) is a musical
with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
and a book by John Weidman
. It tells the story of Addison Mizner and his brother Wilson Mizner's adventures across America from the beginning of the 20th century during the
Alaskan Gold rush to the Florida real estate
boom in the 1930s.
1999 workshop in New York
City, the musical (titled Bounce) was produced
in Chicago and Washington,
D.C. in 2003 but did not achieve much success.
revised version of the musical premiered Off-Broadway
in New York in October 2008.
The musical premiered at the New York Theatre Workshop
October through November 1999 under the title Wise Guys
It was directed by Sam Mendes
and Victor Garber
as brothers Addison Mizner
and Wilson Mizner
A legal case involving Scott Rudin
Weidman and Sondheim held up further production, until the case was
resolved. Rewritten and retitled as Bounce,
the show opened on June 20, 2003 at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.
production was directed by Harold
and starred Richard Kind
as Addison and
Wilson Mizner, with Jane Powell
brothers' mother and Michele Pawk
dance–hall girl. The musical then ran at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in October and November 2003 with the Chicago
It received mixed–to–negative reviews and was not
produced in New York.
reading of Bounce was held at the Public Theater on February 6, 2006. Playbill
reported that Eric Schaeffer directed, with Richard Kind
and Bernadette Peters
among the cast.
A new production of the show, titled Road Show
at The Public's Newman
Theater in previews on October 28, 2008, official opening on
November 18, and closing December 28, 2008. John Doyle
is the director and
designer, with Michael Cerveris
brothers Wilson and Addison Mizner respectively, Alma Cuervo as
Mama, Claybourne Elder as Hollis, and William Parry as Papa. This
production won the 2009 Obie Award
Music and Lyrics and the Drama Desk
, Outstanding Lyrics (Sondheim).
The title changes reflect the creators' attempts to hone the show's
story and themes. "Ideally the title is connected to what we hope
the show is about," Weidman says.
(Note: The synopsis here, including the musical numbers, reflects
the show in its most recent incarnation.)After the death of Addison
Mizner, people who knew him, including his estranged lover Hollis
Bessemer, comment on his life and the way he squandered his talents
("Waste"). Addison's brother Wilson appears and speaks to Addison,
who angrily claims that Wilson was the cause of all his failures.
Wilson brushes off Addison's anger and reminds him of the days when
they were a team. The time shifts to Papa Mizner's death at the
beginning of the 20th century. On his deathbed, Papa Mizner charges
his sons with the task of using their gifts to shape America ("It's
In Your Hands Now"), telling them that there's a "road" for them to
follow. Mama Mizner tells the brothers that their family's wealth
has been eaten away by Papa's long illness and advises them to seek
gold in Alaska
; Addison is reluctant, but
goes along with Wilson anyway ("Gold!").
In Alaska, the brothers share a sleeping bag and reminisce about
their childhood ("Brotherly Love"). Wilson leaves to get supplies
while Addison works the claim; away from Addison, Wilson is lured
into a game of poker, which he is initially bad at but masters
quickly. Addison comes to find him, and is shocked to discover that
his brother has become a gambler. Wilson tries to explain his
newfound love of taking risks regardless of what's at stake ("The
Game"), and Addison is almost convinced, but when Wilson stakes
their gold claim in a poker game and wins the saloon in which the
game is taking place, the shade of Papa Mizner appears and tells
Addison that this was not what he had in mind for his sons.
Addison leaves in disgust with his share of Wilson's winnings and
travels around the world searching for business opportunities and a
sense of purpose ("Addison's Trip"). All of his ventures fail due
to bad luck, and he is left with nothing but a collection of
souvenirs -- but the souvenirs inspire him to take up architecture
(so that he can design a house in which to show them off).
Meanwhile, Wilson's businesses in Alaska have failed, and he comes
south in the hopes of getting help from Addison. Addison has only
just begun to practice as an architect, and Wilson seduces and
marries his first client, a rich widow, and fritters away her money
on various flashy endeavours, including promoting fixed boxing
matches and horse races ("That Was A Year"). Although Wilson's
various partners lose out by being associated with him, they remain
fond of him because of the verve and energy with which he lives.
