Apple Tree is a series of three musical playlets with music by Jerry
Bock, lyrics bySheldon Harnick, and a book by Bock and Harnick with
contributions from Jerome Coopersmith. Each act has its own storyline,
but all three are tied together by a common theme (someone who believes
that they want something, but once they get what they wanted they
realize that it wasn't what they wanted) and common references, such as
references to the color brown. The first act is based on Mark Twain's The
Diary of Adam and Eve; the second act is based on Frank R.
Stockton's The Lady or the Tiger?; the third act is based
on Jules Feiffer's Passionella.
The musical opened on Broadway on October 9, 1966 at the Shubert
Theatre and ran for 463 performances, closing on November 25, 1967. It
was produced by Stuart Ostrow, directed by Mike Nichols and
starred Barbara Harris, Alan Alda, and Larry Blyden. Harris won the Tony
Award for Best Actress in a Musical. The Apple Tree also received
several other major Tony nominations: Bock and Harnick for Best Composer
and Lyricist, Nichols for Best Direction of a Musical, Lee Theodore for
Best Choreography, and the show itself for Best Musical.
The Encores! staged concert production ran from May 12, 2005 through May
16, 2005, and starred Kristin Chenoweth, Malcolm Getsand Michael
The Roundabout Theatre Company mounted a revival that ran from December
14, 2006 until March 11, 2007 with Kristin Chenoweth in Harris'
roles, Brian D'Arcy James in Alda's roles and Marc Kudisch in Blyden's.
The consensus of reviews was that the playlets themselves are all creaky
with age, the music interesting but not inspired, and Chenoweth's
performance a marvel and the evening's only important attraction.
Clips from Broadway revival:
Aspects of Love is a musical with a book and
music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Don Black and Charles Hart.
It is famous for the song "Love Changes Everything."
Based on the novella of the same name by David Garnett, the piece
focuses on the romantic entanglements of actress Rose Vibert, her
admiring fan Alex Dillingham, his underage cousin Jenny, his uncle
George, and George's mistress, sculptress Giulietta Trapani, over a
period of 17 years. The "aspects" of the title refers to the many forms
that love takes in the show: love between couples, both as romantic
infatuation and as married people; children and their parents; and there
are even some hints of lesbianism (Giulietta and Rose).
Lloyd Webber was introduced to Aspects of Love in 1979, when he
and Tim Rice were approached to write a few songs for a proposed film
version. When nothing came of it, he suggested to Trevor Nunn that they
collaborate on a stage adaptation. In 1983, they presented a cabaret of
numbers they had written, but it was not until five years later that
they tackled the project in earnest. For the finished project, Lloyd
Webber used at least five of the tunes he had written for the 1986
one-act musical Cricket, which he had written with Tim Rice.
The West End production, directed by Trevor
Nunn and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, opened on April 17, 1989 at
the Prince of Wales Theatre, where it ran for 1,325 performances. The
original cast included Kevin Colson, Ann Crumb, Michael Ball, Kathleen
Rowe McAllen and Diana Morrison. Sarah Brightman, Barrie Ingham,
and Michael Praed were among the replacements later in the run. Roger
Moore was due to star in the production but dropped out.
The Broadway production, with the same creative team and many of the
original London cast, opened on April 8, 1990 at the Broadhurst
Theatre and closed on March 2, 1991 after 377 performances and 22
previews. Brightman and John Cullum joined the cast later in the run.
The reviews were lackluster and New York Times critic Frank Rich wrote
in a negative review "Whether Aspects of Love is a musical for people is
another matter." When the musical closed, the entire $8 million
investment was lost, which, according to the New York Times, made it
"perhaps the greatest flop in Broadway history."
"Love Changes Everything" from the Tony Awards:
& Yox was a 1951 comedy/variety theater revue that successfully
played in New York's Theatre District at the Holiday Theatre, in
addition to running in Atlantic City and Miami Beach. With songs
by Sholom Secunda and Hy Jacobson; Additional lyrics by Millie Alpert,
the show opened September 12, 1951 and played 208 performances. During
intermission, bagels were served to the audience. Read the New York
Times review (PDF).
Band in Berlin, a musical written and conceived by Susan Feldman.
Staged, choreographed and co-conceived by Patricia Birch. Directed by
Patricia Birch and Susan Feldman. The setting was memories of Germany,
1927-1935. Preview: Feb 19, 1999 Total Previews: 19 Opening:
Mar 7, 1999 Closing: Mar 21, 1999 Total Performances: 17
The cast featured Herbert Rubens, Mark Bleeke, Timothy Leigh Evans, Hugo
Munday, Peter Becker, Wilbur Pauley and Robert Wolinsky.
A CurtainUp Review
Band In Berlin
There's a lot of fine musicality in Band In Berlin. The band of the
title, German sextet known as The Comedian Harmonists -- five singers
and the sixth voice, the piano player -- were the toast of Berlin and
many other cities during their heyday, between 1927 and 1935. They
perfected singing as a single voice. Their ability to mimic the sound of
instruments was uncanny and is illustrated in Band of Berlin's deserved
top applause getter, a vocal interpretation of Rossini's overture to The
Barber of Seville. While the Harmonists on the stage of the Helen Hayes
are obviously not the originals, the musical stage and opera trained
group known as The Hudson Shad do a terrific job in recreating the magic
that made them the Beatles of their day.
As good as the Harmonists-cum-Hudson Shad are, they don't fit the image
of a young glamorous group or the kind of singers and dancers audiences
expect to see on a Broadway stage. Only Hugo Munday who plays the lyric
baritone Harry Frommermann is blessed with a youthful, handsome
appearance. Wilbur Pauley, by virtue of his basketball player height and
somewhat manic eyes, is the most individualized of the group who
otherwise portray personalities that are as blended (and thus bland) as
the harmony of their voices. That's where the first problem with this
concert masquerading as a Broadway musical comes in. The Hudson Shads
and most of the show's musical numbers would be terrifically
entertaining concert or even a cabaret stage. However, they are not up
to bringing off the bio-musical Band of Berlin aims to be.
That's not to say that the idea of a biographical musical about the half
Jewish group is a terrible idea. Their story is an apt addition to that
of many artists who were branded by Herren Hitler and Goebbels as
purveyors of " degenerate art." Thus their rise and Nazi-driven fall
would seem to have at least some of the potential of another dark
musical spun from that era, Cabaret. This is borne out by the fact that
a documentary about the group broadcast some years ago inspired two
other biodramas about the Harmonists, a musical by Barry Manilow (which
failed) and a German film , which just opened.
