Spring in New York, 1959. Evening. The scene is Shubert Alley, outside the Shubert Theatre, Broadway's famed house of
hits. But not tonight. Because the curtain has just come down on producer Max Bialystock's latest fiasco, a musical version
of Hamlet, called Funny Boy (OPENING NIGHT). Later the same evening, Max, crushed but undaunted, stands in Shubert Alley surrounded
by a ragtag chorus of after-midnight Broadway denizens. Angrily, he announces that he once was - and will be again - THE KING
A few days later, a nerdy, timid accountant, Leo Bloom, shows up at Max's office to do his books. Leo
casually notes that a producer could actually make more money with a flop than with a hit. "You could raise a million dollars,
put on a hundred thousand dollar failure, and keep the rest for yourself." Max immediately seizes upon this idea and implores
Leo to join him in this bold - albeit slightly illegal - scheme (WE CAN DO IT). Back at his desk in the miserably Dickensian
accounting firm where he earns fifty dollars a week, Leo drifts into a fantasy, in which he is a famed Broadway impresario
surrounded by a bevy of gorgeous chorus girls (I WANNA BE A PRODUCER).
After quitting his job, Leo hurries off to join
Max in his office. They go into business together as "Bialystock & Bloom, Theatrical Producers". The partners' first order
of business: Find the worst play ever written. They find it. A disaster, a catastrophe, a guaranteed-to-close-in-one-night
beauty, Springtime for Hitler, A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden, written by a nutsy neo-Nazi playwright and
pigeon fancier named Franz Liebkind. We now meet Liebkind on the rooftop of his Greenwich Village tenement, as he reminisces
with his homing pigeons about the good old days IN OLD BAVARIA. When Max and Leo now turn up on the rooftop, Franz is overjoyed
that they wish to produce his play on Broadway. He refuses to permit them to do so, however, until they agree to join him
in singing and dancing Hitler's favourite tune, DER GUTEN TAG HOP-CLOP. Max and Leo hop, clop and ultimately depart with Franz's
signature on a Broadway contract.
Next stop, the Upper East Side townhouse of Broadway's worst director, Roger de Bris
and his "common-law assistant" Carmen Ghia. Roger wants nothing to do with Springtime - "World War Two? Too dark, too depressing!"
- and is joined by Carmen and his production team in proclaiming his credo: KEEP IT GAY. Roger is finally persuaded by Max
and Leo to direct Springtime. Back in the office, triumphant, with the Broadway rights to the worst play ever written and
a signed contract with the worst director who ever lived, Max and Leo are visited by a knockout of a Swedish blonde named
Ulla. She wishes to audition for them, and audition she does, all over the office (WHEN YOU GOT IT, FLAUNT IT). Next stop,
the money. Max sets out to raise two million dollars by launching himself into Little Old Lady Land. His description of how
he does "it" (ALONG CAME BIALY) segues into a full-company Act One finale celebrating Bialystock & Bloom's forthcoming
Broadway production of Springtime for Hitler, "a new new-Nazi musical".
Act Two opens in Bialystock & Bloom's office,
now totally redone by Ulla in Swedish-modern. When Ulla and Leo are left alone by Max, they reveal their mutual stirrings
of love (THAT FACE). Auditions. Who will play the coveted role of Adolf Hitler? Franz Liebkind sweeps away all other contenders
with his razzamatazz Broadway rendition of the ever-popular HABEN SIE GEHORT DAS DEUTSCHE BAND?
Once again outside
the Shubert Theatre - this time it is OPENING NIGHT (REPRISE) for Springtime for Hitler. Leo commits a huge theatrical gaffe
when he innocently wishes everyone "good luck". Roger, Carmen and Franz, aghast, immediately explain to him that YOU NEVER
SAY GOOD LUCK ON OPENING NIGHT. Meanwhile, Max, to ensure failure, is sneakily saying "good luck" to everyone in sight. As
bad luck would have it, Franz breaks his leg, and Roger nervously agrees to go on as Hitler in his place. Now onstage at the
Shubert Theatre, Roger, as Hitler, leads the company in a spirited salute to the Third Reich (SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER). Disaster!
It's a success! The critics love Springtime, calling it "a satirical masterpiece", "a surprise smash" and "the best musical
of the decade". Stunned and bewildered, Max and Leo stagger back to their office where they recite their litany of woe: WHERE
DID WE GO RIGHT? Max is arrested, and Leo scrams to Rio with Ulla and the two million dollars.
Alone in a jail cell
awaiting trial, Max is crushed to get a postcard from Leo and Ulla cheerfully letting him know what a great time they are
having without him. Tossing aside the card, Max vents his anger and dismay (BETRAYED). A courtroom. Max has been found guilty
and is about to be sentenced when Leo bursts in, back from Rio to turn himself in and take his place at Max's side. Why did
he come back? Because in Rio - even though he had Ulla and two million dollars, everything he'd ever dreamed of - he realized
what Max really meant to him ('TIL HIM). Max and Leo are together again, and will be for some time to come. They've been sentenced
to five years in Sing Sing. In Sing Sing, Max and Leo put on their all-singing, all-dancing, all-convict production, Prisoners
of Love. Good news! Having brought "joy and laughter into the hearts of every murdere, rapist and sex maniac in Sing Sing",
the governor has granted them a full pardon! They're free! Next stop, Broadway!
The stage of the Shubert. The Broadway
version of Bialystock & Bloom's PRISONERS OF LOVE is reprised in all its glitzy glory, starring Roger de Bris and a chorus
of gorgeous, scantily-clad girl convicts. Finally, the scene is once again Shubert Alley, where Max and Leo, on top of the
world as Broadway's most successful producers, celebrated to the tune of PRISONERS OF LOVE (LEO & MAX). Happy at last,
they walk off into the sunset as the final curtain falls. At the end of the bows, Max and Leo lead the entire company in a
final farewell (GOODBYE!).