A scene of general chaos. Ishmael sits at the piano; Pip, the school's security guard, has been gagged & tied to a chair; students play basketball and throw paper airplanes. The Janitor enters and asks Ishmael to start choir practice. Ishmael plays as the school's Headmistress enters, greeted by the girls singing an obligatory anthem to St. Godley’s (“School Hymn”). The Headmistress informs her students that due to bankruptcy, the school will close at the end of the term. The girls, determined not to return to their horrible, boring lives outside St. Godley's, vow to save it. They decide to put on Ishmaels’ recently penned musical version of Moby Dick as a fundraiser. The Headmistress passes out parts, making herself Captain Ahab (“Moby Dick”).
Substantial time has passed. It is now opening night of the show. A nervous Ishmael takes the stage and sings of her passion for the sea, the magic of the water, and her love of adventure ("I Live And Breathe"). She lands on the docks of Nantucket where we meet the crew of the Pequod, a whaling ship recently returned from a hunting trip gone bad: Captain Ahab lost his leg to a savage whale ("In Old Nantucket"). Ishmael, who has been looking for affordable lodgings for the evening, finds an available bed at the Spouter Inn.
Meanwhile, Esta, Ahab's wife, waits fretfully for her husband's safe return (“A Man Happens"). He arrives, accompanied by Pip and a chest overflowing with gold ("Ahab's Homecoming"). He then proceeds to break bad news to her - not only has he lost his leg to the rogue whale Moby Dick, but his manhood as well. He will not be able to father her children. Esta inappropriately giggles when he reveals his ivory stump and the other guests at Ahab's homecoming follow suit. Humiliated, Ahab denounces Esta, who immediately jumps out a window to her watery death and he returns to the safety of his cabin aboard the Pequod. Later that evening, Pip attends to a very drunk Ahab. While he pledges his devotion to the Captain, Ahab pines for his lost Esta ("Love Will Always").
At the Spouter Inn, Peter Coffin, the innkeeper, introduces Ishmael to the crew of the Pequod. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when Ishmael learns he is to lodge the night with Queequeg, their cannibalistic crewmate who's off selling shrunken heads. But Queequeg proves him wrong and they become fast friends ("Primitive").
Over at the Pequod, Ahab has passed out from far too much rum. Pip prays for peace in his soul, but Ahab only dreams of Esta. In his dream, she tells him he belongs to the sea and Ahab awakens with a start, determined to kill the rogue Moby Dick ("A Sinking Man"). The next morning, Ishmael and Queequeg go to hear Father Mapple deliver his Sunday sermon and to seek blessings before their voyage ("Jonah Fell"). They set off in search of a ship that will engage them as crew. Ishmael picks the Pequod ("Pequod"). As they are about to sign up, Elijah, the crazy one-armed lackey, tells them Ahab and his ship are cursed (“At Sea One Day”). Undeterred by these foreboding warnings, Ishmael and Queequeg find Starbuck and sign up anyway. Finally, on Christmas Day, they set sail ("Building America").
We are brought up to speed with Ishmael on the Pequod. It has successfully weathered a winter of storms; Pip and the crew are relaxed and lively as the boat approaches the equator ("Deck Dance"). After a year, a crazed Ahab appears from his cabin. He proffers a gold dubloon claiming it belongs to the crewman who spots the great white whale he seeks. Ishmael climbs into the crow's nest and spies instead a herd of black whales. Ahab decides that they will hunt, while waiting to find the great Moby Dick (“Heave Away”).
Ahab appears on the deck to examine the day's kill. Growing weary of Ahab's increasing delusions, Starbuck confronts Ahab about his personal obsession. Ahab agrees and acknowledges his obsession, but feels that he cannot resist it ("Can’t Keep Out The Night"). Back in the crew's quarters, Starbuck tries to rally the men to mutiny against their insane Captain and vows to kill him (“Whale Of A Tale”). However, at the last minute, Starbuck cannot bring himself to do it.
Later that night, haunted by the voices of Moby Dick and his deceased, slightly decomposed wife Esta, Ahab sleepwalks around his cabin. He is convinced they are nearing the great whale ("Love Will Always [Reprise]"). Starbuck appears from the shadows and tries to convince Ahab to turn his ship around and go home. At that moment, Ishmael spots an English whaling ship. Captain Gardiner boards the Pequod proclaiming that he, too, has been hot on the trail of a great white whale but has lost his crew and family in the process ("The Rachel"). Gardiner retreats to his ship as the crew braces for a storm. Pip is tragically killed when he is blown overboard, yet Ahab madly presses on (“Shadows Of The Deep”).
The next morning, despite the calm seas, the crew is convinced the ship is cursed. Queequeg casts bones on the deck and prophesies his own death ("Bones"). When he goes into one of his usual trances, Flask tries to steal all his money. Ishmael comes to Queequeg’s defense and a fight ensues. Ahab emerges on deck to break things up but smells a strange odor: it is Moby Dick. The crew madly harpoons the whale, but Moby Dick eludes them (“Heave Two”). At last, the whale rams the ship and as the crew swims for their lives, Ahab submits to Moby Dick. Only Ishmael, floating on Queequeg's coffin, survives. The next day, he is rescued by The Rachel.
With both the voyage and story over, the cast jumps off the set joyfully congratulating each other on a job well done. The Headmistress enters in an outrageous gown with two suitcases bursting with cash. She hands off one suitcase to each security guard, proclaims the school has been saved, and everyone celebrates (“Moby Dick Finale").