Since Band of Berlin is clearly a much smaller musical than Cabaret, and
with a very different musical sensibility, the show's conceptualizers,
Susan Feldman and Patricia Birch, have taken a docu-musical approach,
using filmed projections on a triptych screen ( the two side screens
have identical images to accommodate audiences sitting in the side
sections). Much of this does indeed add a nice flavor of authenticity
and life to what's happening on stage. The images of the "degenerate
art" are particularly good. However, the personal stories are all
filtered through the single viewpoint of the group's Jewish baritone
Roman Cycowski, who became a cantor. Unfortunately, his reminiscences
are snippets and not full-fledged individualized stories. What's more
Cycowski isn't Cycowski at all but the actor Herbert Rubens who comes on
stage at show's end to take a bow.
I haven't yet seen The Harmonists, the German film (with English
subtitles) which just opened in two Manhattan theaters, but the reviews
indicate that it provides a much more complete picture of the group's
private and professional lives. It also includes the women in their
lives. Band of Berlin on the other hand has no gals, no glamorous guys,
and German folksongs sandwiched in between the bouncier numbers -- the
already mentioned Rossini overture, the delightful "Tea for Two,"
"Stormy Weather" and "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing".
It adds up to a tough road ahead for this odd little show to survive as
a Broadway musical. The show's producers would have served themselves
and the show better if they had steered it to an Off-Broadway house like
the West Side Arts or the Promenade where they've enjoyed surprise
successes with the likes of I Love You You're Perfect, Now
Change and Old Wicked Songs.
a musical with a book by Mark Bramble, lyrics by Michael Stewart, and
music by Cy Coleman. It is based on the life of showman P. T. Barnum,
covering the period from 1835 through 1880 in America and major cities
of the world where Barnum took his performing companies. The production
combines elements of traditional musical theater with the spectacle of
the circus. The characters include jugglers, trapeze artists and clowns,
as well as such real-life personalities as Jenny Lind and General Tom
The original Broadway production ran for 854 performances and was
followed by a London production, among others.
Barnum opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on April 30,
1980 and closed on May 16, 1982 after 854 performances and 26 previews.
It was directed and choreographed by Joe Layton, with scenic design by
David Mitchell, costume design by Theoni V. Aldredge, and lighting
design by Craig Miller. The musical starred Jim Dale as P. T.
Barnum, Glenn Close (Charity Barnum), Marianne Tatum (Jenny Lind), Terri
White (Joice Heth), and Terrence Mann (Chester Lyman).
The West End production opened on June 11, 1981 at the London Palladium,
where it ran for 655 performances. Michael Crawford, Deborah Grant,
and Sarah Payne headed the cast. A new production opened in Manchester
in 1984 at the Manchester Opera House and ended its tour at the Victoria
Palace in the West End, in 1986. The cast was headed again by Michael
Crawford and a new leading lady, Eileen Battye as Charity Barnum. This
production was recorded for television and broadcast by the BBC in 1986.
Reg Livermore starred in the Australian production in 1982, it opened at
the Regent Theatre in Melbourne.
The Madrid production opened on September 28, 1984 at the Teatro
Monumental, directed by Jaime Azpilicueta and starred by Emilio Aragón
as Phineas Taylor Barnum, Clara Morales, María Fleta, Michelle McCain,
Deborah Carter, Iñaqui Guevara, Marta Valverde and Toni Carrasco.
A production ran at The Asolo Repertory Theatre Sarasota, Florida, from
November 12, 2008 through December 20 with Brad Oscaras Barnum, and at
the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Jupiter, Florida, in January 2009.
In 2008, it was rumoured that Cameron Mackintosh had voiced interest in
producing Barnum in London with John Barrowman in the title role. This
production has not happened as of February 2010. Due to issues with John
Barrowman's availability, Michael Ball has also been linked with the
show. In 2010, Mackintosh has again expressed interest in doing Barnum,
this time on Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris starring. (Harris starred
opposite Patti LuPone and George Hearn in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber
of Fleet Street in concert in 2000/2001).
A scene from the London production:
Beg, Borrow or Steal. A musical comedy in two acts and twenty-one
scenes set in a run-down section of a monster American city in the
1950's. The show featured Eddie Bracken, Howard Da Silva, Betty Garrett
and Estelle Parsons. It opened February 10, 1960 and ran for 5
The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public is a musical with a book by Larry
L. King andPeter Masterson and music and lyrics by Carol Hall.
Ostensibly a sequel to the creative team's 1978 hit The Best Little
Whorehouse in Texas, it is more a series of burlesque-style sketches and
musical interludes than a traditional book musical. Hoping to recover
$26 million in back taxes owed them by Las Vegas whorehouse Stallion
Fields, the IRS lures former brothel madam Mona Stangley out of
retirement to run the operation. Complications arise
when billionaire Sam Dallas arranges the sale of shares in the
enterprise on the stock exchange and right-wing politician Senator A.
Harry Hardast objects to his plan.
The Vegas locale allows for an ongoing parade of barely-dressed
showgirls in glitzy Bob Mackie costumes, Sonny and Cher, Elvis
Presley, Liberace, and Siegfried and Royimpersonators, and a two-bit
stand-up comic acting as emcee against a background of flashing neon
lights and accompanied by the sound of ever-jangling slot machines.
After 28 previews, the Broadway production, directed by Tommy Tune and
Peter Masterson and choreographed by Tune and Jeff Calhoun, opened on
May 10, 1994 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where it ran for 16
performances. The cast included Dee Hoty as Mona, Scott Holmes as Sam,
Ronn Carroll as the Senator, and Jim David as the emcee.
Dee Hoty sings "I'm Leaving Texas":
Deal is a musical with a book by Bob Fosse using songs from various
composers such as Ray Henderson, Eubie Blake, and Jerome Kern. It was
based on the film "Big Deal on Madonna Street" by Mario Monicelli. The
musical received five Tony Award nominations, with Fosse winning for
Fosse said that by using existing songs: "I can pick the perfect songs
that will say the right things, and they're known. We'll have the
greatest score in the world because they're all hit songs." Fosse said
of the main character, Charlie: "That's my part! A swaggering bumbler
who thinks he's a ladies' man, and he's not."
Big Deal opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on April 10, 1986
and closed on June 8, 1986 after 69 performances and six previews.
Directed and choreographed by Fosse, with Christopher Chadman as
assistant choreographer, the musical featured Cleavant Derricks as
Charley, Loretta Devine as Lilly, Wayne Cilento, Cady Huffman, Valarie
Pettiford, and Stephanie Pope.
