Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

Act One

A cast of three men and two women lead us through an evening at a cocktail party that explodes time and place as it deals with universal themes.

Man 3, alone onstage, gives a comedic monologue that summarizes a few Sondheim shows, warning the audience that Sondheim expects audiences to think about the material presented. He then gives the audience some instruction ("Invocations and Instructions to the Audience"). The other cast members enter, illustrating the difficulties and precision that go into performance ("Putting It Together").

The performers become characters at a cocktail party; Man 1 and Woman 1 are the married couple who are hosting the party, Man 2 works at Man 1's publishing firm, and Woman 2 is Man 2's date. Man 3 is a mysterious, uninvited guest who often comments on the action. The characters schmooze ("Rich and Happy"). Man 1 and Woman 1 share a moment of remembered romance ("Do I Hear a Waltz?"). Man 3 comments on how they are just rolling along, unaware that things might go wrong ("Merrily Fragment 1").

Woman 2 pours the men champagne and reflects on how her looks are all that she has, while Woman 1 mocks her ("Lovely"). Man 3 directs our attention to Man 1's attempts to seduce Woman 2 ("Hello, Little Girl"); Woman 1 walks in on them ("My Husband the Pig"). As Woman 1 bemoans her married life, Woman 2 commiserates ("Every Day a Little Death").

Man 3 sets up the next moment in one word: revenge. He enters, dressed as a butler, and Woman 1 flirts with him ("Everybody Ought to Have a Maid"). Meanwhile, Man 1 attempts to distract himself from Woman 1 by urging Man 2 to go out with some girls whom he knows ("Have I Got a Girl for You"). This leads them both to ponder the beauty of women ("Pretty Women"). Man 3 points us to an invitation – Woman 2 goes after Man 2 ("Sooner or Later"). This invitation results in consummation, with Man 3 commenting on the action ("Bang!").

Elsewhere, Woman 1 and Man 1 deal with desperation. Woman 1 suggests that they rekindle their marriage by going on a trip, but Man 1 is apathetic ("A Country House"). Man 2 and Woman 2, however, express their love for each other ("Unworthy of Your Love"). Man 3 comments on Woman 1 and Man 1 ("Merrily Fragment III"). Woman 1 becomes drunk and lashes out at Man 1 ("Could I Leave You?"). The whole cast sums up their lives, a celebration with a hint of irony ("Rich and Happy – Reprise").

Act Two

The cast is confident that things are looking up for them ("Back in Business") but they're all starting to find the cocktail party stuffy ("It's Hot up Here"). Man 3 invites us to hear what everyone is thinking: We begin with Woman 1. She feels that her life has become tedious and empty ("The Ladies Who Lunch").

Next, Man 1 regrets that the nature of life is such that making one choice means not making many others ("The Road You Didn't Take"). Man 2 is content with his singledom ("Live Alone and Like It"). Woman 2 is happy with the rich life into which she has grown, but that doesn't mean that she's satisfied with what she has ("More"). Man 3 points us to competition. The women then express their contempt for the way that women undercut each other ("There's Always a Woman").

Now it's Man 3's turn to share what he's thinking: He reflects on how he's attracted to women who can't stand him ("Buddy's Blues"). Man 1 contemplates how he and Woman 1 had something special ("Good Thing Going"). Man 2, meanwhile, wants to marry Woman 2, as long as it doesn't involve too much sacrifice or compromise ("Marry Me a Little"). Woman 1 remembers her wedding day – her first wedding day – when she was unsure and panicked ("Getting Married Today").

All of the characters then share their need for connection ("Being Alive"). Woman 1 wonders why they can't go back to how things used to be, acknowledging that the good old days perhaps never really existed ("Like It Was"). Despite this, all of the characters revel in the strength of old friendships that, no matter how they are tested, last ("Finale Act Two").