Rhythm City Plot Synopsis
Music & Plot Synopsis
Also Available: Plot Synopsis for Rhythm City Junior
This MP3 player contains sample audio selections from the Original Cast Recording. Listen to songs whenever noted ("bold with quotes") in the plot synopsis!
Setting: Summer, 1992.
Amidst sirens blaring, the Bennett family (Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, Theresa, and Cody) and a woman named Cheri unwittingly find themselves as eyewitnesses to a bank robbery.
Act I, Scene 1--Courtroom/Back Alley
Cheri and the Bennetts appear in court for an arraignment hearing. The judge schedules a jury trial and appoints the Chief of Police, Louie Pasani, to keep the witnesses safe for the five-week interim period.
Cody stumbles into a back alley where he accidentally overhears a conversation between Louie and the crooks. When the Police Chief describes a plan to murder the witnesses, Cody rushes to warn his family, and the five witnesses flee to Cheri's hometown and seek refuge until the trial.
Act I, Scene 2--Rhythm City Town Square
Upon arrival in "Rhythm City," the Bennetts are greeted by the entire town in a large-scale, flashy musical number. The family is both confused and disturbed at this unexplained phenomenon and listens in disbelief as Cheri tries to explain that such spontaneous singing and dancing occurs every day in Rhythm City. Attempting to prove her point, Cheri asks strangers for directions and receives, for her answer, a brief song and dance about how to get to the "Bookstore."
Act I, Scene 3--Hawks' Hangout
Cheri and the Bennett family are led to a junkyard that is used as the hangout for a local gang called the Hawks. "In Just a Single Moment," their leader Chase is captivated by Theresa's beauty and begins a musical soliloquy that is quickly interrupted by Cody. The gang then introduces themselves through high-energy song and dance, proudly proclaiming, "We're the Hawks."
Act I, Scene 4--Hawks' Hangout
Upon learning that Cody doesn't know how to dance--at least not complex, synchronized choreography on a moment's notice--three members of the Hawks (Frankie, Bette, and Mitzi) take it upon themselves to teach him how to "Lift Those Heels." He catches on quickly, and soon all four are dancing in unison. Frankie then offers Cody a chance to join the gang by spray painting "HAWKS" on the town monument.
Act I, Scene 5--Hawks' Hangout
Theresa reveals to Chase her frustration with the illogical, spontaneous singing and dancing of Rhythm City. When she leaves to find Cody, Chase's ex-girlfriend Reyna tries in vain to reestablish their relationship, but Chase has his sights firmly set on Theresa.
Act I, Scene 6--Back Alley
Back at the courthouse, the crooks and Police Chief Louie Pasani continue their search for the witnesses.
Act I, Scene 7--Town Square
Cheri and Mr. and Mrs. Bennett attend a heated town meeting. Angry that the town monument has been defaced, Mayor Mason Harper gives an inspirational speech and song about "How to Break Up a Gang." The townspeople, along with Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, rally behind Mason's charisma. When Cheri and Mason are left alone, their dialogue reveals that they were engaged to be married two years prior, but Cheri left Rhythm City because Mason was entirely absorbed in his aspirations of becoming mayor. With his fiancée gone from his life, Mason achieved his goal only to find that it was not everything he had hoped for. Now, he desperately wants her back. Cheri resists him (and suppresses her own feelings) under the guise that she is an "Independent Woman."
Act I, Scene 8--Hawks' Hangout
Cody and the Hawks enter the junkyard, prompting Chase and Theresa to leave together. Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, influenced by Mason's anti-gang speech, are horrified to find their son in the gang. After a heated argument, Cody storms off to join his friends.
Act I, Scene 9--Town Square
Theresa reveals that she is the only member of her family who remains unaffected by Rhythm City's musical quality. Chase begins a song in an attempt to change that, and although he is met with great resistance, eventually Theresa unexpectedly joins in until they are both singing a beautiful "Song of Our Own." After their duet, the two share a kiss and exit together. Reyna enters and watches forlornly offstage as the curtain drops.
Act II, Scene 1--Town Square
Three weeks from the Bennetts' arrival into Rhythm City, the town is up in arms about the presence of the gang, exclaiming, "Look! They're at It Again"! Reyna attempts again to win Chase's affections back but to no avail. Mason continues to pursue Cheri who eventually agrees to go on a date with him.
Act II, Scene 2--A Park Bench
Late at night, Mitzi eavesdrops on Cheri and Mason walking through the park after a lovely evening together. Reyna implores Mitzi's help with a plan to make quick money, be rid of Theresa (of whom, at this point, Reyna is quite jealous), and be "Gone" without a trace. With Mitzi's reluctant agreement to help, Reyna determines to contact Louie Pasani regarding the whereabouts of his witnesses.
Act II, Scene 3--Town Square
Chase and Theresa witness a young couple singing "Rhythm City (2nd Reprise)," which prompts a duet about Theresa's discovery of the "Music of Life." Later, Louie and the crooks arrive in town and, like the Bennetts, are greeted with "The Welcome," a full-ensemble song and dance at which they are dumbfounded. They soon meet Reyna, who leads them toward the Hawks' hangout. While trying to lead the Hawks away as a diversion, Mitzi accidentally reveals Reyna's plan, and the gang rushes to find Chase and save Cheri and the Bennetts.
Act II, Scene 4--Hawks' Hangout
Cheri and the Bennett family are tricked into arriving at the Hawks' hangout, where Louie and the gun-wielding crooks have set an ambush. When Reyna attempts to ensure that they won't be harmed, she becomes another intended victim. The Hawks spring to "The Rescue" and overwhelm the criminals. When the group leaves to contact the police, Reyna admits her guilt privately to Chase and decides to leave Rhythm City.
Act II, Scene 5--Town Square
The entire town gathers to applaud the bravery of the Hawks and joins Mason in extending "Congratulations" to the gang. Mason proposes marriage to Cheri, who refuses. They get into a heated argument, both claiming, "I Loved You Too Much." At the end of the argument, Cheri realizes her love for Mason and accepts his proposal.
Act II, Scene 6--Courtroom
Back home at the courtroom, Louie and the crooks are found guilty and sentenced to prison. The Bennetts try to recall a familiar song but find themselves awkwardly out of tune. Cheri reveals, to their dismay, that outside of Rhythm City, they can't hear the music. Together they resolve to move back to Rhythm City permanently.
Act II, Scene 7--Town Square
The Bennetts arrive back in Rhythm City to the elation of their friends. Theresa and Chase are together again, Cody is back with the Hawks, and Cheri is reunited with Mason. Together the town celebrates the inspiring reality that this is the start of "A Brand New Life."