The Rivals: An Olde New Musical Comedie

Book and Lyrics by Greg Edwards, Music by Jonathan Breit

Adapted from the Play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

The Rivals is a musical comedy set in that faraway time when everyone wore wigs, spoke in repartee, and hid behind curtains and chairs at the slightest provocation. Miss Lydia Languish wants to throw away her money and live on nothing but love, so Jack Absolute decides to woo her disguised as a penniless poet. An overbearing father, a pompous aunt, stereotypical Irishmen, and a host of rivals threaten to get in the way, but in the end disguises are doffed, obstacles removed, and love wins the day.

Characters

  • CAPTAIN JACK ABSOLUTE, our hero, madly in love with Lydia's money
  • LYDIA LANGUISH, our heroine, madly in love with Jack's perceived poverty
  • FAULKLAND, a soldier, madly (and neurotically) in love with Julia
  • JULIA MELVILLE, Lydia's friend, madly (if sanely) in love with Faulkland
  • SIR ANTHONY ABSOLUTE, Jack's overbearing father, just mad
  • MRS. MALAPROP, Lydia's overbearing aunt, has a tendency to misspeak
  • SIR LUCIUS O'TRIGGER, an Irish baronet, Irishly in love with Lydia
  • BOB ACRES, a happy-go-lucky innkeeper, misguidedly in love with Lydia
  • LUCY, Mrs. Malaprop's crafty maid
  • DAVID, Mrs. Malaprop's loyal butler

Productions

  • Lively Productions (New York, November 2010)
  • BMI (New York, June 2009)

Backstory

Jonathan and I first wanted to adapt a French farce. After reading through hundreds of them, we learned that olde French people aren't funny. Fortunately, olde British people are (major exception: Aphra Behn), so we settled on The Rivals. It's amazing how well Sheridan's jokes hold up today; his references to "blackamoors," though, not so much.

Selections

Read some scenes from the show. Or listen to some tunes:


Due to the lack of acoustics, amplification, or a national language, the playwright decided to forgo dependence on the spoken word and instead settle on that most reliable of theatrical devices: a midget in a yellow jumpsuit. ~ India: The Curse of the Business Class