Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
This story of women and the men who pursue them is a touching adaptation on the verge of all-out musical hilarity.
Show Essentials
8
Roles
+ Ensemble
PG13
Rated
2
Acts

Full Synopsis

Act One

The Taxi Driver appears onstage and welcomes the audience to the city of Madrid. As the music grows and the stage is filled with inhabitants of the city, we meet the main characters and learn more about the city ("Madrid").

Pepa, an actress, is jolted awake from a dream by the ringing phone. The answering machine takes the call; it is Ivan, Pepa's lover. He tells her that he does not deserve her and must leave her.

We now move into the Dubbing Studio. Pepa has arrived late to work and Christina, a nosy receptionist, is quick to point this out. It is revealed that Pepa was scheduled to lay down vocal tracks for a duet with Ivan. She is disappointed to find, however, that Ivan had come in earlier to record his vocal track. As she sings to his recorded voice, we hear her inner thoughts ("Lie to Me").

At the conclusion of the song, Pepa faints. A doctor arrives, and the singer admits that she has been feeling nauseous in the morning for the last few weeks; she has been feeling lovesick ("Lovesick"). Pepa takes off to Ivan's apartment but comes to find that he hasn't slept there in weeks. Pepa leaves a card with Ivan’s Concierge, but it is snatched away by a mysterious woman. With the help of the Taxi Driver, Pepa pursues her.

We come to discover that the mysterious woman is Lucia Beltran, Ivan's ex-wife, who is suing him for abandoning her 19 years earlier. Carlos, her shy and timid son, and his fiancée, Marisa, are found in her apartment. Lucia treats Marisa as a maid and clearly dotes on her son. Paulina, Lucia’s lawyer, arrives, and they discuss the impending lawsuit against Ivan (“It’s You”).

Carlos informs Lucia that he and Marisa will begin to look for apartments in anticipation of the wedding; Lucia once again feels betrayed and abandoned, prompting a late night eviction, complete with Carlos’s belongings being flung out of the window. Pepa witnesses the family brawl from a payphone outside. She finds a photo of Ivan and Carlos, realizing that Ivan has a son.

The next morning, Pepa returns home to find her machine full of messages from her best friend, Candela – a fashion model and romantic. She is in love... but she fears that her new love interest, Malik, might be an international terrorist ("Model Behavior"). At the end of Candela’s frantic messages, there is a clipped message from Ivan. Pepa rips the phone and machine out of the wall in frustration.  

Carlos and Marissa rehearse their wedding dance while discussing details of their nuptials. Lucia returns with a fresh stack of mail, Ivan’s mail. She learns that Ivan is planning a trip for two to Ibiza that very night.

Back in her apartment, Pepa begins making gazpacho laced with sedatives and remembers the life that she shared with Ivan (“Island”). Candela arrives, and the two commiserate before Pepa rushes out to get her phone fixed. Candela resigns to watch TV, where a news bulletin is seeking the whereabouts of suspected terrorist, Malik. To complicate matters, Pepa's apartment has mistakenly shown up on the list of apartments to rent for Carlos and Marisa, who have just arrived.

As everything is unraveling, Pepa learns that Ivan is leaving town with another woman... and that Pepa is pregnant, and Marisa realizes that her future with Carlos is more uncertain than she thought. Candela, stressed and petrified, jumps out of the penthouse terrace. ("On the Verge").

Act Two

The Taxi Driver and ensemble open Act Two with a rousing entr’acte, “My Crazy Heart.” Transitioning back to Pepa’s apartment, we hear Candela screaming for help from the terrace ledge – she decided not to jump, after all. Pepa and Carlos pull her back to safety and learn of her wild romance with Malik, the wanted terrorist. Candela fears being arrested and has yet to tell the police.  Meanwhile, Marisa unwittingly drinks the Valium-laced gazpacho and passes out, snoring. Pepa leaves Carlos to watch the shaken Candela and slumbering Marisa as she heads to Paulina’s law office. Outside of her apartment, Pepa finally has a chance to process the news of her pregnancy ("Mother's Day"). All of a sudden, her pious Concierge – who has sensed her troubles – tries to reassure Pepa that everything will work out the way that it should.

The Taxi Driver takes Pepa to the offices of Paulina Morales, Lucia’s lawyer and also the woman with whom Ivan is romantically involved. Pepa is unaware of this as she heads to the office in the hopes of helping Candela. Despite her attempts at rejecting Ivan, he successfully woos Paulina ("Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today"). Pepa arrives to a very hostile Paulina. After an altercation, Pepa leaves in haste and hops back in the Taxi Driver’s car.

