Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

Act One

The scene opens in the interior of the Golden Gate Restaurant, San Francisco, at closing time on a late January evening in 1927. The cashier is saying goodbye to all of the customers as they leave, telling them to be certain to come again. As soon as they are gone, his manner changes as he turns back to the group of fatigued waitresses with rude authority and orders them to clean up and get out. The girls continue with their work. One of them, Cleo, emerges from the action wearing one shoe and limping in the process. She sits down on a chair, trying unsuccessfully to put on her shoe. She eases the other shoe off, leans back and sighs ("Ooh My Feet").

The cashier approaches another waitress, Rosabella, and attempts to put a move on her. Unfortunately for him, she slaps him in the face and tells him to get lost. She has no interest in being seen with a guy like him ("I Know How It Is"). She and Cleo continue cleaning up as they both commiserate ("Seven Million Crumbs"). Suddenly, as she is cleaning up a table, Rosabella notices that a customer has left her a tie pin alongside a note written in funny broken English. As she reads the note, Rosabella notices that this man is obviously attracted to her, but doesn't quite know how to say it ("I Don't Know (The Letter)"). Cleo thinks that maybe Rosabella should hock the pin; however, Rosabella has no interest in doing that. She continues to read the letter and realizes that this mystery man wants to marry Rosabella; he even gives her his name – Antonio Esposito – and tells her where he lives. The cashier finally kicks the girls out of the restaurant, and as they leave, Rosabella confesses to Cleo that she is going to send this man a thank you card ("Maybe He's Kina Crazy"). Rosabella stays behind and dreams about what all of this could possibly mean ("Somebody, Somewhere").

Out on the main street of Napa, California, in April, townspeople are going about their business. The Postman enters with a mailbag and calls out names as he distributes the mail to the folks. Everyone appears most interested in the arrival of another letter for Tony Esposito, who has been having a mail order love affair for some time now. The crowd breaks up as Tony makes a strong entrance, pushing several people aside when he hears his name called. Tony is a big, exuberant Italian grape farmer – every inch a man. The Postman hands him an envelope, which he quickly opens. The crowd anxiously waits to see just what the letter (from Rosabella) says. Tony is ecstatic as he shows everyone her picture, which she has sent him ("The Most Happy Fella"). She also has asked that he send his picture to her. It is apparent that after writing each other for the past four months, that the two of them are going to marry. The crowd congratulates Tony and has Max take a picture of Tony to send Rosabella.

The townspeople start dispersing. Marie, Tony's doting sister, enters and tries to take Tony home to take his nap. Tony is in no hurry to go home; rather, he is waiting for his picture to develop so that he can send it to Rosabella. Marie finds all of this rather ridiculous and finds it even more ridiculous when Tony explains that he wants to marry Rosabella. Marie reminds Tony that not only is he not young anymore, but that he isn't good-looking or smart ("A Long Time Ago"). Hearing what Marie has said, Tony takes the picture that Max has just finished developing and tears it up. How could it make any sense? Maybe Marie is right! His picture would just make Rosabella laugh. Just before he leaves, Tony is stopped by four men who congratulate him, not knowing just what is going through his head.

These four men stand outside of the drugstore musing about their current love situation... or lack thereof. As several Napa girls stroll by, they give the girls the once-over. ("Standing on the Corner") Finally, the sheriff breaks up the guys, who amble off. Tony dejectedly re-enters and stares sadly at Rosabella's picture. Joe, a handsome foreman who works for Tony, enters with two girls, and when he sees Tony, he dismisses the girls. Joe has come to tell Tony that he will be quitting his job soon, perhapps even in a month. Joe is a restless kind of guy who can't stay put for too long a time ("Joey, Joey, Joey"). Before Joe can leave, Tony gets an idea: he asks Joe for a picture of himself, to which Joe consents. Tony calls out to Max, who comes back to take Joe's picture. As soon as Joe is gone, Tony looks to the sky and talks to his dead Mama, asking her forgiveness for what he is about to do. He'll send Rosabella Tony's picture, and she'll have no choice but to come racing up to Napa and marry this handsome man ("Rosabella"). Unfortunately, what Tony hasn't thought about is what he's going to do once she arrives.

