Wish You Were Here
Show Essentials
+ Ensemble

Full Synopsis

Act One

The show opens with a P.A. announcement welcoming a busload of new guests to Camp Karefree, a two-week summer camp for adults in the Catskills. Camp host Lou Kandel gives the newcomers, mostly women, the rundown of the place; first, he introduces the waiters, mostly college men. Then he tells everyone the two rules – Camp Karefree cares for you, and when the lights flicker, the girls go to the girls' side and the boys go to the boys' side ("Camp Karefree Song").

Enter Teddy Stern, a young woman who is soon to be wed to a stuffy, older man: Herman Fabricant. Teddy has been crying uncontrollably since her engagement, so her doctor suggested that she get some rest before the wedding. Teddy's friend, Fay, a screwball blonde, meets her and takes her under her wing. Herman leaves. After he's gone, Teddy confesses that she is having second thoughts about her marriage, which is why the doctor said that she needed a change. With that, Fay takes Teddy's wedding ring – just for the time that they're at camp – so Teddy can have a real change. Fay introduces the now "single" Teddy to her friends ("There's Nothing Nicer Than People"). 

Teddy then meets Itchy Flexner, the social director who does it all: imitations, singing, dancing and telling stories. He just loves to entertain ("Social Director"). He engages the entire camp with his talent. An announcement over the loudspeaker tells everyone to change for dinner. As she heads to her cabin, Teddy meets Pinky Harris – a dashing, womanizing fellow who takes an interest in her. After Teddy has changed for dinner, she notices Fay flirting with Harry "Muscles" Green – the new athletic director. It seems that Fay has her eye on every available man at Camp Karefree. She confesses that she just loves to flirt ("Shopping Around").

The scene shifts to the locker room, where the waiters listlessly wipe the water glasses and reflect on what they have to do to put themselves through school ("Bright College Days"). Kandel enters and reminds the waiters that part of their job is to entertain the ladies – all of them, not just the pretty ones – by dancing and talking with them. Chick, a law student, is tired of being a waiter by day and a gigolo by night – he wants to meet a real girl at Camp Karefree, not these eager beavers, as he calls them. But the boys remind him that it's either socialize or get fired ("Mix and Mingle"). 

On the Social Hall Porch, the girls want to dance, but the men are playing poker. When the waiters arrive, the girls rush inside excitedly to dance with them. Teddy, however, doesn't feel like dancing. She listens to the other girls speculate that tonight could be the night that they fall in love, looks at her ring finger and starts crying ("Could Be"). Chick casually enters and stands, unaware of Teddy. Schmutz, one of Itchy's assistants, enters and tells Chick that he better start dancing, because word has gotten back to Kandel that Chick wouldn't dance with one of the girls. Chick quickly convinces the reluctant Teddy to dance with him just as Kandel enters. 

Inside the social hall, Itchy directs everyone in a get-acquainted dance ("Tripping the Light Fantastic"). At the end, ready to escort her home, Chick is still with Teddy and thanks her for getting him out of a tight spot. It's here that Pinky makes it very evident that he has designs on Teddy. In fact, he wants Itchy to help him survey the situation and see just how he can lure Teddy to him. Itchy agrees – on the condition that Pinky get him a TV audition. Next, Muscles comes over and asks Itchy for advice on wooing a girl. Itchy is happy to oblige, until he finds out that the girl is Fay, whom Itchy also wants! To Itchy's dismay, Muscles and Fay leave together ("Social Director – Reprise"). 

Walking through the woods, Chick and Teddy hear the band playing the song that Chick sang in the waiter's show last year. It's about a boy and a girl who met at camp, and the following season, she didn't come back ("Wish You Were Here"). They run into Fay, who had gone to Eagle Rock with Muscles but was interrupted by a scheming Itchy. When she leaves, Chick explains that he can't get involved with Teddy – he's putting all of his time and attention towards law school. Teddy understands; she, too, can't get involved, though she doesn't tell Chick the reason why. Chick thinks this is perfect. Chick has trouble with the socializing part of his job, because all of the girls whom he is supposed to romance want long-term contacts. Since Teddy does not, he asks her if she will spend the next two weeks with him. She happily agrees. They dance the last dance of the evening together and go off to bed – alone ("Where Did the Night Go"). 

