PARDON MY ENGLISH is a farce satirizing the Prohibition era, set in prewar Dresden. To promote consumption of beer and wine, the German government bans the sale of all non-alcoholic beverages. In protest, the thuggish Golo Schmidt opens a speakeasy serving forbidden drinks like cream soda and ginger ale. The Police Commissioner is determined to shut down the illegal operation. After Golo is knocked unconscious in a car accident, he awakens to believe he is Michael Bramleigh, a wealthy Englishman — Golo’s polar opposite. As he is recognized by friends variously as himself or his English alter ego, comedic misadventures follow. The tuneful score by George and Ira Gershwin includes “Isn’t It A Pity?,” “Luckiest Man in the World,” and the title song.
Photos courtesy of Staats Operette Dresden
- Rehearsal Materials
- Cast List
- Brief History
In order to promote the sale of beer and wine, the German government bans the sale of all non-alcoholic beverages. In retaliation, Golo Schmidt opens Club 21, a speakeasy where patrons can imbibe such forbidden drinks as cream soda and ginger ale. Police Commissioner Bauer makes it his mission to shut down the illegal operation.
Golo decides to disrupt a birthday celebration for Bauer, but while en route to the party he is struck by a car and knocked unconscious. When he awakens in Bauer’s home, he believes he is Michael Bramleigh, a wealthy, sophisticated member of British society. He eventually falls in love with Bauer’s daughter Ilse and proposes marriage.
A birdhouse falls on Bramleigh, and his memory returns. Golo once again, he has no memory of his relationship with Ilse and returns to Club 21 and his sweetheart Gita Gobel. Hearing Bauer’s daughter is about to marry, he plans to kidnap the bride and hold her for ransom. At the wedding, Golo locates Ilse, who naturally thinks he’s her fiance Michael, and the two escape to an inn in Schandau.
Golo, inexplicably thinking he’s Michael once again, returns to Bauer’s house and apologizes for missing the wedding. The two plot to find Ilse and save her from her kidnapper. Recognized as Golo by some and Michael by others, the hero becomes involved in a series of comic misadventures.
PARDON MY ENGLISH
Music and Lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin
Book by Herbert Fields and Morrie Ryskind
Such credits to the authors for all purposes shall be in type size equal to or greater than that of any other credits except for that of the star(s) above the title. In the programs, the credits shall appear on the title page thereof.
The following announcements shall appear on the title page in all programs for the PLAY:
“The worldwide copyrights in the music of
George and Ira Gershwin® for this presentation are licensed by
the Gershwin Family.”
“GERSHWIN is a registered trademark and service mark
of Gershwin Enterprises.”
“PARDON MY ENGLISH
is presented by arrangement with
TAMS-WITMARK MUSIC LIBRARY, INC.
560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022, U.S.A.”
Instrumentation: 19 Parts
1 Reed 1 (Oboe & English Horn)
1 Reed 2 (Clarinet, Alto Saxophone & Baritone Saxophone)
1 Reed 3 (Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Alto Saxophone)
1 Reed 4 (Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone)
1 Horn 1
1 Horn 2
1 Trumpet 2
2 Percussion 1 & 2
1 Violin 1-A
1 Violin 1-B
1 Violin 2
1 Viola 1
1 Viola 2
Piano – Conductor’s Score (2 volumes) sent with rehearsal material
1 Piano Conductor’s Score (Two volumes)
1 Prompt Book for Director
12 Prompt Books for Cast
15 Chorus Parts
7 Piano Conductor’s Scores for Principal Characters (Two volumes each)
Golo } (played by
Michael Bramleigh } the same actor)
Police Commissioner Bauer
Psychoanalysts & Nurses }
The Dresden Mounted Northwest }
German Waiters & Waitresses } Chorus
Golo’s German Bootlegging Gang }
Party & Wedding Guests }
To differentiate when the actor plays Michael and when he plays Golo, these names will be used separately as called for in this script.
PARDON MY ENGLISH opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre, January 20, 1933 and played for 43 performances starring English music-hall star Jack Buchanan in the dual role of Golo and Michael. The show was considered lost for decades, but when performance materials were found in a New Jersey warehouse in 1982, it was reconstructed and a studio recording was made in 1993.
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