Showtune: Celebrating the Words & Music of Jerry Herman
A lyrical celebration of the music and indomitable spirit of the legendary Jerry Herman.
Show Essentials

Full Synopsis

Two versions of this show exist: a complete two-act version and an abridged one-act version. The abridged one-act version contains the same basic structure of the full show with condensed medleys and the removal of a few select songs.

Act One

The show begins with the entire cast inviting its audience to begin a celebration; today is a day to celebrate ("It's Today / Big Time"). We then see a man and woman reading the paper, the headline of which simply states that there is "bad news." The couple reflects on what the world really needs right now ("We Need a Little Christmas"). They are then joined by the rest of the cast, who have a different idea as to what the world needs ("Put on Your Sunday Clothes"). Next, we see a man who has his own way of cheering himself up when he feels down ("A Little More Mascara"). As he finishes turning himself into his alter ego, drag queen Zaza, another man comes on and tells us about the startling revelation that the man in the moon is actually a woman! Zaza effortlessly plays the role ("The Man in the Moon"). Finally prompted by Zaza, the entire cast comes together, declaring the pride of each individual being able to live his or her own life ("I Am What I Am").

It is now time for a look at love over the passage of time, beginning in the romantic spring ("Song on the Sand – Prelude"). The first couple deals with the fact that the male counterpart is not the loving, romantic kind whom he feels the woman deserves ("I Won't Send Roses"). There is then a different woman who declares that this summer, she will be noticed by someone special ("Ribbons down My Back"). Unbeknownst to her, someone has noticed, and when she finally sees him, they come together and dance ("Dancing"). The other two couples join them, but their momentary bliss is interrupted as summer comes and tensions run high ("It Takes a Woman"). The women, angered by their partners' thoughts, decide that it is time to move on ("Wherever He Ain't"). The men, however, will not be phased by their actions and retaliate by looking through their little black book of women ("Hundreds of Girls"). The women have had enough and they deliver the final blow to the men, declaring that they will simply leave ("So Long, Dearie").

As autumn comes, there is a cold distance between the men and the women, as the men begin to realize their errors ("It Takes a Woman – Reprise"). One woman confesses to others what the love that she had meant to her ("And I Was Beautiful"). Another man finally tells the others that they shouldn't wait to make up, because if they let time pass, they may actually lose the ones they love ("Kiss Her Now"). The other members of the group begin to chime in as they see it may be time to put the fights behind them ("And I Was Beautiful / Kiss Her Now – Counterpoint").

Winter is now here, and the couples make up. Beginning to leave, however, it seems as though one pair may never be able to overcome what happened. The man walks away, leaving the woman alone ("Time Heals Everything"). Another woman returns and in an effort to cheer up the lonely woman, she motivates her to try to live life to the fullest ("Before the Parade Passes By"). A man comes in and joins them, emphasizing the effect that one person can have on the whole world ("One Person"). The rest of the cast appears, declaring that it is time to try new things ("Open a New Window"). Finally, they all join together to celebrate life ("Before the Parade Passes By / One Person / Open a New Window – Counterpoint").

Act Two

Act Two begins on a movie soundstage as we are introduced to the world of silent film ("Movies Were Movies"). We are then introduced to the new star, Mabel, and given a brief look at her rise to fame by a cameraman working on the film ("Look What Happened to Mabel"). Mabel makes her entrance, and the crew begins filming ("That's How Young I Feel"). Together, the crew celebrates Mabel's fantastic new career ("Look What Happened to Mabel – Reprise").

We are then introduced to a new pair of movie stars, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, who begin filming a scene for the movie ("My Best Girl"). Following the scene, Nelson and the crew exit, leaving Jeanette alone and rather exasperated ("Nelson"). The cast returns to sit and watch a movie, all exclaiming how great it is to escape to the movie theatre ("Just Go to the Movies"). As the cast disperses, a man and woman exchange a glance, leaving the man to realize that it doesn't take much to fall in love ("It Only Takes a Moment"). The woman returns – now very pregnant – to comment on how it only takes a moment for accidents to happen, also ("What Do I Do Now? Gooch's Song"). Another man enters, finding a way to cheer her up and help her to forget her troubles ("Tap Your Troubles Away").