Inside Tony's barn at twilight a few weeks later, people are preparing a banquet for the bride-to-be ("Abbondonza"). Tony enters dressed for his wedding. He talks to all of the neighborhood children and tells them about just how excited he is ("Plenty Bambini"). The Priest enters, smiling, and approves of these sentiments. Suddenly Joe enters through a small barn door and sees the party ready to go in its entire splendor. Tony suddenly panics, reminding Tony that he was supposed to be gone that morning. Joe responds by telling Tony that he hates to travel on an empty belly and thought that he'd wait around for the "big feed." Joe would also like to meet the new bride. Tony panics at the thought of this but he is hurried off by his friends to pick up his expectant bride at the train station. No sooner has this happened, than the party begins to roll in full gear ("Sposalizio"). Everyone, including Joe, is happy for Tony and his impending wedding... everyone, that is, except for Marie.

Suddenly, the Postman enters and beckons someone to follow him; that someone turns out to be Rosabella, who looks about to see the party made up in her honor ("I Seen Her at the Station"). She appears to be a bit frightened and rather petulant when she sees Joe (whom she thinks is her husband-to-be) and tells him that she was hoping that he would have met her at the train station. The Postman saw her standing there and "saved the day" ("Benvenuta"). Once the word gets out that Rosabella has arrived, the servants enter and attempt to greet their new mistress excitedly. After a bit of time, Rosabella begins to feel very much at home and has a much happier reaction to Joe ("Aren't You Glad?"). She apologizes to Joe and asks him why he doesn't appear happier that she has come. Isn't Tony excited to finally see his new wife, face-to-face? A shocked Joe informs Rosabella that he is not Tony. She, in turn, pulls out his picture and shows it to him, asking why he sent it to her. Joe laughs and tells her that obviously Tony must have sent it instead of his own, in the hopes of insuring that she would come to marry him. Rosabella further learns who Tony really is and prepares to leave in tearful terror. She doesn't even want to wait and see the real Tony ("No Home, No Job"). On her way out, she is stopped by the townspeople, who all approach her and excitedly welcome her to Napa Valley. Unfortunately, at this point, there is no polite venue of escape for Rosabella.

Suddenly, two truck drivers enter, bearing Tony's limp and lifeless body on a battered metal truck door; they found him in a ditch after his truck apparently flipped three times. The Doc enters and rushes to Tony's side. Rosabella, her suitcase still in hand, wants to get out but waits to see just how Tony is. Surveying the situation, she realizes that she has neither home nor money. Worse than that, she worries how people will laugh at her once they learn the real truth.

Just as Rosabella tries to leave, Tony calls to her as the people look for her to go to him. She, however, stands undecided. Tony begs for the wedding to happen immediately... since there might not be a tomorrow. Joe indicates that maybe Rosabella might not want to get married tonight; however, in defiance of him, she stiffens and accepts Tony's request. Marie tries to insist that the wedding not happen, but Tony wins out and he and Rosabella are married. The crowd leaves as Tony is taken into the house. Left alone, Joe moodily picks up his travel bag, bitter disappointment on his face. Herman comes out of the house and approaches Joey, informing him that he will have to stick around until Tony recovers. An angered Joey hurls his bag as he agrees, hearing the last of the wedding vows.

Rosabella emerges from the house crying. Joe looks at her with a degree of sympathy ("Don't Cry"). He tries to comfort her, but she pulls away defiantly. He tries to talk with her further, assuring her that he had nothing to do with the photo. She obviously finds him attractive, but doesn't know what to do. He approaches her and she softens. Soon, they are both involved in a passionate embrace.

Act Two

A clearing at the edge of Tony's vineyard. It is a May morning, one week later, as the vineyard workers are busy doing chores. Rosabella is operating a sewing machine ("Fresno Beauties") when Joe enters and the two spot each other. As their thoughts are revealed, it is evident that they are both tortured by what happened the week before and that there was more than an embrace between them. However, all they can do now is greet each other with a simple nod ("Cold and Dead"). Everyone leaves Rosabella at her sewing machine, only to hear Tony's angry voice. As Tony is wheeled onstage by the doctor, he is bandaged from head to toe, with his left leg in a cast. He is angry at the fact that the doctor has informed him that he will need to stay in the wheelchair for twelve weeks. The Doctor tries to convince Tony to keep from behaving like a grouch. Rather, he needs love and kindness, which Rosabella can give him ("Love and Kindness"). The Doctor then motions for the reluctant Rosabella to come and attend to her ailing husband, which she does with a bit of awkwardness.

