Based on Anita Loos’s 1925 bestseller of the same title, GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES follows Lorelei Lee, a blonde from Little Rock, Arkansas, who sails to Europe with her friend Dorothy to perform in a nightclub in Paris.
The girls set about enjoying their cruise. They have plenty of help, notably from the American Olympic Team who are also en route for Paris. Also on board are Mrs. Spofford, the richest widow in Philadelphia, and her son Henry, who takes to Dorothy in a big way. There is an English couple too – Sir Francis and Lady Beekman; she has a diamond tiara that Lorelei just knows would look its best on her own blonde head. And there is Josephus Gage, a hearty young man who turns out to America’s Zipper King. So when Lorelei gets a wireless message from Gus that his father has found out about a little escapade of hers with a revolver in Little Rock and it looks like the wedding is off, it is only logical that she should turn her attention to Josephus and Sir Francis.
Eventually Lorelei succeeds in getting her tiara and her Gus – and arranges a merger between the button business and the zipper business that looks like it will bring lots of success (and lots more diamonds) in the future.
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES
Music by Jule Styne
Lyrics by Leo Robin
Book by Anita Loos and Joseph Fields
Adapted from the novel by Anita Loos
Such credit for all purposes shall be in a type size equal to that of any other credits except for those of the producer and star(s) above the title. The credits for the Authors shall be in a type size at least 75 percent of the size of the title of the play; and wherever the name of one of the Authors appears, the other names shall also appear. 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:
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES
is presented by arrangement with
MusicScope & Stage Musicals Ltd. of New York
2 Violin I (2 stands)
2 Violin II (2 stands)
1 Reed I: Flute, Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
1 Reed II: Oboe, English Horn, Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
1 Reed III: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
1 Reed IV: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
1 Reed V: Clarinet, Bassoon, Alto Saxophone & Baritone Saxophone
1 Trumpet I & II
1 Trumpet III
1 Trombone I
1 Trombone II
Timpani (2 drums)
Ship’s Bell (SFX)
Boat Whistle (SFX)
Slide Wind Machine
Auxiliary instruments for:
Trumpet II: Tin Shaker
Trumpet III: Jawbone
Trombone I: Claves
Trombone II: Gourd
1 Guitar & Banjo
1 Piano & Celeste
Piano-Conductor’s Score sent with rehearsal material.
Sir Francis Beekman: Traveling with his wife but easily distracted by young women.
Dorothy Shaw: (dancer/singer) Follies dancer and fun-loving best friend to Lorelei.
Mrs. Ella Spofford: Philadelphia’s richest woman-alcoholic mother of Henry.
Henry Spofford: Shy college student, William Penn Memorial Glee Club conductor.
Lorelei Lee: Follies dancer, “retired” by a practical arrangement with Mr. Gus Esmond, Jr.
Gus Esmond, Jr.: The Button King, sponsor of Lorelei and Dorothy’s trip to Paris.
Josephus Gage: The Zipper King, an entrepreneur and health addict.
Coles & Atkins: (singers/specialty tap dancers) Originally played by Honi Coles and Cholly Atkins (non-speaking roles).
— Entertainers at the Pre-Catalan Club for the number “Mamie is Mimi.”
Lady Phyllis Beekman: A matron representing the British traveling upper class.
Gloria Stark: (dancer) Follies dancer and former colleague of Lorelei and Dorothy.
Robert (Robbear) Lemanteur: French magistrate.
Louis Lemanteur: Son of Robert, a police officer.
Esmond, Sr.: Frail founding elder in firm control of his son and his Button empire.
Bill: (dancer) A small speaking role as the Master of Ceremonies at the Pre-Catalan Club. Bill is the dance partner for Dorothy in the numbers “I Love What I’m Doing” and “Keeping Cool With Coolidge.”
Small speaking parts (doubling roles)
Pierre: A steward on the “Île de France.”
Steward: On the “Île de France.”
2nd Steward: On the “Île de France”.
3rd Steward: On the “Île de France”.
Frank: An Olympic boy, team member.
George: An Olympic boy, team member.
Two Show Girls: Passengers aboard ship.
Two Other Show Girls: Passengers aboard ship.
Olympic Man: Passenger aboard ship.
Taxi Driver: (dancer) A Frenchman, may be played by Bill, dance partner for Gloria in the scene under the Eiffel Tower.
Leon: A valet in the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
Maître d’Hôtel: Pre-Catalan Club, Paris.
Headwaiter: Pre-Catalan Club, Paris.
Fifi & Zizi: Girls being escorted by Sir Francis in Paris.
Headwaiter: Central Park Casino, New York
Non-speaking doubling roles played by Chorus and Dancers
Stewards (Male Quartet including Pierre)
Olympic Team Boys (8 including Frank & George)
Banner Carriers (2 young girls)
Ship’s Passengers & Their Friends
Nursemaids (Sopranos & Altos) (9)
Workmen (Tenors & Basses) (9)
Shopgirls (8 Dancers)
Parisian Men (8 Dancers)
Little Girl (The nurse’s charge)
Priest (Tenor solo)
Paris Party People
Pre-Catalan Club Dancing Patrons
Waiters & Bartender
Flower Girl (Sells an orchid to Gus for Gloria)
Gigolo (Joins Zizi & Fifi when Sir Francis leaves)
Solo Tenor (or Contralto for the “Coquette” number)
In New York:
Singers & Dancers (as couples ballroom dancing at a party in the Central Park Casino)
Wedding Guests (They respond on cue as a group)
Policeman (Uniformed escorted for Esmond Sr.)
Bridesmaids & Wedding Attendants (Chorus)
12 principal speaking roles
7 principal singing roles (Dorothy also a principal dancer)
2 specialty singers/tap dancers (Coles & Atkins)
1 principal male dancer (Bill)
1 principal girl dancer (Gloria)
18 minimum chorus (5 soprano, 4 alto, 5 tenor, 4 bass)
16 dancers (8 girls & 8 boys)
GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES opened in 1949 and played for 740 performances on Broadway at the Ziegfeld Theatre starring Carol Channing, Yvonne Adair, Jack McCauley, Eric Brotherson and George S. Irving. In 1995 a production at the Goodspeed Opera House transferred to the Lyceum Theatre in New York and starred KT Sullivan. A staged concert production was presented in the Encores! series of Great American Musicals in Concert at the New York City Center in 2012, starring Megan Hilty and Rachel York.