The Prince and the Pauper
The timeless tale of class differences and swapped identities, based on the novel by Mark Twain.
Show Essentials

Full Synopsis

John Canty, Tom Canty, Hodge and Hugo introduce themselves as the Lads of the Garbage Court and warn people to stay away from them ("Garbage Court Round"). Canty then chases Hugo offstage and takes Tom by the ear, demanding to see the money that Tom brought home... but Tom insists that his begging didn't even yield him a penny. Canty accuses Tom of holding back on the money, but all he finds is a small book. Tom admits that he's trying to teach himself to read. When Canty doesn't understand why Tom needs to read, Tom explains that there are wonderful things in stories, things that he imagines experiencing one day ("In a Storybook"). Canty dismisses Tom's dreams as useless and orders him to go out and not to come back until he finds money. Canty leaves; Tom begins begging ("I've Been a-Begging").

Meanwhile, Prince Edward is at his desk in the palace, with Lord Hertford nearby. Tom approaches a soldier at the gate, asking what neighborhood he's in. The guard snobbily tells him that Tom is standing in front of the palace and orders him away. Edward spots Tom and asks Lord Hertford if they can give him some pennies. Lord Hertford refuses, insisting that people like Tom are poor because of their own faults. Edward calls out the window to Edward, inviting him inside. When Tom enters, Edward gives him some fruit and asks for his name. Tom explains that his mother is sick and that his father is mean to everyone. Edward admits that his father isn't nice, either, and shows Edward a photo of his family. As Tom tells Edward about life in Garbage Court, Edward becomes more and more envious, wishing that he could experience just one day of such freedom. Tom, however, wishes that he could live as comfortably as Edward... giving Edward the idea to switch places ("Why Don't We Switch"). As they exchange clothing, Edward notices that they look almost exactly alike. He tells Tom that he'll just be gone for an hour, and that they can change back when he returns. Tom isn't crazy about this idea but he warms up to it after seeing how comfortable Edward's chairs are. A soldier then enters with a document for Tom. Tom orders the soldier to do something nice for three poor people. The soldier thinks that it's pointless, but he agrees, anyway. Once he leaves, Tom marvels at his newfound power ("Do This, Do That").

Edward's cousin, Lady Anne, enters, causing Tom to freak out. She tries to practice dancing with him and is confused when he seems not to remember what she taught him the day before. She remarks that he's very strange today. Lord Hertford enters and agrees. He asks Tom if he's signed the execution papers yet. Tom's weird behavior makes Lord Hertford suggest a nap, so Tom leaves to do so. Lord Hertford decides that the prince must be crazy ("The Prince Is Mad").

Back in Garbage Court, Hugo is delighted that he's stolen so many nice necklaces. Canty hassles Edward for not bringing back any money, but Edward tries to explain that he's the prince, not Canty's son. Canty isn't having any of Edward's sass ("Pity The Man"). Canty has Hodge show Edward how to steal. Edward notes that Hodge looks more like a farmer than a beggar. Hodge admits that he was a farmer, but since landlords took all of the common land, he has nowhere to farm and is homeless. Edward doesn't understand how his father could allow homelessness... but Edward's father passed the laws that made Hodge homeless. Edward, enraged, vows to overturn those laws as soon as possible. Of course, nobody believes him. He shows them his locket as proof, but it only makes Canty think that Edward was holding out on him, so he starts to beat Edward. Miles, a knight, sees this happening and intervenes. Canty demands to know who Miles thinks he is; he tells Canty that he's a knight who goes around helping people ("My Name Is Miles Hendon"). Miles tells Edward to come with him for protection, and the two leave as Canty threatens revenge.

