Two Mormon missionaries knock on the door of Ethel Merman and hilarity ensues in this clever new musical comedy. Audiences will fall in love with this heaven-sent journey about two men and “The Merm” with a witty original score and a heartfelt message about being true to yourself. You gotta admit— it’s way more fun than Sunday School!
Two Mormon missionaries, Elder Braithwaite and Elder Shumway, knock on doors to tell people about the Church, with little success (“Good Day”). Elder Shumway expresses his frustration, and Elder Braithwaite urges him to press on (“Salt Lake City”). They agree to try one more house, and as they are about to knock on the pink front door, it opens and a woman emerges, telling them she’s on her way to the DMV. Mistaking them for magazine salesmen, she admires their work ethic (“Most People”). After inviting the boys inside to write them a check, she goes off to get a pen. Elder Shumway sees the name Ethel Merman in the checkbook and is thrilled (“She’s Ethel Merman”). Elder Braithwaite has no idea who Ethel Merman is, and after hearing that she was supposed to have died in the 80s, dismisses this woman as an imposter. This infuriates Elder Shumway, as he idolizes Ethel Merman, and the two argue (“Son of a Motherless Goat”). Ethel returns to find the boys fighting and is confronted by Elder Braithwaite, saying that she can’t be the real Ethel. She must be crazy, because she has a Christmas tree in her house in the summer. She explains that she keeps it up year-round and loves the spirit of Christmas (“Christmas Every Day”). Elder Braithwaite still isn’t convinced. Ethel tells the boys that it doesn’t matter who others think you are, as long as you’re happy with who you think you are (“Be a Merman”). Ethel muses about the chance encounter of their meeting, two Mormons and a Merman (“Crazy”). Elder Shumway is star struck and confesses that he’s always wanted to follow in her footsteps and be on the stage. She tests his mettle and his talents (“Better Than You”). Elder Shumway is so excited after meeting Ethel and being told he could be a star that he wants to leave the Mission and start auditioning right away. Elder Braithwaite tries to get him to focus on the task at hand, their Mission (“My Heart’s Someplace Else”). When Elder Shumway stays firm in his choice to leave the Mission, Elder Braithwaite lashes out at Ethel, blaming her. He runs off. Elder Shumway goes after him, but promises Ethel that they will both return (“When They Come Back”). Elder Braithwaite is embarrassed by his outburst and fears he cannot undo the damage with Ethel, but Elder Shumway convinces him to return and make amends (“If It’s Not Hard”). Ethel is delighted that the boys have returned and accepts Elder Braithwaite’s apology ("You’re the Best"). Elder Shumway wants to help Ethel get back on stage, and comes up with the idea that she should record a rap album, with his assistance (“Ethel’s Big Comeback”). Elder Shumway is so excited about the prospect, he wants to go with Ethel to New York and record the album together, which upsets Elder Braithwaite, who feels like he is being abandoned. In his hurt and frustration, he accidentally drops a sheet of handwritten music, which Elder Shumway picks up. Braithwaite confesses that he writes music, but didn’t want to tell Shumway, as it would be a distraction to their Mission (“Because of You”). Elder Shumway kisses Elder Braithwaite, and is horrified when his feelings aren’t reciprocated. Braithwaite tells Shumway that it’s okay, and that he will go to New York with Shumway to help him pursue his dreams, after their Mission. Ethel has seen all of this, and has changed into modern street clothes. She confesses that she is indeed named Ethel Merman, but isn’t the famous musical actress. Shumway is devastated (“A Little Bit of Me”). She apologizes and thanks the boys for showing her how to be true to herself and the world. They accept her apology and offer to escort her to the DMV. Happily, she takes them up on their offer (“Because of You”). All three are excited about what this new future holds for them.
A lively show filled with spot-on spoofs, silly send-ups of their familiar songs, clever pop-culture references, and campy humor. Outrageously funny!
–DC Metro Theater Arts
A show that has a huge heart!
–Chicago on Stage
Ethel – Ethel Merman! The original brassy Broadway Diva... or IS she? Range: F#3 – D5
Elder Braithwaite – A Mormon missionary, young and earnest and completely devoted to the Church and his Mission... but also harboring a secret! Range: A2 – G#4
Elder Shumway – A Mormon missionary, companion to Braithwaite, young and not as devoted to the Mission, wants to be a star! AND harbors a secret of his own! Range: A2 – G#4
Important Casting Note: Ethel to be played only by a woman.
Setting: Outside and inside "Ethel Merman's" home. Exterior needs a front door (pink) and interior requires a Christmas tree.
“The Book of Merman is a light-hearted romp through some of musical comedy’s most famous moments that also has an appealing message that applies to everyone.” –Theatre Scene
“An engaging musical.” –Berkshire Fine Arts
“Leo Schwartz and D.C. Cathro have put together this bubbling confection, inspired by other Mormons on Broadway, yet very much its own piece.” –Berkshire Fine Arts
“The audience laughed often and enjoyed this delicious truffle.” –Berkshire Fine Arts
“A sharp, witty, and even at times poignant book and songs that take cues from (but don’t necessarily parody in any direct way) songs from the more well-known musical as well as songs from the Ethel Merman canon.” –Chicago on Stage
“A show that has a huge heart” –Chicago on Stage
“Schwartz has expertly tweaked the lyrics and melodies of the original tunes just enough to make his new songs feel familiar but, to those who know these Broadway standards, sound as if they’re being played in a slightly different key. And, it should be stressed, Mr. Schwartz‘s songs are delightfully fun and melodious in their own right. His best song is a touching ballad called 'Because of You.'” –Chicago Theatre Review
“A tuneful array of songs that parody both “Book of Mormon” and almost every Ethel Merman classic.”–Chicago Theatre Review
“Throughout all the clever songs and dance moves, the message that theatergoers will take with them is how important it is to simply be yourself and to appreciate others for who they are.”–Chicago Theatre Review
“A creative, high energy new musical!”–chiiliveshows.com
“A sweet, uplifting message and hilarity ensues.”–chiiliveshows.com
“A fun night out for musical theatre lovers that's likely to bring on the jazz hands and bring out the diva and the thespian in all of us.”–chiiliveshows.com
“A laugh-out-loud mash-up of Broadway’s smash hit The Book of Mormon with the larger-than-life persona of the legendary mid-century belter Ethel Merman, the musical parody by Leo Schwartz (book, music, and lyrics) and DC Cathro (book) takes a hilarious look at a seemingly fated encounter between the vibrato-voiced star of stage and screen and two young proselytizing Mormon missionaries who arrive at her door.”–DC Metro Theatre Arts
“All three bring high-spirited energy, powerhouse vocals, and sidesplitting characterizations to their distinctive roles, while bantering, bickering, competing, and ultimately coming together to accept themselves and to appreciate each other.” –DC Metro Theater Arts
“Outrageously funny!”–DC Metro Theater Arts
“The premise of this silly, fun show is exactly what any self-respecting NYC theater regular, or gay man, would have conjectured: somehow Mormon missionaries and 'The Merm' meet, with wonderful consequences.” –Theater Pizzazz
“The Ethel we know and love: a brassy, strong voice, an ego the size of Kansas, a profane sense of humor, and the chutzpah of always being right.” –Theater Pizzazz
“It’s the original songs composed by Leo Schwartz that tickle and are moving.” –Theater Pizzazz
Materials: Your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production. They 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 Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package for The Book of Merman includes: