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"Rebecca, come home, Rebecca/From the kingdom of mist, return to Manderley."

"I have dreamt of Manderley."
The Second Mrs. de Winter's Opening Monologue.

The Musical of the 1938 novel by Daphne du Maurier.

While working in Monte Carlo as the companion for the wealthy Mrs. Van Hopper, our young unnamed heroine (known as "Ich"/"I") meets the much wealthier Maxim de Winter: a moody, inscrutable widower presumed still to be in deep mourning for his late wife, the beautiful Rebecca, tragically drowned in a boating accident. Thus no-one is more surprised than the shy, gauche little companion when Maxim not only seems attracted to her but impetuously proposes they wed there and then.

The first signs of trouble in Paradise appear when they arrive at his elegant old country estate, Manderley. The servants have grown too fond of its late mistress and receive their new one coolly. Mrs. Danvers, the current housekeeper and Rebecca's former handmaid, is especially less than thrilled with the prospect of anyone taking Rebecca's place.

The shadow of Rebecca hangs more and more heavily over the house, making it increasingly difficult for our heroine to face the challenges not only of running a great estate but within her marriage — especially when it's increasingly clear that the two are related. Gradually, with a not-so-subtle assist from Mrs. Danvers, she begins to despair of ever living up to the perfect, proud, beloved Rebecca...

...then they find the remains of a boat...

Adapted by the duo behind Elisabeth and Mozart!, Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze, it has been highly successfully staged in German (both in Austria and Germany), Korean, Hungarian, Japanese, Swedish, and Finnish. To the English-speaking theatre world, however, it's notorious for the shenanigans surrounding its aborted 2012 Broadway production. A truncated English language production finally premiered Off-West End in September of 2023. English demos of some songs, as well as fan lyrics, can be found on the Internet.

This musical features examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Maxim accidentally killed Rebecca; he got angry and pushed her, and she fell and struck her head. She taunted him into doing it because she was a Death Seeker.
  • The Ace: Rebecca is considered this posthumously, being unnaturally cultured, charming and gifted. Turns out to have been a Broken Ace, in that she was a cruel manipulative sociopath.
  • Adaptational Heroism: The musical does this to Maxim by eliminating his murder of Rebecca, following the lead of the Hitchcock film. By extension, this removes the potentially psychotic element from his wife's decision to help him, helping to make her more sympathetic and heroic after The Reveal. The musical portrays her as becoming a confident woman that doesn't take Mrs. Danvers's bullying any longer so that the audience can root for her. She and Maxim are seen as very happy together and kiss at the end, which is much clearer than the ambiguous future of their relationship in the novel.
  • Adaptational Karma: In the book, Mrs. Danvers escapes Manderley after she burns it to the ground. She perishes in the fire in the musical.
  • Adaptational Villainy: A consequence of the elimination of Maxim's murder of Rebecca is that Jack Favell's persecution of Maxim is now based completely on a falsehood. That being said, Favell isn't a misguided character at all: he's a slimy, blackmailing Smug Snake.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Both Rebecca and Favell called Mrs. Danvers 'Danny' affectionately.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Downplayed. Maxim is a widower in his early forties when he marries the heroine, who is in her early twenties. As much as they love one another, and even without the spectre of Rebecca haunting them, there is a lot of insecurity on both sides due to the age gap: Maxim occasionally wonders whether he is too old and bitter to relate to her, while the heroine feels inferior to Maxim due to her relative youth and naiveté.
  • The All-Concealing "I": The second Mrs. de Winter only refers to herself as "Ich" (I), and this is what she's called in the libretto and fandom as well.
  • All for Nothing: Maxim put up with Rebecca for ten years because divorcing her would have destroyed Manderley and him. A year after her passing, Manderley is burnt to the ground by Mrs. Danvers, making all of Maxim's hardships and humiliations meaningless.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The second Mrs. de Winter becomes even more passionately in love with Maxim once he admits that he killed Rebecca. Justified because the second Mrs. de Winter's greatest fear was that Maxim still loved Rebecca, and that she would never live up to the perfect dead woman. When he confesses to killing her because she was a wicked monster, it proves that he doesn't and never did.