Back at the apartment, Carlos and Candela are surely growing closer. We find out about a note that has been discovered and highlights Malik's plans for an attack on the local courthouse. They anonymously call the police to warn them ("Tangled"). At the courthouse, Lucia is presenting a petition against Ivan to the Magistrates ("Invisible").

Lucia quickly unravels, and her case is dismissed – she decides that there is only one solution: remove Ivan for good. Pepa returns home to inform Candela that the best choice is to leave town ("Island Reprise"). Just as they are about to depart, the police arrive. Lucia arrives shortly thereafter in search of Ivan.

Pepa realizes that she now must get to the courthouse, where Ivan is. She convinces two of the police officers to drink the gazpacho – they do. Before she can stop her, however, Lucia grabs the police officers' guns and heads to the courthouse. A chase ensues. Pepa arrives just in time to save Ivan from Lucia's gunshot, which actually ends up wounding Malik.

Through all of this, Ivan finally realizes that Pepa is the one he truly loves ("Lie to Me – Reprise"). Pepa recalls the Concierge's words and rejects Ivan's offer. She leaves.

In the end, the women all join together to look towards the future ("Finale").

Casting

Casting

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

Character Breakdown

Pepa

Ideally 43, though somewhere between 35 - 45 can work. A working actress. Warm, funny, sardonic, down to earth, emotional, motherly and naturally sexy (i.e., not working it.)

Gender: female
Age: 35 to 45
Vocal range top: Ab5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Ivan

Handsome and smooth. Pretty much a haircut and a voice, it would be possible to mistake him for a bounder, but the truth is he falls in love with every woman he meets.

Gender: male
Age: 45 to 60
Vocal range top: F4
Vocal range bottom: A2
Lucia

Ivan's ex-wife. She has just been released from a mental institution after 20 years. Both comic and scary with a heartbreaking vulnerability underneath it all.

Gender: female
Age: 50 to 60
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: F#3
Carlos

Ivan's and Lucia's son. Shy and studious looking, handsome behind glasses. Struggling to break out of his shell.

Gender: male
Age: 22 to 27
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: C3
Marisa

Carlos' fiance. Very matter-of-fact and no-nonsense. Firlmy holding onto her virginity, but with a passion and freedom struggling to break free.

Gender: female
Age: 22 to 27
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Candela

Pepa's best friend. A working model. Very pretty with a small town innocence underneath her cosmopolitan sexiness, she is easily distracted - usually by love.

Gender: female
Age: 28 to 30
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Paulina

A lawyer, a 1987 feminist. Despite her cold demeanor, we must also believe she can be swept off her feet.

Gender: female
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: Ab4
Vocal range bottom: Ab3
Taxi Driver

Off-center, talkative and big hearted. He takes on the problems of any of his passengers. Still grounded in reality, he is the spirit and energy of Madrid.

Gender: male
Age: 30 to 50
Vocal range top: E4
Vocal range bottom: B2
Pepa's Concierge

Religious and a little loopy.

Gender: female
Age: 50 to 70
Vocal range top: A#4
Vocal range bottom: G3
Ivan's Concierge

The self appointed ruler of her apartment building.

Gender: female
Age: 40 to 70
Vocal range top: A#4
Vocal range bottom: G3
Cristina

A receptionist and a busy body.

Gender: female
Hector

The director and owner of the dubbing studio where Pepa works.

Gender: male
Age: 35 to 50
Rosalia

A voice-over actress. Very attractive.

Gender: female
Age: 25 to 40
Doctor

A doctor.

Gender: male
Age: 35 to 60
Chief Inspector

A tough, no-nonsense police detective.

Gender: male
Age: 35 to 60
Detective

The Chief Inspector's assistant. A bit bumbling.

Gender: male
Age: 20 to 30
Telephone Repairman

Handsome.

Gender: male
Age: 20 to 30
Ambite

A guy on a motorcycle (or Vespa.)

Gender: male
Two Security Guards

Security Guards. Two Male or One Female, One Male.

Gender: any
News Reader On TV

A News Reader on TV.

Gender: any
Three Magistrates

Magistrates. Three Male or Two Male, One Female.

Gender: any
Young Lucia

A dancer.

Gender: female
Young Ivan

A dancer.

