Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of an emperor who’s a slave to fashion is expanded and turned on its head! Lampooning everything from high fashion and pretentious celebrities to pompous politicians and con-artists, this whimsical show has delighted hundreds of thousands of kids, teens, and adults across the country. With music evocative of the Golden Age of Broadway mixed with modern comic sensibilities, this delightfully madcap musical comedy will have kids (and adults) of all ages roaring with laughter!
Karl, a pompous old con-man, and his bumbling assistant Lenny have just arrived in the Imperial Capital. Lenny stands on a street trying to get a crowd to gather around (“Opening”). Karl begins to show off all of the useless “gems” he has for sale (“I’m Someone Special”). The crowd, however, catches on and boos his presentation before abruptly leaving.
A gentleman enters walks by wearing all new clothes and Karl gets inspired (“An Idea!”). He convinces the man that he is a famous fashion designer, and the new trend in style is to wear very raggedy old clothing. The man is convinced and buys some old clothes off of them (“They’re Doing It! Why Aren’t You?”).
Meanwhile at the Imperial Palace, Stephan, the Emperor’s attractive High Lord Counselor, has brought in the recent public opinion polls. He tells General Augustine that the Emperor’s approval rating is low. This is a problem because the Emperor is about to address the public and will freak out at this news.
The Emperor comes in and is worried with the news. The people are starting to gather outside, and they are all dressed as peasants, in reaction to the recent fashion “trend.” Noticing this, Stephan notices that the opinion question about the Emperor’s clothes received a dismal result.
With no time to change clothes, the Emperor and Empress Hidlegard are forced to address the public. They receive little praise (“Love Me Just A Little – Please!”).
The young princess, meanwhile, has befriended a young chimney sweep named Tom, who is not afraid to voice his opinions (“Tell Me That I’m Wrong”).
The next day, Karl and Lenny have been dragged into the Emperor’s palace to give the Emperor fashion advice. This time Karl says that the Emperor should lead the people with his fashion choices. He tells the Emperor that he has a fabric that is better than any other in existence (“Another Idea!”). “The fabric is almost invisible,” he goes on to explain as he pantomimes taking something out of his bag. He convinces all of the people in the palace that this “fabric” really exists and is all the rage (“There’s Nothing Like It”).
The General announces a holiday to the people and tells them that there will be a parade to showcase the Emperor’s new clothes (“Stop! Behold! Marvel!”). But Tom, the chimney sweep, is too clever to be fooled. He screams out that the Emperor is actually not wearing any clothes and is just walking around in his underwear. Tom is arrested for treason.
Next, the Emperor makes it a requirement of all citizens to wear the new “fabric” (“The Fashion Follies”). Everyone is walking around in underwear, except Princess Ayn, who claims to have not been able to find her dress (she really is aware that it is all a hoax) (“They’re Doing It! Why Aren’t You? (Reprise)”).
Before Tom goes to trial, Ayn finds him. He pleads for her to tell the people the truth about the clothes (“Tell Them That They’re Wrong (Reprise)”).
Ayn requests that Tom get a jury, and the Emperor employs the audience to do so. Ayn decides to defend Tom, and Karl does the prosecuting. After it seems like she might lose, Ayn makes one final plea to the audience (“You Have Eyes, So Use Them”).
The audience decides in Tom’s favor, and the Emperor ends up relinquishing his crown to Princess Ayn, who becomes Empress (“Love Me Just A Little – Please! -Reprise”). She has Karl and Lenny thrown in prison for fraud (“I’m Someone Special – Reprise”). She elects Tom to be her Lord High Counselor and tells him to always use his honest opinion (“Finale”).
A smart new musical comedy that’s always in fashion.
Karl The Magnificent – (Male) A poor old con-artist.
Lenny – His bumbling assistant.
Empress Hildegard – Wilhelm’s wife.*
Princess Ayn – Their niece.
Lord Stephan – The Emperor’s Lord High Council.
General Augustine – Head of the Imperial Army.
Tom – The palace chimney sweep.
A Gentleman – (Played by the same actor who plays the Emperor)
Casting note: All actors except for those playing Karl and Lenny double as the Townspeople in Scene 1.
*For comic effect, Hildegard may also be played by a male in drag.
Setting: In the palace and on the street within the Emperor’s fantastical realm.
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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 The Emperor’s New Clothes, click here.
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 Emperor’s New Clothes includes: