Full Synopsis

Full Synopsis

A baseball bat is visible. The performers appear and introduce the context for the tale to come: a murder ballad that warns us of how easily this story could be our own ("Murder Ballad"). By the end, the bat has been stowed away, and the performers have morphed into their characters.

The Narrator now sets the scene. Sara and Tom were naive and reckless young lovers in New York City, trying to make it as a musician and an actor, respectively. They were completely wrapped up in each other ("Narrator 1"). After three years, they began to drift apart, and Tom suggested that Sara might regret spending her life with him. Heartbroken, Sara left him. As Sara drunkenly walks the city streets, she convinces herself that Tom meant nothing to her, that he was just a habit. He tells himself the same thing about her ("I Love NY"). They are glad to be rid of each other. Sara collides with Michael, who is getting a Ph.D. in poetry from NYU. He sees that she is a mess and walks her home ("Narrator 2").

Back at Sara's place, she comes on to Michael, but he doesn't want to take advantage of her. He starts to figure out what has happened to her... that she is recently heartbroken, depressed and in need of a friend ("Little by Little"). He calms her and tells her to slow down; he promises to be there for her and not to lie to her ("Trouble Mind"). Sara warns him about making such a promise, as she knows that promises are easily broken. Michael thinks she is not interested in him and says that he'll leave in the morning ("Promises"). Time passes, however, and Michael and Sara soon get married. Shortly thereafter, Sara becomes pregnant ("Narrator 3"). Everything is going right for Sara and Michael, and they continue to fall for each other more and more ("Turning into Beautiful").

Tom is still downtown, having given up his plans for fame ("Crying Scene Theme"). He decides that he is going to open up a club of his own and make a name for himself that way. Sara and Michael realize that a baby changes everything, and Michael leaves poetry to get an MBA ("I Love NY – Reprise / Narrator 4"). Sara and Michael's daughter, Frankie, is born and brings them joy. She grows quickly and is five years old before they know it. Michael and Sara have different views on where Frankie should go to school – public versus private – and it's clear that their priorities aren't entirely aligned. The Narrator points out that the hard part may just be starting for them ("Prattle 1 / Narrator 5").

Sara falls back into her depression. She tries to drag herself out of it – and out of bed – but that proves increasingly difficult ("Coffee's On"). Michael becomes frustrated with Sara's behavior and inability to do everything that Frankie needs because of her depression. The stagnation of her routine starts to weigh on Sara, and her thoughts turn to Tom and what her life was like back then. She looks Tom up and gives him a call ("Prattle 2"). The Narrator then explains that Tom had bought a bar downtown and is seeing someone new... someone who loved him more than he loved her. Although Tom swears to himself that seeing Sara doesn't mean anything, it's clear that it does ("Narrator 6"). At the bar, Tom waits for Sara, anticipating her coming back to him and regretting having ever left to begin with. But he tells himself that's foolish; he should know she's not going to erase her family and come be with him ("Sara"). When Sara finally arrives, she and Tom have a drink and it turns into something more ("Narrator 7"). When Sara leaves Tom, she is high from the excitement of the infidelity. Tom is also elated with having Sara back ("Mouth Tattoo"). Tom and Sara begin to have an affair, completely unbeknownst to their partners ("Narrator 8").

Back on the Upper West Side, Michael wrestles with the fact that he loves Sara, but that he can also tell that something is wrong ("Sugar Cubes & Rock Salt"). As Sara goes through her daily routine with Michael and Frankie, she thinks of Tom and longs for him ("Prattle 3"). Together again, Sara and Tom get wrapped up in the passion of their relationship ("My Name"). The Narrator comments on the double life that Sara is now leading, alluding to the false sense of glamour that this duplicity suggests; it's as if Sara is in a French movie ("The Crying Scene").

Michael tries to get Sara to spend some time with him – he'll take the day off, and they can spend the day in bed. She refuses, reminding him that they have responsibilities; meanwhile, Tom waits for her ("Coffee's On – Reprise"). Sara feels caught between the two men in her life, and the thrill of Tom begins to wear off. As Tom and Michael both yearn for her more, Sara realizes that she is done with Tom ("Built for Longing"). Sara arrives at Tom's, ready to say goodbye. Tom doesn't want to let her go. Meanwhile, Frankie is sick and Michael calls Sara repeatedly, trying to get ahold of her ("Answer Me"). Tom tries to make Sara stay, but she forcefully breaks free. Tom still insists that he and Sara are meant to be together, but she leaves him ("You Belong to Me"). The Narrator asks Sara which lie she will tell her husband about where she has been ("Narrator 9").

As Sara apologizes to Frankie for not having been there when she was sick, Michael and she both hope that everything will turn out alright ("Troubled Mind – Reprise"). Still, Tom refuses to let Sara go ("I Love NY – Reprise 2"). He shows up at Central Park when Sara is there with Michael and Frankie... just as Sara imagines that this is the moment when she is getting her life back on track ("Prattle 4"). When Tom approaches Sara, he threatens that he will be with her no matter where she goes ("I'll Be There"). Michael appears and introduces himself to Tom; it's clear to him that something is wrong as Sara tries to get them to leave ("Prattle 5"). When Tom leaves, Michael angrily confronts Sara about Tom – he knows the reality of their relationship ("Little By Little – Reprise").

Sara and Michael are broken by her infidelity and the crumbling of their relationship ("Narrator 10"). In Tom's bar, Michael waits for Tom with rage in his heart. Meanwhile, Sara and Tom also head toward the bar with a plan to get even – she with Tom, he with Michael ("You Belong to Me – Reprise"). The Narrator explains that all of them had deadly intentions that night. When Tom enters the bar, she points out that all the ladies loved him and insists that we would understand her better if he had turned his eye on us ("Crying Scene – Reprise"). The Narrator reveals that she was working in the bar and, when Tom, Sara and Michael converged on the scene, she slipped into the background ("Narrator 11"). The love triangle confrontation comes to a head as Sara begs Michael to come back to her... to forgive her... to let her apologize, rather than killing Tom ("Walk Away / Promises – Reprise").

After Tom and Sara leave, the Narrator grabs the baseball bat. Tom has erased her. He has forgotten about her and betrayed her; she is the woman he was cheating on with Sara. He says that he's sorry, but he never loved her. This is unacceptable. She beats Tom to death with the bat ("Clubs and Diamonds / Prattle 6"). Back on the Upper West Side, Sara and Michael sit at their table and read in the New York Post about an unsolved murder at Tom's bar. The Narrator smiles.

The actors peel themselves out of their characters. This was only a tale... an ancient tradition of songs, more black than blue; it is only thrilling and delicious if it's a cautionary tale. It's "entertainment" as long as it doesn't happen to you ("Finale").