Let 'Em Eat Cake
In the sequel to "Of Thee I Sing," the administration is back with a vengeance in the Gershwins' spoof of political ideology.
Show Essentials
+ Ensemble

Full Synopsis

Act One

A presidential campaign is being waged on an American main street. The voters are choosing between the incumbent, John P. Wintergreen, and a newcomer, John P. Tweedledee. Wintergreen, who originally ran for the White House on a campaign of love, is flanked by pictures of his twin children on his campaign banner. Tweedledee is flanked by twin question marks. Their supporters sing at each other in an increasingly loud volume ("Opening: Act I").

General Adam Snookfield and Miss Trixie Flynn, a member of Snookfield's entourage, are listening to the election results. Trixie is distressed because an Admiral who was supposed to appear as a date for her friend, Daisy, calls to say that he is not coming. Secretary of the Navy Gilhooley, Secretary of Agriculture Lippman, Senator Carver Jones, Senator Robert E. Lyons and Secretary of State Fulton enter with their wives. The General explains that his wife was unable to attend and introduces Trixie as his "collaborator." She continues to fret about Daisy's lack of a date. Mary Wintergreen enters, followed by President Wintergreen. The radio announces a landslide victory for Tweedledee. Wintergreen calls in the Supreme Court and asks them to throw out the election results. The Court refuses and goes off with Trixie to be Daisy's date. Fulton indicates that he is already in the Tweedledee Camp and leaves. The others plan their futures, a distinctly unpleasant prospect, as the Depression is in full swing. Vice President Throttlebottom appears, wearing a party hat to celebrate his re-election. He is, as usual, the last to be informed.

John and Mary Wintergreen and the others decide to go into the shirt-making business when everyone becomes excited by the blue shirt that Mary has made for 50 cents. The new business will be located in New York City's Union Square. Throttlebottom will underwrite the new shirt-manufacturing business with $5000.

The business is established in a Union Square store front. A sign reads "John P. Wintergreen & Co., Creators of the Original Maryblue Shirt." The two adjoining stores are boarded up. A procession of citizens enter Union Square carrying banners ("Union Square"). A group of radicals, led by a malcontent named Kruger, enters. Kruger presents his agenda: "Down with everything that's up!" A fight breaks out. When Gilhooley, who is now a policeman, appears, the crowd instantly becomes agreeable, bursts into an idyllic song and leaves, arm in arm.

Gilhooley stops to chat with Wintergreen, who tells him that business is horrible. Gilhooley says that they are lucky to be out of the White House. Nobody is working; even the Post Office has closed. Throttlebottom appears carrying a sandwich board advertising the shirt company. They are joined by Mary, Jones, Lyons and Lippman, reporingt back from visits to the West, the South and the bank that help is not on the way. The business is bankrupt. Former newspaper magnate, Secretary of State Fulton, appears dressed as a poor newsboy. Kruger reappears and begins talking about revolution. Wintergreen suddenly has a brilliant idea. He will sell revolution with his shirts. Everyone who buys a Maryblue shirt will be promised a revolution – or get their money back. He says, "We'll give the country back to the people."

Inside the New Store, business is bustling. There are piles and piles of blue shirts. Salesgirls and customers exchange comments about the popularity of the shirts ("Store Scene"). Fulton, Jones, Lyons and Lippman report brisk sales around the country. Gilhooley, still a policeman, enters. Wintergreen says that his next step is to involve the Army. Kruger, who is helping Wintergreen's cause, says that, as soon as Wintergreen gets back into power, he will work to get him out. He's always against the fellow who's in. Wintergreen thinks that he would like to have the revolution on July Fourth. General Snookfield and Trixie enter. He refuses to join the revolution – he is a member of the Union League Club and knows that they would not approve. Wintergreen learns that Throttlebottom's uncle is an attendant at the club. He sends his reluctant former vice president to sell shirts to the club membership, enlisting their support for the revolution.

A group of ancient gentlemen are asleep in easy chairs at The Union League Club. They rouse themselves to sing "Union League." Throttlebottom and his ancient Uncle William enter with a pile of shirts. After Throttlebottom finally gets the members to wake up, they think that he is saying that we are fighting the British again; they immediately buy shirts and enlist ("Come the Revolution").

The General and Wintergreen are leading an Army to Washington ("On and on and On"). They stop along the road. Wintergreen and the General plot to seize the president as he gives a speech at nine o'clock.

A Fourth of July celebration is in progress on the White House lawn ("Finale – Act I"). General Snookfield addresses the crowd, followed by President Tweedledee. Trixie signals the General that it's time to leave for their party with Daisy. Tweedledee drones on. The General indicates to the president that the party is starting and leaves. Wintergreen and the Army seize power from the president with support of the president's own men. Wintergreen takes power, and Kruger begins to rail against him. Wintergreen promises the people, not just their daily bread, but cake. The flag of the revolution, a white banner with a blue shirt emblazoned on it, is flown. Rockets burst. Cannons boom.

