John and Jane’s Adventures in the Wonderland

A new musical

By Danny Ashkenasi

 SP door

The Speakeasy Highlight Reel, a 13 minute edit of selections from the musical, featuring excerpts of many songs, and functioning as a visual / aural synopsis of John and Jane’s fantastical adventures, may be viewed by request only via a secure private online link.  To watch it, please send your email request to dannyashkenasi@gmail.com.

Jazz Age Nightclub

Cast of Characters

John Allison – a newlywed

Jane Allison – a newlywed

Chet Cheshire – the master of ceremonies at the Wonderland

Julian Carnation – famed female impersonator

Duchess Bentley – bawdy Harlem nightclub singer who favors men’s suits

Caroline Chrysalides – society lady

Dean Kitteridge – Jane’s cousin & John’s office colleague

Roberta White – John and Jane’s neighbor

The Tweedle Sisters (Dora and DeeDee) – performers at the Wonderland

Various NY City denizens, incl. Nate (a trick), Reverend Clayton Fish (a Harlem Minister), Roberta’s beaux and gal-pals, Caroline’s three attendants, nightclub patrons, waiters and performers, subway riders, train guard, protesters, florists, fairies, bulldaggers, transvestites, policemen, jury members, revelers, musicians


Place and Time: New York City circa 1930

Alice and Rabbit

Speakeasy music demo tracks featured on Notes from a Composer:



Dance into the Light

Curious Colorful Light

My Passion


Dream Part 2

Keep Me Warm


Dry Out the Nation

It’s a Dream


Off to the Ballroom


The Lobster Charleston

Out of Sight


Shadow and Light

Once I Had A Dream


Momentary Bliss


A Fawn in the Wood


Dance into the Light (Finale)

For more Speakeasy music tracks, go to the Speakeasy Soundcloud page.

F flapper

Select Notes from a Composer articles on Speakeasy:


THE SPEAKEASY INTRODUCTION – A fantastical musical of Prohibition era NYC Queer life.

The following is the official introduction/synopsis for Speakeasy. While you read it, you may want to listen to the Wonderland’s Master of Ceremonies Chet Cheshire sing the Speakeasy opening number: (If you are “greedy” and want to listen to more … Continue reading

The Walk in the Park that Conceived “Speakeasy”

I came up with the idea for “Speakeasy” while strolling in Prospect Park with Ed six or seven years ago. But I had the ideas that would lead to the idea for Speakeasy many years, even decades before that moment. … Continue reading

SPEAKEASY and the “breaking into song with music out of nowhere” musical trope

                            Alice goes through the Looking Glass JANE (puts the Drink Me bottle back onto the little table): How much hooch will I have to down before I get to the Wonderland? (singing) WHAT ARE THESE DRINKS THAT I’M DRINKING … Continue reading

CHET CHESHIRE, the WONDERLAND M.C. and his feline and real-life inspirations

The musical “Speakeasy” begins in darkness.  The overture has concluded, all lights have dimmed, we can’t see anything and all we hear is a chime like tone (on an octave of G). Then a tiny spotlight reveals a debonair smile.  … Continue reading

SPEAKEASY – Dream a little Dream of Dreams

When we first meet John and Jane Allison in the musical Speakeasy they are making love. We don’t see them actually.  The lights are out.  We just hear them, some faint sounds of intimacy followed by a post-coital conversation in … Continue reading


Jane Allison goes down the rabbit hole.  John Allison slips through the looking glass.  Or rather a Prohibition era version of rabbit hole and looking glass, as employed in the musical “Speakeasy”, a roaring twenties riff on Lewis Carroll’s Alice … Continue reading


Harlem HARLEM IT’S SO BECOMING LET’S ALL GO SLUMMING IN THE WILD UPTOWN “Going slumming in Harlem”.  This is what rich and middle class swells and flappers, socialites and the elite, white folks from downtown Manhattan, called going uptown to … Continue reading

THE SPEAKEASY GLOSSARY – Queer Slang of the Prohibition Era

Part of the fun of researching 1920’s and 1930’s Queer subculture in New York City was coming across a wide variety of specialized slang and coded terms that flourished among homosexual men and women of the time.  Some of these … Continue reading


By the time Jane Allison, in the musical “Speakeasy”, has walked in one door into a speakeasy foyer and through another door into an automat, she realizes that the regular rules and expectations of time and space may not apply … Continue reading

Speakeasy Gay Slang – FLOWERS & FLORISTS & MAE WEST, Oh my!

