August 25, 1944. Armand carries Marguerite, who is wearing only a slip. The citizens of Paris attack her; she was once a well known lady of Paris society ("Come One Come All").
March 3 1942. It is Marguerite’s 40th birthday and she is having a party with her friends. Everyone is having fun and is happy to ignore the war as long as the bombs aren’t dropping on them, Let the World Turn. Georges, Marguerite’s old agent, turns up late and, in a frienldy manner, asks Marguerite to get her husband – Otto (a Nazi officer) – to get him some petrol coupons when he arrives. She agrees and Georges gives her a birthday present - a box full of silk stockings which causes a great stir of excitement among the ladies. As everyone is getting more and more merry, even dancing on the piano, Otto enters. He doesn't like this behaviour, but he lets it pass and gives Marguerite a new necklace for her birthday. Dinner is to be served and everyone goes to sit down as Gerges brings the band in. The band members are Armand, his sister Annette, her boyfriend Lucien and their friend Pierrot. Annette, Lucien and Pierrot are resistance members and Lucien objects to playing for a Nazi, but is persuaded to do so. Armand realises he has seen Marguerite sing years before, and that he was captivated. Marguerite is delighted to learn that they are a swing band and encourages everyone to leave the table and dance while Annette sings Jazz Time. Marguerite begins to flirt with all of the men, and loses her shoes with which they jovially taunt her. This enrages Otto who stops the music and begins to accuse Marguerite of being a whore. To calm the situation, Armand, starts to play her biggest hit, China Doll, which he and the guests persude her to sing.
An air raid siren sounds, but everyone ignores it since there haven’t been any bombs dropped on Paris yet. Suddenly bombs are heard, the room shakes and the lights dim. Everyone runs off to the shelter except Marguerite. Armand is the last to leave and encourages her to come to safety, but she says she is afraid of the dark. He talks about having seen her before and she tells him he is young and has a whole life ahead of him. He tells her that he can see that she is unhappy although she pretends not to be, and she carefully confesses that she does not love Otto. They move towards each other as if to kiss. Suddenly a bomb blows the French windows out and kills the electricity. In the resulting darkness Marguerite and Armand share a passionate kiss as the all-clear siren sounds. The guests return, shaken but unharmed, and as Armand leaves, he makes Marguerite promise to meet him at the bandstand the next day.
In her bedroom Marguerite reflects on her feelings towards Armand – The Face I See. Otto enters and tries to confess his love for her, but she just talks about Georges's petrol coupons. Otto becomes enraged and accuses her of being a whore and tells her that even if she doesn't love him, she is his. He threatens her but is upset when he sees himself and what he is doing.
As the band members walk home, they reflect on the changing state of Paris, while Armand sings of his new passion for Marguerite – Time Was When.
At the bandstand a Nazi band are playing and the public join in – The World Begins Today. Armand waits for Marguerite – Waiting – but when she turns up she decides she cannot stay and tries to leave unnoticed. Armand sees her, but she says that this relationship can never happen and goes.
Lucien and Annette are at home listening to coded radio messages, when they hear that the French government are going to force Jews to wear an identifying mark. This worries Lucien as he is Jewish. Annete says she will speak to her resistance contact about getting out of Paris. Nobody knows where Armand has been for two days since the party. Pierrot turns up with various things that he has pinched from the party but this only worries Lucien more since it is food stolen from a Nazi. Armand turns up, he has been out wandering the streets and thinking of Marguerite, but claims not to care about her. However Pierrot teases him and he gets angry and leaves. Pierrot gathers up his stolen goods and leaves too.
Pierrot gets stopped by police on his way home who search his bag and drag him away to be sent to a concentration camp.
Armand sings of his love for Marguerite – Intoxication. The song becomes a trio between Armand, Marguerite and Otto.
Pierrot is dragged out of a crowd of gathered Jews to be tortured. As he has his head held under water, the ensemble sing Day by Day (Part One). He manages to buy his way out of trouble by giving the Nazis the name and address of a Jew – Lucien. However when they knock on his door, both Pierrot and Lucien manage to escape.
