American Tales

by  Jan Powell, Ken Stone

Full Length Musical, Dramatic Comedy  /  4m, 1f

Winner! Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre

"Excellent new musical. Critic's Choice!" - The Los Angeles Times

"Extraordinary...skillful and unusually thoughtful...succeeds brilliantly." - Variety

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    4m, 1f
  • Duration


    90 minutes
  • SubGenre


    Adaptations (Literature), Period
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Appropriate for all audiences

Additional Info

American Tales features two classic American stories by Mark Twain and Herman Mellville. Set to "skillful and unusally thoughtful" (Variety) music, this musical played to sold out crowds in Los Angeles and was awarded the Kleban Award for excellence. 

Act I, The Loves of Alonzo Fitz Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton, is from Mark Twain's story of two people falling in love at a great distance with the aid of that brand-new invention, the telephone. Alonzo in Maine and Rosannah in California meet by the accident of crossed wires and each falls in love with an imagined ideal of the other. So complete is their self-deception that even when brought face to face they cannot recognize each other. Love is found, lost, and found again. Played as period melodrama, but the relevance to 21st century dating habits is clear.

Act II, Bartleby, the Scrivener, is dramatized from Herman Melville's slyly funny but ultimately tragic story. Building on the theme of human connections made and missed, this act takes a darker turn, looking at people who occupy the closest of quarters and yet don't really communicate at all. Bartleby, employed as a copyist in a law office of the 1840s, inexplicably begins to refuse to work, forcing his colleagues to ask themselves the transforming question that ends the play: What do we owe to the people who come into our lives?

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  • Winner! Kleban Prize for Musical Theatre.


"CRITIC'S CHOICE! Excellent new musical." -  The Los Angeles Times

"Extraordinary...skillful and unusually thoughtful...succeeds brilliantly." - Variety

"CRITIC'S PICK! Marvelous adaptations...stylish and enthralling...haunting score...brilliant." -  Backstage

"Striking...absolutely first rate work." - EDGE Los Angeles


Business, Death, Love, Memory


Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups


  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.



  • Time Period: 19th Century
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Setting:

    ACT I: The 1890s, as imagined in the 1870s. Maine, California, New York, and the Sandwich Islands.

    ACT II: New York, the 1840s

  • Additional Features: Not Applicable
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes


  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Small/Combo
  • Chorus Size: Small


4m, 1f


ALONZO FITZ CLARENCE - a poetic soul, an idle young man transformed by true love into a tireless, steadfast lover
ROSANNAH ETHELTON - a lovely young woman of high spirits and high ideals
SIDNEY ALGERNON BURLEY - an unwelcome suitor to Rosannah, a born villain
DOCTOR - a compassionate man of middle age, owner of a private madhouse in New York
UNCLE CHARLES - uncle of Rosannah, middle-aged, missionary in Honolulu
MAID - (doubled by “Uncle Charles”) an old and sour retainer at Rosannah’s house


THE LAWYER - 55, affluent and self-satisfied
BARTELBY - a fairly young man, enigmatic, turned almost entirely in upon himself
TURKEY - clerk, an Englishman near 60, something of a drinker
NIPPERS - clerk about 25, high-strung and restless
GINGER NUT - 12, law student, errand boy, sweeper, most often a brat

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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Reduced casting (Doubling Possible)
  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting


Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package




8 Full Scores (No individual parts available for this show)

Available Services



Jan Powell

Jan Powell

Ken Stone

Ken Stone

American Tales was originally produced by The Antaeus Company, John Apicella and Jeanie Hackett, Co-Artistic Directors, in North Hollywood, California.

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