Tony and Rosabella are left alone, and Tony apologizes for sending her Joe's picture. He asks if the two of them can start over, as if they have never met before. Rosabella accepts by shaking his hand with a laugh and shows him the proper way to meet someone for the first time. He makes a slight bow from his wheelchair as he struggles with the words that he repeats after her ("Happy to Make Your Acquaintance"). No sooner have the two of them finished getting acquainted, than Cleo enters, much to Rosabella's surprise. Tony has sent for her and has given her a job on his farm. Cleo meets Tony and is totally charmed by him, in spite of his poor English. Marie takes Cleo to get cleaned up while Rosabella asks Tony why he sent for Cleo. He tells his bride that he thought she might be lonesome and might like a friend to be with her from back home. Rosabella confesses that she finds herself liking it much more in Napa. Things appear to be going quite well for the newlyweds as Rosabella wheels Tony off for a walk.

Cleo emerges from the house freshly changed and proceeds to flirt a bit with all of the men. However, she is stopped by Marie, who tries to convince her to help break up Rosabella and Tony. Marie thinks that they are not meant to be together, the difference in their ages being the number one reason. Cleo doesn't like Marie; however, she listens just to be polite. ("I Don't Like This Dame")

No sooner is Marie gone, than Cleo narrowly avoids colliding with one of the workers, Herman. He greets her by saying, "Ev'nin' Ma'am." She stops, cold in her tracks, and turns back to question him some more, asking him to repeat some more phrases for her. He does the same to her. Soon they both realize that they come from Dallas, Texas. Soon, all of the Vineyard workers join in the celebration ("Big D"). It is obvious that another romance is brewing – this time, between Cleo and Herman.

A little later in May, Rosabella is trimming Tony's hair as he sits in his wheelchair. It is apparent that they are continuing an Italian lesson ("How Beautiful the Days"). Marie enters and observes the two of them, as does Joe. She is very jealous of her brother's relationship with Rosabella. Joe, however, wants nothing more than to finish his work and move on from Napa.

One month later in the vineyards, the vines in the distance have grown much higher and greener. Tony is in much better shape. Only a sling is on his arm and a small cast has replaced the huge one that covered his entire leg. He watches and beams appreciatively as all of his workers dance and cavort with youthful abandon. Rosabella, who has been sitting beside Tony, is eventually swept into the dance. When this happens, Marie enters and talks with her brother. Unfortunately, all she can do is remind him that young people just like to dance, while old people just get left behind. This leaves Tony a bit confused and a bit sad ("Young People").

The dancing group reappears with Rosabella as Marie leaves, only to find that her husband is sad. She tries to get him to smile, saying that his smile makes her feel wonderful ("Warm All Over"). Tony attempts a feeble smile when the dancers reappear once again and snatch Rosabella away. Tony looks to the sky and talks to his Mamma, telling her that maybe Marie was right – young people want to dance, but old people just sit and wait to die ("Old People Gotta").

Inside of the barn, Herman pushes on a dolly carrying empty grape crates. Cleo is there, too, gluing labels on the crates with Herman's help. Although the job is quite simple, Cleo is enjoying Herman's body close to hers as he instructs. Herman is a bit slow and docile, never making the move that Cleo wants. Several other people also walk through the barn, taking cigarettes from Herman and asking him to light them, even handing him a dustpan to use for clean up. Cleo is outraged by this and confronts Herman, asking him why he never gets mad at anyone; he just lets people push him around. He tells her that he basically likes everybody and doesn't mind if they take advantage of him ("I Like Everybody"). The only thing that makes Cleo feel better is the fact that Herman tells her that he likes her.

One July afternoon in the vineyards, the harvest has been picked and the grapes are ready to be made into wine. Joe is once again dressed for traveling. Cleo is telling Rosabella how wonderful it is that the doctor has Tony on his feet once more. Rosabella, however, is a bit upset that Tony doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with her. She loves him, but he doesn't treat her like a wife; instead, he treats her like a child ("I Love Him / I Know How It Is"). Cleo advises her to talk with Tony and tell him just how she feels. Just then, Tony enters, limping badly, with the Doctor, who is trying to encourage him in his recuperation. Tony sits down disgustedly in the wheelchair, and Rosabella approaches him with determination. She confronts him and confesses her love for him ("Like a Woman Loves a Man"). He reminds her that he is old enough to be her father; however, she doesn't care. She wants him close to her. When Tony realizes this, he throws away his cane and seems rejuvenated ("My Heart Is So Full of You").

A revitalized Tony announces that he is going to have a party that evening to announce just how much he loves Rosabella. People dance in celebration ("Hoedown"). During the dancing, Rosabella collapses to the ground and is taken to the house to be examined by the doctor. Tony is a bit angry with all of this but is happy when the doctor tells him that Rosabella is just a bit light-headed. However, the way the doctor talks with Tony makes it evident that something else is wrong.