We are next introduced to Dolly Levi and Mame Dennis, both entering to a rousing fanfare ("Hello, Dolly! / Mame"). The two women interact, blatantly showing the love-hate relationship that they share ("Bosom Buddies"). After the two women leave, we see a man who has decided that if he has lost his love, he would rather live in his memories than see what the world looks like without love ("I Don't Want to Know"). As he contemplates his memories, the unresolved couple enters reflecting on their own past. The other two couples return, helping to shape these memories, and the pair finally makes up ("Song on the Sand"). There is now peace between the couples, and a woman tenderly comments on the many meanings of the word, "shalom" ("Shalom"). As the cast exits, a man and woman are revealed as she declares that her commitment is long-lasting ("I'll Be Here Tomorrow").

Another woman enters, wondering what would happen if the man she lost came back into her life ("If He Walked into My Life"). A man eventually comes to her and declares that she will have a happy ending ("I Promise You a Happy Ending"). The rest of the cast returns, exclaiming that now is the time to live and celebrate life ("Mame / The Best of Times / It's Today – Reprise").

← Back to Showtune
Cast Size: Small (Up to 10 performers)
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: None

Character Breakdown

Woman 1
An older character type. Musical numbers include "And I Was Beautiful," "Before the Parade Passes By," "That's How Young I Feel," and "If He Walked into My Life."
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 55
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: F#3
Man 1
An older leading-man type with a strong sense of humor. Musical numbers include "Kiss Her Now," "One Person," "Movies Were Movies," and "I Don't Want to Know."
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 55
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: G2
Woman 2
A woman in the prime of life, sassy and full of humor. Musical numbers include "I Am What I Am," "Time Heals Everything," and "I'll Be Here Tomorrow."
Gender: female
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: E3
Man 2
A comic in the prime of life, capable of selling a drag act. Musical numbers include "A Little More Mascara" and "Song on the Sand."
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: G2
Woman 3
An ingenue with a sprightly comic flair and tap dancing skills. Musical numbers include "Ribbons Down My Back," "So Long, Dearie," "Nelson," "What Do I Do Now? (Gooch's Song)," "Tap Your Troubles Away," and "Shalom."
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: Bb5
Vocal range bottom: F#3
Man 3
A young leading man-type with strong movement and dance skills. Musical numbers include "My Best Girl" and "It Only Takes a Moment."
Gender: male
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Man 4
A pianist/singer with both musical theatre and classical piano skills. The production is focused around him at the piano. His featured musical numbers are "The Man in the Moon" and "I Promise You a Happy Ending."
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 45
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: G2
Full Song List
Showtune: It's Today
Showtune: Big Time
Showtune: We Need a Little Christmas
Showtune: Put on Your Sunday Clothes
Showtune: A Little More Mascara
Showtune: The Man in the Moon (Is a Lady)
Showtune: I Am What I Am
Showtune: Son on the Sand-Prelude
Showtune: I Won't Send Roses
Showtune: Ribbons Down My Back
Showtune: Dancing
Showtune: It Takes a Woman
Showtune: Wherever He Ain't
Showtune: Hundreds of Girls
Showtune: So Long Dearie
Showtune: It Takes a Woman (Reprise)
Showtune: And I Was Beautiful
Showtune: Kiss Her Now
Showtune: And I Was Beautiful/Kiss Her Now- Counterpoint
Showtune: Time Heals Everything
Showtune: Before the Parade Passes By
Showtune: One Person
Showtune: Open a New Window
Showtune: Counterpoint March
Showtune: Hello, Dolly! - Entr'acte
Showtune: Movies Were Movies
Showtune: Look What Happened to Mabel
Showtune: That's How Young I Feel
Showtune: Look What Happened to Mabel (Reprise)
Showtune: My Best Girl
Showtune: Nelson
Showtune: Just Go to the Movies
Showtune: It Only Takes a Moment
Showtune: What Do I Do Now? (Gooch's Song)
Showtune: Tap Your Troubles Away
Showtune: Bosom Buddies
Showtune: I Don't Want to Know
Showtune: I Don't Want to Know (Reprise)
Showtune: Song on the Sand
Showtune: Shalom
Showtune: I'll Be Here Tomorrow
Showtune: If He Walked Into My Life
Showtune: I Promise You a Happy Ending
Showtune: Mame
Showtune: The Best of Times
Showtune: It's Today (Reprise)
Showtune: Hello, Dolly! - Curtain Call

