Judy Denmark, a bland housewife, is the mother of talented eight-year-old Tina, who declares, "I was born to entertain." At the suggestion that she should postpone her stage ambitions to be a normal child, she replies, "I've had a normal childhood. It's time to move on."
Sylvia St. Croix, an overbearing and sleazy agent, encourages Tina to audition for the school play, Pippi in Tahiti, The Musical, feeding her thirst for stardom. Third-grade teacher and frustrated actress, Miss Myrna Thorn, directs Pippi. She casts an untalented (but parentally connected) girl, Louise Lerman, for the lead, making Tina the frustrated understudy.
After "begging nicely and saying please," Tina "accidentally" hangs Louise from the catwalk with a jumprope so that she can play Pippi. Lita Encore, Judy's adoptive mother (and Tina's grandmother), a tart-tongued theatre critic who "hates musicals", shows up to review the premiere of Pippi in Tahiti; and, in a series of revelations, we learn that Judy is the daughter of Ruth Del Marco, a Broadway star from the past who was believed to have committed suicide because of bad reviews from Lita Encore. Judy recognizes that she herself is talented. ("I'm talented! God help me, I'm talented!")
Once Tina's crime is discovered, she is sent away to the Daisy Clover School for Psychopathic Ingenues. Former housewife Judy Denmark is now a success on Broadway as diva Ginger Del Marco, but the world wants to know where she came from. "Modern Thespian" reporter Emily Block directs a pointed interview at Judy and discovers not only her housewife past but that she has a child.
Tina is released from serving her time, and comes back to Ginger's fabulous penthouse apartment (and her jealous assistant, Eve). Tina seems to be reformed, but Ginger sees through the act ("you're not that good") and calls her bluff. Mother and daughter face off for the limelight.
Sylvia re-enters, wanting nothing more than to take Tina with her. She reveals that she is Ruth Del Marco, and Ginger's mother. She did not commit suicide, as was believed, but instead went into hiding. Suddenly, Eve pulls out a gun and after revealing that she is Louise Lerman's mother Betty Lerman, in a struggle with Ginger Delmarco, is shot dead. Tina then takes the gun that shot Eve and holds it to her mother, asking to be in cast in her new play.
At that moment, Lita Encore bursts in and Sylvia struggles for the gun with Tina and is shot dead. She sings her final song, after which, Lita Encore comments "ah, she could never sing." Sylvia comes back to life one last time and shoots Lita. Ginger then becomes Judy again because of all the extremely stressful events that have taken place. She tells Tina that they'll never set foot on stage again to which Tina responds, "You're right, mother, there's no money in theater... we're moving to L.A.... we'll do a sitcom!"
Judy, realizing her daughter has not learned a single thing, proceeds to kill herself by electrocution. Tina begins to declare, gun in hand, that there's no money in Broadway, when she is interrupted by Miss Block, who returns looking for her pad and pen. Tina shoots her and finishes explaining that there's no money in Broadway and that she's moving to Hollywood to get a series.
Check back soon when libretto and/or lyrics for Ruthless! becomes available.