Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

Act One

It's the Roaring Twenties, and the beautiful, young Queenie – although she tries – cannot find a lover who is able to satisfy her desires – until she meets Burrs, a vaudevillian clown with a voracious appetite for women. Both Queen and Burrs have now met their emotional and sexual match ("Opening").

For a while, they live together, happily sated. Eventually, however, the relationship sours. Burrs' violent nature, which once thrilled Queenie, now scares her ("The Apartment"). Still, she longs to generate the same excitement that brought them together. She suggests a party, and Burrs agrees ("Out of the Blue").

The party begins with a parade of guests: Madeline the lesbian, Eddie the thug, Mae the dimwit, Jackie the dancer, lover-brothers d'Armondo, Dolores the hooker and Nadine the minor ("What a Party"). Although Queenie radiates beauty and confidence, Burrs preys on other women. He makes his move on their youngest guest, Nadine. Despite her casual reprimand of his behavior, Queenie wants to hurt Burrs in return ("Raise the Roof").

The vivacious Kate arrives with her new friend, Mr. Black ("Look at Me Now"). Queenie, quite taken by Black, plans to make her move on him. Kate drags him away to meet the other guests. Queenie's plans are momentarily undermined ("He Was Calm"). The party's revelry continues: Burrs hits on Kate; Madeline hits on Nadine, Eddie chugs beer and almost fights with Burrs. During the chaos, Black finds himself equally as taken with Queenie as she is with him – much to the chagrin of Kate ("Poor Child"). As revenge, Kate plans on seducing Burrs. Meanwhile, in a corner of the room, Madeline is in a drunken stupor and on the prowl for a woman, with very little success ("An Old-fashioned Love Story").

Although Queenie is fully aware that Burrs will threaten her physically, she makes her move on Mr. Black, easily getting him to dance with her. Burrs watches them, his ire rising. Unsuccessfully, Kate tries to get Burrs to dance – then, in order to diffuse the situation, Kate takes Queenie out of Mr. Black's arms and dances with her instead.

Burrs' violent reaction against Mr. Black and Queenie is prohibited by the whole company dancing the Juggernaut ("The Juggernaut"). At its end, Mr. Black and Queenie are together again. To get the reaction that he wants from Queenie, Burrs grabs Nadine, the minor, and makes out with her. This enrages Kate, who throws Nadine to the ground by her hair. Madeline rushes to aid Nadine. Burrs cuts into Mr. Black and Queenie's dancing. Managing to have her to himself, Burrs tells Queenie to stay away from Mr. Black. Laughing at him, Queenie says that she will do whatever she chooses. He twists her arm. They are interrupted by Oscar and Phil at the piano. Burrs releases Queenie, seeing that too many people are watching.

Burrs and Queenie join Oscar and Phil's epic musical number that is based on the story of Adam and Eve – Burrs plays Adam and Queenie, Eve ("A Wild, Wild Party"). Their number is interrupted by a discontented neighbor. Eddie and Mae yell insults to the man, and the crowd goes wild. The two celebrate their togetherness ("Two of a Kind").

Suddenly, Mr. Black approaches Queenie and pointedly asks why she stays with an abusive brute. She reflects on her situation and comes to the conclusion that, perhaps, she has just learned to like the aggressive treatment ("Maybe I Like It This Way").

Elsewhere, Kate is attempting to seduce Burrs. He refuses her advances and expresses his deepest, darkest feelings for Queenie – she is driving him crazy ("What Is It about Her?"). Kate tries to kiss Burrs, but he pushes away. Black kisses Queenie. She embraces him.

Act Two

The party rages on. Kate is alone and reflecting on her youthful indulgence ("The Life of the Party").

Alone in the bathroom, Queenie is taking stock of her predicament. Although she's angry that she has confided in Black, a virtual stranger, she recognizes his goodness. This both stirs and confuses her feelings. Black enters the bathroom with a drink. The two share a moment as Black conveys his admiration for Queenie ("I'll Be Here"). Suddenly, Burrs comes in seeking Queenie's attention. He apologies for his behavior and asks her forgiveness. Before she can respond, Kate arrives. She unsuccessfully tries to draw Burrs back onto the dance floor. Both men vie for her affections and devotion – Mr. Black asks Queenie to leave the apartment with him. Burrs asks her to stop the party and let them return to their isolation. Queenie is unable to respond to either man ("Listen to Me").

Frustrated and hurt, Burrs lashes out by physically threatening her. His outburst causes Queenie to leave the bathroom, and Black quickly follows. It is clear that Burrs is quickly becoming desperate and depressed ("Let Me Drown"). Soon after, he begins to hallucinate and hear Queenie's voice in his head. Thinking that Mae is Queenie, he mistakenly attacks her and angers Eddie. A fight ensues.

Mr. Black and Queenie return to find Eddie viciously beating Burrs. Queenie is afraid that Burrs will be killed if it is not stopped. Out of concern, Black rushes in and knocks Eddie unconscious with a chair. Mae tends to Eddie, and Kate comes to the aid of a passed-out Burrs.

Realizing all of the trouble that he is causing, Mr. Black tells Queenie that he will leave. Queenie, however, cannot let him go and leads him into the bedroom. In a moment of passion, the two begin making love. The party guests follow suit in the living room ("Come with Me").

Early the next morning, the revelers lie asleep in the living room. Kate wakes Burrs, who is beside her. Queenie is strikingly absent. Burrs, fearing the worst, staggers to the bedroom to find her in the bed with Black. When the two lovers wake, Queenie recoils in shock; Black jumps up and attempts to tackle Burrs but fails. Burrs moves to the dresser and locates a gun. Full of rage, he tries to force Queenie to make a choice between the two men. He threatens to kill Black and also threatens to kill himself ("Make Me Happy").

Black, who realizes that Burrs is about to make a decision, takes the chance and lunges at Burrs. The gun goes off. Burrs is dead. Fearing that Mr. Black will now be executed for the death, Queenie urges him to flee. Before leaving, Black professes his love for her ("Poor Child – Reprise"). Queenie, now having lost both men, questions how things managed to reach that point of loss. She exits the apartment – with her coat – all eyes upon her sad, beautiful grace ("How Did We Come to This?").