Colby is a member of BMI and the Dramatists Guild. For more information, visit www.MichaelColby.com.

James Fradrich (composer / co-lyricist) was Archivist/Concert Librarian/General Musical Consultant for Rodgers and Hammerstein. He also received an award for “Best Musical Score” for The Musicians Of Bremen at Wilmette, Illinois Children’s Theatre. He was arranger and musical director for the hit off-Broadway musical Boy Meets Boy. Other off-Broadway productions—as musical director and/or arranger—included Carnival (Equity Library Theatre), Gift Of The Magi (Players Theatre), Babes In Arms (Playwrights Horizons), From Brooks With Love (Harold Clurman), and Man With A Load Of Mischief (The Production Company). He has served in the same capacity on several regional productions and toured as pianist/arranger on I Am An American (for USO). He was assistant to orchestrator William D. Brohn for the Broadway productions of Miss Saigon, The Secret Garden, and the first national tour of Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. He toured as pianist for the Columbia Artists Management with The First Gilbert & Sullivan Quartet and has played engagements with several symphony orchestras. Other awards have included State Winner Piano for Federated Music Clubs of Wisconsin and Finalist & Alternative Winner for Green Bay Symphony Concert Composition. He was a graduate of Lawrence University.

Performance Royalties are based on theater particulars. Please fill out an application for a personalized quote. 

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement. To download the show rider for North Atlantic, click here.

"Hysterically funny!"–Amateur Stage

"I had a very good time at North Atlantic. In fact, it was not only the best of the three musicals I saw last week, it was the best of the year."–Henry Hewes, former President, N.Y. Drama Critics Circle

"Three and a half stars. A fine evening of playful entertainment, of special interest to musical buffs, who will smile with recognition at almost every line."–Show Business Weekly 

"It is a gem of a show and, for once, a musical with a small enough cast to appeal to every size of musical society."–Amateur Stage

Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while Digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.

The required materials for North Atlantic include:

Production Scripts, Piano/Vocal Scores

Orchestrations: Piano 1 and 2, Guitar, Bass, Drums, Percussion

Available Products:

Print Edition – Beautifully bound scripts available at wholesale costs to sell in your lobby!

Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.

ROCS Show/Ready – Rehearsal tracks for each role with the individual character played at full volume, other parts at half volume.

ROCS Stage/Tracks – Performance Tracks

Reference Recording - Audio recording for reference purposes only 

Logo/PR Pack – Includes high-resolution artwork, ready-designed posters, reviews and pull quotes, and reference photos.

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