Finian’s Rainbow

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Did you ever wonder “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” or what would happen under an “Old Devil Moon,” or “When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich?” Enter the irresistible world of two Irish immigrants who come to America and live with poor, goodhearted American farmers; southern bigots — and a leprechaun! — in one of America’s classic and most original musicals, with a brilliant set of songs, a show as timely now as when it was written in 1947: FINIAN’S RAINBOW.

Music samples provided courtesy of PS Classics, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. and Shapiro, Bernstein & Co.

  • Synopsis
  • Credits
  • Orchestration
  • Rehearsal Materials
  • Brief History
  • Upcoming
  • In this whimsical, magical, still contemporary fable-with-a social-conscience, Finian McLonergan, his daughter Sharon, followed by a leprechaun named Og, travel from Glocca Morra, Ireland to Rainbow Valley in the mythical state of Missitucky, USA. Finian has “borrowed” Og’s crock of gold to plant in the soil near Fort Knox so it will grow and make him rich. But Og wants it back, for without it all the Glocca Morra leprechauns will lose their magic powers and the crock of gold, which grants wishes, will turn to dross. The McLonergans arrive as Buzz, a stooge for racist Senator Billboard Rawkins, is trying to take the sharecroppers’ land away for inability to pay back taxes. Woody Mahoney, co-owner of the land with his mute sister Susan, who “talks” with her feet by dancing, gets home from the Merchant Marine, with money to pay the taxes. But he is seventy dollars short! Sharon and Finian, who are hiding in a tree, are touched by their plight and throw down a shower of bills to save the day.
    A highly original story unfolds, at once magical and all too real. Woody and Sharon fall in love (“Old Devil Moon”). Finian secretly buries the crock. The sheriff is about to throw all the citizens of Rainbow Valley off their land for violating his “law of the south, namely”: Whites and blacks cannot work or live side by side. Sharon is outraged, and wishes that the Senator could be black and feel the terrible pain of racism. And because-without knowing it-she is standing over the buried crock, it happens! The Senator turns black-the crowd is stunned-he is horrified, and runs off into the forest to hide.
    The sharecroppers learn there is gold in Rainbow Valley-though no one except Finian knows where it is. They are thrilled (“When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich”) and go offstage to celebrate. Susan enters, alone. As she dances in the forest, magic seems to draw her to the place where Finian buried the gold. She digs it up. Amazed and enchanted, she dances holding the crock-then buries it-in a different spot. As she dances off, Og enters, and soon after, a hungry, lonely, frightened black Senator stumbles onstage. Og casts a spell to cure the Senator of his bigotry!
    The Senator leaves, Susan returns, Og falls madly in love with her and sings his tour-de-force, “When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love (I Love the Girl I’m Near).” Meanwhile, Sharon, accused of witchcraft for turning Rawkins black, is about to be burned at the stake. But at the last minute, there are happy endings for all: Sharon and Woody marry; the Senator is warm and tolerant (and is running for office); Susan can speak; she and Og are a happy couple. And Finian goes on his way, taking his rainbow of hope to others who need it. Besides the classic songs cited above, i.e., “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?,” “Old Devil Moon,” “When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich” and “When I’m Not Near the Girl I Love (I Love the Girl I’m Near),” other standards in the Finian’s Rainbow score include “Look to the Rainbow,” “Necessity,” “Something Sort of Grandish,” “That Great Come-and-Get-It Day,” “If This Isn’t Love” and “The Begat.”
    Tams-Witmark has two versions of the show for perusal and licensing. We recommend you examine both to see which best suits your needs:

    • 1) The 1947 hit original, with orchestrations.
    • 2) The 2004 hit “concert” version with a full two-act script, and the orchestral score brilliantly arranged for two pianos. There is a one piano arrangement in progress.
  • Music by Burton Lane
    Book by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy
    Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg

  • 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)

    1 Horn I & II
    1 Trumpets 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
    3       Prompt Books for Principal Characters
    1       Original Cast CD
    28     Dialogue Parts
    32     Chorus-Vocal Parts

    Optional Additional Materials

    1       Stage Manager’s Guide

  • 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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