Detailed Show Synopsis
Song titles are indicated in italics.
It is 1665 and Clive has come to London to seek his fame and fortune (Oh London Town!). Mugged and left for dead within minutes of arrival, he finds himself being loaded onto a cart by Jerry, assistant to the loathsome undertaker, Phil Anbury. Clive soon agrees to join the undertakers to help revive their failing business (Coffin of Your Past).
During his training, Clive befriends Milly, the buxom barmaid of the local pub, and also the beggars of London thanks to his generosity (Spend a Penny.) He also wins the attentions of the beautiful Isabella (Never Felt Like this Before), daughter of the evil Alchemist who plans to the ruin the undertakers forever by distilling the fabled Elixir of Life (The Elixir of Life).
The undertakers business is already suffering, however, and the pressure soon takes its toll on Clive's relationship with Isabella. Alone and distraught, Clive is approached by a sinister duo with an offer he can't refuse (The Rat King). He is led deep into the London sewers to meet the mysterious Rat King, a visionary patriarch who begs Clive to uncover the bones of a great martyr to rat-kind - Elman Squatcherd. In return, the Rat King promises that the business will be saved. (Man and Rat.) Clive is swayed and delivers the exhumed remains to the sewer.
Unbeknownst to Clive, however, Elman Squatcherd was the last known victim of the Black Death and, in a masterful double-pronged coup, the Rat King steals The Elixir Of Life and infects London with the deadly bubonic plague! (It’s Bubonic!) The Londoners quickly assemble at the town hall looking for leadership but, without a cure, the devious Lord Mayor can only appease the mob with a scapegoat – the Alchemist (Someone to Blame). Desperate, Isabella turns to Clive to protect her father.
Clive, however, has his own problems: he has
been visited by an overworked Death and informed that he must end the plague or
face the consequences from her. Clive soon realises that the rats must be behind
everything and forms a plan to destroy them. The Rat King, however, is
continually one step ahead and ambushes Clive, informing him that the age of rat
has begun. All seems lost but, thanks to the timely assistance of the beggars
and the undertaker, the Rat King falls to a watery grave taking the stolen
Elixir Of Life with him.
Returning to Isabella, Clive's heart is broken to learn that she has caught the plague and there are but a few precious moments before she passes away in his arms [You’re Here]. Immediately, Death appears but informs Clive that the Elixir has spread throughout the water system and that the plague has been cured. As a reward for his endeavour, she agrees to grant Isabella a reprieve.
All London celebrates the end of the disaster (So the Plague Was Cured!). Clive and Isabella are re-united, the Alchemist and the Undertaker put aside their differences, and even Death seems content, allowing herself to be wooed by the ever-daring Jerry. It is the indefatigable Rat King who has the last laugh, however, for he has just begun the next London-wide calamity by starting a fire in a certain Pudding-Lane…