Annette has come to see Armand. She has train tickets and wants him to come along. Suddenly Lucien bursts in and explains the situation - he must leave Paris at once. Annete calms him telling him about the train tickets. Armand has still heard nothing from Marguerite since the bandstand, and he agrees to meet them at the train station that night. However, while he is packing his bag, Marguerite comes to his flat and they make love I Am Here
Annette and Lucien are at the train station, waiting for Armand. Annette explains she has to do something, but Lucien must go and she will join him later – Take Good Care of Yourself. Both couples sing their respective songs together as the curtain falls.
Marguerite and Otto meet in a park, whilst the crowd sing of change - Day by Day (Part Two). Otto decides to have Marguerite followed.
Annette meets Pierrot who tells her where to meet her resistance contact. She is angry about what he did to Lucien, but he tells her to worry about the current situation.
Marguerite goes to see Armand Dreams Shining Dreams. She tells him that she must go early because Otto has invited dinner guests. He becomes enraged and throws her love letters all over his flat as she leaves.
Annette meets her resistance contact. He gives her a briefcase full of documents and tells her to get them out of Paris. He says her brother, Armand, is a danger to her and himself since he is sleeping with a Nazi officer’s wife, and that she must on no account visit him. This only worries Annette –Take Good Care of Yourself (Reprise). She decides she must see her brother, but arrives at the flat at the same time as Hermann. Armand has gone, but left the letters all over the floor, and when the Nazis look in Annette’s bag they find maps and other incriminating material so take her with them.
Otto is sitting in a darkened room with the love letters. He sings abouthis feelings - I Hate the Very Thought of Women. Marguerite arrives home, and he confronts her with the letters. He tells her to break it off, and when she refuses Hermann brings in Annette, covered in cuts and bruises and Otto shows her an arrest warrant for Armand. She breaks down, and eventually, he promises to let Annette and Armand go if she writes a letter to Armand saying that she will never see him again, which she does, whilst hoping that he will understand she is not writing her own words – The Letter. Once she has done it, he says he cannot let Annette go, as she is too dangerous, but he promises not to torture her any more. He tears up Armand's arrest warrant saying he is a man of his word.
Armand reads the letter and is distraught – What’s Left of Love. Pierrot finds Armand and shows him that Lucien has returned since he has heard about Annette. Lucien is angry with Armand as he sees the affair with Marguerite as the cause of the Annette situation.
There is a big New Years Eve party and the chanteuse sings. Marguerite is getting ready, but she doesn't want to go. Otto enters and tells her to keep up her end of the bargain - pretending to love him. She agrees to come, but, saying that she doesn't feel well, takes some pills first. Armand, Lucien and Pierrot plan to shoot Otto at the party and Armand insists that he be the one to pull the trigger. Lucien claims that he is too involved, but Armand says he no longer cares about Marguerite, and he is given the gun. The band members disguise themselves with masks. Armand manages to grab a few seconds with Marguerite and confesses that, though he thought he hated her, now he sees her he realises that he still loves her. He tells her Paris is no longer safe for her, but as she questions this, the midnight countdown begins. Armand pulls out the pistol, and as the fireworks ring in the new year, he shoots Otto dead. He and the band flee. The crowd sing of change again - Day by Day (Part Three)
Marguerite visits Georges to ask him to help her find work as a singer, but he refuses to. He says they were never friends and that she was only good because of the company she kept and the things she could get him. He suggests that if she wanted work as a prostitute, he could get her some. She slaps him. Distraught, she leaves – How Did I Get to Where I Am?.
Paris is liberated - Day by Day (Part Four), and the French turn on the Nazi sympathizers. They attack Marguerite in her home, strip her and beat her and cut her hair off in clumps in a more violent rerun of the prologue – Come One Come All (Reprise). Armand, Annette, Lucien and Pierrot rush in and break up the mob. Armand sends Pierrot for a doctor. He says to Marguerite that Annette, who has now been released, has explained that the letter was written to protect him and his sister, and that it was in fact Marguerite that gave Otto's wareabouts on New Years Eve to the resistance for his shooting, and he forgives her. They confess their love for each other as she lies across his knees – Finale – but it is too late, and she dies in his arms. Pierrot returns saying that he cannot find a doctor, and Armand says it is ok, she is just sleeping. He picks her up and carries her off.
SYNOPSIS Lyrics From The Musical Marguerite