Clip from the production:
Elliot the Musical is a musical based on the 2000 film Billy
Elliot. The music is by Sir Elton John, and book and lyrics are
by Lee Hall, who wrote the film's screenplay. The plot revolves around
motherless Billy, who trades boxing gloves for ballet shoes. The story
of his personal struggle and fulfillment are balanced against a
counter-story of family and community strife caused by the UK miners'
strike (1984–1985) in County Durham, in Northern England. Hall's
screenplay was inspired in part by A. J. Cronin's novel, The Stars Look
Down, to which the musical's opening song pays homage.
The musical premiered in London's West End in 2005 and was nominated for
nine Laurence Olivier Awards, winning four including Best New Musical.
The production is still running strongly, and its success led to
productions in Australia, on Broadway and elsewhere. In New York, it won
ten Tony Awards and ten Drama Desk Awards, including, in each case, best
musical. It has also won numerous awards in Australia including a
record-tying seven Helpmann Awards.
The musical premiered in the West End at the Victoria Palace Theatre,
opening in previews on 31 March 2005 and officially on 11 May 2005; it
is still running (as of December 2010). It reportedly cost £5.5 million
to produce (the original film version cost $5 million). The producers
were Working Title Films, Old Vic Productions Plc and David Furnish. It
was directed by Stephen Daldry and choreographed by Peter Darling, as
was the original film. Liam Mower, James Lomas and George Maguire were
the original actors who alternated in the title role, and the supporting
cast included Haydn Gwynne as Mrs. Wilkinson and Tim Healy as Billy's
father. The sets were designed by Ian MacNeil, and the costumes were
by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting was by Rick Fisher, and sound by Paul
Arditti. The original cast album was released on 10 January 2006.
The musical received favourable reviews: the Daily Telegraph's Charles
Spencer called it "the greatest British musical I have ever seen",
and The Daily Mail thought it "a theatrical masterpiece".
Billy Elliott the Musical won four Laurence Olivier Awards: Best
New Musical, Best Actor (awarded jointly to James Lomas, George Maguire
and Liam Mower, the boys who played Billy), Best Sound design and Best
Choreographer. It also won the Evening Standard Award as well as the
Critcs Circle Award and the Theatregoers Choice Award, all for Best
Musical. On 12 May 2006, the three original Billys appeared together in
a performance of the musical to celebrate its first anniversary. The
three rotated the role during the performance and were joined at the end
by Sir Elton John.
The Broadway production opened at the Imperial Theatre on 1 October 2008
in previews and officially on 13 November 2008. The London production's
creative team directed and designed the Broadway production. The title
role was rotated among three young actors, David Álvarez, Kiril Kulish and Trent
Kowalik, the last of whom had played the role in London. The supporting
cast included Haydn Gwynne, reprising her role of Mrs. Wilkinson from
the London production, and Gregory Jbara as Billy's father. The
production received rave reviews: Time called it a "triumph"; critic Liz
Smith termed it "breathtakingly brilliant" and "absolutely,
unequivocally awesome"; the Daily News said it was "so exhilarating that
at times you feel like leaping"; the New York Post said it was "almost
like being in love" and termed it "amusing, perfect and passionate" and
"the best show you will ever see"; and the Los Angeles Timescalled it a
"global theatrical phenomenon". It has also been very financially
successful, with $20 million taken in advance ticket sales. The
production received fifteen Tony Award nominations, tying with The
Producers for the most nominations ever received by a Broadway show, and
winning ten. The original three boys in the lead role jointly won a Tony
Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. The production recouped its
original investment of $18 million in 14 months and, as of 2010,
continues to sell strongly.
Clip from Broadway production:
Bring Back Birdie is a musical with a book by Michael Stewart,
lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse. A sequel to Bye
Bye Birdie, it focuses on a scheme for rock 'n' roller Conrad
Birdie, who disappeared after being discharged from the army twenty
years ago, to make a comeback on a Grammy Awards broadcast.
After 31 previews, the Broadway production, conceived and directed
by Joe Layton, set design by David Mitchell, costume design by Fred
Voelpel, lighting design by David Hays, vocal arrangements by Mark
Hummel, video sequences created by Wakefield Poole and Frank O'Dowd,
dance music and musical coordinating by Daniel Troob, musical direction
and vocal supervision by Milton Rosenstock, and Ralph Burns as the
principal orchestrator. It opened on March 5, 1981 at the Martin Beck
Theatre, where it ran for only four performances. The cast
included Donald O'Connor (Albert), Chita Rivera (Rose), Maurice Hines (Mtobe),
Marcel Forestieri (Birdie), Robin Morse (Jenny), and Maria Karnilova (Mae).
The ensemble featured Cleve Asbury, Bill Bateman, Vanessa Bell, Michael
Blevins, Jeb Brown, Julie Cohen, Frank De Salle, Leon Evans, Mark
Frawley, Betsy Friday, Larry Hyman, Christine Langner, Zoya Leporska,
Donna Monroe, Peter Oliver Norman, Howard Parker, Kevin Petitt, Rebecca
Renfroe, Evan Seplow, and Barbara Dare Thomas.
Rivera was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical and
a Drama Desk Award as Outstanding Actress in a Musical.
Chita Rivera singing "Well, I'm Not":
The Musical is a musical with a book, lyrics, and music by Mark
Schoenfeld and Barri McPherson. Using a play within a play concept, it
focuses on a group of five ragtag homeless musicians known as the City
Weeds who periodically transforms a street corner under the foot of
the Brooklyn Bridge into a stage where they present their play
about Parisian singer Brooklyn, named after the New York
City borough from which her wayward father Taylor hailed. Orphaned when
her depressed mother Faith hangs herself, the girl in quick succession
is sent to live in a convent where she discovers her vocal talents,
becomes a star, performs at Carnegie Hall, sets out in search of her
father (who she discovers is a drug-addicted Vietnam War vet), and
engages in a competition with local diva Paradice at Madison Square
Schoenfeld and McPherson had collaborated on a record more than two
decades earlier but lost touch until the latter, now a Massachusetts
housewife, encountered her former partner singing on a Brooklyn street
corner as a means of support. She invited him home to live with her and
her family, and the two began to write songs based on Schoenfeld's
experiences they eventually worked into a plot boasting elements of Annie,
Madame Butterfly, Movin' Out, Rent, and every fairy tale that ever
ended happily ever after.
After twenty-seven previews, the Broadway production, directed by Jeff
Calhoun, opened on October 21, 2004 at the Plymouth Theatre (renamed
the Gerald Schoenfeld in May 2005), where it ran for 284 performances.