Edward thanks Miles for rescuing him but he annoys Miles when he expects him to do all of the work setting up for supper. Miles, instead of thinking that he's selfish, figures that Edward has been beaten so much that his mind is deranged. He decides to play along and treats Edward like the prince that he claims to be, until he's cured. Miles tells Edward about his life: he was born into low nobility, and his father sent him to fight in foreign wars, but Miles was captured and jailed, only recently escaping. With no money, Miles is trying to get back to Hendon Hall. He performs his good deeds in honor of a high-born princess with whom he is in love... but with whom he can never be, because of his low birth. Edward promptly solves the problem by making Miles the Earl of Kent, and when he realizes that Miles is in love with his cousin, Lady Anne, he promises to put in a good word. Miles, of course, still doesn't believe him. Edward wonders why Miles is so good to him when he doesn't even know who he is; Miles explains that he's been lonely traveling by himself ("Ev'rybody Needs Somebody to Love").

As Edward falls asleep, Lady Anne shows up, warning Miles that he's in danger. Miles' father is deathly ill, but Miles' brother, Donald, has been claiming that Miles is dead. When their father dies, Donald, the younger brother, will take over Hendon Hall and declare that Miles is an impostor, blocking him from his rightful inheritance before killing him. He also wants to marry Anne. Miles is so outraged that he vows to fight his brother, but Anne reminds him that Miles has no money... and Donald has an army. Anne gives Miles some coins so that he's able to leave the country, but Miles refuses. He wants to make a legal case in court and suggests that the Prince could speak on his behalf. Anne is skeptical of this idea, since the Prince has been acting so weird lately. He's forgotten his manners, as well as the three languages that he speaks, and insists that he's actually a pauper. Miles reflects on his similar experience with Edward. Anne remarks that it's quite the coincidence... but Miles thinks that it might be more than that. What if the boys switched places? Anne is confident that she can recognize her cousin and wants to wake up the boy to see if he's really Edward, but Miles won't allow it because Edward needs his sleep. Miles will bring him to the castle, instead. Miles and Anne long for the day that their love will no longer be secret, but fear that this will never happen ("The Tree and the Sun").

Once Miles and Anne leave, Canty and Hugo enter in disguise. Edward, awoken by Hugo's knock on the door, lets them in. Hugo pretends to be a messenger from Miles, telling Edward to come with them. Edward believes them, and Canty puts a sack over his head and ties him up. They leave. Miles then returns to find Edward gone.

At Garbage Court, Hodge and Hugo celebrate the King's death and hope that the next king is kinder. Canty enters with Edward. Hodge and Hugo tell Canty that the king is dead. Edward informs them haughtily that he is now king and will punish them, but nobody believes him. Canty tells Edward to stop teasing the other boys, but when Edward persists on claiming to be king, they all make fun of him ("Long Live King Foo-Foo the First"). Hugo tries to take Edward off to learn how to steal, but Edward doesn't like to be touched and has a small cudgel fight with Hugo. Edward wins the fight, causing Hugo to vow that Edward will never make a fool of him again. Hugo then commences to teach Edward to steal... which involves stealing a pig in a basket, putting it by Edward and running off. Everyone now thinks that Edward stole the pig, so he's arrested and taken to jail.

The next day, Edward stands before the magistrate, who tells the woman whom Hugo robbed that anyone stealing something above a certain worth is hanged... and this crime qualifies. The woman is distraught, because she doesn't want to condemn Edward to death. The magistrate offers to buy the pig for a great deal less money, so Edward doesn't die. The woman isn't happy about selling the pig for less, but she eventually agrees. Edward calls the constable back into the room and accuses the magistrate of having no honor. The magistrate orders that Edward be sentenced to ten years in jail and a public beating, but before Edward is taken away, Miles walks in to see the magistrate. When he finds out about Edward's fate, he offers to take the beating for him. Just then, the constable receives a royal decree that all penalties are canceled due to Coronation Day. Edward panics; he and Miles must get to the palace before Tom is crowned king.

As they make their way through the crowds, they run into Canty and Hugo. Canty shows Miles the locket that he thinks Edward stole, saying that he'd be crazy to give up a thief that good. Edward explains that the locket is his and has his family portrait in it. Miles gets a good look when Canty gives it to him after the four of them fought over it; he thinks it may actually belong to the Royal Family.