A week later, Muscles is exhausting everyone on the athletic field. Itchy has to cancel evening activities, because everyone is too tired to show up. Kandel tells Itchy that if the social events don't pick up, Itchy will lose his job as social director. Meanwhile, Pinky tells Teddy that he has just ordered a new formal dress in her size that is meant to be the prize for the Miss Karefree bathing beauty contest. He's one of the judges and wants her to enter. Teddy ignores this obvious pass and goes off with Chick.

Fay flirts with Muscles, and Itchy gets increasingly jealous. Teddy and Chick return on Chick's bicycle and are greeted by the entire camp. Although they see their relationship as a friendship, everyone else sees a blossoming romance ("Certain Individuals"). Everyone leaves except for the spurned Itchy, who watches Fay ride off on Muscles' shoulders. Itchy decides that he has got to get some new social ideas that will excite the girls. He decides to have a candlelight evening in the social hall. He figures that this will be so romantic that all of the girls will forget Muscles and his sports events. Unfortunately, his plan backfires when the Social Hall catches fire. Kandel is so mad at Itchy that he demotes him to Boat House Boy and puts Muscles in charge of all social events. 

The next day, Chick takes Teddy out to Eagle Rock, yelling at Pinky to stay away from her. When Teddy asks what has come over him, Chick reveals that he loves Teddy. He proposes marriage and imagines how his friends would react to their going out together to museums and cultural events ("They Won't Know Me"). Teddy tells Chick that, not only is she already engaged, she is meant to get married next week. Even though she, too, loves Chick, she can't call off the wedding. Rather than talk any more about it, they go back to the camp. 

Back at the boathouse, we find Itchy has been demoted to Boat Boy. Teddy and Chick return from Eagle Rock, and Chick confronts Fay about Teddy's engagement. She confesses that she knew all along that Teddy was engaged and gives Teddy her ring back. The girls enter in their bathing suits – ready for the Miss Camp Karefree Contest. Gussie, one of the available girls, rushes forward and shows Chick that she has no ring on her finger. He asks her out and plans on cheering for her in the contest. Teddy, hurt, decides that she will also enter the contest in retaliation. Pinky is thrilled to have the chance to put the moves on Teddy ("Summer Afternoon"). 

Pinky naturally picks Teddy to win the contest. He shows her the gorgeous new dress. In return, she gives him a kiss, and in a jealous fit, Chick pushes Pinky into the pool. Kandel has Chick restrained and threatens to fire him. Pinky delights in watching this happen to Chick and laughs. Teddy, upset at seeing Chick humiliated, pushes Pinky into the pool. Nevertheless, Chick still leaves with Gussie, and Teddy watches them go, crying.

Act Two

The act opens the evening after the beauty contest, with the camp sitting around a campfire ("Where Did the Night Go? – Reprise"). Fay returns to tell Pinky that Teddy won't meet him; she's too ashamed of the way that things have gone. Teddy's been talking to her mother in New York, and Fay suspects that Herman may be back to pick Teddy up soon. Pinky thinks that if Teddy hears them having fun, she'll come join them. Itchy performs a rousing number that he hopes will both draw out Teddy and win Fay back ("Don Jose").

Unfortunately, Fay ends up kissing Muscles at the end of the song. Itchy has a jealous fight with Muscles over Fay. She breaks up the fight. Chick returns to apologize to Pinky, although there still is a great deal of tension between the two of them. Fay passes drinks around to the fighting men and tells them just to get along for tonight ("Everybody Love Everybody"). When Teddy's name is called over the P.A. to come and take her long distance call, Pinky convinces Chick to sing to Teddy. Swallowing his drink, he does ("Wish You Were Here" ). Teddy enters the scene and sees Chick, though the two don't speak. Gussie quickly laps up Chick when he finishes singing, and Pinky tries to get Teddy drunk to take her back to his cabin. Before anything more happens, it starts raining, and everyone runs for cover. 

Teddy stops by Pinky's cabin – ostensibly to pick up an umbrella – but he has other ideas. He spikes Teddy's drink and attempts to take advantage of her ("Relax"). Itchy comes over to talk with Pinky, and a panicked Teddy hides in the bathroom while Pinky attempts to get rid of Itchy. By the time Itchy leaves, Teddy has emerged from the bathroom with an empty glass, wearing the sexy dress that she won in the beauty contest. Chick enters the bunk with Teddy's engagement ring and finding her there, attempts to force the ring onto her finger. If she's engaged, she should act like it. She tells him to mind his own business. He puts the ring on the night table and leaves. Pinky prepares to take her to bed; unfortunately, while he's in the bathroom getting changed, she falls asleep. Pinky, not knowing what else to do, slips the engagement ring on Teddy's hand. 

