A Movieland Musical
By Michael Colby and Paul Katz
Singin' in the Rain meets Hollywood Babylon! On a farm in Walnut, Iowa, Ellie Ash aspires to screen immortality. Hollywood-bound screenwriter Elmo Green rides by on his bicycle and is immediately smitten with Ellie, who joins him on his journey west. Soon after they arrive, Ellie and Elmo work with a wild array of characters incredibly reminiscent of Ethel Merman, Gene Kelly, Mario Lanza, and Joan Crawford. Ellie quickly becomes America’s Sweetheart as the "Girl of a Thousand Sounds," but when a gossip columnist exposes a few dirty little secrets, Ellie has to claw her way back to the top before the new "it" girl takes her spot.
On a 1930s Hollywood back lot, Adele DeRale, the creator of the Tales of Tinseltown, a fan magazine that covers Hollywood gossip, tells about reporting the latest scandals (The Public Wants to Know).
Across the country, on an Iowa farm, Elinor Hinkelberry, is reading the latest copy of Tales in Tinseltown, as she dreams of being a famous Hollywood actress. She considers changing her name for the screen to “Ellie Ash” and makes her way to stardom (I Belong in Hollywood). A young man named Elmo rides up on his bicycle. He is a screenwriter on his way to meet his uncle, a famous movie producer. Ellie hops on the bike with Elmo and they depart for Tinseltown (Lets’ Go).
When the two arrive in California, they are led on a tour of the famous N.G.N. Productions lot (N.G.N. Productions). Elmo’s uncle, Norman G. Neinstien, enters in an argument with one of his stars, Lulu Beauveen. Lulu is obviously under the influence, bickering at Norman to let her do a movie-musical. Elmo, seeing the opportunity, chimes in and offers to write it (The Musical Showdown).
The next day, screen tests for Elmo’s new jungle themed movie-musical begin. They are looking at thousands of actors for the roles but Elmo keeps urging his uncle to see Ellie. Several actors strut their stuff and get cast (Someone to Love Me), (I Can Sing), (All Over the Place). Eventually Ellie jumps in, does a duet, and gets a part (All I Dreamed).
The next day, Elmo is surprised to see that his uncle has changed and misinterpreted his script. Lulu shows up to the jungle set inebriated and the company begins shooting (The Jungle Song).
Ellie flirts with Norman and lands her own movie, which Elmo must write quickly (So This Is the Movies). Adele is now reading off the flashing headlines: “New star Ellie Ash has taken Hollywood by storm, starring in films written by Elmo Green.” We see Ellie play multiple roles in several films (Sounds in the Night), (Keep in Step). Then Elmo writes an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame in which Ellie gets to play Esmeralda (Hunchy).
When they begin to shoot a new movie, Ellie arrives on set to perform a number and, upon finishing, vomits in a water pail (It’s Mine). Adele picks up on her symptoms and realizes she is pregnant. All of the men wonder if it could be theirs. Elmo, furious and heartbroken, quits his work at the studio and storms off. Adele threatens to print the scandal and Ellie slaps her, sealing her fate.
Adele is getting lots of dirt on the recent scandal (Tell Me Please). Elmo comforts Ellie, who is dismayed over the recent events. He suggests that Ellie disguise herself and take a screen test at Weevil Productions, the new company that Elmo has been writing for.
She is up for a role to be a lust filled floozy. She gives it her best shot, pretending to act like Lulu (Born to Be Bad). Meanwhile, Norman is trying to clean the image of his company. He is shooting a movie staring Lulu as a young nun in college, who piously cheers the football team on to victory (You’ve Got to Be Good).
While both movies are filming, an earthquake hits! Ellie runs to save the animals that Weevil keeps on set. She saves most of the animals but is trampled by a stampede of cattle and rushed to Hollywood Hospital.
Adele prepares to go to the hospital in disguise to get the scoop (My Best False Face). Elmo attests his devotion for Ellie and proposes (I’ll Stand by You), but Ellie’s friends visit and interrupt the romance (For My Career). She ends up being carried away, leaving Elmo alone in dismay.
Ellie is preparing for her next roll when she runs into Elmo packing his belongings. She is shaken by his departure and is unsure if she can perform. Lulu, taking advantage of the situation, offers Ellie drugs, which she wearily accepts. Ellie goes on to do her part brilliantly (Stars in My Eyes). After it’s revealed that Lulu drugged her, chaos ensues and revealed secrets lead to an absurdist ending: Ellie and Elmo are reunited at the "Hollywoodland" sign where each plans to jump. They decide, instead, to cast aside Tinseltown and bike off into the sunset—expecting happier times in New York on Broadway (Finale).