  • All-Loving Heroine: Ich borders on this. She even trusts Mrs. Danvers' costume suggestion, having earlier reached out and attempted to befriend the Creepy Housekeeper. Ultimately, she still loves Maxim despite knowing that he has technically committed the crime of disposing of Rebecca's body, even though it was manslaughter instead of premeditated murder.
  • Alpha Bitch: Rebecca to the people she was openly nasty to. According to Ben, she was always angry.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Mrs. Danvers is coded as a lesbian, what with her caressing Rebecca's robe, remarking of how it still smells of her skin, reminiscing about how she used to comb Rebecca's thick black hair, and wearing the robe as she sets Manderley on fire.
  • Antagonist Title: Arguably, since the heroine's main conflict (at first anyway) is that she can't live up to Rebecca's legacy.
  • Arch-Enemy: Mrs. Danvers to Maxim de Winter and the second Mrs. de Winter.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The narrator always thinks that Rebecca is conquering from beyond the grave. In the end, Rebecca loses her power to hurt the new couple, but Mrs. Danvers destroys Manderley and causes the bleak ending described in the prologue right when the couple were happy for the first time.
  • Big Bad: Mrs. Danvers but really Rebecca.
  • Big Fancy House: Manderley. It may be based on Milton Hall, which du Maurier visited as a child, or else Menabilly, Du Maurier's home of twenty-six years.
  • Birds of a Feather: The heroine and Maxim are this.
    • Conversely, Rebecca and Favell get along too well for Maxim’s comfort.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The widely adored Rebecca was an utterly selfish bitch who was nice to people on their faces but laughed and jeered behind their backs.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Manderley is burnt to the ground by Mrs. Danvers, in a sense ensuring Rebecca has one last laugh over Maxim from beyond the grave. However, Maxim and Ich having come clean with each other regarding Rebecca, the framing device suggests that they are, if not happy together then at least content, having overcome Rebecca's shadow and earned something of a happy ending.
  • Book Ends: The Prologue and Epilogue are both subtitled "Ich hab geträumt von Manderley", and take place in the same dreamscape. Only, in the epilogue, the shadows have faces, as the truth has been revealed to Ich and the audience.
  • Blackmail: Favell attempts to blackmail Maxim with his note from Rebecca, which suggests that Rebecca did not actually commit suicide, implicating Maxim himself.
  • Brutal Honesty: Beatrice is famous for never sugarcoating her opinions and to tell people face-on she doesn't like them. Fortunately, she takes an immediate liking to the second Mrs. de Winter.
  • Bury Your Gays: Played straight if one subscribes to the musical's heavy suggestion that she's a lesbian.
  • Byronic Hero: Maxim de Winter. A reclusive, introverted aristocrat and handsome widower, prone to broodiness and mood swings, and still seemingly in the thrall of his late wife. And is tormented by the knowledge that he is her murderer, living in fear of being exposed each day, isolated from his friends and family by being one of the only few individuals to have seen past his monstrous wife's facade.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: The heroine is convinced that she's a complete failure compared to Rebecca, her husband's first (dead) wife, until she finds out that Rebecca was evil and the husband never loved her and murdered her. Which cheers her up immensely.
  • The Charmer: Rebecca managed to charm whoever she met.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Happens to the narrator when she sees Maxim for what she thinks is the last time at Monte Carlo. He asks her if she wants to go to New York with Mrs. Van Hopper or to Manderley with him. After realizing that he's serious this exchange follows:
    "You mean you want a secretary?"
    Maxim: "HA HA HA—No, you little fool. I'm asking you to marry me."
  • Counterpoint Duet: "Mrs. de Winter bin ich!" (Mrs. de Winter is me!) is a duet between, as you might have guessed, the new Mrs. de Winter and Mrs. Danvers, with the former asserting her identity and the latter defending Rebecca's legacy.
