Theatre: The Likes of Us

And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what failed to launch the careers of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber forty years ago.
Stephen Fry as the narrator

The Likes of Us is the little-known, first-ever Webber/Rice musical. It is based on the true story of Thomas John Barnardo, a philanthropist who founded homes for destitute children in Victorian London.

Written in 1965, lack of funding prevented the musical being performed until 2005. The play is now almost exclusively staged by amateur theatre groups.


Tropes featured in the musical:

  • Angry Mob Song: "Hold a March" and "We'll Get Him". The latter is also reprised. Both are sung by crowds of displeased Londoners who think Thomas Barnardo is an interfering prat.
  • Auction: Thomas Bernardo buys a gin-palace, the Edinburgh Castle, in an auction in order to transform it into a tea and coffee establishment.
    • The auction song, "Going, Going, Gone", was the first Webber/Rice song ever written.
  • Bad Girl Song: Rose's "Twice in Love Every Day", which is about exactly what it sounds like it is.
  • Based on a True Story: Tells the story of Thomas Barnardo's struggle to set up his charity in Victorian Britain. With, y'know, additional musical numbers.
  • Beta Couple: Johnny and Jenny.
  • BSOD Song/Grief Song: Barnardo's "Where Am I Going?", sung after the death of one of the Heartwarming Orphan children Barnardo wanted to help.
  • Dark Reprise: Johnny and Jenny's upbeat love song "Love is Here", which admittedly doesn't actually have any reason for being there, is reprised in a slower tempo later, as the two lovers are breaking up.
  • Evil Brit: The "upper-class villain" side of the trope is demonstrated quite well by the Cabinet (apart from Shaftesbury), while the "working-class hooligan" side of things is demonstrated in the cockneys who oppose Barnardo. Impressively, they manage to bring across these stereotypes in a play where all of the heroes are also British.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: The urchins who convince Barnardo that they need his help.
  • The Hero Sucks Song: "We'll Get Him" and "Hold a March".
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Rose. Maybe. For most of the play she's nothing but a thorn in Barnardo's side, organising demonstrations and marches against him, but there are some implications that she genuinely means well.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: "A Strange and Lovely Song" is one for Barnardo.
    Before, all my dreams were a pattern;
    Fading colours of grey and brown and blue.
    But the patterns are changing to pictures,
    And I feel like I am changing too.
  • "I Am" Song: "I'm a Very Busy Man" is one for Barnardo.
  • Letter Motif: Johnny and Jenny.
  • Lower-Class Lout: The patrons of the gin palace.
  • Ode to Intoxication: Parodied with "Have Another Cup of Tea", sung by the now-reformed gin palace residents, which sounds like just another song about drinking away your troubles, as could be heard in any number of British pubs... except here, the liquid they're drinking is tea.
  • Patriotic Fervour: The British Cabinet display a lot of this in "Lion-Hearted Land". Naturally, since the country in question is Imperial Britain, this is played for Comedic Sociopathy.
    Our noble British Empire is our present to the world!
    It's amazing how these local fellows tow the line:
    Gunboats in the harbour and the locals in the mine!
  • Patter Song: "Going, Going, Gone" is very fast and very wordy.
  • Quintessential British Gentlemen: The British cabinet sing an assertion of Britain's imperial might.
    Why does England lead the world; Queen and Empire understand?
    Oh, England! Valiant rock of splendour!
    Lionhearted Land!
  • Spot of Tea: Bernardo and Syrie transform the Edinburgh Castle gin-palace into a tea and coffee establishment invoking a huge song-and-dance number, "Have Another Cup Of Tea", from the cockney customers about the wonders of tea.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: Johnny and Jenny's failed-romance subplot interacts with any of the characters from the main plot exactly once (Jenny and Syrie briefly meet up so Syrie can sing Jenny a song to comfort her post-breakup). Otherwise, all scenes containing them are prefaced with a narrator effectively saying "Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated part of town..."
  • Upper-Class Twit: The entire Cabinet, except for Lord Shaftesbury.
  • Villain Song: The British Cabinet has "Lion-Hearted Land". Rose and the gin palace patrons have "We'll Get Him" and "Hold a March".
  • Wine Is Classy: The British cabinet seem to think so.
    Oh, I must comment on this wine; its character is strong,
    Its impudence is striking and its flavour lingers long.
    We can spot these subtleties; in this we stand alone.
    The foreigners are only there to see the grapes get grown.

Alternative Title(s):

The Likes Of Us

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