In the Beginning
Let there be laughs in this hilarious send up of the Old Testament.
Show Essentials
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Full Synopsis

Act One

Zymah enters, dressed as a magician, although he is clearly more than that. He tells the audience that, in the beginning of the world, there was much more going on ("Busy, Busy"). He reveals a group of people who recount how good life was for all of them in the garden they occupy before Adam and Eve ruined it ("In the Beginning"). When Eve gives Adam the apple, God orders them all out.

The group members suddenly find themselves huddled outside of the garden gate that sports a sign, reading "Keep out." As they begin to stand up and figure out what happened, one of the women emits a piercing scream. They realize that, not only are they naked, but different from each other. They scramble to sort themselves out into two groups and try to cover up. The men realize that they are attracted to the women, and the women begin to beautify themselves. The conversations that take place within the men's and women's groups hint at the birth of the battle of the sexes. As they begin to wonder how and where they will find food, Zymah appears, dressed as a caveman. He introduces the group to hunting and gathering. The women all exit, leaving Arielle alone; she longs for the way that things once were and wonders if there is anyone out there who will protect and guide her ("Is Someone out There?").

Romer and Ben hunt in the woods. They argue over what the new things that they have invented should be named. We discover that Ben is in love with Mavis, and Romer with Arielle. The men throw their spears offstage, killing an animal. Back at the campsite, Arielle is carrying water when a strange man enters. She attacks him but discovers that he means no harm. His name is Avi. He asks for water and offers to go to the river and bring back more. When Arielle says that carrying water is a women's job, he replies that work is work and he doesn't differentiate. The other women enter and wonder when the men are coming home. Just then, Arielle spots Romer and Ben in the distance. They enter the camp and greet the women. Romer hits on Arielle but, when he is rejected, kisses Lydia on the mouth and tells her that that is just one of the things that he learned in the real world. He then regales them with stories of town and tells them all to pack up their things. They are all headed to a place where there are many people, plenty of food and lots of work and money ("In the Town").

The group prepares for the journey. Romer, alone with Arielle, offers her a gift before mating. She shrugs him off and leaves. Lydia then enters, trying to catch Romer's eye. He catches on and offers her the same gift. Just then, a scream is heard offstage and Avi enters, carrying an unconscious Zeke. After some questioning and debate, the tribe decides that Avi is good and should join them on their journey. A jealous Romer warns that they will regret the decision as they head toward their new life ("In the Town – Reprise").

Some time later, we find the group in the town. All of the shop signs feature the name "Romer" or "Lydia." As the women chat at market, Mavis encourages Arielle to go after Avi, but Arielle is unsure. Romer tries to convince her to be his second wife, but she refuses. Mrs. Noah enters the shop and tries to warn the women that money is corrupting them and that they are investing too much time and energy into man-made things. They dismiss her and her crazy husband, who is building a boat. Meanwhile, Ben tries to teach Avi knock-knock jokes. Avi and Arielle reflect independently on what they wish they could say to each other ("'Till the End of Time").

Mrs. Noah and her daughters-in-law observe the very materialistic and self-absorbed Lydia in the center of town. Mrs. Noah warns her girls about the dangers of vanity as it begins to rain. Ben and Mavis are in the middle of an argument about a clay pot that Ben broke. Mavis is obsessed with her possessions and just can't buy enough; much of the town agrees with her ("One for a Rainy Day"). However, it soon begins to rain nonstop, and they fear for their lives; luckily, they realize that they have barrels that float and they seek shelter in them. Romer shouts for help, and Avi jumps in to save him. Zymah appears to one side, holding a large, clear, glass globe of the world, which he fills with water until it overflows.

Out on the sea, Ben and Mavis are still arguing about a time when Ben was rude to Mavis in town. Ben carefully points out that a lot has happened since then, and that they should just make up. He reminds her that, no matter what happens to him, Mavis is by his side ("You're There Too").

