Okay, that wasn't really Act I, but it felt like it to those of us waiting backstage. Overture! Lights! We're on!
Our story begins in Dresden. Susan and I enter, clearly excited about — but not watching — where we're going. So I run into Ryan (as Katz, the bouncer/goon) and bounce off. "Guten Abend, is this Club 21?" I ask, with a please-don't-kill-me smile. After providing the password, we are allowed to enter. Shortly thereafter, we are joined by two of our friends. Thus, I am seated at a table with three lovely women for the longest scene in the show. Life is so hard.
Shortly thereafter, the crowd (at Susan's suggestion) clamors for Golo, the proprietor. He enters and introduces himself, then sings "I Gotta Be There" about his love for social gatherings. It is the big song & dance number of the show.
With that out of the way, the Americans confide to Golo that they're looking to score some soft drinks. "You know," he cautions them, "soft drinks are against the law in Germany." The government thought people weren't drinking enough beer and wine, so they banned them. "You have prohibition, we have inhibition." But assured that they know somebody he trusts, he agrees to serve them. He is a bootlegger, after all.
Then Dickie Carter, a Brit, enters, and insists that Golo is really Michael Bramleigh, British secret agent. Golo advises him to "lay off the lemondade," my cue to clamor for Gita, the speakeasy's Polish chanteuse. Gita makes her entrance in a daring tux-and-tails outfit and informs us that she is the nightingale of Krakow and that she is "seezleenk" tonight. Her song, "The Lorelei" is about a legendary siren of the Rhine river, and how she wants to be "just like that other trollop." It was my favorite song to do, because the harmonies at and around my table were really nice.
After that, we notice a mysterious bearded man at the other table. He orders a cream soda in a Russian accent. Golo is unconvinced. As the "Russian" leaves, Katz recognizes him as Police Commissioner Bauer, and warns Golo that a raid must be imminent. At the same time, I excuse myself from my table and make an unobtrusive exit, because I have to transform, Clark-Kent-like, into my cop character.
Frustrated with Commissioner Bauer's raids, Golo hatches a plot to plant a case of Moxie in Bauer's basement to discredit him. He gets Bauer's address from Katz, and sings "Three Quarter Time" about the importance of waltzes to Germany. At the end of the song, the police burst in. Bauer hits Golo on the head, causing him to transform into Michael Bramleigh. As the rest of the cast freezes, Michael stumbles out, noticing the address he'd been given and deciding that must be where he's headed.
In the next scene, the whole town turns out for Bauer's birthday, but when it transpires that the raid was less than a success (no evidence, no soft drinks confiscated, and the people they put in the station house robbed it), Bauer calls off the celebration. And resigns as Sauerkraut King of 1932. It would have been a good gag to have one of the townsfolk (me) have a "runner-up" sash, and get all excited about my imminent coronation. But I didn't think of it in time to suggest it.
Dr. Steiner discovers Michael collapsed outside Bauer's home, and brings him inside. He awakes to discover the beautiful Frieda Bauer staring at him, and is immediately enchanted, as is she. They sing "Isn't It A Pity" to lament that they didn't meet sooner.
In order to determine whether he's mentally sound enough to marry (there is concern about his head injury), they take him to Dr. Steiner's office, who brings in six sex psychoanalysts: a pair each of Doctors Freud, Jung, and Adler. Each pair is played by one of Joe, Ryan, and Andrew, each holding a fan with a face on it to be their second personality. Accompanying the psychoanalysts are the naughty nurses of our ensemble. Together, they reassure him that he is just as normal as they are — which, you can understand, he doesn't find entirely reassuring — and admonish him (in song) that he can lose his heart, but must "Watch Your Head". But while bidding him farewell, Dr. Steiner pats Michael on the head, transforming him back into Golo.
Golo makes his way back to his gang and hatches a plot to steal the wedding gifts and kidnap Frieda to hold for ransom. Meanwhile, Bauer brings in three detectives from the Dresden Northwest Mounted to guard the wedding gifts, but they are no match for the wily crooks. Gita, disguised as a maid, seduces Bauer and steals the key to the gifts.
Golo finds it easy to kidnap Frieda, because she believes it's Michael, wanting to elope with her. In the process, though, Golo finds himself falling for her. He takes her to an inn, hoping that he gave his gang the slip in the process. Just as he has convinced her (in song) to spend the night with him in spite of their not yet being married, the jealous Gita and the rest of the gang burst in, knock him on the head (transforming him back into Michael), and carry Frieda off.
End Act I.
Commissioner Bauer's troubles aren't over yet. The townspeople, having been deprived of a wedding by the supposed elopement of Michael and Frieda, demand their wedding gifts back in the very politically-incorrect song "No Tickee, No Washee". Since the gifts have been stolen, the people take all Bauer's furniture instead.
At this point, Dickie Carter arrives to ask for Magda's hand in marriage. He sings to her about how he's "The Luckiest Man In The World" to have a girl who's so popular with the gents, and she feels the same about him.
Then the ransom note arrives, followed shortly by Michael, apologizing to Bauer for missing the wedding. Seeing the ransom note, he figures that the gang must have kidnapped Frieda, and decides to go to the speakeasy pretending to be Golo and suggesting that Bauer talk to the note's bearer.
It turns out the note was delivered by Gita, who enters in a stunning gold evening dress and confesses to Bauer that she has fallen in love with him. He would rather not deal with it at the moment, but she is persistent, and they sing and dance "Where You Go I Go".
Back at the club, Michael arrives, but with his British accent is not a very convincing Golo to the gang. He is not helped by the arrival of Dickie and Magda, who greet him as Michael and ask him to be best man at their wedding. Gita demands that he sing his song to prove who he is. In hustling him onto the stage, Katz conks Michael on the head, transforming him into Golo, which enables him to give a convincing performance. Gita kisses him roughly, and he transforms back into Michael, and demands that Frieda be brought out.
Frieda, in a tremendous display of fickleness, first tells Michael (thinking he's Golo) how much she despises him, but when he insists that he's not Golo, she pleads with him to find Golo for her, because (as she sings in the reprise of "Isn't It A Pity") "he's the only love I ever knew."
Michael will not be deterred, and the love song from the inn creeps into his consciousness to help him convince her that she loves him.
Then the cops arrive. The gang panic, but Michael/Golo calms them by playing the violin. Yes. Then, using my head as a battering ram, the cops break through the door. But Katz has a gun, so they can't take action. Michael grabs Bauer's nightstick and knocks Katz out, then Bauer takes it back and knocks out Michael.
The cops celebrate their success briefly, then Dr. Steiner comes in to explain that Michael and Golo are dual personalities. When he comes to, Steiner says, he might be one of them forever. The cast root for their favorite persona in the song "He's Not Himself Just Now", and then Michael starts to wake up.
Frieda and Gita each take a turn trying to jog his memory, but it is Gita who succeeds. Frieda, crushed, asks Dr. Steiner if that means Michael will be Golo forever. Before Steiner can answer, Golo says, "Not on your life, toots!" and grabs Bauer's nightstick, rapping himself on the head, and transforming himself into Michael. Frieda is overjoyed, but Gita is livid.
She grabs the nightstick, but in frustration decides not to hit Michael with it. Instead, she gives her own head a whack, and it turns out that she's really Daisy Tarkington, all-American girl! Bauer asks, "Didn't we meet in Baden-Baden?" and indeed, it seems, they had.
Everyone is happy.
Don't you just wish this scene had been left in?