After Alice goes through the mirror in Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” she wanders through a mirror image fantastical version of the house she left, then discovers a garden with flowers who not only can talk but will also … Continue reading →

Speakeasy – An interview conducted by author Rebecca Cantrell

The bestselling Author Rebecca Cantrell has posted an interview with me about Speakeasy on her blog.  In it I reveal some tidbits about Speakeasy and a song demo that had not yet found their way to Notes from a Composer. … Continue reading →

JULIAN CARNATION / JULIAN ELTINGE – Speakeasy’s Red Queen and Mad Hatter & Broadway’s Famous Female Impersonator

When I was researching Gay Culture of the 1920’s and 1930’s in preparation for writing “Speakeasy”, I came about an anecdote about a once famous female impersonator of the 1910’s and 1920’s, Julian Eltinge, a star of Vaudeville and the … Continue reading →

SPEAKEASY GOES OFF TO THE BALLROOM – The Great Drag Balls of the 1920’s/1930’s

The centerpiece in Act Two of the new musical “Speakeasy – John and Jane Allison in the Wonderland” is the great drag ball at the Jefferson Lodge Ball.  Chet Cheshire presides over the festivities, attended by a sparkling variety of … Continue reading →


Introducing the latest dance craze from the Roaring Twenties: The Lobster Charleston! The Lobster Charleston Yes, it’s a novelty dance, like the Turkey Trot, or the Chicken Dance, or the Macarena, the Mashed Potato and Gangnam Style. But it’s imaginary, … Continue reading →

The Inspiration for SPEAKEASY’S DUCHESS BENTLEY – The Terrific, Trangressive and Tragic Tale of Gladys Bentley – Part 1

In the musical Speakeasy – John and Jane’s Adventures in the Wonderland, Jane Allison first meets Duchess Bentley, Harlem nightclub singer and unabashed lesbian, when she finds herself outside a door being angrily knocked upon by Minister Fish, who implores … Continue reading

The Inspiration for SPEAKEASY’S DUCHESS BENTLEY – The Terrific, Transgressive and Tragic Tale of Gladys Bentley – Part 2

  Gladys Bentley, the model for the character Duchess Bentley in Speakeasy, enjoyed a terrific career as deliberately outrageous Lesbian nightclub singer during the Roaring Twenties, but saw her prospects plummet during the far less permissive Great Depression.  Almost all … Continue reading

SPEAKEASY – Advice from a (Lesbian) Caterpillar

Two songs from “Speakeasy” explore two sides of a closeted 1920’s lesbian For many years I hoped to write a musical about the queer subculture of Roaring Twenties New York, but didn’t find my “in” until I came upon the … Continue reading


SPEAKEASY – The Irony of the Young Lovers’ Duets

Curious Colorful Night – It’s a Dream – Momentary Bliss Three lovers’ duets that are not what they seem to the ear Ah, young lovers’ duets.  A hallmark of musicals, especially those of the 1920s and 1930s, and so of … Continue reading


The Young Lovers’ Path to Speak Easy

Two Fawns in the Wood Dance into the Light   Maybe it’s just a dream.  Maybe it’s real.  Maybe it doesn’t matter either way.  For the shame and the betrayal are felt just as acutely. In the musical Speakeasy, an … Continue reading




For more Speakeasy related articles, go to The Speakeasy Chronicles category.



1 Response to Speakeasy

  1. Nicolas says:

    Interesting read

    Liked by 1 person

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