The next morning outside of the social hall, Herman has come to bring Teddy home. No one seems to know where Teddy is, and Herman is not too happy about this. Itchy and Marvin also bemoan the fact that their girlfriends are nowhere to be found. They then realize that the girls have spent the whole night dancing to Be-Bop records in the music library. Fay and some of the other kids enter dancing like "cool cats" ("Where Did the Night Go? – Be-bop Version"). 

Muscles takes the guests off to play basketball, and Teddy enters, finding Herman. It appears that even though nothing happened between Teddy and Pinky, Pinky is out accepting congratulations for his conquest. Even though Herman shouldn't accept Teddy's behavior, he is ready to forgive and forget. He wants to take Teddy back to New York, where the two can get married. He goes to get the car. 

Itchy returns to tell everyone that he's been fired from his job as Boat Boy, too. He forgot to tie up the boats last night during the storm, and they all floated away. Teddy spots Chick escorting a new girl to her cabin and informs him that she's leaving. He's aloof, but polite. Itchy, overhearing the conversation, chastises Teddy for not putting up a fight. Chick doesn't even know the truth about what happened between her and Pinky. Itchy wants her to go over to the big camp basketball game and make Pinky, the referee, tell the truth. Teddy is flattered that Itchy cares so much. His kind words really give her a lift, and she returns the sentiment in kind ("Flattery") so she then agrees to go to the game.

 In the game, the camp team (led by Muscles) plays the waiter team (led by Chick). Itchy arrives and disrupts the game so badly that Muscles declares the game officially over. Teddy confronts Pinky and asks him why he's telling everyone that she succumbed to him last night. He claims that he did no such thing; however, the rest of the camp is having a great time insinuating that Teddy is now a loose woman. Pinky resists, because he doesn't want to tarnish his reputation, but Fay gets him to tell the truth. Herman hears this and is relieved. Teddy gives a kiss to Chick and gets in the car, leaving with Herman. It's obvious that she doesn't want to go, but Chick does nothing to stop her. 

Muscles, frustrated with the interruption of his game, quits on the spot. Kandel panics! Who's going to run the camp? Itchy, of course! Itchy immediately organizes everyone to dance. Suddenly, Herman re-enters with two suitcases, which he lays down. Teddy runs to Chick and falls into his arms. Before Herman goes, however, he gives Chick the engagement ring, which Chick slips on Teddy's finger ("Wish You Were Here – Reprise").



Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Star Vehicle Female
Dance Requirements: Standard

Character Breakdown

Teddy Stern
Lovely and energetic, yet fighting depression. She arrives at camp after having a mental breakdown regarding her upcoming wedding. Despondent about never meeting her soulmate, but soon gets wrapped up in a complicated romance with Chick.
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 35
Vocal range top: Bb5
Vocal range bottom: Bb3
Chick Miller
A handsome law student working as a waiter at the camp. Cocky, cynical, and likable. He ends up falling for Teddy, but is hurt by her duplicity about her engagement.
Gender: male
Age: 20 to 35
Vocal range top: Ab4
Vocal range bottom: B2
Fay Fromkin
Teddy's best friend and roommate at camp. Sociable, brassy, and a bit daffy, she enjoys "shopping around" amongst the camp men. Her philosophy gets her caught in a love triangle with Itchy and Muscles.
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: Bb3
Itchy Flexner
The social director of the camp. A popular "yes man" and amateur comedian/song-and-dance man. He spars against Muscles for Fay's affection.
Gender: male
Age: 20 to 35
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: Bb2
Pinky Harris
Chick's rival at camp, he is a wealthy, self-centered lothario. Always looking for a skirt to chase and ready with a pick-up line. Constantly lies and manipulates in an attempt to get to Teddy.
Gender: male
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: F#4
Vocal range bottom: Bb2
Harry "muscles" Green
The new athletic director at camp. An attractive, stubborn meathead. He turns into a bit of a bully when fighting with Itchy.
Gender: male
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: G3
Vocal range bottom: Bb2
Lou Kandel
The bossy head of the camp. Obsessed with the routine, structure, and order of his work.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 55
Vocal range top: D4
Vocal range bottom: F#3
Herman Fabricant
An older gentleman and Teddy's wealthy fiancé. He is helpful to Teddy and her family, but is controlling with a sour attitude.
Gender: male
Age: 50 to 65
Wallflowers (Irma, Shirley, Lena, Judy), Bathing Beauties (Billie, Kitty, Mildred, Sarah, Felice, Anna, Wilma, June April), Music Lovers (Marvin, Sonia), Itchy's Assistants (Schmutz, Eli), Waiters (Mel, Morrie, Bill, Butch, Joe, Harry, Phil, Alex, Nat, Danny, Barney, Sid), Fay's Dancing Partners (Sam, Monty, Lenny)
Full Song List
Wish You Were Here: Overture
Wish You Were Here: Camp Kare-Free
Wish You Were Here: Social Director
Wish You Were Here: Shopping Around
Wish You Were Here: Mix And Mingle
Wish You Were Here: Could Be
Wish You Were Here: Tripping The Light Fantastic
Wish You Were Here: Where Did The Night Go?
Wish You Were Here: Certain Individuals
Wish You Were Here: They Won't Know Me
Wish You Were Here: Summer Afternoon
Wish You Were Here: Don Jose
Wish You Were Here: Everybody Loves Everybody
Wish You Were Here: Wish You Were Here
Wish You Were Here: Relax
Wish You Were Here: Flattery
Wish You Were Here: Finale

