Loving Repeating
In this moving biographical musical, the words, work and passion of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas are center stage.
Show Essentials
+ Ensemble

Full Synopsis

Sixty-year-old Gertrude Stein is lecturing at the University of Chicago in November of 1934. She begins to reflect upon her life in college and, as she does so, a younger version of herself appears ("A Sonatina Song"). Gertrude then explains that she became interested in psychology while battling boredom during her time at medical school. When observing different types of people, she would notice that everybody said the same things, over and over again, and became interested ("Loving Repeating"). Through this, she started to find that observing this repetition helped her understand society and the people in it ("There Are Many That I Know"). Young Gertrude expands on the concept by suggesting that, if everyone is always repeating, then they should all have the same history ("The History of One").

Young Gertrude suddenly catches sight of a thirty-year-old Alice B. Toklas. They begin to fall in love ("A Sonatina Song – Reprise"). Alice recounts meeting Gertrude and how well the two worked in love ("A Sonatina Song – Second Reprise / A Lyrical Opera Made by Two to Be Sung – Setting"). We begin to see the connection and story of the two women played out, as Gertrude guides us through what she calls scenes 1, 2, 3 and 4 ("My Wife Is My Life / Come Fire Fly / A Large and Loose Caramel / A Cow Coming"). Gertrude then brings us to what she has titled the Finale ("A Lyrical Opera – Finale").

As this section comes to a close, Gertrude tells a story about a dinner party that she attended in Beverly Hills. At the party, they ask her questions about how she got so much publicity and why she doesn't write the way that she talks ("Kiss My Lips She Did"). We see more interaction between Young Gertrude and Alice, with Gertrude involved this time ("The Thirteenth of April"). The trio then have a conversation about how nothing is important, but love ("As a Wife Has a Cow"). Gertrude then re-establishes how people love to repeat certain things, since that it is a natural part of life ("Do They as They Do So").

Gertrude tells a story about a time that T.S. Eliot came to see her, claiming that he would only publish her most recent piece in The Criterion. Gertrude then decides to to write a portrait of T.S. Eliot, entitled The Fifteenth of November, so that it would be clear that the piece was written on the very day that he saw her. However, they didn't print it, and it ended up being printed the following October ("The Fifteenth of October / As a Wife Has a Cow – Finale").

Next, Gertrude begins commenting on poetry and what it is like to write it now. As she is discussing, Young Gertrude and Alice reappear but they are now middle-aged ("Kiss My Lips She Did – Reprise"). The two tell the story of Miss Furr and Miss Skeene, about the love between two women ("Miss Furr and Miss Skeene"). Gertrude then introduces a group of men that Miss Furr and Miss Skeene went around with regularly ("Men – Part 1"). She goes on to explain that Miss Furr and Miss Skeene eventually stopped living together and went their separate ways ("Men – Part 2 /Such a One / Ending – Miss Furr and Miss Skeene").

We come upon an even older Young Gertrude, who is discouraged because she feels that there is no way to get a full history of anyone ("Loving Repeating – Reprise"). Alice proceeds to join Young Gertrude in helping her get through her sadness ("Lifting Belly"). Finally, Gertrude approaches the lectern and resumes her lecture; as she does so, Alice is revealed as an old woman ("A Bun for My Bunny"). Gertrude wonders if it's possible to describe every type of human being in relation to other human beings ("Finale – Part 1: A Sonatina Song"). Alice approaches the lectern and tells about the last time that she ever saw Gertrude... being wheeled into an operating room ("Finale – Part 2: Kiss My Lips She Did").

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Cast Size: Small (Up to 10 performers)
Cast Type: Star Vehicle Female
Dance Requirements: None