At the Coronation, Tom is kind of depressed. Anne asks why he's upset and tells him to smile for the crowds. Edward runs up, demanding that the ceremony cease. Edward and Tom explain their switch, but Lord Hertford isn't convinced. He asks Edward a series of questions about his family members, all of which Edward answers correctly. Lord Hertford still doesn't believe until Miles produces the locket, saying that Edward had it on him. Edward is crowned king. He then banishes Donald and allows Miles and Anne to marry. Edward also lets Tom and his mother live in the palace, putting Tom in charge of the library. They all celebrate ("Finale").

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Cast Size: Small (Up to 10 performers)
Cast Type: Children
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Tom Canty
The poor pauper boy. He wants to learn how to read so he can travel to far-off magical places in his imagination. Adventurous, earnest, naïve.
Gender: male
Age: 10 to 14
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Generous and kind, but also raised with a certain degree of wild expectations about being catered to in life. Soldier-like, in spite of his young age, and curious and boyish.
Gender: male
Age: 8 to 13
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Tom's no-nonsense father. Claims he has no time for the pleasures of reading and daydreaming. He's a thief and a bully determined to make a dollar any way he can.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: F2
A swashbuckling knight who rides around the country and saves those in need. Gallant. Brave. Over-the-top. Born noble but has been reduced to poverty.
Gender: male
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Lord Hertford
Edward's minister playing a sort of guardian/advisor role to Edward. Intolerant and snobbish, yet he cares deeply for Edward.
Gender: male
Age: 50 to 65
Vocal range top: D5
Vocal range bottom: A3
A thieving pickpocket who embraces the life he has been brought into. Scrappy, vindictive, boyish.
Gender: male
Age: 9 to 13
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: A3
A former farmer and now thief. Lost his land, became a slave, then ran away to join John's band of pickpockets. He is a good man deep down inside.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Lady Anne
Edward's cousin. Tries to help take care of her cousin and loves Miles, despite the current lack of money or power. Sweet, kind, pretty.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 25
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: A3
A swindling judge who blackmails those appearing before her. Conniving, self-absorbed, and malicious. Perhaps a drunk as well.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 60
Full Song List
The Prince and the Pauper: Garbage Court Round
The Prince and the Pauper: In A Storybook
The Prince and the Pauper: I've Been A-Begging (Alms For A Pauper Boy)
The Prince and the Pauper: Why Don't We Switch
The Prince and the Pauper: Do This, Do That
The Prince and the Pauper: The Prince Is Mad
The Prince and the Pauper: Pity The Man
The Prince and the Pauper: My Name Is Miles Hendon
The Prince and the Pauper: Ev'rybody Needs Somebody To Love
The Prince and the Pauper: The Tree And The Sun
The Prince and the Pauper: Long Live King Foo-Foo The First
The Prince and the Pauper: Finale
The Prince and the Pauper: Bows (Final Reprises)

Show History


The Prince and the Pauper is a musical with music by George Fischoff and book and lyrics by Verna Safran.  Fischoff is best known for composing several pop music hits from the 1960s, including "98.6" and "Lazy Day." The musical is a stage adaptation of the Mark Twain novel of the same name, which tells the story of a young street urchin who switches places with the prince of England, with whom he bears an uncanny resemblance.


The Prince and the Pauper premiered in 1963, although it most notably became a film in 1969, then titled The Adventures of The Prince and the Pauper. It had a successful run Off-Broadway in 1993 at the John Houseman Theater in Midtown Manhattan.

Cultural Influence

  • The Off-Broadway run of The Prince and the Pauper prompted a production of another version of the same story in 2002.


  • The Off-Broadway production of The Prince and the Pauper served as a huge opportunity for performer John Davidson, who would go on to host a myriad of game shows. Other celebrities who have starred in the musical include Barry Pearl (Tom), Gene Bua (Miles), Kenny Morse (Edward), Barbara Huston (Lady Anne), Michael Brill (Lord Chamberlain) and Tom Fleetwood (John Canty).

Critical Reaction

"Concise, simple to produce well and entertaining for the kids, with enough intelligence to satisfy adults too. ...Perfect for children's audiences."
– Michael Jay at the Theatre



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