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Happy End (English adaptation by Michael Feingold)(Adapted by Michael Feingold)

Play with music, in three acts. Original German book by Elisabeth Hauptmann ("Dorothy Lane"). Lyrics by Bertolt Brecht. English adaptation by Michael Feingold.

Work Details


An adaptation of

Happy End


Full Evening, 40 minutes music

First Performance

6 April 1972, New Haven, Yale Repertory Theatre, Michael Posnick, dir., Thomas Fay, cond.

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Act I

After a choral prologue sung by the company (), the action begins in Bill’s Beer Hall in Chicago, as Bill Cracker’s criminal gang plots their next caper. When Bill arrives, he confirms that a big heist is coming up under the direction of his boss, The Fly. The gang celebrates upon hearing the news (). The Fly enters and asks Bill to light her cigarette, the signal that Bill is expendable and needs to be killed, as the gang looks on in shock. After Bill exits, the next scene opens as the Salvation Army, led by Lilian Holiday, marches into the bar (). They try to convert the sinners (); when the gang ridicules Lilian, she stands up to them bravely. Nonetheless, only Bill’s entrance saves her from further insult. When he orders the Army out of the bar, she stays. Then Bill dismisses the rest of the gang and brings Lilian a drink. She tries to guide him to salvation first with a Bible story, then a racy song (). Unfortunately, the Army members return as she finishes the song, and she is disgraced. Then a cop enters and arrests Bill for a shooting that took place while they were alone together. Lilian, fearing further scandal, refuses to back up his alibi.

Act II

Lilian faces her superiors at the Salvation Army and manages to restore her reputation, until the cop enters and Lilian admits that she had been alone with Bill when the shooting occurred. She is summarily dismissed, even though her replacements cannot match her fervor or intelligence. As they begin the nightly service (), the scene shifts to Bill’s bar, where his second-in-command, the Governor, explains why Bill had to be framed for murder (). We return to the mission, where the service continues (). Bill enters and decides to stay (), even though Lilian isn’t there. The scene changes back to the bar; Lilian enters and informs the gang members that Bill is out of jail, so the gang members dash back to the mission to do him in. The Governor enters the mission, gun drawn, and tells the Army members to keep going (). He forces Bill outside at gunpoint, and a struggle and gunshot are heard offstage. Bill dashes inside and leaves through the back window as Lilian returns.


Christmas Eve. The gang, minus the Governor, assembles in the bar (). The Fly’s voice comes in through a gramophone to give instructions and dispense alibis for the big heist that night. As the gang exits, Lilian comes in for one more try to save Bill (). Bill is moved but won’t admit it (“Song of the Big Shot” reprise) as the Fly sneaks in the back door and looks on. Bill realizes he has failed to fulfill his assignment and rushes out. Lilian, in despair, resolves to return to the Salvation Army. The gang enters, flushed with success, until they realize that Bill failed to pick up the loot. Then the Fly reveals that she has it, and that Bill must die before he blows the whistle on the gang (). Lilian returns to the Salvation Army, but they spurn her; likewise with Bill when he arrives. Lilian appeals to their Christian spirit, without success, until the gang members enter to finish Bill off. Then the cop returns to arrest the gang for bank robbery and Bill for murder. But he fails–the Governor reappears with only a slight wound, and the gang members recite their alibis. Midnight strikes, and the Fly walks in. As she points her gun at Bill, one of the Salvation Army members recognizes her as his long-lost wife. She donates the loot to the Salvation Army as Bill and Lilian announce their engagement, and the gang decides to join the Salvation Army so they can fight their common enemy, heartless capitalists (“Lieutenants of the Lord” reprise).

  • Prologue - Hosannah Rockefeller
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  • The Bilbao Song
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  • Lieutenants of the Lord (I)
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  • March Ahead
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  • The Sailors' Tango
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  • Brother, Give Yourself a Shove
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  • Song of the Big Shot
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  • Don't Be Afraid
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  • In Our Childhood's Bright Endeavor
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  • The Liquor Dealer's Dream
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  • The Mandalay Song
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  • Surabaya Johnny
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  • Ballad of the Lily of Hell
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  • Finale: Lieutenants of the Lord (II)

  • Cast

    • Singing Roles

      • Bill Cracker (high baritone)
      • Sam Wurlitzer (baritone)
      • Captain Hannibal Jackson (tenor)
      • Dr. Nakamura (baritone)
      • Johnny Flint (baritone
      • Lieutenant Lilian Holiday (soprano),
      • A Lady in Gray (mezzo-soprano)
      • Sister Jane (mezzo)
      • Chorus, SATB
    • Non-Singing Roles

      • Jimmy Dexter
      • Bob Marker
      • Miriam
      • Major Stone
      • Sister Mary
      • Brother Ben Owens
  • Instrumentation

    • Alto saxophone (picc, fl, cl)
    • Tenor saxophone (bar. sax, cl)
    • Trumpet
    • Trombone
    • Banjo (Hawaiian guitar or mandolin, bandoneon or accordion, bass guitar)
    • Percussion (2nd tpt)
    • Piano (harmonium)

English text and lyrics
Samuel French, SF 10019

Piano-vocal score
(German-English, 1976), Universal Edition, UE 11685

Study score
(German-English, 1981), Universal Edition, UE 17243

  • Happy End 1929

    Play with music, in three acts (in German). Book by Elisabeth Hauptmann ("Dorothy Lane"). Lyrics by Bertolt Brecht.

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