Adam's Song is a two-act music theatre piece, comprised of 18 songs. It is currently not available in either a demo or performance audio. A synchronizer recording of the music is available. The show is about Adam growing up gay in a conservative home in rural America in the 80s before escaping to New York City and experiencing freedom as well as the AIDS epidemic in the 90s.
The next stage is for the show to be workshopped. Any interested organizations please inquire.
To purchase the score for Adam's Song, go to the Purchase page.
Synopsis of Book for Adam's Song
© 1998 Ronald Hirsch
Dedicated to all those who in the past have struggled against homosexual oppression and worked to make our lives better, and all those youths and adults who continue to face the agony of oppression. Society may be more open and just, but it still has a long way to go.
ACT I - Set in New York City, mid-1990s, and in a small mid-western town, circa 1985
Cast of Characters:
Adam - 17, sexually conflicted, basketball and track star
Father - 48, strict, conservative, religious, middle class
Mother - 45, religious but sweet, softer
Matthew, 17, best friend, nice jock, comfortably straight
Various other male and female friends
Adam – 28, up and coming drag torch singer
Core of Act 1 - Through a series of flashbacks, we see the angst of growing up gay in a conservative, straight religious environment. Adam is definitely attracted to boys and loves to sing torch/girl songs in falsetto. But wants desperately to fit in and be "normal." Uses athletic status as screen. Finally gives in to feelings and is exposed to friends and family. All reject him.
Scene 1 - A show bar - 1996
An emcee announces the final act of the evening, the new sensation, Adam (doesn't use a drag name). Adam comes on stage in a gorgeous, tasteful, outfit. He greets the audience and says that he wants to start with a song that always had great meaning for him when he was growing up. He SINGS "Somewhere" from West Side Story.
Scene 2 - Flashback. Stage lights go down as we hear an actual recording of “Somewhere” and the stage set changes to Adam's bedroom back home; posters on the wall a mix of female singers and basketball stars (but mostly singers); sports trophies on bureau; picture of Christ on wall; letter sweater hanging on closet door; Adam, 17, first listens then SINGS along, in pitch, falsetto, with the song. More tentative, weaker, than in Scene 1. He is in a reverie. Interrupted by mother's call to dinner.
Scene 3 - Family dining room (kitchen and living room visible)
Family sits down to dinner. Father CHANTS “Grace”, including thoughts that Jesus loves us and He died for our sins. Tension among family is very visible. Mother tries small talk about school, sports, etc. Father interrupts and asks why Adam has to sing these female songs. Not normal; not manly. Father SINGS “He’s Not Normal,” a song about what his dream was for a son and agonizing that Adam is not normal. Develops into a trio as mother SINGS protest and Adam SINGS that he is a real man. Adam departs to meet friends and have a date.
Scene 4 - Some teen gathering place
Adam and Matthew with their girlfriends. Other youth there as well. Normal teenage small talk and gossip. Matthew obviously more comfortable and more physical with his girlfriend. Adam awkward. Matthew starts SINGING “Free as a Bird” and others join in about their views of youth and their lives. While the others sing of a carefree freedom, the meaning for Adam is ironic. But they all have a good time and laugh, including Adam. On second round, Adam really gets into the song and goes into his falsetto; clearly feels strong. After song, Matthew wants to go for a "drive", but Adam suggests shooting baskets. They all leave.
Scene 5 - Dressing room of the show bar
Adam sits at the dressing table starting to put on his makeup. He SINGS “When I Was 17” about his youthful inner conflict. He wanted to be normal, fit in, not be rejected, but he loved Matthew. What was he to do? Why should this natural feeling be a problem?
Scene 6 - Flashback. A clear, star-lit summer night
Adam and Matthew are drinking beer around a campfire. You can tell by their manner and talking that they are a little loosened up. Matthew strips to his undershorts because it's hot. By the light of the campfire his body looks gold and gorgeous. Adam is nervous. Matthew starts playing with Adam physically (lightly jabs him, boxes him). Jokes about Adam not taking off his clothes. Matthew sits down next to Adam, puts his arm around his shoulder and SINGS “Friendship, Love, Bust” about his friendship for Adam and male bonding. Adam loses his resolve and SINGS hesitantly that he has to tell Matthew something, something very important -- he loves Matthew. First Matthew laughs, like it's a joke, but Adam SINGS it again a bit more strongly. Matthew flies into a SINGING rage, yelling faggot, did you think I was, etc. He almost strikes Adam, but pulls back; he is sad. Then stalks off leaving Adam alone, crying. Adam SINGS of his love for Matthew.
Scene 7 - Family Dining Room, the next morning
Adam is very quiet. Parents ask what happened to the camping. The phone rings. Matthew's father is on the phone and tells Adam's father what happened. Father sits down shaken. Starts to SING “I Cast Him Out” quietly at first, haltingly, about the call. Looks at Adam who doesn't respond. Slowly his shock turns to wrath and scorn. Throws all sorts of religious stuff at him, and the shame he has brought on their house. He casts Adam out. Mother tries to intervene and SINGS protest, cries. Father is adamant. Adam finally SINGS his defense. Stands up to his father, asks is this what Jesus would do, and apologizes to his mother.
