Directors' Choice Award Winner
I DON’T DO CLUB DATES
Book & Lyrics by Isidore Elias, Music by Randy Klein
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PLACE: Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, TIME: 1971
Club dates are the least glamorous aspect of the music industry. Weddings, bar mitzvahs, sweet sixteens, testimonial dinners - these are the venues in which club date musicians get to display their talents. A club date musician is like an artist who paints signs for a living, a dancer who teaches aerobics, a doctor who works for an HMO. The work requires a high degree of skill. Professional gratification is nil. But it's a living.
Noel is worried; he fears that the Lunts will be forgotten unless he can write a great ending. The Lunts reveal their inner pain to Noel but make him promise that he won’t include any of it in the musical he’s writing. Noel realizes that he has to abandon the project - The Lunts have to create an ending for themselves.
I Don't Do Club Dates takes place in this rarely-examined world. It's the story of Artie Bonay, a popular bandleader who desperately wants to get out of club dates. He longs to be a pop singer, but his only effort to that end is singing with a doo-wop band, the Gigolos, in his spare time. Club dates dominate his existence.
Financial insecurity isn't the only reason Artie can't break away. He works for his father, Red Bonano, and is essential to the health of the business. If Artie quits, he ruins his dad.
Red is a crusty old piano player who, like Artie, was a highly sought-after bandleader in his youth. Now, with a bad heart, he limits his activities to running a small club date office and is entirely dependent on Artie to attract bookings. He dreams of passing the business on to his son, retiring to Pompano Beach and living off a share of the profits. Unfortunately, the business doesn't presently generate enough revenue to make fulfillment of that dream possible.
Red's opportunity comes when a caterer (Frances) offers him an exclusive contract to provide music for the Abracadabra Manor, her opulent new multi-ballroom facility. To get the gig, the band must favorably impress her partners at the Manor's first affair - a wedding. Frances has seen Artie in action and thinks he’d be perfect for the job.
To Red’s dismay and fury, Artie isn’t interested. The Gigolos have been offered a record deal and a tour and he’s not about to blow this opportunity for anything.
Artie changes his mind when he chances to meet the bride-to-be (Sheila), who he falls hopelessly in love with after they share a night of delicious indiscretion. He begs her to call off the wedding. She, however, is determined to go through with it.
Artie is equally determined to stop it and tells Red he'll play the gig after all. The result is a caterer's nightmare. Artie neglects his duties on the bandstand and the leaderless band goes on a musical rampage. The bride and groom have a fist fight. The guests panic. Artie and Sheila are about to run off together when Red collapses onstage trying to get control of the musicans. Terrified, Artie returns to help his father, but Red insists he “finish the song” instead.
Artie honors his wish as his father is carried off the bandstand.
ARTIE: Early 30s. Band leader specializing in weddings and bar mitvahs. Pop tenor.
RED: Mid 60s. Artie's father. Former bandleader. Has ailing heart, drinking problem. Character baritone.
MAY: Early 40s. Red's secretary. Accepted her job on the promise that she'd one day be permitted to sing on a club date. Still waiting. Legit soprano.
FRANCES: Mid 50s. Owner of an extravagant new catering hall. Alto.
BRUNO: Early 40s. Frances' son and partner. His wedding is to be the first affair catered at the Abracadabra Manor hall. Sees it as an opportunity to promote the business. Legit tenor.
SHEILA: Late 20s. Bruno's fianceé. A singer/songwriter making a living as a lounge singer. Sees the wedding as an opportunity to showcase her original material. High alto.
MORTY: Mid-60s. Red's long-time rival. Runs one of the most successful club date offices in the business. Character baritone.
DREW (Orchestra): Early 30s. Artie's guitarist. Also a member of Artie's bar band. Tenor.
BUDDY (Orchestra): Early 40s. Artie's drummer. Veteran club date musician. "Really" a jazzer. Bass.
LENNY (Orchestra): Mid 30s. Artie's pianist. Veteran club date musician. "Really" a classical pianist. Tenor.
CHORUS: Assorted party guests, clients, waiters, waitresses, etc. 2 tenors, 2 sopranos.
ORCHESTRA: Onstage for entire performance. BUDDY, LENNY and DREW are actual members.
Cast size: 14. (Principals: 2M, 1F; Secondary: 2M, 2F; Talking band members: 3M; Chorus: 2M, 2F)
Running time: 2 hours, 15 min
Small production: Piano
Medium production: Piano, bass, drums/percussion, second keyboard with synthesizers
Large production: Traditional big band
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