Show History


Wish You Were Here is a musical comedy with a book by Arthur Kober and Joshua Logan (South Pacific) and music and lyrics by Harold Rome. It is a musicalized version of Kober's 1937 play, Having a Wonderful Time, focusing around the adventures at a summer camp for adults.


In its opening production on Broadway (see below), Wish You Were Here faced harsh words from the critics during its initial premiere. This caused the creators to go back to the drawing board, rewriting the book and even bringing in renowned director Jerome Robbins to choreograph all of the dances. Word-of-mouth built so much after these changes that those initial critics actually returned to the production and championed it.

Unlike many shows, Wish You Were Here bypassed the usual pre-Broadway tryout and, instead, went with a three-week preview period. Wish You Were Here premiered at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway on June 25, 1952. It ran for 598 performances and closed November 28, 1953, becoming immensely popular after the cast performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show," then known as "Toast of the Town." The success of the Broadway production prompted a West End stint of 282 performances, starting on October 10, 1953, at the London Casino.

Wish You Were Here has seen some play in New York since its initial production in the early 1950s. The Equity Library Theater, an "Off-Off-Broadway" venue, ran a revival in May 1987. In January 2000, the York Theatre Company's "Musicals in Mufti" series ran a concert version.

Cultural Influence

  • The original Broadway production of Wish You Were Here was one of the first instances of pure spectacle in a major musical. The creators actually constructed a swimming pool on the stage, utilizing professional divers for a high-concept routine during the first act finale.
  • The original Broadway production of Wish You Were Here launched the show business career of Florence Henderson. Henderson, who played a chorus girl in the musical, would go on to play, most notably, the role of Carol Brady in the television sitcom, "The Brady Bunch."


  • Celebrities that have starred in Wish You Were Here include: Jack Cassidy (Chick), Phyllis Newman (Sarah), Larry Blyden, Patricia Marand (Teddy), Reid Shelton, Tom Tryon, Sheila Bond, Sidney Armus (Itchy) and Florence Henderson.

Critical Reaction

"A light... comic period piece."
– The New York Times

"Smart, sentimental, and bountifully picturesque."
– The New York Post

"Audiences went home whistling... Harold Rome's infectious title song, an insinuating bolero, became one of the most popular show tunes of the decade."
– The Complete Book of 1950s Broadway Musicals

"Harold Rome provided an enjoyably entertaining score, balancing his top-of-the-chart title tune with a light-heartedly amusing song assortment."
– Playbill.com

Tony® Award

1953 - Stage Technican, Winner (Abe Kurnit)
1953 - Supporting Or Featured Musical Actress, Winner (Sheila Bond)
1953 - Best Featured Actress in a Musical, Winner (Sheila Bond)
1953 - Best Stage Technician, Winner (Abe Kurnit)



Based on Mr. Kober's Having a Wonderful Time


You must give the authors/creators billing credits, as specified in the Production Contract, in a conspicuous manner on the first page of credits in all programs and on houseboards, displays and in all other advertising announcements of any kind.
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Book by
Music and Lyrics by
Based on Mr. Kober's "HAVING A WONDERFUL TIME"
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited

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