Gender: male
Full Song List
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Madrid
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Lie to Me
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Lovesick
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: It's You
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Model Behavior
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Island
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: On the Verge
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: My Crazy Heart (Entr'acte)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Mother's Day
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Tangled
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Invisible
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Island (Reprise)
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown: Finale - The View From Here

Show History

Inspiration

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, with a book by Jeffrey Lane (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and music and lyrics by David Yazbek (The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), is a stage adaptation of Pedro Almodóvar's film of the same name. The film is a black comedy-drama that deals with an ensemble of people undergoing a variety of anxieties and stresses on a spectrum of farce. After finishing Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in 2005, Lane and Yazbek were searching to challenge themselves and decided to try a foreign film adaptation.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown was workshopped in several intensive sessions over the course of 18 months, all including Pedro Almodóvar, the director and writer of the source material film.

Productions

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown had workshop readings in October 2009 and March 2010; the latter was directed by Tony winner Bartlett Sher. The musical finally opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre in Lincoln Center on November 4, 2010. It played a limited engagement of 69 regular performances before closing on January 2, 2011.

The regional premiere of the musical took place in September 2014 at the Theatre at the Center in Chicago. A West End production, also directed by Sher, opened at the Playhouse Theatre in January 2015 for a limited twenty-week engagement, starring Olivier Award-winning performer Tamsin Greig.

Trivia

  • Celebrities that have starred in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown include: Patti LuPone (Lucia), Salma Hayek, Jessica Biel, Matthew Morrison, Justin Guarini (Carlos), Sherie Rene Scott (Pepa), Brian Stokes Mitchell (Ivan), Danny Burstein (Taxi Driver), Paulo Szot (Ivan), Mary Beth Peil (Concierge) and Laura Benanti (Candela).

Critical Reaction

"Packed with talent and creativity"
– The New York Times

"A wholly serious comedy about a macho culture that encourages men to be faithless to the women who love them."
– The Wall Street Journal

"Has many things in its favor. ...Bookwriter Jeffrey Lane gets a lot of mileage out of the dizzying situation of passionate women converging in brokenhearted turmoil."
– The LA Times

"This grand-scale farce about love and all its attendant lunacy feature a sensational score by David Yazbek, whose credits include The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and whose clever lyrics here are paired with music that ranges from a tango and disco number to comic arias."
– The Chicago Sun-Times

"A bustling, mesmerizing package.... The heightened emotions and lyrical expression in the original Women on the Verge... lend themselves to song and dance and the broad comedy that often accompanies them."
– USA Today

"Benefits from source-material that's practically a musical already."
– New York Magazine

"Much to enjoy... [including] Jeffrey Lane's frequently funny book, David Yazbek's perfectly professional Latin-infused songs.Jeffrey Lane's frequently funny book, David Yazbek's perfectly professional Latin-infused songs."
– Backstage

"In today's hectic world of work and worry, a ticket to see the fantastically funny Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is just what the doctor ordered. ...Left me laughing and eager for more with this silly, finger-snapping musical montage of romantic madness."
– The NWI Times

Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Laura Benanti)

2011 - Drama Desk Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Laura Benanti))
2011 - Outer Critics Circle Award -, Nominee (Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (Laura Benanti))

Connect

Billing

Based on the film by Pedro Almodóvar

Requirements

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.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
"You agree to bill the Play and the Owners in all programs (on the title
page), houseboards, displays and in all advertising and all paid publicity,
in the following manner:
 
WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN 
A New Musical
(100%)
 
Book by
JEFFREY LANE 
50%
Music and Lyrics by
DAVID YAZBEK 
50%
 
 
Based on the film by
PEDRO ALMODÓVAR 
50%
You also agree to include the following credit on the title page of all programs for your production of the Play:
"Original Broadway Production by Lincoln Center Theater,
New York City 2010"
 
In advertisements of 1/4 page size or less, or where only the title of the play, performance dates and venue are provided, the following "shortened billing" is permissible:
WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited

Included Materials

ItemQuantity Included
AUDIO GUIDE1
KEYBOARD1 - CONDUCTOR SCORE1
LIBRETTO/VOCAL BOOK28
PIANO VOCAL SCORE1

Production Resources

Resource
FULL SCORE
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON-10/CS
HOW DOES THE SHOW GO ON?
LOGO PACK
LOGO PACK DIGITAL
PRODUCTIONPRO
REFERENCE RECORDING

STANDARD ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
BASSACOUSTIC BASS , ELECTRIC BASS
DRUMS
GUITARELECTRIC GUITAR , LAP STEEL GUITAR , NYLON STRING GUITAR , STEEL STRG ACOUSTIC
KEYBOARD 1
PERCUSSION