As the rain clears, the characters reunite at sea. Romer is devastated that everything he built is destroyed, but everyone else seems relieved. Someone spots a flower, and they all stand around it, hoping that it will turn into a garden. Zymah then enters, carrying a seed bag. He offers some seeds to them, but they claim that they don't need them. The flower dies, and they all run off after Zymah. Avi and Arielle stay behind. Arielle tells Avi, who is her husband now, that she is going to have a baby. But he exits, leaving Arielle alone and confused ("Is Someone out There? – Reprise").

Time passes, and we find Mavis, Dottie and Lydia working on a farm. Mavis relays to them that Arielle has gone into labor. Dottie responds that a baby is always a good sign and reminds them that Abraham's Sarah, who is 110 years old, is also pregnant ("Baby at 110"). Mavis shouts that Arielle has had a baby boy. When they tell Avi the news, he continues his work and ignores them. Mavis tells him that his baby was born out of love and that he should cherish and teach him. Avi wonders what he is capable of teaching ("New Words"). Finally, he tells his son and Arielle that he loves them.

Seven years pass and, in that time, there hasn't been a drop of rain. They all agree that they must leave their camp and join the people of Abraham. Avi is against this at first, but agrees for the sake of his son. They head to Egypt for a better life. However, as Pheti, the king, welcomes these new visitors, it becomes clear that they are going to become his slaves ("Nileside Cotillion").

Act Two

Zymah enters with a couple of angels. He prepares for a magic trick. He produces two glasses – one empty, one full of water. An angel holds up a sign that reads "Plague #1." Zymah pours the water into the empty glass, turning it into blood. The angel then holds up another sign that reads "Plague #2," and Zymah produces a frog, the sound of frogs multiplying and overwhelming the audience. Zymah and the angels exit.

The group is painting hieroglyphics in a tomb. Avi, who has been forced to do outside labor, comes in to visit his family and friends and relay the word that Moses and his people are leaving Egypt that night. He tells them that they must go with them. Romer argues that everything Avi suggests gets them into more trouble. Just then, Ptapateepa enters and informs them that the pharaoh's mother has died and that they are to be buried with her in the tomb that they are painting. As the tomb is about to be sealed, Aaron, son of Arielle and Avi, notices that a door has not been shut. They quickly make their way out of the tomb and join Moses and his people ("Feet").

Avi, Ben and Romer are walking in the desert, contemplating the significance of the number 40. A man in Israelite garb who looks just like Ptapateepa interrupts them. He tells them that he got out, too, and that they are having a barbecue, complete with dancing girls and beer, that evening. Romer and Ben gear up for the festivities, but Avi declines. Romer accuses Avi of hiding something, but Avi shakes him off. The men leave.

Dottie and Lydia prepare for the barbecue. Looking out their window, they can see that a big orgy is taking place, and they are more than curious. Arielle then enters, reading the Bible. The girls cannot believe that, with all of the excitement outside, she can read a book. Arielle tells them that it is not just any book, but the history of the world, and that the women are not mentioned ("No Women in the Bible"). They eventually decide to go to the orgy and show the men some real women. In the center of the party is a golden calf; at the height of the dancing and frivolity, Zymah's voice is heard offstage, yelling. The revelers look up and freeze as the sky turns blood red. Suddenly, tablets are thrown at the calf, destroying it, and pandemonium ensues.

When the commotion dies down, Romer confronts Avi in front of Arielle. He has uncovered Avi's secret.. .he is Cain, the first murderer in the Bible. Arielle is shocked, but Avi backs away. Romer tells him that he will take care of Arielle and Aaron from now on. Romer stares victoriously at Arielle and leaves. Alone, Avi remembers what happened with his brother, Abel ("Family"). He starts to leave, but Aaron shouts to him. Avi teaches him the word "'goodbye" ("New Words – Reprise"). Arielle calls after Avi, but he is gone. Romer takes Aaron back to camp as Arielle pines for Avi, in spite of everything. Avi, alone in the wilderness, pines for her, too ("No Man's as Wonderful").

Avi comes across Zymah, who is sweeping up the pieces of the Ten Commandments. They begin talking, and Avi realizes that Zymah is God. He asks him what he should do and asks if he is forgiven. Zymah tells him that his life is not over, yet, and he therefore cannot be judged. He also advises him to fight for his family and trust his wife's unshakable faith. Zymah leaves, asking Avi to look after the Commandments, and blesses Avi when his back is turned.

