Death of a Salesman: The Musical

“But enough about you/What about me-e-e-e-e-!” (Image: American Players Theatre)

A melody is heard, played upon a flute, telling of grass and trees and the horizon. The curtain rises. The flute melody fades abruptly, replaced by an upbeat tune as the CHORUS OF DANCING SALESMEN enter carrying sample cases. They sing:

We’re sa-a-a-alesmen!
We’re sa-a-a-alesmen!
Right now you watch us jump and jive
But soon we won’t all be alive.
We’re sa-a-a-alesmen!
Sad beta ma-a-a-ales, friend!
We’re gonna make it big some da-a-a-ay!

Reaching into their sample cases, the CHORUS perform the Dance of the Rubber Hoses. Exit CHORUS, leaving only WILLY onstage. He enters the Loman bedroom.

WILLY: I’m back.
LINDA: Why? What happened? You didn’t smash up the car again…
WILLY: I’m tired to death.

They sing jauntily:

LINDA
I got a new kind of American cheese
And it’s whi-i-i-iped
WILLY
I like Swiss
LINDA
Don’t hate Bi-i-i-iff
WILLY
I’d be rich
If only I’d be put in charge of New York
Oh what fu-u-u-un.
LINDA
You’re not young
WILLY
Biff’s a bum!
LINDA
I’ll keep mum.

WILLY
Just up north of Yonkers I thought I was bonkers
Forgot I was driving the c-a-a-ar
The weaving and swerving were truly unnerving
LINDA
You want a nice piece of chedd-a-a-ar?

You shouldn’t have criticized Biff off the train
He’s just lo-o-o-st
WILLY
He’s a god!
LINDA
You should ta-a-a-alk.
WILLY
I’m no flop!
Remember that hammock we hung on the trees
And the Simonized Chevy, remarkable Ts
And Biff playing football, this house had a breeze
HOW CAN THEY WHIP GODDAMN CHEE-E-E-SE?

Fade out and up on BIFF and HAPPY in their bedroom.

HAPPY: Pop says you’re not settled, that you’re still kind of up in the air.
BIFF: Listen, why don’t you come out west with me?
HAPPY: You and I, huh?

They sing:

The Loman Brothers Cattle Raising Muscle Working Duo With Their Shirts Off
Yes, their shirts off
We wouldn’t have to travel on the subway, scrape and grovel with our shirts off
Yes, our shirts off
With horses we would wrangle and we’d never have a boss
Except we’re never satisfied and always at a loss
We’re the Loman Brothers Lady Dating Unambitious Dreamers Who Have Major Father Issues and Our Egos Thin as Tissues But Our
Shirts
Are
Off

Fade out and up on CHARLEY and WILLY playing cards. WILLY is distracted by memories of the past. He sings:

Who’s that over there, is it Ben?
And sitting on that chair, let’s call her Woma-a-an
It’s Happy, oh so little, in these memories so scenic
And Biff who stole a ball, that putz Bernard was most anemic.

CHARLEY: What’re you talking about?

If I’d ventured to Alaska, where’d I be right now, I ask ya?
Would my life be such a bother If I’d only known my father?

I’m li-i-i-iked but not well liked
I feel temporary about myself, I do-o-o-o
I ta-a-a-alk too much, I know
Boys, they know me when I walk into the room

DANCERS dressed as appliances, insurance bills, etc. enter and circle WILLY threateningly, pulling novelty-size dollar bills out of his pocket. He collapses. Fade out.

Up on LINDA with BIFF and HAPPY. She sings:

Attention must be paid
What a strangely passive phrase
Your father must be saved
Like a dog, don’t let him fall into his grave

[To BIFF] You used to be such pals
The love he had for you
Now you shatter his morale
HAPPY
If anyone is wondering, I’m here too

LINDA
Rubber pipes and nipples
The shame goes out in ripples
It doubles and it triples
With his…
Rubber pipes and nipples

WILLY enters.

BIFF: I’m seeing Bill Oliver tomorrow, Pop.
WILLY: Ah, you’re counting your chickens again.
HAPPY: Wait a minute! I got an idea. I got a feasible idea.

BIFF and HAPPY reprise “The Loman Brothers,” joined by an excited WILLY, but instead of cowboys, it’s water polo and sporting goods.

Fade to WILLY sitting in the office of HOWARD WAGNER, his boss, a wire-recording machine before them. HOWARD sings:

You’re not hired, no, you’re fired
Cuz we’re really getting tired
Of your pandering, meandering around
You really try our patience
Why not take a nice vacation
You’re the top in sales of bringing people down

Verse repeats, with HOWARD joined by the voices of his wife and children harmonizing on the wire-recording machine.

Fade to restaurant where WILLY, BIFF and HAPPY pantomime talking, arguing, emoting as the CHORUS OF WAITERS AND CALL GIRLS sing:

The special of the day is self-delu-u-u-sion
With a side dish of acute irresolu-u-u-tion
WILLY
Does anyone hear voices?
WAITERS
That’s ill-u-u-sion
No, we don’t think they will have dessert toda-a-a-y

We start out with a tablespoon of stolen fountain pen
And add a pound of bitterness and disaffected men
A cup of “I was fired” and a slice of “office clerk”
And half an ounce of Happy who is really quite a jerk

WILLY
You’re doing everything now just to spite me-e-e-e
Screwing Woman sure came back to bite me-e-e-e
I thought I’d find success if people liked me-e-e-e
WAITERS
No, we don’t think they will have dessert toda-a-a-y

This play has gone on long enough
It’s tested our endurance
Let’s skip ahead where Willy
Kills himself for the insurance

Fade out. Sound of car crash. Lights up on WILLY’s grave, surrounded by the ENSEMBLE. All are weeping.

CHARLEY: Gee, Willy was well liked after all.
HOWARD: A true American.
LINDA: I’ll be okay, boys, with the insurance money and the house in the clear.
HAPPY: From Pop’s lesson, I’m going to change my ways, you bet.
BIFF: He sure knew who he was. What a character.

ENSEMBLE sings:

We’re free-e-e-e, we’re free-e-e-e
To be what we want to be
The jungle of America is dark but full of diamonds
Every dre-e-e-eam i-i-is the right dream
No matter how bleak it seems
Here’s to working like a dog all your life until retireme-e-e-nt

WILLY, smiling, floats down on wires from above wearing green velvet slippers. He is joined on either side by BEN and their FATHER.

De-e-e-ath of a sa-a-a-lesman!
He’s the big-shot salesman angel in the sky-y-y-y-y!
Yes, the de-e-e-ath of a sa-a-a-lesman!
Life and death are good for even dime-a-dozen guys,
Yes, life and death are good for even dime-a-dozen gu-u-u-u-uys!

Curtain.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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4 Responses to Death of a Salesman: The Musical

  1. Chocked full of spoilers if you’ve never seen it. No matter. Shiny brilliance. Can’t wait to see the choreography. Huge Jackmen as Willie.

  2. beth says:

    thanks for the two-minute musical version. I think this should be the beginning of a series.

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