Even Mama Mizner, who is being looked after by Addison and never
receives any visits from Wilson, enjoys reading about Wilson's
exploits, saying that she can live through him ("Isn't He
Something!"). Only Addison remains uncharmed by Wilson, and when
Wilson finally comes back, his resources exhausted, intending to
ask Addison for help, he finds that Mama has died in his absence.
Addison angrily throws Wilson out of the house.
Later, there is a land boom in Florida ("Land Boom!"). Addison
decides to travel to Palm Beach to take advantage of the many rich
people settling there who will be needing to have houses built. On
the train he meets Hollis Bessemer, with whom he is instantly
smitten. Hollis explains his situation: he is the son of a wealthy
industrialist, but he has been cut off by his father for refusing
to enter the family business. His real passion is art, and although
he is not himself talented enough to become an artist, he dreams of
creating an artists' colony in Palm Beach with the help of his
aunt, who is staying there in a hotel ("Talent").
Hollis and Addison arrive at Palm Beach, and Addison shows Hollis's
aunt a plan for a house he proposes to build for her. Impressed,
she agrees and offers to sponsor Hollis's artists' colony. However,
Hollis and Addison, now lovers, are too busy designing resort homes
for the rich ("You") and enjoying each other's company ("The Best
Thing That Ever Has Happened") to follow up on Hollis's original
plan -- until Wilson arrives at Hollis and Addison's house,
destitute and sick ("The Game [Reprise]"). Addison reluctantly
takes him in, and when Wilson has recovered he begins to work on
Hollis, persuading him to be a patron to his newest scheme: to
build a brand-new city in Boca Raton with Wilson as promoter and
Addison as chief architect ("Addison's City").
But Wilson's conman instincts resurge, and he promotes the Boca
Raton real estate scheme with increasingly extravagant and
eventually fraudulent claims, creating a price bubble ("Boca
Raton"). Addison goes along with this, and it is Hollis who finally
puts a stop to both the real estate scheme and his relationship
with Addison. Brought to a state of desperation by all that has
happened, Addison tells Wilson to get out of his life ("Get Out"),
but Wilson responds by saying that Addison doesn't actually want
Wilson to go because he loves him too much ("Go"). Addison admits
that he does love Wilson, but he still wants him to go. Wilson
finally leaves for good.
But not quite, for in the finale (returning to the first scene) all
the characters leave the stage except for Wilson and Addison, and
Wilson realises that he, too, has died. Their differences no longer
mattering enough to keep them apart, the brothers set out together
on the road to eternity -- or, as Wilson calls it, "the greatest
opportunity of all!"
As presented in June 2003 at the Goodman Theatre,
- Act I
- Gold! (Reprise)
- What's Your Rush?
- Next to You
- Addison's Trip Around the World
- What's Your Rush? (Reprise)
- New York Sequence
- The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me
- Isn't He Something?
- Bounce (Reprise)
- Act II
As presented in November 2008 at the Public Theater, New
- The Game
- Addison's City
- Boca Raton
- Last Fight
- Bounce (Reprise)
- It's in Your Hands Now
- Brotherly Love
- The Game
- Addison's Trip
- That Was a Year
- Isn't He Something!
- Land Boom!
- The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened
- The Game (Reprise)
- Addison's City
- Boca Raton
- Get Out
, writing in The New York Times
, praised Ceveris
and Gemignani, and noted that the songs were "...often brisk,
forward-moving songs – with unusually simple and straightforward
lyrics". He further wrote that the musical is a "trimmed-down,
toughened-up and seriously darkened new edition of the musical
formerly known as Bounce
... the show’s greatest interest
for fans of Mr. Sondheim lies in seeing how what was once meant to
be light and buoyant fare has been reshaped into something more
somber. The great living master of the American musical has
returned to the shadows where, artistically at least, he has always
felt most at home."
An original cast recording of the 2003 version (then titled
) was released on May 4, 2004 by Nonesuch Records
An original cast recording of the 2008 Public Theater production
was made by PS Classics
Records, and was released on June 30, 2009.