  • Creepy Housekeeper: Mrs. Danvers. She is creepy in and of herself, with a deathlike appearance, and her devotion to the memory of Rebecca is such that she doesn't wash the clothes of Rebecca's scent and goes to her room every day.
  • Dances and Balls: Rebecca and Maxim regularly entertained at Manderley, and another costume ball is held in the second Mrs. de Winter's honour, at the begging of the neighbours who loved the previous ones. It doesn't go well.
  • Dark Secret: Rebecca's murder. In theory, only Maxim and the new Mrs. de Winter know the whole story, but Favell guesses it, and one of the servants and the magistrate also figure out an unspecified amount, leading to a lot of worry about who knows what. Ich believes he can't love her because he's still thinking of his first wife Rebecca who was supposedly drowned in a sailing accident. Turns out he had accidentally killed Rebecca himself — and she had goaded him into it.
  • Death by Adaptation: Mrs. Danvers, via suicide through setting Manderley on fire.
  • Death by Falling Over: Rebecca stumbled and hit her head, having been pushed by a furious Maxim.
  • Death Glare: Mrs. Danvers has a frightening one that she likes to shoot at the second Mrs. de Winter.
  • Depraved Bisexual: In the novel, Rebecca is hinted to have had male and female lovers while married to Maxim. Mrs. Danvers contends that she loved no man at all.
  • The Disease That Shall Not Be Named: Rebecca was revealed to be dying of a tumor in her ovaries, which meant that she couldn't have children.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Mrs. Danvers was once Rebecca's closest ally and confidant, and posthumously claims her vengeance by burning down Manderley.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Mrs. Danvers tries to do this to our heroine after the fiasco at the costume party, telling her how worthless and unlike Rebecca she is. This is foiled when the boat where Rebecca's Suicide by Cop happened is found.
    • Danvers herself meets this end, as she sets Manderley on fire and burns the staircase so no one could stop her or get her out of the place.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The narrator tries but does maybe not quite manage it; at the very least she and Maxim live in relative peace. It is hinted that she is satisfied, and her husband is with the woman he loves, despite feeling really bad about the earlier events.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Mrs. Danvers is described as being very pale with a deathlike appearance and usually has dark hair (sometimes with grey streaks).
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Mrs. Danvers adored Rebecca, whom she is implied to have raised since childhood, and is zealously loyal to her late mistress' memory. Rebecca herself is said to have felt the same way about Danvers, but also kept some very important secrets from her.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Danvers is quite disgusted by Favell's claim that Rebecca loved him and would have made him her husband, and considers the very suggestion an affront to Rebecca's honour — she claims Rebecca loved no man whatsoever.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: The title character is described by everyone as being incredibly beautiful, intelligent, cultured, loving, and basically the perfect wife. The end has Maxim reveal that she was actually a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, who was excellent at getting people to adore her, and delighted in emotionally tormenting him.
  • Fake Faint: The heroine faints in court at the very moment her husband was about to break under pressure. During the chaos that erupts, Ich can be seen exiting the scene walking out instead of being carried by someone. Favell later sarcastically remarks that she has quickly recovered from her faint.
  • Flower Motifs: Orchids for Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers comments that they may seem dead sometimes but can come to blossom unexpectedly. Interestingly, the new Mrs. de Winter later replaces them with azaleas (Rebecca's motif in the novel).
  • Foil: The two Mrs. de Winters are as different as can be.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The prologue is set some time after everything has happened, with the de Winters living a grim, inconsequential existence overseas. Alternatively, they have a mundane existence but at least they have each other's company.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Maxim gets to know the female protagonist during his holidays in Monte Carlo. They get married then and there.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Debatably in the case of Rebecca herself, since her character derived from hearsay, but otherwise the main characters fit quit nicely:
    • The narrator (Phlegmatic), Maxim (Melancholic), Mrs. Danvers (Choleric), Rebecca (Sanguine). Favell also counts as sanguine.
