A Family Affair
This tuneful, neurotic and universally appealing musical explores what it takes to make it to a wedding day.
Show Essentials
7
Roles
PG
Rated
2
Acts

Full Synopsis

Act One

As the curtain rises, Gerry Siegel, a young and successful Harvard law school graduate, is proposing marriage to Sally Nathan, an attractive, young woman. She accepts but tries to warn him of her faults. He doesn't care; he has faults of his own. Neither of them is perfect but, for each other, they'll try to be ("Anything for You").

Soon after, we find Alfie Nathan, Sally's bachelor uncle and guardian, in his den; he is sobbing with joy into the phone as he calls Gerry's parents, Morris and Tillie Siegel, to tell them the big news. Morris and Tillie rush over to Alfie's house to greet the waiting wedding couple. The wedding plans begin. Gerry and Sally have decided to have a small "family affair," right in Alfie's living room ("Beautiful").

Later that night, Sally asks Alfie if he likes Gerry, which he does. Both he and Mrs. Forsythe, Alfie's housekeeper who helped raised Sally, approve of the match. Meanwhile, Tilly ruminates about all that she has missed in her life: she and Morris eloped and their daughter, Babs, became married in the Army. Although Alfie is technically the mother of the bride, Tilly wonders if he might need just a little help. Morris is unsure about her getting involved but she changes the subject and tells him that he's wonderful ("Beautiful – Reprise"). Although Tilly has promised Morris that she won't interfere with Alfie's wedding plans, she feels it is her place to call everyone and announce the wedding ("My Son, the Lawyer"). The next day, Alfie tries to make calls to tell people about the wedding but finds that there is no one to tell as Tillie has beaten him to it.


As Alfie tries to pick wedding staples – the flowers, the cake, the dress – he finds that Tilly has taken it upon herself to help him. At the bridal shop, Tilly and Alfie politely fight as they help Sally purchase her trousseau; Tilly doesn't think anything is quite right, and Alfie would just like to get it over and done with. No one really seems to care what Sally thinks. When Alfie announces that his living room will only hold forty guests, twenty for the bride and twenty for the groom, Tilly is horrified – she has many relatives and friends whom she must invite. After arguing about bridal dresses, Tilly and Alfie leave. Meanwhile, Sally's future sister-in-law, Babs, tries to cheer her up by reminding her about the reasons to get married ("Every Girl Wants to Get Married"). She fails to ease Sally's concerns, though.

Later, at his country club, Alfie tells his friends about the trousseau experience. They ask Alfie about his plans to get married, but Alfie has no such plans. His friend, Weaver, thinks that there must be plenty of girls at the club who would like to marry Alfie. Alfie says that none of the girls want to have fun ("Right Girls").

In her backyard, Tilly throws an engagement luau. She hopes that, if she can show Alfie how nice a backyard party is, he'll move the wedding from his living room to his yard. Alfie ends up meeting Tilly's entire family at the luau and is tricked into agreeing to move the wedding to the backyard. Then, Tilly does a Hawaiian dance in the hopes that Sally and Gerry will decide to honeymoon there, rather than Alfie's honeymoon choice ("Kalua Bay"). The gifts start arriving soon, and the pressure gets to Sally. She receives three toasters, all in Marshall Field's boxes, but, when she tries to return them, she finds out that they have actually come from wholesale outlets. On top of that, Tilly has picked out an apartment for the couple. Gerry attempts to calm Sally down ("There's a Room in My House").

With the wedding moved to the lawn, Alfie has a whole new set of concerns. There are fewer Nathans than Siegels, and he is worried that Sally will be embarrassed to have so many fewer guests. He tries to dig up enough relatives to match his family's, as, in his mind, the whole thing is like a big football game ("Siegel's Marching Song / Nathan's Marching Song"). Eventually, the wedding becomes so large that its 400 guests have to be moved to the country club. Alfie hires Hazel Lumpe, a wedding consultant, whom Tillie doesn't like. Soon enough, all parties involved are fighting about everything from the band to the dresses... and even the rabbi ("Harmony").



With Hazel now in charge, Alfie is feeling crazier than ever. The arriving gifts are also becoming more strange. Tilly's constant complaining is driving Morris crazy, as well. He suggests that the kids just elope. Alfie and Tilly finally have a fight to end all fights. Alfie throws everyone out of his house, and Sally and Gerry wonder if they even want to get married.

Act Two

Back at her house, Tilly is furious. She decides that neither Alfie nor any of his relatives will be invited to the bridal dinner. But Morris has had enough and puts his foot down – he wants them to apologize to Alfie. She refuses and, instead, fights with her husband. He echoes back to her all of the things that he has endured with his wife over the years ("Now, Morris"). 



Alfie now appears, and we see that he is breaking out in hives because of stress. He is further agitated to learn from Gerry and Sally that neither he nor his relatives are welcome to the bridal dinner. Later, at the bachelor party, neither Alfie nor Morris shows up. Gerry and his brother-in-law still have a great time with a myriad of people in the bar ("Wonderful Party").