Character Breakdown

Gertrude Stein
The eccentric, talkative writer. She delivers a lecture on writing and tells the story of herself in college. She has a life-long partner, Alice, and marches to the beat of her own drum.
Gender: female
Age: 55 to 65
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: F3
Young Gertrude
The ambitious philosophy/psychology student who meets and falls in love with her sweetheart. Curious, lively, hopeful.
Gender: female
Age: 20 to 25
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: F#3
Alice B. Toklas
Gertrude's lifelong partner and lover, as examined in her 30s at the beginning of their relationship. She challenges the young Gertrude and the two grow together.
Gender: female
Age: 25 to 35
Vocal range top: E5
Vocal range bottom: Eb3
Men; Women
Full Song List
Loving Repeating: A Sonatina Song
Loving Repeating: Loving Repeating
Loving Repeating: There Are Many That I Know
Loving Repeating: A History Of One
Loving Repeating: A Sonatina Song (Reprise)
Loving Repeating: A Lyrical Opera Made By Two To Be Sung: Setting
Loving Repeating: My Wife Is My Life
Loving Repeating: Come Fire Fly
Loving Repeating: A Large And Loose Caramel
Loving Repeating: A Cow Coming
Loving Repeating: A Lyrical Opera: Finale
Loving Repeating: Kiss My Lips She Did
Loving Repeating: The Thirteenth Of April
Loving Repeating: As A Wife Has A Cow: A Love Story
Loving Repeating: Do As They Do So
Loving Repeating: The Fifteenth Of October
Loving Repeating: As A Wife Has A Cow: A Love Story: Finale
Loving Repeating: Kiss My Lips She Did (Reprise)
Loving Repeating: Miss Furr And Miss Skeene
Loving Repeating: Men
Loving Repeating: Such A One
Loving Repeating: Loving Repeating (Reprise)
Loving Repeating: Lifting Belly
Loving Repeating: A Bun For My Bunny
Loving Repeating: Finale

Show History


Gertrude Stein was an American author who lived from 1874 to 1946. Despite being less well known in her lifetime than friends and contemporaries, such as Picasso, she is now remembered as a creative, innovative writer in American literature. One of her most famous works was The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Toklas being her life partner. Loving Repeating, according to composer, Stephen Flaherty, "follows the life, the loves and creative spirit of Gertrude Stein as seen through her relationship with Alice B. Toklas. Every word in the piece is [by] Stein. It's taken from a variety of texts: poems, speeches, letters, journal entries. All of the words are by Stein, except the very, very end of the piece where the final monologue is Alice B. Toklas' words about the end of Gertrude Stein's life." Director, Frank Galati, adapted the piece in part from a 1934 lecture that Stein delivered at the University of Chicago.


Loving Repeating began at Northwestern University in 2003, where it was developed under the title, A Long, Gay Book. Galati was a theatre professor there at the time.

Loving Repeating then premiered in Chicago in 2006 as a co-production and co-presentation by About Face Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). It ran at the MCA from February 14 through March 12.

The next major production was done by the International City Theatre in Long Beach, California, at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. The show ran from January 21, 2011, through February 13, 2011.

Cultural Influence

  • A cast recording featuring the original Chicago cast was released on January 9, 2007.
  • A published edition of the script, credited to Frank Galati as a dramatic adaptation of Gertrude Stein's work, came out in August of 2009.


  • Galati and Flaherty had previously collaborated on the Tony Award-winning Ragtime before coming together to work on Loving Repeating.
  • Loving Repeating is the only full-length, professionally produced musical that Stephen Flaherty has written without his frequent lyricist partner, Lynn Ahrens.
  • The original creative team for the About Face Theatre production of Loving Repeating included choreographer, Liza Gennaro, and music director, Thomas Murray. The original cast featured Chicago veteran, Cindy Gold, as Gertrude Stein, Jenny Powers as Alice B. Toklas and Christine Mild as the young Gertrude Stein.

Critical Reaction

"A love story, told with lyricism, grace and good humor."
– Los Angeles Times

"As sung by a top-shelf cast of eight accompanied by music director Tom Murray's five-piece orchestra (that sounds much bigger, thanks to the orchestrations by Flaherty and Brad Haak), it s enough just to listen to Flaherty's score for the seventy-five minutes of the piece."
– Talkin' Broadway, Chicago




Under the terms and conditions of your organisation’s Performance Agreement, the following credits must appear on all advertising (including websites) relating to the production. Credits must be reproduced faithfully in accordance with the following layout. No alterations or deletions can be permitted unless stated below.
Percentages listed indicate required type size in relation to title size.
A Musical of Gertrude Stein
(no less than 50%)
(no less than 50%)
Adapted and Directed by Frank Galati
(no less than 50%)
And for originally produced by credit:
The World Premiere of "Loving Repeating: A Musical of Gertrude Stein" was
produced by
About Face Theatre and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois
Eric Rosen, Artistic Director; Gregory Copeland, Executive Director - About
Face Theatre
Peter Taub, Director of Performance Programs; Greg Cameron, Associate
Director - Museum of Contemporary Art
Said credit shall be in a type size no smaller than twenty-five percent (25%) of the production's producers credit.
The videotaping or other video or audio recording of this production is strictly prohibited.

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