(The Overture) The story of our musical begins with a montage of early silent film footage: Roscoe with Chaplin, Keaton, Mack and Mabel. As the overture concludes, the screen reveals a shadowy Pinkerton operative, who tells us that Hollywood's first real scandal featured "true crime, mystery, lust, betrayal, corruption."
|Leave 'Em Laughin'||Roscoe||
We first see Arbuckle and Keaton giving a personal appearance at a small-town movie theater. (Leave 'em Laughin')
|I Couldn't Love You More||Roscoe/Minta||
Roscoe's ex-wife, Minta surprises Roscoe after the show, and the two remember the breakdown of their marriage with wistful amusement. (I Couldn't Love You More)
|Hollywood Whirl||Virginia, Alice, Zey, Bebe||
The following morning is a busy day on the Paramount lot. (The Hollywood Whirl) Roscoe is signing a 3 million dollar contract with Adolph Zukor, and to celebrate, he's planning to throw a party Labor Day weekend, at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Seeing Virginia Rappe on the lot, he asks Zukor to give her his number so he can invite her.
|A Little Harmless Fun||Roscoe, Virginia, Maude, Buster, Zey||
That evening, Virginia is invited and subsequently invites a number of her flapper friends. (A Little Harmless Fun) Buster has to beg off. It will be the luckiest break of his career.
|Victrola Medley||The Op||
Our Pinkerton Operative explains that the party didn't go very well. (The Victrola Medley) Virginia took ill and died a few days later. The San Francisco Sheriff arrests Roscoe in connection with the death of Virginia.
|The Extortion Tango||"Pathe", Maude, Al||
Virginia's travelling companion, Maude Delmont, huddles with Henry "Pathe" Lehrman and Al Semnacher, and they hatch a blackmail scheme. (The Extortion Tango)
|Big Numbers||Hearst, Bernstein||
The newspapers pick up on the story, and it becomes front page news: "Fatty Arbuckle Indicted in Girl's Death!" This makes Hearst and sidekick Bernstein giddy over the money-making potential of the story. (Big Numbers) Hearst challenges his reporters to write the most outrageous stories about the Arbuckle case, with a bonus as inspiration.
Big Numbers (reprise}
Maude, 3 Reporters
Maude Delmont arrives in the Examiner office in time to give the boys the lies they're looking for. (Maude's Tale)
|In the Name of Decency||Brady, U'ren||
San Francisco's District Attorney decides that prosecuting a celebrity for rape and murder will be a shortcut to the Governor's Mansion in the upcoming election. (In the Name of Decency)
|That's a Laugh||Roscoe||
Roscoe's ex-wife Minta returns to her husband's side at his time of need, and he laments his reversal of fortune.(That's a Laugh)
|This Thanksgiving Day||Zukor with all||
With the trial nearing it's conclusion, Roscoe takes advantage of the Thanksgiving recess to throw a dinner party, and Zukor is his guest of honor. A vaguely familiar-looking waiter makes a shambles of the meal as grace is being said. (This Thanksgiving Day)
|I'll Always Be There||Minta||
The first two trials result in a hung-jury. With the tension of the third trial rife, Minta proves to be the most comforting presence in Roscoe's life. (I'll Always Be There)
|Crime of the Century||McNab||
As the third trial concludes, defense attorney McNab gives an impassioned closing argument, suggesting what he thinks of the prosecution's case against his client. (The Crime of the Century)
The third jury unhesitatingly acquits Arbuckle, and he tells reporters of his pleasure at being vindicated. (It's Over)
|Big Numbers (reprise)
But as the Pinkerton Op tells us of the sad aftermath of the trial (Op's Epilogue), he reveals himself to be Dashiell Hammett.
|Buster's Cop Ballet
Leave 'Em Laughing
|Roscoe & entire cast||
At this point, Buster Keaton "breaks the fourth wall" for us, (Buster's Cop Ballet,) and what results is more than just Hellzapoppin'. It's a reminder of what Hollywood lost on Labor Day of 1921. . .
|It lost it's innocence.
It lost it's sense of fun.
It lost it's unpredictability.
It lost it's carefree spirit.
It lost it's love of laughter.
And it also lost a founding father.
All music & lyrics © 2002 Stitt/Evans