Finian’s Rainbow

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Aging Irish dreamer Finian McLonerghan and his savvy daughter Sharon travel to America to bury a small pot of gold, which Finian believes will grow to yield millions. When they arrive in fictional Rainbow Valley in Missitucky, the McLonerghans encounter goodhearted sharecroppers, bigoted blowhard politicians… and a romantic leprechaun! One of America’s classic and most original musicals, FINIAN’S RAINBOW remains as timely now as when it was first written. The charming score includes hits like “Old Devil Moon,” “Look to the Rainbow,” and “How Are Things In Glocca Morra?”

Tams-Witmark offers two versions of the show for perusal and licensing. Explore both to see which best suits your needs:

  • 1) This 1947 original, with orchestrations.
  • 2) The 2004 “Concert” Version with a full two-act script, and the orchestral score brilliantly arranged for two pianos.

Music samples provided courtesy of PS Classics, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. and Shapiro, Bernstein & Co.
Photos by Brett Thomas, courtesy of Walnut Street Theatre

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Rehearsal Materials
  • Cast List
  • Brief History
  • Upcoming
  • Act I

    In the fictional town of Rainbow Valley, Missitucky, near Fort Knox, the local sheriff and Buzz Collins, front man for local senator Billboard Rawkins, demand the local sharecroppers pay their taxes or lose their land in a public auction. The sharecroppers want to wait for Woody Mahoney, their union leader., but the Sheriff begins the auction anyway. The Sharecroppers defiantly drag him and Collins off to meet Woody (“This Time of Year”).

    Finian McLonergan, an elderly Irishman, arrives with his daughter Sharon (“How Are Things in Glocca Morra?”). Finian has stolen a crock of gold from a leprechaun and intends to bury it near Fort Knox, in hopes of making it grow. Woody doesn’t have enough money to pay Rawkins, so Finian pays the rest, earning the trust of the sharecroppers (“Look to the Rainbow”).

    That night, Finian buries the gold and marks the spot, only to be met by Og, the leprechaun he robbed. Og desperately needs the gold back; without it, he is slowly becoming mortal. Sharon and Woody, who come looking for Finian, soon fall for each other (“Old Devil Moon”).

    Senator Rawkins is buying up land to fight progressive developers. He is not upset with losing Rainbow Valley until two geologists arrive to tell him gold has been detected on it. He vows to drive Finian and the sharecroppers off.

    The next morning, Og meets Sharon and shyly confesses his feelings for her (“Something Sort of Grandish”). But Sharon is in love with Woody (“If This Isn’t Love”). Og warns Finian not to make wishes near the gold; after three wishes, the gold will vanish forever. Og enlists the local children to help find his gold, promising to get them anything from a magical catalogue (“Something Sort of Grandish” Reprise).

    As the sharecroppers sort tobacco leaves, Maude, one of their leaders, laments the unfairness of life (“Necessity”). Senator Rawkins tells Finian and the white sharecroppers that, by living with black people, they are breaking the law. Outraged at the Senator’s bigotry, Sharon tells him, “I wish to God you were black!” Because Sharon was standing over the gold, the Senator is transformed. The unknowing Sherriff chases him off the property. Woody brings news that there is gold on their land, and the Shears-Robust shipping company has offered them all a free charge account. Insisting that credit is better than wealth, Woody and Finian tell them to use their new free credit rather than dig the gold. The group celebrates “That Great Come-And-Get-It Day”.

    Act II

    The sharecroppers begin unpacking extravagant gifts to themselves from their new accounts. Sharon and Finian celebrate the end of class-distinction that comes with wealth (“When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich”). Shears and Robust show up wondering when the gold will be discovered that will pay for the credit. Woody and Finian explain that there is no need to dig the gold up, since the news has led to massive investment in their tobacco label. Buzz and the Sheriff, however, accuse Sharon of using witchcraft to transform the Senator. Woody orders them off. He and Sharon agree to marry (“Old Devil Moon” Reprise). Woody’s sister, Susan the Silent, watches them, dances by herself, and discovers the hidden gold (“Dance of the Hidden Crock”). She takes the gold for herself and hides it.

    Meanwhile, Senator Rawkins is hiding in the woods. He meets Og and explains what happened to him. Og decides what the Senator needs is a new inside rather than a new outside. He uses his own magic to make the Senator a nicer person (“Fiddle Faddle”). In his new persona, Rawkins falls in with a group of black gospel singers looking for a fourth man (“The Begat”); by chance, they are all going to sing at Woody and Sharon’s wedding. The wedding is interrupted by Buzz and the Sheriff, who have come to arrest her for witchcraft. The Senator tries to defend them, but as a black man the Sheriff has no need to heed him. Finian steps in, promising Sharon can change the Senator back. He dismisses everyone, intending to use the Crock to undo her wish, but finds the crock gone.