Meanwhile, back at the campsite, Arielle confronts Romer. She wants her son back. Avi enters and admits that he is Cain. At first, the others are not sure what to think, but Avi is patient and tells them that he has come back to share the Commandments with them, telling them that he believes that they are the key to a better life. Eventually, they all come around. They prepare to cross the Jordan together but, this time, instead of running from something, they are running toward something ("Hope").

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Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Children
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

A God-like figure who appears in many different ways; sometimes as a magician or as a helpful stranger. Comical and constantly delivering commentary to the audience.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 60
A wanderer who joins the group after saving Zeke from a trap. Falls in love with Arielle, but has trouble expressing himself. He is brought into the tribe as a scapegoat, and is later exiled after he is revealed as Cain. He later returns with remnants of the Ten Commandments.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: C3
A strong and independent woman. She refuses to fall into the typical gender 'role' and is very curious about the outside world. She finds a mate in Ari, who shares her dreamlike wonder.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: A3
The self-proclaimed misogynistic leader of the tribe. Has a bit of a big head and loves control in any form. He refuses to acknowledge that he often makes bad decisions.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 50
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: G2
Romer's mate and the leader of the women. Brassy and fun, she enjoys getting spoiled by her mate.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Mavis's husband, an inventor and namer of things for the tribe. A sweet soul who is constantly trying to lighten the mood.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: A4
Vocal range bottom: G2
Ben's wife and Arielle's closest friend. Flirtatious, sexy, blunt, and an avid supporter of shopping and economics.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: G3
Zeke's wife and a mother. She is a gifted nurturer, who has a homemade remedy and word of advice for anything.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 55
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: G3
A gaudily bejeweled and power-crazed Egyption overlord. He is an abusive man who has a way with words.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: D3
Pheti's trusty assistant. An extremely loyal servant, he leaves Egypt soon after the tribe and becomes a rich man on the road.
Gender: male
Age: 20 to 40
Vocal range top: G4
Vocal range bottom: E3
The son of Avi and Arielle raised on the tribe's journey. Wide-eyed and curious.
Gender: male
Age: 7 to 10
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: B4
Angels; Townspeople; Farmers; Slaves; Guards; Hebrews; Travelers Through The Ages
Full Song List
In The Beginning: In The Beginning
In The Beginning: Is Someone Out There?
In The Beginning: In The Town
In The Beginning: Till The End Of Time
In The Beginning: You're There Too
In The Beginning: Baby At 110
In The Beginning: New Words
In The Beginning: The Nileside Cotillion/Long Before Our Time
In The Beginning: Feet
In The Beginning: No Women In The Bible
In The Beginning: Family
In The Beginning: No Man s As Wonderful
In The Beginning: Hope

Show History


In the Beginning is a musical comedy with a book by David Hahn and a score by Tony winner, Maury Yeston (Nine, Grand Hotel, Titanic). It is a humorous take on the events of the Old Testament, from the viewpoint of a group of wanderers who did not "make it into the Bible." In his book, Hahn tracks the group, from getting ejected out of the Garden of Eden, to discovering the Ten Commandments, to a reveal that connects to the story of Cain and Abel.


In the Beginning first featured the partnership of bookwriter, Larry Gelbart, and composer, Maury Yeston, in December 1988 for a production at the Manhattan Theatre Club, then titled 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. After the production was not so well received, Gelbert broke off from the show, and Yeston tried a second version of the show under the title, History Loves Company at the Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre in Chicago in 1991.

In the Beginning premiered at the Maine State Theatre in August 1998.

Cultural Influence

  • The song, "New Worlds," has been licensed for sheet music by Cherry Lane Music Company.

Critical Reaction

"In The Beginning gave us moral with its comedy, meaning with its laughter, and a score that lifted our audiences to their feet!"
– Steve Peterson, Maine State Theatre

"The funniest Bible musical ever written!"
– Freddie Gershon

"Smartest show in years!"
– Solomon

"This show's a giant!"
– Goliath



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