The cast included Eden Espinosa as Brooklyn, Karen Olivo as Faith, Kevin
Anderson as Taylor, Ramona Keller as Paradice, and Cleavant Derricks as
a street singer who acts as the narrator.
White, a musical by Oscar Brown. Brown adapted the original
play by Joseph Dolan Tuotti into a musical, and he starred as Buck White
during its successful run in San Francisco. The show featured Muhammad
Ali in the lead role. It opened December 2, 1969 and closed after 7
Carnival in Flanders is a 1953 musical with a book by Preston
Sturges, lyrics byJohnny Burke, and music by Jimmy Van Heusen. Based on
the 1934 French comedy film La Kermesse Héroïque, it is set
in 1616 in the small Flemish village of Flackenburg, where
a Spanish duke and his entourage descend upon the community.
The mayor plays dead, hoping that his ruse will force the visitors to
depart, but the duke sets his sights on the man's "widow" and begins to
Harold Arlen was approached to write the score, but the task ultimately
fell to Van Heusen and Burke. Bing Crosby was providing much of the
financing for the production and had great faith in the songwriting
team, who had written several of his hits, despite the fact that their
previous theatrical collaboration, Nellie Bly (1946), had been a
critical and commercial flop. George Oppenheimer, one of the book's
original co-writers, withdrew from the project during
pre-Broadway tryouts in Philadelphia, and Dorothy Fields joined her
brother Herbert to help with rewrites. Eventually all their work was
discarded by Sturges, who replaced Bretaigne Windust as director and
completely reworked the book before the show reached California for a
series of stagings by light opera companies prior to the New York
City opening. Choreographer Jack Cole was replaced by Helen Tamiris, and
several cast changes were made before the troubled production finally
limped to Broadway.
Carnival in Flanders opened on September 8, 1953 at the New
Century Theatre, where it ran for only six performances. The cast
included John Raitt, Dolores Gray, and Roy Roberts. Critics were
enchanted by Oliver Smith's sets and Lucinda Ballard's costumes,
inspired by Breughel paintings, and Gray's lively performance, but
universally panned every other aspect of the production. If remembered
at all, it is primarily as the source of the Van Heusen-Burke standard
"Here's That Rainy Day."
Dolores Gray won the Tony Award for "Best Actress in a Musical"
(in photo). It
remains the shortest-lived Tony-honored performance ever.
Dance from the show on Ed Sullivan:
Carrie: The Musical is a musical with a book by Lawrence D.
Cohen, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and music by Michael Gore. Adapted
from Stephen King's novel Carrie, it focuses on an awkward teenage girl
with telekinetic powers whose lonely life is dominated by an
oppressive religious fanatic mother. When she is humiliated by her
classmates at the high school prom, she wreaks havoc on everyone and
everything in her path. Francis X. Clines, in The New York Times (March
2, 1988) noted that Carrie is "Mr. King's carmine variation on
Inspired by a 1981 performance of Alban Berg's opera Lulu at
the Metropolitan Opera House, Lawrence D. Cohen, who wrote the script
for the 1976 film version of Carrie, and Michael Gore began work
on a musical based on the Stephen King novel. Gore's Fame collaborator, Dean
Pitchford, was brought in to work on the project, which underwent
numerous rewrites. In August 1984, a workshop of the first act was
staged at 890 Broadway (New York City) with Annie Golden as
Carrie, Maureen McGovern as Mrs. White, Laurie Beechman as Mrs.
Gardiner, and Liz Callaway as Chris. It was soon announced that Carrie would
be produced on Broadway in 1986. Funding was not raised until late 1987.
The show was produced by Friedrich Kurz and the Royal Shakespeare
Company and had its first four-week run beginning on February 13, 1988
in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where it received mixed reviews.
Directed by Terry Hands and choreographed by Debbie Allen, the cast
included Broadway veteran and cabaret singer Barbara Cook, Charlotte
d'Amboise, Gene Anthony Ray, Darlene Love, and Linzi Hateley, in her
stage debut, as Carrie.
The production was plagued with script and technical problems. For
starters, the crew were unable to douse Hateley with fake blood without
causing her microphone to malfunction. Rewrites continued following each
show, and the program cited a song ("Once I Loved a Boy") which was
rewritten and renamed ("When There's No One") prior to the first
performance. Cook was nearly decapitated by an elaborate set piece on
opening night, so she promptly resigned but agreed to stay on until a
replacement could be cast, which was for the remainder of the Stratford
run of the show. A musical section of the Shower Room Scene (which has
come to be known as Her Mother Should Have Told Her) was removed after
the initial few performances, and another song, "White Star", was later
The show transferred to Broadway at an expense of $8 million (at the
time an exorbitant amount). Hateley (who ultimately won a Theatre World
Award) and other members of the UK cast remained with the show, but Cook
was replaced by Betty Buckley (who had played the teacher Miss Collins
in the 1976 film version).
The show started previews on April 28, 1988 at the Virginia Theatre.
After the final song, boos were heard mixed in with applause. Ken
Mandelbaum is quoted by Wollman, MacDermot, and Trask: "Ken Mandelbaum
writes of an audience divided during early previews, the curtain calls
of which were greeted with a raucous mix of cheers and boos. However, in
an instant, when Linzi Hateley and Betty Buckley rose to take their
bows, the entire theatre turned to a standing ovation. According to
the New York Times, "The show had received standing ovations at some
previews, as well as on opening night..." The show officially opened on
May 12, 1988. Hampered by scathing reviews, and despite the fact that
the theatre was sold out every night, the financial backers pulled their
money out of the show, and it closed on May 15, 1988 after only 16
previews and 5 performances, guaranteeing its place in theatre history
as one of the most expensive disasters of all time. According to The New
York Times, the "more-than-$7 million show...was the most expensive
quick flop in Broadway history."
Although there is no official cast recording of the show,
several bootleg audio tapes were surreptitiously made during live
performances in both Stratford and New York, along with video footage
shot from the audience, in addition to the professionally-made review
tape sent to various journalists to promote the show. These recordings
began to circulate soon after the show closed, and it was rumored in the
early '90s that there were plans to record an official cast album,
though it never happened. Buckley recorded the song "When There's No
One" for her 1993 album Children Will Listen (the song also appeared on
her 1999 album Betty Buckley's Broadway), and Hateley released the title
song on her album Sooner Or Later. In 1999, "Unsuspecting Hearts" was
recorded by Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley and released on their album
of the same name.
