1961 Broadway
Milk and Honey the Musical - Synopsis

Act 1

The calm of a morning street scene in modern Jerusalem is shattered when a police officer orders a Yemenite boy to remove his flock of sheep to a side street. Phil Arkin, an American visiting his married daughter, defends the boy, and in the ensuing fracas he meets Ruth Stein, a tourist travelling with a group of widows from the United States. She is impressed with Phil's command of Hebrew as he explains the meaning of the word "Shalom".

They keep running into each other and together they celebrate Israel's Independence Day ("Independence Day Hora"). Their friendship begins to deepen and Phil's conscience starts troubling him. Although he has been separated from his wife for many years, he does not think it right to continue seeing Ruth since he is still married. Phil's daughter, Barbara, however, likes Ruth and invites her to go with them to her farm in the Negev. After some hesitation, Ruth accepts.

On the farm - called a Moshav - Phil tries to talk Barbara and her husband David into going back to Baltimore with him. But the young man vows his devotion to his country and is joined in its praise by his neighbors, including his cynical friend Adi, who claims he would rather live in the city ("Milk and Honey").

Phil, who is falling in love with Ruth, asks her to stay at Barbara's a little longer. In fact, he is even thinking of building a house of his own there that he would like her to share ("There's No Reason in the World").

Meanwhile, the group of touring widows comes to visit. When they eye the virile young farmers, the ladies, led by Clara Weiss, reveal their hopes of finding suitable husbands. Though their dreams are quickly dashed when all the men turn out to be married, Clara is still optimistic ("Chin Up, Ladies").

Later, Phil tells Ruth that he has bought a lot on which to build a home, and she gives him her approval ("That Was Yesterday"). But Barbara is shocked at the news, and urges her father to tell Ruth that he is married. Reluctantly he does, but he also tells her why she must remain ("Let's Not Waste a Moment"). At a wedding ceremony that they attend, Phil and Ruth, envious of the younger people, express their deep love for each other and, forgetting the consequences for the moment, go off together ("The Wedding").

Act 2

Phil energetically feels the spirit of the new land and goes out to work the fields with the other farmers ("Like A Young Man"). Barbara, however, brings news that Ruth, realizing the consequences of living with a married man, has run off to Tel Aviv, and Phil goes off to bring her back. When they are alone, David, convinced that Barbara really longs to go back to the United States, asserts that he would go anywhere to be with her ("I Will Follow You").

In Tel Aviv, Phil finds Clara at the Cafe Hotok, but she refuses to tell him where Ruth is. When he leaves, Clara accidentally meets Sol Horowitz, a widower from Jerusalem, and they promptly show mutual interest. Alone, she seeks her late husband's permission to remarry if Sol proposes ("Hymn to Hymie").

Back at the moshav, Phil, after much inner conflict, realizes that it would be wrong to live with Ruth. Although she comes back to him, he tells her that she must leave ("As Simple as That").

At Lydda Airport, the touring widows are preparing to board the plane home. Phil and Ruth have their final, brief moment together during which he promises to fly to Paris, where his wife lives, and plead for a divorce. Ruth boards the plane with the hope that somehow Phil will succeed and she will be able to come back to him ("Finale").

Review: Milk and Honey the Musical Lyrics