  • Genre Blind: Mrs. Danvers is suddenly being nice to the second Mrs. de Winter? Nope, don't find anything suspicious about her behaviour and do as she asks.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Maxim gets decidedly snarky at the inquest. Not the cleverest tack to take when the police are suggesting you killed your wife...
  • Get Out!: Maxim snarls this at Favell after the latter's solo. (In German, it's a concise, one-word "Raus!")
  • Grande Dame:
    • Mrs. Van Hopper, who passes over into Rich Bitch territory.
    • Beatrice, who is on the more intelligent and sympathetic end of the scale.
  • HA HA HA—No: Maxim's reaction before clarifying to Ich that he doesn't want to hire her as a governess; he wants to marry her. Uwe Kröger makes it sound more natural, whereas Jan Ammann went for "Ha ha ha... [beat] No." Mark Seibert neither laughs nor calls her a little fool, but simply says "No.", there's a long beat on the cast recording, then he tells her he wants to marry her.
  • Handsome Lech: Favell.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: Maxim and Rebecca are thought to be a glorious couple even by the house servants, and neighbours for miles around speak of them, but their marriage is anything but.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Ich is often portrayed this way, with short blonde hair in a long bob (in contrast to Rebecca's reputed thick, long dark hair).
  • Haughty Help: Mrs. Danvers the housekeeper is contemptuous of her employer's new wife, trying to bully and belittle her. Mrs. Danvers had a very close attachment to the previous lady of the house, the titular Rebecca, and does not believe that the replacement is worthy of Rebecca's place.
  • "I Am" Song:
    • "I'm An American Woman" (which, aside from the title line, is entirely in German).
    • "Mrs. de Winter bin ich!" ("Mrs. de Winter Is Me!"), a duet between the heroine and Mrs. Danvers.
    • "Sie ergibt sich nicht" ("She's Invincible") for Rebecca, sung by Mrs. Danvers.
  • Innocence Lost: After The Reveal, Maxim notes that the child in Ich's eyes is gone. She agrees, telling him she would never be a child again.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Mrs. de Winter thinks that her husband, Max, is cold with her because he is still in love with his late wife, Rebecca. She feels that she cannot measure up to Rebecca in Max's eyes. The truth turns out to be quite different.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Ich nearly tumbles off the balcony at Mrs. Danvers' suggestion before the distress flares are heard.
  • Intimate Hair Brushing: Mrs. Danvers talks lovingly of brushing Rebecca's hair every night before bed. She even has her hairbrush left exactly as it was when she was alive.
  • It's a Costume Party, I Swear!: The fancy dress ball held in the second Mrs. de Winter's honour. It was in fact a costume party, but Mrs. Danvers suggested M. de W. II dress up as a certain painting in the house, something Rebecca had done the last year, in order to humiliate her.
  • "I Want" Song:
    • "Zeit in einer Flasche" ("Time in a Bottle"), where Mrs. de Winter-to-be wishes for a way to capture the magic of a moment, the reality of a dream, and the miracle of understanding in order to remember her time with Mr. de Winter in Monte Carlo, not knowing that he intends to marry her.
    • "Eine hand wäscht die and're Hand" ("One Hand Washes the Other") begins with Favell laying out what he wants and morphs into an "I Am" Song, with him explaining his extortionist philosophy.
  • Jerkass: Favell, who is casually rude, blunt, and lecherous. He even attempts to capitalise on his cousin's murder with Blackmail. His one saving grace, at least in the novel, is that his accusations against Maxim are completely correct. The narrator notes that it is Favell's own obnoxious, graceless behaviour that turns the magistrate against him when he presents his case.
  • Karma Houdini: Maxim gets away with murder, albeit at the cost of Manderley. Danvers sets the house ablaze as suicide. And despite being murdered, Rebecca got everything she wanted, including the sudden quick death by Suicide by Cop, over the painful end promised by terminal cancer.
  • Kissing Cousins: Jack Favell and Rebecca, first cousins and lovers alike.
  • Large Ham: Mrs. van Hopper in the musical.
  • Let the Past Burn: Mrs. Danvers goes over the edge and sets Manderley on fire. All that symbolically remains of Rebecca is burned down along with the house, including her.