Although Carrie is considered Broadway's biggest flop, there is a
sizable cult following for it. Many fan sites have appeared with
recordings and audio of the show along with the script and score for
both Broadway and Stratford-upon-Avon versions. Along with fan sites,
petitions have appeared online as well demanding a revival for the
Betty Buckley and Linzi Hately from the Broadway production:
Catered Affair is a musical with a book by Harvey Fierstein and
music and lyrics byJohn Bucchino. It is based on both the 1956 film The
Catered Affair written by Gore Vidaland the original 1955 teleplay
by Paddy Chayefsky, set in 1953 in the Bronx. This is the first of
Bucchino's scores produced on Broadway.
The show premiered on September 20, 2007 at San Diego's Old Globe
Theatre in tryouts, with the official opening on September 30, running
through November 11. It began previews on Broadway at the Walter Kerr
Theatre on March 25, 2008 and opened officially on April 17. The
production closed on July 27, 2008 after 116 performances and 27
previews. John Doyle directed the production, which stars Fierstein, Faith
Prince and Tom Wopat. This production received 12 Drama Desk
Award nominations, the most of any show from the 2007-2008 season.
A Catered Affair received mixed reviews.
Ben Brantley for the New York Times, wrote: "From Mr. Bucchino’s
trickling, self-effacing score to the tight-lipped stoicism of its
leading performances, from David Gallo’s tidy tenement-scape set to
Zachary Borovay’s tentative photographic projections, this show is all
pale, tasteful understatement that seems to be apologizing for asking
for your attention... Ms. Prince, best known for her madcap musical
turns in revivals of Guys and Dolls and Bells Are Ringing, scrubs down
to raw-skinned plainness here. Her performance is tight, disciplined and
at times quite affecting, never more so than when Aggie looks silently
at some distant horizon of missed opportunities."
Clive Barnes, reviewing for the New York Post, wrote: "Under John
Doyle's expert, discreet direction, it emerges less like a musical and
more like a play with music: lovely, urban chamber music. But you won't
come out humming the tunes, or even the scenery. You'll come out humming
But Linda Winer, for Newsday, wrote: "How bold to make a Broadway
musical on such restrained material as A Catered Affair. How sad that
the results are so glum. Despite the dedication of a fine cast...this is
a colorless little piece of '50s social realism about a Bronx family
that isn't so much emotionally repressed as emotionally deficient." She
panned the "meandering, conversational melodies ba[c]ked by innocuous
accompaniments", and the "tasteful but bland production", and concluded:
"Winston, who wants the big wedding, observes, 'Resigning oneself to
small is sad. Requesting it is tragic.' He could be talking about the
Faith Prince singing at the Tony Awards:
Change in the Heir, a musical, lyrics by George H. Gorham; music
by Dan Sticco; written by Dan Sticco, George H. Gorham.
Preview: Apr 10, 1990 Total Previews: 16 Opening: Apr 29, 1990
Closing: May 13, 1990 Total Performances: 23 Cast included Mary Stout.
Steven Holden, NY Times Review
'Do you read Middle Goth?'' one minor character asks of another in the
new musical farce ''A Change in the Heir.''
"'I should, but I had mono that semester,'' comes the reply. ''I had her
too,'' snaps the inquirer. Such jokes, at once wan and tasteless,
exemplify the sad level of wit in the musical fairy tale that limped
into the Edison Theater last night, after having been developed at the
New Tuners Theater in Chicago, where it was first presented two years
With lyrics by George H. Gorham, music by Dan Sticco and a book by both,
''A Change in the Heir'' looks and sounds like a campy, nickel-and-dime
burlesque of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine show ''Into the Woods.''
Whole swatches of its score imitate Mr. Sondheim's musical style with a
fidelity that borders on appropriation. The melody of ''By Myself,'' a
song in Act II, repeats almost note for note one of the themes in the
title song of ''Merrily We Roll Along.''
Set in a low-rent district of fairyland where the royal garb resembles
patterned bed sheets, ''A Change in the Heir'' tells the story of how
two competing branches of the same family, each hoping to inherit the
crown, bring a son and a daughter up as the opposite sex. Don't ask why.
The conditions by which one or the other might become the monarch are as
confusing as they are arbitrary.
The show's one genuine laugh comes early in Act I when Prince Conrad
(Judy Blazer) and Princess Agnes (Jeffrey Herbst), the two young rivals,
appear at the castle of the kingdom's despotic regent, Aunt Julia
(Brooks Almy). Making her entrance, Princess Agnes is quite a sight as
she towers incongruously over the rest of the cast. ''I'm just not the
kind of girl boys chase after,'' she reflects stoically while twiddling
with an itchy chest hair. Agnes, however, soon discovers her true sex
after being shown a book of pornographic pictures. Inevitably, the lanky
princess and the diminutive prince strike up a romance.
In the show's second act the plot, involving a stolen diary, a forged
birth certificate and a bogus marriage contract, becomes so convoluted
that it's impossible to figure out what's going on. In the director
David H. Bell's slapdash musical staging, the actors tear about the
stage in a pointless frenzy of hysterical acrobatics. When they slow
down long enough to talk, the tone of their dialogue seldom sinks below
Chess is a musical with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny
Andersson, formerly of ABBA. The story involves a romantic triangle
between two top players, an American and a Russian, in a
world chess championship, and a woman who manages one and falls in love
with the other; all in the context of a Cold War struggle between the
United States and the Soviet Union, during which both countries wanted
to win international chess tournaments for propaganda purposes. Although
the protagonists were not intended to represent any specific
individuals, the character of the American was loosely based on
chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer, while elements of the story may have
been inspired by the chess careers of Russian grandmasters Viktor Korchnoiand Anatoly Karpov.
Following the pattern of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, a highly
successful concept album of Chess was released in 1984. The first
theatrical production of Chess opened inLondon's West End in 1986 and
played for three years. A much-altered US version premièred
on Broadway in 1988, but survived only for two months. Chess is
frequently revised for new productions, many of which try to merge
elements from both the London and Broadway versions; however, no major
revival production of the musical has yet been attempted either on West
End or Broadway.