Act Two

The White House has become the Blue House. Even the portraits on the walls now wear blue shirts. The company sings about the new regime ("Opening – Act II"). Wintergreen ordains that there should be a new Mickey Mouse every day, not once a month. He also orders Mae West to replace George Washington on the postage stamp. It becomes apparent that Wintergreen is becoming more and more of a dictator. He has merged all newspapers into one. The Supreme Court appears in chains, asking to be pardoned. Wintergreen agrees and orders them to become a baseball team. The General appears, saying that he has lost the Army, as well as Trixie. Wintergreen, figuring that Trixie and the Army might be togther, suggests that Snookfield look for both of them under Snookfield's bed. Left alone, Wintergreen practices walking like Napoleon. Mary enters. She is meeting with the new D.A.R. that she has just organized. She tells the Daughters her new rules for Revoltionary Bridge. They leave as Throttlebottom appears. Wintergreen and his henchmen are nervous about Throttlebottom. They don't include him in their plans anymore, but Wintergreen feels an allegiance to him. Wintergreen makes him the umpire to the Supreme Court baseball team. Kruger enters. He has joined the Army and wants his share of the war debt. The League of Nations enters with a group of pretty female interpreters ("The League of Nations"). Finland pays its war debt, which Wintergreen hands over to Kruger for the Army. However, the other countries refuse to pay. When Wintergreen realizes that there are nine countries involved, he organizes them into a team. The League Team will challenge the Supreme Court Team. If they lose, they'll pay – double or nothing

The Supreme Court team is outside of the Ball Park ("Up and at 'Em"). Kruger tells Throttlebottom that the Blue Shirt Supreme Court team has to win or Throttlebottom will end up dead. Throttlebottom unsuccessfully tries to get out of being an umpire.

A trial is taking place in a military courtroom. Wintergreen presides in a judicial robe and wig. Throttlebottom is accused of allowing the enemy to win the ball game ("The Trial of Throttlebottom"). Throttlebottom is convicted and sentenced to be executed by guillotine. The Army demands to be paid. Kruger reprises "Union Square," realizing that the Army will support him now. He puts on Wintergreen's wig and places the president on trial ("Trial of Wintergreen"). Wintergreen, Gilhooley, Lippman, Jones, Lyons and Fulton are sentenced to be beheaded. Mary and the wives try to save them by announcing that they are all expecting babies. The ploy fails, and the convicted men are marched off. Trixie appears, followed by sailors. Kruger may have the Army, but she has the Navy. They decide to rule together ("First Lady and First Gent").

A happy crowd, dressed in blue, is forming at the guillotine ("They're Hanging Throttlebottom in the Morning"). Kruger and Daisy review the events of the day. The executions will be followed by a band concert and lunch. The guillotine is unveiled and proves to be painted in bright colors. General Snookfield is to be the executioner. Throttlebottom is first, but Snookfield can't figure out how to work the guillotine. Mary appears with the wives to do a fashion show ("Fashion Show"). The assembled women love the dresses but can't wear them because the revolutionary color is blue. The women declare the revolution ended. Wintergreen and his cronies decide to retire from revolting to become dress manufacturers. They restore the Republic and reappoint Tweedledee. They make Throttlebottom vice president because Tweedledee can't remember the name of his vice president. But Tweedledee can't be president – after the revolution, he accepted a position as President of Cuba. Therefore, Throttlebottom is now president. He promises to give the people pistachio ice cream instead of cake ("Finale Ultimo").