  • Lost in Imitation: Although the musical’s official credits state it is based on Daphne du Maurier’s original novel, it carries over virtually all of the changes and additions to the story from tje 1940 film.
  • The Lost Lenore: Played with. Rebecca seems to be this to her widowed husband Maxim, but it turns out that she was an utterly despicable woman whom he later murdered, and his haunted behavior regarding her death was caused by the strain of having to maintain a facade of devoted mourning and the knowledge that he was unable to be good enough for his innocent young second wife because of this. On the other hand, Rebecca is this trope in lesbian fashion to her one time nanny and later housekeeper Mrs. Danvers.
  • Meaningful Name: "Rebecca" means "a snare" or "captivating".
  • Memento MacGuffin: Manderley.
  • Motif: The big flourished R of Rebecca's name, as written by the woman herself. This is translated to the main poster, which is a flaming R and the shadow of a face.
  • The Mourning After: The female protagonist believes that her husband Maxim is still carrying a torch for the titular Rebecca, his exalted dead first wife whom he lost in a tragic accident at sea. Subverted when she learns that the beloved Rebecca was actually a Manipulative Bitch whom Maxim hated.
  • My Greatest Failure: Mrs. Danvers blames — and will never forgive — herself for not being there to save Rebecca on the night of her death.
  • Nice to the Waiter: The protagonist is very polite to waiters and assorted serving staff, but they are not nice to her. The personnel in the hotel at Monte Carlo were rude and unhelpful and from the Manderley staff only Clarice makes her feel welcome and comfortable.
  • The Nicknamer: Rebecca seemed to have been one. She called Mrs. Danvers Danny and Maxim Max. Maxim does not seem to care much for the nickname, at least after her death when it reminds him of her. The narrator thinks this means she was close with Mrs. Danvers and Maxim, and wishes that she could use Max herself.
  • No Name Given: The second Mrs. de Winter is just known as "Ich" ("I").
  • Oh, Crap!: "That's no dawn. It's Manderley!"
  • Ominous Fog: Manderley is often shrouded in it, making the place all the more creepy.
  • Only Sane Woman: The second Mrs. de Winter becomes this, as everyone around her slowly starts to lose it.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: A very blatant example in the form of the musical's poster, which is a massive flaming R with a big flourish on a strong blue background.
  • The Perfect Crime: Subverted at the inquest, where the theory that the boat went down accidentally is debunked.
  • Posthumous Character: Rebecca. When the story opens, she has been dead for a year already — but even in her absence, her presence is inescapable, as her memory casts its shadow over the entire story.
  • Present Absence: Rebecca is dead, yet she influences everything and everyone around her.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Mrs. Danvers, befitting her character as the cold, stern, rather creepy housekeeper.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Mrs. Danvers. She dies wearing Rebecca's nightgown, which she has never washed since Rebecca wore it last.
  • Psycho Supporter: Mrs. Danvers.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Rebecca is described as having had a cloud of dark hair and very white skin. Frank also describes her as the most beautiful creature he had seen.
  • Replacement Goldfish: The main source of tension. The second Mrs. de Winter spends most of the book failing to live up to the memory of Rebecca, her husband's first wife, who had drowned accidentally. She is explicitly told, often, that she doesn't measure up, by Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca's personal maid. The second Mrs. de Winter becomes more and more desperate in her attempts to live up to Rebecca's memory, because Mrs. Danvers has her convinced that that is what Maxim, her husband, wants. Just when the second Mrs. De Winter (she is never given a first name, and the book is a first person narrative) is near a breakdown, and Mrs. Danvers suggests that she throw herself out of a window, it is revealed that Maxim never really loved Rebecca, and in fact, came to hate her, because she was cruel, cold, manipulative, and unfaithful. Not only that, she had taunted him one night until he murdered her, by telling him she was pregnant with another man's child, which she intended that he would support. It doesn't end there, and Maxim is vindicated, so they can go on with their lives together.
  • Rich Bitch:
    • Mrs. Van Hopper is relentlessly unpleasant.