Tim Rice had long wanted to create a musical about the Cold War; in the
1970s he had discussed writing a musical about the Cuban Missile
Crisis with his usual collaborator, Andrew Lloyd Webber. In 1979, Rice
had the idea to instead tell the story through the prism of the
American-Soviet chess rivalry; he had previously been fascinated by the
political machinations of the 1972 "Match of the Century" between Bobby
Fischer and Boris Spassky. Webber was busy at the time with the
musical Cats, so American producer Richard Vos suggested working with
Andersson and Ulvaeus instead, knowing they were looking for projects
outside of ABBA. Rice, who was a fan of ABBA, agreed; he wrote later
that he felt no reservations because "there is a sense of theatre in the
ABBA style".Rice met with the two for the first time in December 1981
in Stockholm to discuss the concept (Vos was also in
attendance), and they quickly signed on to the project. (ABBA stopped
performing a year later, about which Rice has joked, "maybe that's my
All through 1983 Rice, Andersson and Ulvaeus worked on the music and
lyrics. Rice would describe the mood of particular songs he wanted, then
Andersson and Ulvaeus would write and record the music and send the
tapes to Rice, and Rice would then write lyrics to fit the music. Some
of the songs on the album contained elements of music Andersson and
Ulvaeus previously had written for ABBA: the chorus of "I Know Him So
Well", for instance, was based on the chorus of "I Am An A", a song from
ABBA's 1977 tour; while the chorus of "Anthem" used the chords of the
guitar solo of "Our Last Summer". Ulvaeus would also provide
dummy lyrics to emphasize the rhythmic patterns of the music, and some
of them ended up in the final version since Rice found them
"embarrassingly good" ("One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble" is
the most well-known example). One song, which became "Heaven Help My Heart",
was recorded with an entire set of lyrics, sung by ABBA's Agnetha
Fältskog, with the title "Every Good Man";though none of the original
lyrics from this song were used.
It was decided to release the music as an album before any stage show
was under way, a strategy that had proven successful with Rice's two
previous musicals, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. Recording work on
the album musical of Chess began in November 1983. The main recording
was done at Polar Studios in Stockholm, with orchestral and choir parts
recorded in London by the London Symphony Orchestra. Andersson himself
played the keyboards. The protagonists, simply called the "American" and
the "Russian" for the album, were sung by Murray Head and Tommy Körberg,
respectively; the part of Florence, initially the American's second and
subsequently the Russian's mistress, was sung by Elaine Paige while the
part of Svetlana, the Russian's wife, was sung by Barbara Dickson. The
album was sound-engineered and mixed by Michael B. Tretow, who worked
with ABBA on all of their recordings.
The resulting album, a double LP, was released worldwide in the fall of
1984. The album's liner notes included a basic synopsis of the story.
The music on the album was described by The New York Times in the
contemporary review as "a sumptuously recorded...grandiose pastiche that
touches half a dozen bases, from Gilbert and Sullivan to late Rodgers
and Hammerstein, fromItalian opera to trendy synthesizer-based pop, all
of it lavishly arranged for the London Symphony Orchestra with spl ashy
electronic embellishments". A single from the album, "One Night in
Bangkok", performed by Murray Head (in verses) and Anders Glenmark (in
chorus) became a worldwide smash, also reaching No.3 on the
US Billboard Hot 100. The duet "I Know Him So Well" by Elaine Paige and Barbara
Dickson held the Number One spot on the UK singles charts for 4 weeks
and won the Ivor Novello Award as the Best Selling Single ('A' Side). It
was later covered by Whitney Houston and her mother Cissy on Whitney's
second album Whitney, and by Barbra Streisand on her 1992 "Highlights
from Just for the Record".
Chess premièred in the Prince Edward Theatre in London on 14 May 1986
and closed on 8 April 1989. It was originally set to be directed
by Michael Bennett, but he withdrew for health reasons. He only did so,
however, after casting the show and commissioning the expansive set and
costume designs. The show was rescued by director Trevor Nunn, who
shepherded the show on to its scheduled opening, though with
considerable technical difficulty. The three principal singers from the
concept album, Elaine Paige, Tommy Körberg and Murray Head reprised their
roles on stage. Barbara Dickson declined to appear, and Siobhán
McCarthy played the part of Svetlana.
JP to set designer Robin Wagner, interviewed in Lynn Pecktal's
book Set Design, the original Bennett version was to be a "multimedia"
show, with an elaborate tilting floor, banks of television monitors, and
other technological touches. Nunn, realizing he could never bring
Bennett’s vision to fruition, instead applied his realistic style to the
show, although the basics of the mammoth set design were still present
in Nunn's show. This included the three video walls, the main of which
featured commentary from chess master William Hartston, along with
appearances from BBC newsreaders.
The London version was a massive physical production, with estimated
costs up to $12 million. It expanded the storyline of the concept album,
adding considerable new recitative, and attracted several West
End stars, such as Anthony Head, Grania Renihan, Ria Jones, David Burt,
and Peter Karrie, during its three year run.
The production won the 1986 Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Best
Musical, and received three 1986 Laurence Olivier Award nominations: Best
Musical, Outstanding Performance by an Actor (Tommy Körberg) and
Outstanding Performance by an Actress (Elaine Paige). Notably, in two of
these categories (Best Musical and Outstanding Performance by an
Actor) Chess lost to The Phantom of the Opera, by Rice's former
collaborator Andrew Lloyd Webber.
After London, the creative team decided that the show had to be
reimagined from the top down. Trevor Nunn brought in playwright Richard
Nelson to recreate the musical as a straightforward "book show". Nunn
brought in new, younger principals after he disqualified Paige from the
role of Florence by insisting Nelson recreate the character as an
American. The story changed drastically, with different settings,
characters, and many different plot elements, although the basic plot
remained the same. As Benny Andersson put it to Variety: "The main
difference between London and here is that in London there is only about
two or three minutes of spoken dialog. Here, in order to clarify some
points, it is almost one-third dialog". The changes necessitated the
score to be reordered as well, and comparisons of the Broadway cast
recording and the original concept album reveal the dramatic extent of
the changes. Robin Wagner completely redesigned the set, which featured
a ground-breaking design of mobile towers that shifted continuously
throughout the show, in an attempt to give it a sense of cinematic
The first preview on 11 April 1988 ran 4 hours with an unexpected 90
minute intermission (the stage crew reportedly had problems with the
sets); by opening night on 28 April, it was down to 3 hours 15 minutes.
But despite a healthy box-office advance, the Broadway production did
not manage to sustain a consistently large audience and closed on 25
June, after 17 previews and 68 regular performances. "And there I was,
on closing night, singing and sobbing along", later wrote Time magazine
critic Richard Corliss.
Overall, the show (capitalized at $6 million) since its opening,
according to Variety, "has been doing moderate business, mainly on the
strength of theater party advances", but by mid-June it mostly have been
used up. Gerald Schoenfeld, co-producer of the show, elaborated on the
reasons for folding the production: "The musical had been playing to
about 80 percent capacity, which is considered good, but about 50
percent of the audience have held special, half-priced tickets. If we
filled the house at 100 percent at half price, we'd go broke and I
haven't seen any surge of tourist business yet this season. The show
needs a $350,000 weekly gross to break even, but only a few weeks since
its April 28 opening have reached that.... You have to consider what
your grosses are going to be in the future" (USA Today, June 21, 1988).