Cast Size: Flexible Cast Size
Cast Type: Ensemble Cast
Dance Requirements: None

Character Breakdown

General Adam Snookfield
A very decorated General in the army. Full of machismo. He is a stern man with a strong personality, though he is fickle and easily persuaded.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 45
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: D4
Trixie Flynn
Completely oblivious to the world of politics. General Snookfield's mistress, she is lighthearted, frivolous, and a bit dim.
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 30
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: D4
Francis Gilhooley
Begins as the Secretary of the Navy. Becomes a policeman. He is a no-nonsense and down-to-business type. Often blunt and sarcastic.
Gender: male
Age: 45 to 55
Louis Lippman
Begins as the Secretary of Agriculture. He is an idea man. A motivator. Ever-practical and enthused.
Gender: male
Age: 45 to 55
Senator Carver Jones
A seasoned Senator. He's seen it all and understands the system. Will always be a politician at heart.
Gender: male
Age: 60 to 70
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Matthew Arnold Fulton
Begins as the Secretary of State but eventually becomes a newsboy. He is loyal only to himself and not to one particular candidate. Plays the game. Levelheaded and matter-of-fact.
Gender: male
Age: 45 to 55
Mary Wintergreen
Wife of former President, John P. Wintergreen. Well-spoken and well mannered. A loving wife and mother. At times a worrier, yet strong-willed.
Gender: female
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: A5
Vocal range bottom: A3
John P. Wintergreen
Young, handsome and charming. A positive thinker, he is driven by the need to be on top and in power. Confident and relaxed. A loving husband to his wife, Mary.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: B3
Alexander Throttlebottom
Begins as the Vice President of the USA. He is chipper and full of energy. Overly eager, though not exactly bright. Gullible and impressionable, he lacks a backbone. He is the outcast of the group.
Gender: male
Age: 40 to 50
Vocal range top: F5
Vocal range bottom: C4
Leader of the radicals. He is headstrong and outspoken, against "the system," and revolts for the sake of revolting against whomever is in power.
Gender: male
Age: 30 to 40
Vocal range top: G5
Vocal range bottom: B3
John P. Tweedledee
A bachelor and newcomer on the ballot for President. He a very kind soul but is not qualified to be President. Lazy and uninformed.
Gender: male
Age: 35 to 45
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: A3
Wintergreen Crowd; Tweedledee Crowd; Supreme Court Justices; Radicals; Salesgirls; Customers; Union League Club Members; Blue Shirt Troops; Dignitaries; Flunkeys; Soldiers; Daughters Of The American Revolution; Interpreters; League Of Nations Representatives; Newspaper Photographers
Full Song List
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Tweedledee For President
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Union Square
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Comes The Revolution
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Store Scene
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Union League
Let 'Em Eat Cake: On And On And On
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Finale Act I - All The Mothers Of The Nation
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Let 'Em Eat Cake
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Opening Act II - Blue, Blue, Blue
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Who's The Greatest?
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Up And At 'Em
Let 'Em Eat Cake: No Comprenez, No Capish, No Versteh!
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Why Speak Of Money (When There's Love, Love, Love)
Let 'Em Eat Cake: First Lady And First Gent
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Hanging Throttlebottom In The Morning
Let 'Em Eat Cake: I Know A Foul Ball
Let 'Em Eat Cake: Throttle Throttlebottom

Show History


Current scholars herald Let 'Em Eat Cake as the third in a history-making political trilogy that began with Strike up the Band, followed by the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama, Of Thee I Sing. Let 'Em Eat Cake is inspired by current events of the time period in which it was written (the 1930s), with its thinly veiled references to Hitler's Brown Shirts, totalitarianism and anarchy.


Let 'Em Eat Cake opened October 21, 1933, at the Imperial Theatre after no preview performances. Because America was still in the throes of the Great Depression, Let 'Em Eat Cake suffered from slow ticket sales when audiences found themselves penny-pinching through hard times.  It played 90 performances and closed on January 6, 1934.

The property languished for years, until 1987, when a renewal of interest in all things George and Ira Gershwin brought Of Thee I Sing and Let 'Em Eat Cake to the Brooklyn Academy of Music for a wildly successful series of concert performances with Larry Kert, Maureen McGovern and Jack Gilford.

Opera North, the renowned English opera company based in Leeds, staged the Let 'Em Eat Cake along with a revival of Of Thee I Sing, during its 2008-9 season.

Cultural Influence

  • A concert version of Let 'Em Eat Cake was performed on BBC Radio in 1994. The cast included Denis Quilley, Kim Criswell, Joss Ackland, Henry Goodman and Louise Gold.
  • The Opera North production was broadcast again by BBC Radio 3 on Saturday, September 26, 2009, as part of BBC's "Opera on 3" series.
  • Original Studio recordings of Of Thee I Sing and Let 'Em Eat Cake were released together in 1987. The singers included members of the BAM cast: Larry Kert, Maureen McGovern and Jack Gilford.
  • Let 'Em Eat Cake writers, George S. Kaufman and George and Ira Gerswhin, are some of the most storied names in the history of American theatre. Kaufman is known for such classics as the plays, You Can't Take It With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner and Merrily We Roll Along, from which the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical is adapted. The Gershwin brothers are both household names in theatre and popular music of the 1920s and 30s and wrote the groundbreaking American folk opera, Porgy and Bess.


  • Several musical themes from Of Thee I Sing are reused in Let 'Em Eat Cake, including the Supreme Court Judges' song and the campaign song, "Wintergreen for President," which includes parts of folk and patriotic songs, such as John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever," and "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here."
  • Many of the same characters from Of Thee I Sing reappear in Let 'Em Eat Cake, and several of the actors from the Broadway production of Of Thee I Sing reprised their roles in the Broadway production of Let 'Em Eat Cake;  for example, William Gaxton played J.P. Wintergreen and Victor Moore played Alexander Throttlebottom in both productions.
  • The song, "First Lady and First Gent," was cut from Let 'Em Eat Cake before it made it to Broadway.
  • The Broadway production was directed by the show's co-bookwriter, George S. Kaufman. Let 'Em Eat Cake was the last Broadway musical that the Gershwins wrote (Porgy and Bess came afterwards, but is largely considered an opera rather than a musical).




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