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American Tales

Excellent new musical. Critic's choice!

The Los Angeles Times

Extraordinary...skillful and unusually thoughtful...succeeds brilliantly.


  • Full Length Musical
  • Dramatic Comedy
  • 90 minutes

  • Time Period: 19th Century
  • Target Audience: Appropriate for all audiences
  • Set Requirements: Bare Stage/Simple Set
  • Cautions: No Special Cautions
  • Orchestra Size: Small/Combo

  • Performance Group:
  • Dinner Theatre, Community Theatre, High School/Secondary, Professional Theatre, Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups, College Theatre / Student

  • Accolades:
  • Winner! Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre
American Tales features two classic American stories by Mark Twain and Herman Mellville. Set to 'skillful and unusually thoughtful' (Variety) music, this musical played to sold out crowds in Los Angeles and was awarded the Kleban Award for excellence. 

Act I, The Loves of Alonzo Fitz Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton, is from Mark Twain's story of two people falling in love at a great distance with the aid of that brand-new invention, the telephone. Alonzo in Maine and Rosannah in California meet by the accident of crossed wires and each falls in love with an imagined ideal of the other. So complete is their self-deception that even when brought face to face they cannot recognize each other. Love is found, lost, and found again. Played as period melodrama, but the relevance to 21st century dating habits is clear.

Act II, Bartleby, the Scrivener, is dramatized from Herman Melville's slyly funny but ultimately tragic story. Building on the theme of human connections made and missed, this act takes a darker turn, looking at people who occupy the closest of quarters and yet don't really communicate at all. Bartleby, employed as a copyist in a law office of the 1840s, inexplicably begins to refuse to work, forcing his colleagues to ask themselves the transforming question that ends the play: What do we owe to the people who come into our lives?


CRITIC'S CHOICE! Excellent new musical.' -  The Los Angeles Times'Extraordinary...skillful and unusually thoughtful...succeeds brilliantly.


CRITIC'S PICK! Marvelous adaptations...stylish and enthralling...haunting score...brilliant.' -  Backstage'Striking...absolutely first rate work.

EDGE Los Angeles
Premiere Production: American Tales was originally produced by The Antaeus Company, John Apicella and Jeanie Hackett, Co-Artistic Directors, in North Hollywood, California.
  • Casting: 4M, 1F
  • Casting Attributes: Reduced casting (Doubling Possible), Ensemble cast, Flexible casting, Expandable casting, Color blind casting
  • Chorus Size: Small

  • ACT I - The Loves of Alonzo Fitz Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton
    ALONZO FITZ CLARENCE - a poetic soul, an idle young man transformed by true love into a tireless, steadfast lover
    ROSANNAH ETHELTON - a lovely young woman of high spirits and high ideals
    SIDNEY ALGERNON BURLEY - an unwelcome suitor to Rosannah, a born villain
    DOCTOR - a compassionate man of middle age, owner of a private madhouse in New York
    UNCLE CHARLES - uncle of Rosannah, middle-aged, missionary in Honolulu
    MAID - (Doubled by "Uncle Charles") an old and sour retainer at Rosannah's house

  • ACT II - Bartelby, The Scrivener
    THE LAWYER - 55, affluent and self-satisfied
    BARTELBY - a fairly young man, enigmatic, turned almost entirely in upon himself
    TURKEY - clerk, an Englishman near 60, something of a drinker
    NIPPERS - clerk about 25, high-strung and restless
    GINGER NUT - 12, law student, errand boy, sweeper, most often a brat