Set at a Catskills resort in 1960, this is the sweetly comic story of Lois and Marge, two friends from Brooklyn in search of good times and romance over one wild Labor Day weekend. The score showcases 18 Neil Sedaka classics, including “Where the Boys Are”, “Sweet Sixteen”, “Calendar Girl”, “Love Will Keep Us Together”, and of course, the chart-topping title song.
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Marge and her stagestruck best friend Lois arrive at “Esther’s Paradise Resort” in the Catskills on Labor Day Weekend in 1960, on a vacation that was intended to be Marge’s honeymoon — until the groom left her at the altar. Lois attempts to console Marge by setting her up with the resort’s handsome, self-obsessed singer DelDelmonaco. But her plans backfire when Del mistakenly assumes that Marge’s father can further his ambitions to become the next teen heartthrob on American Bandstand. Gazing forlornly at Marge from the wings is geekish cabana boy and aspiring songwriter Gabe. When he isn’t entertaining the guests with classic, but still comical Borscht Belt shtick, house comic Harvey secretly carries a torch for widowed resort owner Esther, who is more preoccupied trying to keep her resort open. Eighteen Sedaka hits are incorporated into these doings, complemented by an onstage five-piece band and optional backup singers.
BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO
Featuring the songs of Neil Sedaka
Book by ERIK JACKSON and BEN H. WINTERS Music by NEIL SEDAKA Lyrics by NEIL SEDAKA, HOWARD GREENFIELD, and PHILIP CODY
Orchestrations/Vocal Arrangements by Tom Kitt Conceived by Marsh Hanson and Gordon Greenberg Creative Consultation by Neil Sedaka
MARGE GELMAN (mid to late 20’s; mezzo soprano, comfortable to an E and possibly beyond, preferably a legit sound): Abandoned at the altar, Marge is an aspiring dentist from Brooklyn who finds herself in the Catskills on what would have been her honeymoon weekend. (Think Jennifer Grey in DIRTY DANCING) Duped into falling for the suave band leader, she ultimately finds self-esteem, learns the value of honesty and friendship and finds love where she least expected it.
LOIS WARNER (mid to late 20’s; alto with some mezzo soprano ability, comfortable to a C and possibly beyond, preferably a pop sound): An aspiring nightclub singer, Lois lives her life as if in a Betty Grable movie. She brings her best friend Marge up from Brooklyn to the Catskills for Labor Day Weekend. In trying to help her friend Marge recover from heartbreak, she inadvertently puts her in the line of fire with Del, the hotel’s suave but manipulative bandleader. With a Marilyn Monroe simplicity, Lois is a sweet young girl with more heart than brainpower.
DEL DELMONACO (late 20’s to 30’s; tenor, comfortable to an A—the higher the better): An Elvis wannabe, Del is not the brightest bulb on the tree. (Think Conrad Birdie or Joey from FRIENDS). Del will do anything to get ahead, including misleading Marge into thinking he loves her and stealing his cousin Gabe’s songs for his own use.
GABE (mid to late 20’s; tenor, Bb-C range): The clumsy, brainy and terribly shy Guy Friday at the hotel, Gabe is on a fast track to joining his father’s orthodontia practice. Lacking the self-confidence to perform his own music, Gabe he is secretly the songwriting genius behind the music Del claims as his own. When Gabe meets Marge, he is compelled to take action to win her heart and, ultimately, to reveal himself as the true musician, performing his own songs in front of the whole resort.
ESTHER (50’s to 60’s; alto, comfortable to a C, or at least a Bb, but should really be rich in her low to mid register): The owner of the mid-size hotel named after her (Esther’s Paradise), Esther is a survivor. Since the death of her husband, she has single-handedly kept the hotel afloat using crafty solutions, boundless energy and creativity to keep guests happy. She is fiercely independent, refusing help or support from anyone, and she’s always there with a quip or smart remark.
HARVEY (50’s to 60’s; baritone, should have range to an F# or a G): The resident “tummler” (comedian/social director) at Esther’s Paradise, Harvey is old-school Catskills. He is all about the punch line (and the set-up). A confirmed bachelor, Harvey spends most of his life cracking wise and avoiding any show if genuine emotion or vulnerability. When he witnesses the extreme lengths to which Marge will go to make love work for her again, he is inspired to take a leap of faith with Esther, the one person who truly appreciates the man behind the jokes.
THE BAND (Piano, Bass, Guitar, Drums): The band is visible onstage as the “House Band” at Ester’s Paradise Resort, and also sings backup (poorly at times) as needed.