Simply Heavenly


Writers: Langston Hughes David Martin


Show Information

Based on the Play/Book/Film
Based on the novel Simple Takes a Wife by Langston Hughes
Number of Acts
First Produced
Comedy, Drama
Multiple Settings, Period
Time & Place
1950s Harlem
Cast Size
Orchestra Size
Piano Only
Musical Staging
Ideal for
College/University, Community Theatre, Diverse Cast, Professional Theatre, Regional Theatre, Star Vehicle Male
Casting Notes
Mostly male cast
Includes adult, mature adult, early teen characters


At Paddy’s Bar in Harlem, an array of friends and neighbors gather to drink, laugh, and tell stories. Dockworker Bodiddly and his wife Arcie escape their 17 children, if only for a few hours. Watermelon Joe proclaims his undying affection for the independent and intimidating Mamie, who rebukes him every time. Bartender Hopkins listens to their troubles and cares, while the Pianist and Gitfiddle entertain the patrons. At the center of this activity is Jess Simple, a charming working-class fellow who is in love with Joyce Lane. But Jess has two problems: First, he hasn’t saved up enough money to divorce his first wife, whom he hasn’t seen in years. Second, he is the target of Zarita, the neighborhood barfly and party girl, whose charms and persuasions he finds irresistible.

Simply Heavenly is Langston Hughes’ comedic musical of Harlem life, first running Off-Broadway before a successful Broadway premiere, and then a transfer to the West End in 1958, with an acclaimed 2004 West End revival. Scored with music inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, blues, and big band, the company at Paddy’s Bar navigates their way through life, love, social justice, and any obstacle that comes their way. After all, when the music is hot and friends are together, life is always Simply Heavenly.

Lead Characters

Simply Heavenly guide sections