UE/MS Full Version Specifics
The full length UE/MS version is recommended for schools with an established drama program.
Singing parts are of intermediate difficulty with choral sections of two and three part harmony and some antiphonal singing. Three narrators guide the story along, and the role of Maria is divided up into “Little Maria”, “Young Maria” and adult “Maria”.
Synopsis & Musical Numbers
The full cast opens the show with the anthemic “Children Of The World”, setting the tone for the story of Maria Montessori. Little Maria introduces herself and her parents in the energetic “Hi, I’m Maria”. A sewing lesson from her mother turns into an inspirational moment as they sing “You Can Do Anything”. Contrasting with the nurturing environment of Maria’s home, the Chorus introduces the Italian school system in the strident and rhythmic song “Sit Still”.
Young Maria’s strong ambitions for her education directly conflict with her father’s wishes in “Clash of Wills” and “Anything But That”. Maria prevails in getting her way, and enrolls in technical school. The challenges she faces and her courage in face them are shown in “And She Studied (Parts 1 & 2)”. She obtains an interview with Guido Baccelli and is finally accepted into the University of Rome, sending polite society into an uproar. “Knee Jerk Reaction (Parts 1 & 2)” show the public outcry against a woman studying medicine, and how the Pope becomes Maria’s unlikely ally in quelling the outcry against her.
Alessandro, having turned cold and emotionally distant to Maria, still escorts her to her classes, including her evening anatomy class where she encounters her greatest challenges. She recoils at the gory and horrific images of the anatomy lab at dusk. Wielded by the Chorus, organs, brains, and a skeleton come to life in her imagination, intimidating her in “The Anatomy Lab.” Maria leaves the lab disoriented and disillusioned. Encouraged by her parents, she contemplates quitting her studies. But in a musical monologue, “The Revelation”, a prophetic experience renews her hopes and her courage. She fights through, earning scholarships, and excelling at everything she does.
Carlo, a friend of Alessandro’s, convinces him to attend her senior lecture (“The Lecture”) where Maria’s outstanding performance earns Alessandro’s respect and his pride, and the two are reconciled.
The chorus depicts Maria’s immediate rise to international fame after her graduation (“Look Out, Look Out”) and in a letter to her parents, Maria describes her strong desire not for celebrity, but for serious work (“Leaving The Spotlight”). As a volunteer physician for the psychiatric clinic, she visits the asylum for the insane and is welcomed by a skeptical nurse. Her interest in special education is sparked as she by observes the mentally handicapped children. The children sing the moving number “Power In My Hands”, pleading, through Maria’s observations, for understanding of their needs and their potential. This observation leads Maria to delve deeper into her research.
In “Heroes of History” great thinkers and physicians from the past (Pareira, Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Itard, and Seguin) appear, via Maria’s books, to instruct her and inspire her to experiment with sensory education. In “The Didactic Apparatus”, sung by the Chorus, Maria develops her own sensory teaching materials and various concepts related to their use are depicted.
When her special needs students perform wonders on standardized tests, Maria once again retreats from the public eye (“Leaving The Spotlight [Reprise])”, this time to study regular education.
We fast forward seven years to a board meeting of the Roman Good Building Society where philanthropic investors argue over what is to be done about the highly unprofitable San Lorenzo apartment complex. They all agree to invite Dr. Montessori to direct a school for 50 some-odd unchaperoned, vandalizing 3-6 year old children (“Dear, Dr. Montessori”).
To the chagrin of her professional colleagues, Maria accepts the position and dives into the work with the help of Candida, the porter’s daughter, who is her helper. Making use of her didactic apparatus, and using her method of scientific observation, Maria discovers miracles (“The Discovery Of The Child”). A happy new life of peace, order, and love is ushered in as the children become “normalized”, climaxing with the joyful song “Love Of Learning”.
The narrators conclude and the full cast ends on a high note, revisiting the soaring theme of the show in “Children Of The World (Reprise)”.
Full Version Song List (18 songs)
Children of the World
Hi, I'm Maria / You Can Do Anything
Anything But That
And She Studied
Knee Jerk Reaction
The Anatomy Lab
Who Can Calculate
And Maria Graduated
Look Out, Look Out
I'm Leaving the Spotlight
Power In My Hands
Heroes of History
The Didactic Apparatus
Dear Dr. Montessori
Love of Learning
Children of the World (Reprise)
Full Version Cast List (20 student min.)
Little Maria - 5 years old
Young Maria - Teenage
Maria - College and adult age
Renilde - Maria’s free-thinking, encouraging mother
Alessandro - Maria’s father. A traditionalist who at first opposes Maria’s professional ambitions.
Dr. Baccelli - A renowned professor and department chair at the University
Secretary - Works the door for Dr. Baccelli
Reporter - The voice of the public, who appears several times throughout the show
Pope Leo XIII - Who helps to calm the furor over Maria’s enrollment as a medical student at the University.
Anatomy Lab Attendant - Who greets Maria on the evening of her first Anatomy class.
Anatomy Professor - Who plays a role in Maria’s greatest challenge at the University.
Carlo - Alessandro’s friend who convinces him to attend Maria’s senior lecture at the University.
Nurse - An opinionated employee at Rome’s insane asylum who doubts Maria’s ability to educate the mentally handicapped.
Heroes of History: the thinkers and authors Maria turns to in her search for knowledge
Jacob Rodriguez Pareira
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard
The Good Building Society: Philanthropic investors who seek out Dr. Montessori’s help in rescuing a tenament building investment from financial ruin, resulting in the establishment of a pre-school - The Casa Dei Bambini.
Candida - Maria’s assistant at the Casa Dei Bambini.
Chorus: The chorus serves as a fourth narrator and also enters Maria’s time and space periodically, as “Roman Citizens” or “Asylum Children” for instance. It is recommended that Chorus parts be performed by at least 10 students, and that students with supporting roles sing in the chorus when they are not playing their special part.