Show History


Showtune was inspired by, and celebrates the words and music of, Broadway composer Jerry Herman, its title reflecting his autobiography of the same name. Herman has been nominated for the Tony Award five times, winning twice – for Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles. In 2009, Herman received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre and is a recipient of the 2010 Kennedy Center Honors. The songs featured in Showtune come from the Herman Broadway musicals: Milk and Honey (1961), Hello, Dolly! (1964), Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), Mack & Mabel (1974), The Grand Tour (1979), A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine (1980) and La Cage aux Folles (1983).

Conceived by Paul Gilger, the songs in Showtune are juxtaposed into thematic scenes and song-cycles, placing a strong emphasis on Herman's lyrics and their optimistic messages. The song-cycle format creates dramatic sub-texts, giving through-lines to the show and making Showtune unique among musical revues.


Showtune is a musical conceived by Paul Gilger from the music and lyrics of famed musical theatre composer Jerry Herman. Under its original title, Tune the Grand Up, Showtune premiered May 1, 1985, as a cabaret production at The 1177 Club in the Gramercy Towers on Nob Hill in San Francisco. It was directed by Paul Gilger and Barbara Valente, with choreography by Valente and musical direction by James Followell. Receiving excellent reviews, the show continued to play there for the next two years, receiving many awards along the way.

Following this success, two additional companies popped up, premiering Tune the Grand Up in San Diego and Kamuela (Waimea), Hawaii.

Then, in 1996, New York producer Jennifer Strome optioned the rights to Tune the Grand Up and produced all subsequent productions of the revue, up through the 2003 New York production. Along the way were productions at the Delta King Riverboat Theatre in Sacramento, California, the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco, and a London production under the new title of The Best of Times, which transferred to the West End's Vaudeville Theatre on November 3, 1998, following its initial success at the Bridewell Theater.

In the Fall of 2002, the revue, now aptly titled Showtune, had its out-of-town tryout at the Helen Hayes Theatre in Nyack, New York. The production was directed and choreographed by Joey McKneely, with musical direction by James Followell, Then, on February 18, 2003, Showtune opened Off-Broadway at the Theatre at St Peter's for a limited six-week engagement, where it received numerous rave reviews.

Subsequently Showtune has enjoyed great success, both regionally and internationally, mounting productions in Tokyo, Boca Raton, Denver, Los Angeles and Edinburgh, just to name a few.


  • In the 1996 production at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco, every member of the cast won a Hollywood Drama-Logue Award.

Critical Reaction

"With Jerry Herman's life affirming songs, Showtune is uplifting and fun. Skip 'American Idol' and spend the evening with a real American treasure."
– Curtain Up

"Jerry Herman was once defined by Alan Jay Lerner as the Irving Berlin of his generation, and Showtune, a collection of Herman classics at the Pasadena Playhouse, demonstrates why Herman deserves this sobriquet. ...Solidly delivers."
– Variety

"Entertaining, enlightening, enthralling and memorable."
– San Francisco Gate

"Delightful... you are sure to leave with a smile on your face."
– The Examiner




You must give the authors/creators billing credits, as specified in the Production Contract, in a conspicuous manner on the first page of credits in all programs and on houseboards, displays and in all other advertising announcements of any kind.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
Celebrating the Words and Music of
Based on Original Direction & Choreography by
Barbara Valente & Paul Gilger
Directed & Choreographed Off-Broadway at the
Theater at Saint Peter's Church by Joey McKneely

Video Warning

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Included Materials

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Production Resources