Scene 8 - The bus station
Adam buys his ticket, makes small talk with the agent, tries to phone Matthew but has to hang up when his mother answers. Adam SINGS “To a New Life,” wondering what his life will hold in store, where he will go, what he will become, will he find love? Starts tentative, unsure, but as song develops ends with a strong, positive attitude.
ACT 2 - New York City, 1994
Cast of Characters:
Adam – 26 - 28, gay and out; not strong, but he finally finds himself
Mother - 54, widowed, still a good soul
Clark - 30, his best friend, also gay, very wise and strong
Tony - 30, a trick, very attractive and manipulative
Various other males and females
Core of Act 2 - Adam has grown into his gay persona and feels comfortable in New York, but he doesn't have good self-esteem. His adolescence still haunts him. He has a crush on someone who gets him to have unprotected anal sex and becomes infected with HIV. He is distraught. Clark provides love and support. Adam finds strength out of his illness and Clark's love. Decides to focus on what has always made him feel good -- singing torch songs in falsetto.
Scene 1 - A New York City street scene - 1994
The street is full of gays and lesbians (perhaps as part of a gay pride celebration). They SING "Free to Be", a moving song which chronicles the oppression of the past, remarks on the generally better life now, and ends with a stirring call to continue the fight for what is rightfully ours. As the group disperses, Adam sits down on a bench, watches two lovers pass by and SINGS “Where Is Love?”, expressing that he feels lonely without someone to love and love him. Cannot forget his father's and Matthew's rejection, and now his father has died it’s somehow even worse. He is desperate for love.
Scene 2 - Adam's apartment
Adam's mother has come for a visit after his father died. They exchange in light-hearted bantering, trying to forget. When Adam says something harsh about his father, his mother SINGS “He Was Another Man” about the man she married, what he was like when he was young, how he became harsh and difficult, but that he was good and meant well and loved Adam. Adam SINGS that he wishes he could believe that.
\Scene 3 - A gay bar
Adam and Clark go to a gay bar. Typical scene with lots of cruising. Adam and Clark SING “Will Tonight Be the Night?” noting various people in the bar. The other people in the bar join in describing cruising, wanting the other person to act first, being afraid of rejection, ending up going home along. Adam SINGS “Seduction Interlude” as he suddenly sees Tony. They look at each other strongly and Tony starts coming over to Adam. Adam tells Clark how excited he is. Adam and Tony SING a perfunctory exchange, not much content, but Tony is very sexy, flattering, and Adam falls under his spell. They dance a slow dance (to Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful”) and afterwards agree to go back to Adam’s apartment.
Scene 4 - Adam's bedroom
During an orchestral interlude (the continuing “Seduction Interlude”), they run off to Adam’s apartment. undress each other, and get into bed. Adam and Tony make passionate love. Tony SINGS of his desire for Adam, but he doesn't want to use a condom. He is extremely sensuous and strong. Adam SINGS protest. Tony persists, says he doesn't have HIV. As the orchestral interlude continues, Adam obviously gives in and the music indicates an orgasm at the end.
Scene 5 - Clark's apartment, one year later
Adam knock's on the door. He has just learned that he is HIV+. He is distraught.
He SINGS “What a Fool I Was” about how his life is over, how he will die now, how stupid he was. Clark SINGS comfort to Adam by telling him that his life isn't over, that HIV doesn't equal death, etc. Adam calms down and the two of them talk about the facts and the future. Then Clark SINGS “Can This Be?” … that there is something he has always wanted to say to Adam but hasn't dared, but now he tells Adam that he loves him. Adam SINGS he loves Clark too and the scene ends in a rapturous duet.
Scene 6 - Clark's apartment, a month later
Adam has moved in. They SING “It’s So Wonderful” about domestic gay bliss despite small conflicts. Witty and funny song. They are very happy. Adam tells Clark that he's been thinking about what he wants to do with his life to give him a means of expression. Not satisfied just being a salesperson at Bloomingdale's. That HIV has made him want to make the most of his life, to do something that gives his life meaning. SINGS “Who I Want To Be” of his dream and decision to sing torch songs on stage in drag. That when he sings he feels strong and true to himself. Clark supports him.
Scene 7 - A show bar
An emcee announces once again, the new sensation, Adam. Adam comes on stage in another gorgeous, tasteful, outfit. He does a little banter about life being hard, but there is always hope. "I know, because I have found love, when I never thought I would." SINGS “Each Morning,” a love song to Clark. He closes with a rousing SONG “I’m a New Person” about him finding his strength, doing things his way, being true to himself despite what the world may think. The entire cast joins in at the end.