The Broadway production picked up several major award nominations. It
got five nods from the Drama Desk Awards: Outstanding Actor in a Musical
(David Carroll), Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Judy Kuhn),
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Harry Goz), Outstanding Music (Andersson
and Ulvaeus) and Outstanding Lighting Design (David Hersey). Carroll and
Kuhn also received Tony Award nominations in Leading Actor in a Musical
and Leading Actress in a Musical categories. None of the nominations
resulted in the win, but Philip Casnoff did receive the 1988 Theatre
World Award for Best Debut Performance. Original Broadway Cast recording
of the musical was nominated for 1988 Grammy Award in the category Best
Musical Cast Show Album (won by the Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods).
Later on, the musical had developed a cult following based primarily on
the score as heard on the original concept album (Frank Rich noted in
his book Hot Seat that "the score retains its devoted fans"), while
Nelson's book became a frequent target of scorn from critics and fans
alike, though it still has its supporters. Many subsequent attempts have
been made to fix its perceived problems, but nonetheless, Nelson's book
is still used in many American productions, because a contractual
stipulation, ostensibly, prevents the London version, which many believe
to be the source of the show's popularity and appeal, from being
performed within the United States.
In 2001, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Tim Rice
admitted that after the "comparative failure of Chess, his all-time favourite, he became disillusioned with theatre." He commented, "It may
sound arrogant, but Chess is as good as anything I've ever done. And
maybe it costs too much brainpower for the average person to follow it".
Many critics panned the show, most notably Frank Rich of The New York
Times, who wrote that "the evening has the theatrical consistency of
quicksand" and described it as "a suite of temper tantrums, [where] the
characters ... yell at one another to rock music". Howard Kissel of New
York Daily News complained that "the show is shrilly overamplified" and
"neither of the love stories is emotionally involving",
while Newsweek magazine called the show a "Broadway's monster" and
opined that "Chess" assaults the audience with a relentless barrage of
scenes and numbers that are muscle-bound with self-importance".
A few reviewers, however, praised it very highly. William A. Henry
III wrote an exceptionally sympathetic review in Time: "Clear narrative
drive, Nunn's cinematic staging, three superb leading performances by
actors willing to be complex and unlikeable and one of the best rock
scores ever produced in the theater. This is an angry, difficult,
demanding and rewarding show, one that pushes the boundaries of the
form" (Time, May 9, 1988). His sentiments were echoed by William K. Gale
in Providence Journal: "A show with a solid, even wonderfully
old-fashioned story that still has a bitter-sweet, rough-edged view of
the world ... exciting, dynamic theater ... a match of wit and passion."
A few months after the show closed on Broadway, in January 1989, the
concert version was performed in Carnegie Hall by the original cast in a
sold-out benefit performance. In September of that year, Judy Kuhn
joined forces with two main principals from the West End production (Körberg
and Head) in Skellefteå, Sweden, where they performed in two concert
presentations of the musical during finals of the 1989 chess World Cup
Chess was now a mixed success, combining the popularity of a smash hit
album and the problems of a critically-derided script — in other words,
fertile ground for those seeking to "get it right," even though
historical conditions and the fall of the Soviet Union severely
compromised the timeliness of the story. The first major attempt at a
revival was the American tour, which ran from January to July 1990. This
tour, which starred Carolee Carmello, John Herrera, and Stephen Bogardus,
was staged by Des McAnuff, who was brought in at the eleventh hour when
Trevor Nunn declined to be involved. Robert Coe, the playwright who
worked with McAnuff on revising the show, restored most of the original
song order from London and deleted the new songs written for the
Broadway version, but had only four weeks to complete a complex rewrite.
(The performing editions in the United States retain Nelson’s book.) The
seven-month-long tour was not a major success, but it did garner some
positive reviews. A separate tour in the United Kingdom, starring
Rebecca Storm and mostly based on the London production, was a smash.
Also in 1990 was the production at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire,
Illinois, near Chicago. Directed by David H. Bell and starring Susie
McMonagle, David Studwell and Kim Strauss, it featured another reworking
of the Nelson script. Bell's version has been performed
in Sacramento and Atlanta as well. Tim Rice was involved in a 1990
production in Sydney, Australia, where Jim Sharman directed a total
rewrite done primarily by Rice. It starred Jodie Gillies, David McLeod,
and Robbie Krupski, with the action shifted to an international hotel in
Bangkok during the chess championships, and was a critical and popular
success. A later Australian production opened at the Princess Theatre,
Melbourne in 1997, with Barbara Dickson taking the lead role of Florence
(not Svetlana, as she had sung on the original studio cast album).
Co-stars included Derek Metzger and Daryl Braithwaite.
Chess was, even in 1990, trying to keep itself modern; the ending of
the Cold War was noted in all new versions of the show. Once the Soviet
Union fell, the modernisation attempts died out, and the clock was set
back: Tim Rice's 1990 rewrite that played a brief runoff Broadway went
all the way back to 1972. The Chess mania that had begun in the UK more
or less died down to a string of occasional productions of the Broadway
and London versions for the next decade.
In 1995, the Los Angeles production of Chess at Hollywood's Hudson
Theater starring Marcia Mitzman (who played Svetlana in the original
Broadway production) as Florence and Sean Smith as Anatoly received
critical praise. For their performances both Mitzman and Smith won
an Ovation Award and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award.
On 12 and 13 May 2008, there were two concert performances at the Royal
Albert Hall of a reworked Chess, with further changes to the song list
and almost no dialogue; Tim Rice described this in the concert program
as the new "official version". Josh Groban, Adam Pascal and Idina Menzel starred
in the lead roles of Anatoly, Freddie and Florence respectively. Kerry
Ellis also performed as Svetlana. The recording of this concert cast was
released on June 16, 2009, as a DVD and 2-CD cast album in the United
States and PBS showed the concert on television on June 17 and 18.
The first major revival of Chess in the United States opened at
the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia on August 8, 2010, and was
scheduled to run until September 26, 2010, but was extended through Oct
3. The musical was directed by Eric Schaeffer and starred Jeremy Kushnier as Freddie, Euan Morton as Anatoly, and Jill Paice as
A new UK production is scheduled to open at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle
on August 27, 2010. It will be directed by Craig Revel Horwood with
musical direction by Sarah Travis. The producer will be Michael
Harrison, who says that Tim Rice is actively involved in the
production. Revel-Horwood will again adopt his innovative approach to
staging, using a company of around 25 who, between them, will act, sing
and play all of the music.