    • Rebecca, as it turns out.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: The second reprise of "Rebecca".
  • Secondary Character Title: The protagonist is the second Mrs. de Winter (whose first name is never given). Rebecca herself is a Posthumous Character.
  • Second Love: The heroine for Maxim, although he grew to hate Rebecca and she never loved him; their marriage was a charade.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: The second Mrs. de Winter is tricked into dressing up glamorous as Rebecca for the costume ball.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Mrs. Danvers left Rebecca's room the way she left it.
  • Shrinking Violet: The second Mrs. de Winter is meek and shy, which allows Mrs. Danvers to intimidate her.
  • Sidekick Song: "Die lieben Verwandten" ("Beloved Relatives"), sung by Beatrice and Giles, with the second Mrs. de Winter joining in at the end.
  • Smug Snake: Jack Favell is one of the smuggest snakes in media history.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Gender-shifted. Ich restrains Maxim so he wouldn't punch Smug Snake Favell in the face.
  • Suicide by Cop: Rebecca goaded Maxim to anger, so she would die by his hand one way or another.
  • Suicide Dare: The Creepy Housekeeper Mrs. Danvers very seriously encourages the second Mrs. de Winter to commit suicide. That was because she was passionately devoted to the first Mrs. de Winter and felt the successor was taking her place. She is not impolite or emotional when she does it, which makes it all the more scary.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Maxim accidentally killed Rebecca. But she was a horrible person, and she manipulated him into doing it.
  • Take Our Word for It: Several characters mention how attractive and charming Rebecca was in life, but she never appears onstage.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Ich warns Maxim not to lose his cool, and he asks her why the hell he would do that. He proceeds to snap during questioning at the preliminary inquest.
    • Maxim does it again later, retorting "Why the hell would I leave Manderley?" Because it's going to be burnt to the ground in a matter of hours.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Hilf mir durch die Nacht" ("Help Me Through the Night") is a Distant Duet with Maxim and wife unable to get through the demons at Manderley. It is reprised triumphantly in "Jenseits der Nacht" ("Beyond the Night"), where they are together and happy at last.
  • Undying Loyalty: Frank to the de Winters.
  • The Unfair Sex: Massive subversion; Rebecca was a sociopathic bitch who cheated on Maxim with a series of lovers, and wasn't even loyal to them either. Our young heroine, who had earlier aspired to be just like her predecessor, is glad that she's dead.
  • Unknown Character: The main character is the second wife of the eponymous Rebecca's husband. She's compared unfavorably to Rebecca without ever being told anything about her by his staff. Nothing is revealed about her as they figure she doesn't need to know, except that she died.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Jack Favell. By informing Mrs. Danvers that Rebecca had deceived them and that Maxim had been cleared of any murder charges, he unknowingly caused Manderley's destruction.
  • Upper-Class Twit: The second Mrs. de Winter finds herself surrounded by these.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Mrs. Danvers has a mild one in all versions, but the musical takes the cake when she puts on Rebecca's nightgown and walks through Manderley in a daze, lighting the place on fire as she goes.
  • Villainous Incest: Rebecca and Jack.
  • Villain Song: "Rebecca" and its two reprises, sung by Mrs. Danvers when showing the second Mrs. de Winter Rebecca's room, when trying to make her commit suicide and when she learns Rebecca had cancer, where this becomes a Sanity Slippage Song. Also "Eine hand wäscht die and're Hand" ("One Hand Washes the Other") for Jack Favell, crossing over to Sidekick Song territory as he explains his extortionist philosophy.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Rebecca.
  • Wham Line:
    • "HA HA HA—No, you little fool. I'm asking you to marry me."
    • Maxim's "I hated her!".
    • "That's no dawn! It's Manderley!"
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The second Mrs. de Winter keeps imagining herself as the heroine of a conventional romance novel, instead of a gothic romance. Justified Trope since the first act of the novel plays out like a straightforward romance novel, except what should be the happily ever after ending is actually the beginning of the story at Manderley.