A moment later, Rosabella enters with Cleo. She is upset and reveals that she is pregnant. When Tony re-enters, celebrating his love for Rosabella, Cleo whisks Rosabella off before she can tell him the truth, since it is obvious just how uncomfortable she feels right now. Left alone, Tony looks up to the sky and talks with his Mamma, asking her just how she likes his sweetheart, his perfect girl ("Mamma, Mamma").

Act Three

Preparations are made for the party ("Abbondanza"). At nightfall inside Tony's barn, some workers are playing a practical joke on Herman by tying him up and putting a basket over his head, leaving him alone. Cleo enters with two small suitcases – one is hers and the other is Rosabella's. She hides them when she sees Herman and lifts the basket off of his head. When he notices the hidden suitcases, she confesses that she is leaving. She asks Herman how he feels about that; unfortunately, he reacts as placidly as he does to everything else ("Goodbye Darlin'"). Cleo simply puts the basket over his head and pushes him off with her. Even though she has to leave, Cleo realizes that she is crazy about this guy ("I Like Everybody Duet").

Everyone comes piling in for the party, but before it begins, the Doc asks the crowd to give Tony and Rosabella a little time alone so that they can talk ("Song of a Summer Night"). Left alone, Tony notices that Rosabella is wearing the same traveling dress that she wore when she arrived. When he asks her why she is doing that, she confesses that she must leave him because something terrible has happened. He presses the point, and she confesses that she is pregnant and is leaving on the bus back to San Francisco. At first, he only half-believes what he has heard. More importantly, he realizes that he couldn't possibly be the father. Rosabella also tells him that Joe is the father. Enraged, Tony asks her to leave. Before she goes, she tells him just how much she loves him ("Please Let Me Tell You"). Once Rosabella is gone, Tony calls out to find out where Joe has gone. When someone tells him that he saw Joe a little while ago at the station with his travel bag and a box of candy, Tony assumes that Rosabella has been lying to him all along. Tony grabs a pistol from one of the men and goes to find Joe and Rosabella ("She Gonna Home Home wit' Me").

At the station, Joe is boarding a train and gives a man there a box of candy for Tony and Rosabella. He boards the train and leaves. Cleo and Rosabella appear and purchase two bus tickets for San Francisco. Cleo tells Rosabella to get on the bus while she says goodbye to Herman, whom she finds out is at the local bar with the Doctor and the rest of the gang. A terribly worn-out Tony enters and asks to see Joe; however, he is informed that he left just a minute ago – alone. Also, the man at the station gives Tony the box of candy, a present for the "happy couple." Tony doesn't want the candy. It is evident that he wants to be left alone. Tony sees Rosabella's suitcase and painfully makes his way over to it. He contemplates his current situation and after torturing himself a bit, realizes that Rosabella and he should be together... no matter what she has done.

Marie enters and begs her brother to let Rosabella go if that's what she wants. Tony tells her that he wants Rosabella; however, Marie presses the issue by saying that no one is going to love Tony like his sister will ("Nobody's Ever Gonna Love You"). Cleo enters to observe what is going on and tries to help Tony get past his manipulative sister. Tony appears to be completely resolved to stay with Rosabella, but in an act of utter desperation, Marie grabs the cane from Tony, who falls to the ground. Cleo tries to get it back, but Marie refuses to yield. The two women struggle violently for the cane, and Cleo finally wins, getting the cane back to Tony, who uses it to go back behind the bus and find Rosabella. The fight between the two women continues until a man (Pasquale) steps in to separate the two tigresses and manages to push them apart. Marie realizes that she has ultimately lost and leaves in tears.

Herman has entered during the struggle and sees the push that Pasquale gave Cleo, which has her sprawled across the ground. Herman's usually smiling face is now dark and angry, and he slugs Pasquale, who falls to the ground. Cleo has been watching this and sees the new Herman make a fist and a frown, prompting her now to proclaim him her "hero" ("I Made a Fist").

Tony and Rosabella appear from behind the bus. Rosabella is terribly scared; however, Tony reassures her that everything is going to be fine. They will tell everyone that the baby is Tony's, and as far as he's concerned, the baby is his. After a bit of hesitation, Rosabella finally realizes just how wonderful Tony is and accepts his offer. They embrace as Tony announces to the emerging crowd that everything between him and Rosabella is just perfect. They are going to have the wedding party back at the house. They had a little argument before, but everything is just fine. He loves her and she loves him – forever ("Finale").