1929 West End
Bitter Sweet the Musical - PLOT SYNOPSIS
In 1929, the elderly and widowed, but still lively, Marchioness of Shayne is holding a party at her home in London to celebrate the impending society marriage of a young woman, Dolly Chamberlain, who is in love not with her fiancé but with a poor musician ("That Wonderful Melody"). Dolly is torn between love and fortune, and Lady Shane is reminded of her own youth ("The Call of Life").
Nearly 55 years earlier, in 1875, Lady Shayne is the young Sarah Millick, a wealthy London society debutante, who is having a singing lesson with her dashing music teacher, Carl Linden. The spirited Sarah is engaged to Lord Hugh, a wealthy but stuffy young nobleman, but Sarah and Carl have fallen in love ("If You Could Only Come With Me"). Carl's integrity makes him decide not to ruin Sarah's 'proper' life and return directly to his native Austria, but vows to think of Sarah each Spring ("I'll See You Again"). At the pre-wedding party, Sarah realises she would be unhappy with Lord Hugh and that true love is more important ("What Is Love?"). Carl is entertaining at the party ("The Last Dance"). Later, during a game of blindman's buff, Carl and Sarah declare their mutual love and decide to elope to Vienna.
Five years later, in Vienna, Carl is a bandleader, and Sarah (now called Sari), sings his songs, but their employment at Schlick's Café, a racy establishment patronised by army officers and whores, requires Sari to dance with the patrons, and perhaps more ("Ladies of the Town"). Carl's previous lover, Manon La Crevette, entertains at the café and expresses feelings of lost love ("If Love Were All"). Sari and Carl plan to quit and find their dream café ("Dear Little Café"), but it's a busy night ("Tokay"), and after Manon's number ("Bonne Nuit, Merci"), Sari is obliged to dance with an army captain who makes a determined pass, provoking Carl to intervene. The captain challenges him to a duel, which he wins easily, killing Carl; Sari is distraught, as Manon reprises a sad waltz number ("Kiss Me").
Thirteen years pass, and in 1893 London it is the Gay Nineties ("Ta Ra Ra Boom De Ay"; "Green Carnation"). The young ladies are now respectable society matrons ("Alas! The Time is Past"). Sari, now a Viennese star singing Carl's music ("Zigeuner"), is pursued by the Marquis of Shayne, who seeks to restore her youthful spirit. He has proposed to her in every European capital, and now home in London, she finally accepts him, but reprises "I'll See You Again" to her lost love, Carl.
Again at the 1929 party, Dolly, inspired by Lady Shane's story of love pursued and lost, rejects her society fiancé and declares her love for the poor musician, whose reaction is to burst into a syncopated piano rendition of "I'll See You Again" as the heartbroken Sarah gives way to bitter mirth.
Review: Bitter Sweet the Musical Lyrics