Clip "Anthem" from Broadway production:
Censored Scenes from King Kong, A Comic Extravaganza. Book
by Howard Schuman; Lyrics by Howard Schuman; Music by Andy Roberts.
Preview: Feb 26, 1980 Total Previews: 11 Opening: Mar 6, 1980
Closing: Mar 9, 1980 Total Performances: 5. Cast: Stephen
Collins, Carrie Fisher, Peter Riegert, Chris Sarandon
Coast of Utopia is a 2002 trilogy of plays: Voyage, Shipwreck, and
Salvage, written by Tom Stoppard with focus on the philosophical debates
in pre-revolution Russia between 1833 and 1866.
The trilogy, nine hours in
total, premiered with Voyage on 22 June 2002 at the National
Theatre's Olivier auditorium in repertory, directed by Trevor Nunn. The
openings of Shipwreck and Salvage followed on 8 July, and
19 July, completing its run on 23 November 2002. In 2006, directed by
Jack O'Brien, the plays debuted on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont
Theater at Lincoln Center, New York City, where it closed on May 13,
2007 after staging a combined total of 124 performances.
The cast includes Tony Award
winners Brían F. O'Byrne, Richard Easton, Jennifer Ehle and Billy Crudup,
along with Ethan Hawke, Josh Hamilton, Martha Plimpton, David Harbour,
Jason Butler Harner and Amy Irving.
The play won the 2007 Tony,
New York Drama Critics’ Circle and Drama Desk Awards for Best Play.
Scenes from Voyage:
Come Summer is a Broadway musical with a book and lyrics by Will
Holt and music by David Baker, based on Rainbow on the Road by Esther
Forbes and vocal arrangements by Trude Rittman . The original Broadway
production opened on March 18, 1969 at the Lunt-Fontanne
Theatre starring Cathryn Damon, Ray Bolger, David Cryer, Margaret
Hamilton and Leonard John Crofoot. Directed by Agnes De Mille it closed
after 7 performances on March 22, 1969. Despite its short run, David
Cryer won the 1969 Theatre World Award.
Behind the scenes, the musical was a disaster. Ray Bolger demanded that
the producers expand his role; several rewrites later, de Mille herself
was fired and replaced by Burt Shevelove. Only a few days after that,
Shevelove exited, and "the producers asked Agnes to come back, but only
to choreograph." De Mille's assistant director, James Mitchell, turned
down the director's chair, but became the de facto director anyway. As a
result, "neither she [de Mille] nor anyone else could say who directed
the show." Come Summer turned out to be de Mille's final Broadway
Different Times is a musical with music, lyrics, and book by
Michael Brown. It was originally produced on Broadway in 1972. It opened
on May 1, 1972 at the ANTA Playhouse and closed on May 20, 1972 after 24
The show follows a Boston family from 1905 to 1970. It covers the
decades and the issues like women's rights, both World Wars,
anti-Semitism, and youth protest.
The 1972 Broadway production was written and directed by Michael Brown,
who also supplied the music and lyrics. It was choreographed by Todd
Jackson, scenic design and costume design by David Guthrie, lighting
design by Martin Aronstein and his partner Lawrence Metzler. It starred
Karin Baker, Mary Jo Catlett, Candace Cooke, Ronnie DeMarco, Dorothy
Frank, Patti Karr, Joe Masiell, Terry Nicholson, Joyce Nolen, Mary
Bracken Phillips, Jamie Ross, Sam Stoneburner, David Thomé, Barbara
Williams, and Ronald Young.
Dude(The Highway Life) is a rock musical with a book and lyrics
by Gerome Ragni and music by Galt MacDermot. It is an allegory about
good and evil, the conflict between mankind's creative and destructive
urges, the power of love, and the joy to be found in simple pleasures.
Dude is an Everyman who loses his innocence and fights to regain it.
As soon as the musical Hair opened, Ragni began to work on Dude.
MacDermot was busy with Two Gentlemen of Verona but finally began to
compose the music. In March 1972, their studio cast album, Salome Bey
Sings Songs from Dude, was recorded and released on Kilmarnock
Records. The music was more influenced by country music than their
previous musical, Hair.
The rehearsal period was plagued with problems: Kevin Geer, the actor
who had been cast in the leading role, Dude, was unable to sing the role
acceptably and had to be replaced; the script (such as it was) was far
from finished; Ragni's requests of the producers were bizarre (for
example, 100 butterflies to be released at the beginning of each
performance); and the cast threatened to walk out.
n The Broadway Theatre, the musicians were divided, with brass and
woodwinds against the wall of one side of the playing area and strings
at the other. To accommodate the multimedia presentation, the theatre
was gutted and reconverted, at a cost of $800,000, into
a circus-like arena in the center (a theatre in the round) filled with
fake dirt (real dirt had caused dust; wetting it had caused mud),
ramps, runways, catwalks, columns, trapezes, trapdoors, bleachers, and
various mechanical and electronic gear. Performers moved freely between
the round playing area, representing "Earth", and the audience, seated
in flanking "valleys and foothills," with "mountains and mountain tops"
beyond and "tree tops and trees" (mezzanine) above. "Heaven and hell"
were also represented. The overall effect was of a circus being
performed in a primeval forest.
The previews were disastrous, as the audience could not hear with the
orchestra scattered around the edges of the theatre. Despite attempts at
amplification, the acoustics were still bad in the hollowed out theatre.
The director and choreographer resigned, to be replaced by Tom O'Horgan,
who had directed Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. Previews
were shut down, and the show went back into rehearsal. Some cast changes
were made, and flamboyant visual effects were added. The director and
cast confronted Ragni and forced him to rewrite scenes, including most
of the second act. Actors wrote some of their own dialogue. The script
finally settled down, mostly, by the second to last preview.
After sixteen previews, the Broadway production, directed by Tom
O'Horgan, opened on October 9, 1972 at The Broadway Theatre. Universally
crucified by the critics (and audiences), who found it incomprehensible,
it ran for only 16 performances. The cast included Nell Carter, Rae
Allen, Salome Bey, and Ralph Carter, who won the Drama Desk Award for
Most Promising Performer.
Ralph Carter, an 11-year old African-American, replaced Kevin Geer, a
white 23 year old, who was originally slated to play "Dude", due to
Carter's age, Nat Morris was cast as "Big Dude" in order to still use
the more mature songs. Despite leaving the show, Geer's image, with his
back facing the camera was used for the show's poster.
Only five weeks after Dude closed, MacDermot experienced another
major failure with the flop musical Via Galactica.