    Og, now nearly human, looks for Sharon to tell her his feelings. He finds Susan instead, but realizes he is also attracted to her. He wonders if all human love is so fickle (“When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love”). Finian finds them and tells them Sharon is in danger. When Og reveals he doesn’t have the gold, Finian runs off in despair. Susan knows where the gold is, but can’t speak. Frustrated, Og wishes she could talk, not knowing the gold is under his feet. Susan speaks, and tells him she loves him. Og realizes there is only one wish left, and if he uses it to save Sharon he cannot be a leprechaun again. He is unsure what to do until Susan kisses him. Deciding being human isn’t so bad, Og returns the Senator to his original appearance.

    The Senator promises to be a better representative to the people, and the Sharecroppers welcome Og and the now-verbal Susan (“If This Isn’t Love” Reprise). Finian, however, has lost the crock and his hope of getting rich. Seeing that Sharon and Og have found their dreams, he goes off again in search of his own rainbow, saying “Maybe there’s no pot of gold at the end of it, but there’s a beautiful new world under it.” The cast tells him goodbye, promising to see him in Glocca Morra (“Finale”).

  • FINIAN’S RAINBOW
    A Musical Play in Two Acts
    Music by Burton Lane
    Book by E. Y. Harburg
    and Fred Saidy
    Lyrics by E. Y. Harburg

    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 title page of the program shall contain the following announcement in type size at least one-half the size of the authors’ credits:

    FINIAN’S RAINBOW
    is presented by arrangement with
    TAMS-WITMARK MUSIC LIBRARY, INC.
    560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022

  • Full Orchestration:

    2 Violin I
    1 Violin II
    1 Viola
    1 Cello
    1 Bass

    1 Flute – Piccolo
    1 Oboe – English Horn
    1 Clarinet I
    1 Clarinet II – Flute & Piccolo
    1 Bass Clarinet – Clarinet & Bassoon (or Bass Clarinet)

    2 Horn I & II
    2 Trumpet I & II
    1 Trombone I
    1 Trombone II

    1 Percussion:

    Timpani (2 Drums)
    Bass Drum
    Snare Drum (Large & Small Drums, Brushes & Sticks)
    Tom Tom
    Cymbal (Hi-Hat, Suspended & Piatti)
    Triangle
    Wood Block
    Temple Blocks (3)
    Slap Sticks
    Sand Paper Blocks
    Bells
    Low Bells
    Xylophone
    Vibraphone (optional)
    Chimes (optional)

    1 Harp
    1 Piano – Celeste
    1 Guitar – Banjo
    Piano (Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.)

  • 1       Piano Conductor’s Score
    1       Prompt Book for Director
    28     Prompt Books for Cast
    30     Chorus-Vocal Parts

    Original Cast CD, if available, is sent with perusal material.

    Optional Additional Materials

    1       Stage Manager’s Guide

  • Finian McLonergan: Charming older Irishman, a dreamer and optimist.
    Sharon McLonergan: Finian’s daughter. A lovely young Irish woman, savvy and bright.
    Woody Mahoney: Wholesome young American, just back from the Merchant Marines.
    Susan Mahoney: Woody’s mute sister, a dancer.
    Og: A semi-mortal leprechaun, playful but determined.
    Senator Billboard Rawkins: Bombastic southern politician and orator.
    Buzz Collins: Dapper, cigar-smoking stooge for the Senator.
    Sunny: Blind, harmonica-playing sharecropper (non-speaking).
    Sheriff (Chick): Small, plump man with a slow-whining delivery.
    Henry: Young black boy who “reads” Susan’s dance steps, son of a sharecropper.
    Melindy: Pretty sharecropper who gets the Sheriff to dance with her (non-speaking).
    Howard: Black college student seeking summer employment.
    1st Sharecropper: Black man who plays guitar, tenor.
    2nd Sharecropper
    3rd Sharecropper: Young black woman.
    4th Sharecropper
    1st Sheriff’s Deputy (Pete)
    2nd Deputy (Alec)
    3rd Deputy
    Two Geologists: Young men, one black and one white, performing a geological survey of the Valley.
    Diana: Little girl, sharecropper’s kid. Henry’s friend.
    Honey Lou & Other Children: Sharecroppers’ kids.
    John: Black preacher and sharecropper.
    Mr. Shears: Businessman, tall and lean.
    Mr. Robust: Businessman, short and squat.
    Three Passion Pilgrim Gospeleers: Black male quartet minus one baritone, Russ.
    Girl: Messenger to Finian in the last scene.
    Six Girls: Tobacco workers, black and white, the “Necessity” sextet (non-speaking).

    Chorus & Dancers (Two groups of 16 people, with 8 men & 8 women in each group):
    Black and white, men and women—the SHARECROPPERS. 4 men and 4 women—TOBACCO WORKERS. TWO PEOPLE, man and woman-tourists.

  • FINIAN’S RAINBOW played for 725 performances at the Forty-Sixth Street Theatre starring Ella Logan, Albert Sharpe and David Wayne. It has been revived several times on Broadway, most recently in 2009 at the St. James Theatre, where it played for 92 performances starring Kate Baldwin, Terri White, Cheyenne Jackson and Christopher Fitzgerald.

    Awards (1947-48)

    3 Tony Awards for Orchestra Conductor, Featured Actor and Choreography.
    The Theatre World Award (David Wayne)

    Awards (2009-2010)

    The Drama Desk Award for Featured Actor.

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