Conflicted and confused, Sally is seeking guidance from her uncle. Unfortunately, her uncle is more concerned with getting the wedding his way than with helping his troubled niece. Sally goes to bed while Alfie broods ("Revenge"). Frantic and unable to sleep, Alfie begins making calls to arrange the wedding more like the one he originally envisioned.

At the rehearsal dinner, Morris refuses to converse with Tilly; he has canceled their dream vacation to the Greek Islands. Tilly realizes that her actions have done more than simply upset Alfie ("Summer Is Over"). Finally, Alfie arrives at the country club to find that three cakes have been ordered – his, Hazel's and Tilly's. Hazel adds fury to the fire, and, once again, everyone is casting blame ("Harmony – Reprise"). Sally becomes upset with Gerry for not standing up for himself... or her... and runs out. Gerry finally steps forward and tells them that they are all selfish, petty and egocentric. Tilly, Morris and Alfie realize that they have all acted terribly ("I'm Worse Than Anybody").

Next, we find Gerry and Sally, who have encountered three different rabbis; they are do not know what to do. Sally finally speaks her mind and says that she wants a man who knows what to do. He does finally speak his mind and proclaims that he will love her forever ("What I Say Goes"). In a storybook ending, Tilly, Morris and Alfie make up, and the wedding turns out to be a beautiful family affair.

Casting

Casting

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

Character Breakdown

Gerry
A lawyer and Harvard grad. He is calm and rational, a borderline pushover much like his father, but bubbling beneath the surface.
Gender: male
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: B5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Sally
Fussy and simple-minded. She wants Gerry to speak up more often but is shocked when he does. Unsure if she wants to marry Gerry.
Gender: female
Age: 18 to 22
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Morris
Gerry's father and the ever doting husband. He is quiet and reserved compared to his opinionated wife, Tilly, but finally blows and takes a stand for himself.
Gender: male
Age: 50 to 60
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Tilly
Gerry's mother. Pretends to be helpless and sweet, but is actually a master manipulator. She has very strong opinions on everything in life and voices them unsparingly.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: B5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Alfie Nathan
Serving as Sally's caretaker since her parents' death. Emotional and caring, but always anxious and now determined to call the shots. Loves women so much that he never settled down with one. Stubborn and childish.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: A2
Mrs. Forsythe
Alfie's housekeeper and a sort of mother-figure for Sally. Tough and sassy, but sweet deep down.
Gender: female
Age: 35 to 50
Mother Lederer
Jenny
Babs
Christopher
Weaver
Miss Lumpe
The wedding planner. She cleverly deceives Alfie and Tilly into compromise on the various aspects of the wedding. Bossy, controlling, and mischievous.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 45
Vocal range top: C5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Kenny
Mother
Ensemble
Full Song List
A Family Affair: Overture (A Family Affair)
A Family Affair: Anything for You
A Family Affair: Beautiful
A Family Affair: My Son, The Lawyer
A Family Affair: Every Girl Wants to Get Married
A Family Affair: Right Girls
A Family Affair: There's A Room In My House
A Family Affair: Siegal's Marching Song (Football)
A Family Affair: Harmony
A Family Affair: Now Morris
A Family Affair: Bachelor Party
A Family Affair: Revenge!
A Family Affair: Summer Is Over
A Family Affair: I'm Worse Than Anybody
A Family Affair: What I Says Goes

Show History

Inspiration

A Family Affair boasts an extremely credible creative team.  The book was co-written by brothers, James Goldman (Follies, The Lion in Winter) and William Goldman (Tenderloin, The Princess Bride).  James Goldman also wrote lyrics with composer, John Kander, his first ever Broadway gig.  The source material drew on no inspiration, instead capping off on the traditions of the "unconventional family" comedy.

Productions

A Family Affair was originally planned to star Gertrude Berg and be directed by Jerome Robbins.  Instead, an out-of-town tryout opened in Philadelphia with direction by Word Baker, who, at the time, had recently brought The Fantasticks to the stage.  However, everything soon fell to shambles, and Harold Prince, then only a theatre producer, was brought in to replace Baker.

Connect

Billing

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.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
 
Book, Music and Lyrics by
JAMES GOLDMAN, JOHN KANDER and WILLIAM GOLDMAN
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited

Included Materials

ItemQuantity Included
LIBRETTO15
PIANO CONDUCTOR'S SCORE2
VOCAL BOOK15

Production Resources

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

STANDARD ORCHESTRATION

InstrumentationDoubling
BASS
CELLO
GUITARBANJO , GUITAR
HARP
HORN
PERCUSSIONBELLS , COWBELL , TRIANGLE , TYMPANI , VIBRAPHONE , WOOD BLOCK , XYLOPHONE
REED 1ALTO SAXOPHONE , Bb CLARINET , Eb CLARINET , FLUTE , PICCOLO
REED 2ALTO SAXOPHONE , CLARINET , FLUTE , PICCOLO
REED 3CLARINET , ENGLISH HORN , OBOE , TENOR SAXOPHONE
REED 4Bb CLARINET , BASS CLARINET , BASS SAXOPHONE , BASSOON , FLUTE
TROMBONE
TRUMPET
TRUMPET 3
VIOLIN