Sail Away is a musical with a book, music and lyrics by Noël Coward. The
show was Coward's last fully written musical. The story centers around
brash, bold American divorcee Mimi Paragon, working as a hostess on a
British cruise ship. The musical ran on Broadway and the West End.
Sail Away had its out-of-town tryouts for 3 weeks each in Boston and
Philadelphia. The show opened on Broadway on October 3, 1961 at the Broadhurst
Theatre and closed on February 24, 1962 after 167 performances. Coward
directed the production, Joe Layton choreographed, with scenic design
by Oliver Smith, costume design by Helene Pons and Oliver Smith, and
lighting Design by Peggy Clark. The cast starred Elaine Stritch as Mimi
The show was then staged at the Savoy Theatre, in London's West End in
1962, where it ran for 252 performances, directed by Coward, and
starring Stritch and Edith Day. The musical ran at Her Majesty's
Theatre, Melbourne, in 1963.
It was revived at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre in Woking, England in 1998,
starring Cristianne Slade. A staged concert version was staged at Weill
Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall in November 1999, starring Stritch and
directed by Gerald Gutierrez.
A concert version played in July 2008 at Sadler's Wells' Lilian Baylis
Theatre, directed by Ian Marshall Fisher as part of the Lost
Musicals series, starring Penny Fuller as Mimi, Vivienne Martin as Mrs
Van Mier, and Rupert Young as John Van Mier.
Not only did Coward write the book, music and lyrics, and also direct
the show, he even drew the sketch for the logo. The show was written by
Coward as a star vehicle for Elaine Stritch. According to Ben Brantley,
"Coward wrote in his diary that Ms. Stritch sang 'so movingly that I
almost cried.' He went on to say about making her the show's star:
'There is no doubt about it. I made the right decision.' " The best
known musical numbers include "Why Do the Wrong People Travel?"
"Useless, Useful Phrases", "The Customer’s Always Right" and the title
song. The song "Sail Away" was first used by Coward in his 1950
musical Ace of Clubs.
Excerpt from documentary on Noel Coward about Sail Away:
The Scarlet Pimpernel is
a musical with music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics and book by Nan
Knighton, based on the novel of the same name by Baroness Orczy. The
show is set in England and France during the Reign of Terror of
the French Revolution. The story is a precursor to the spy fiction and
the superhero genres, where a hero hides under a mild-mannered alias.
The musical ran on Broadway from 1997 through January 2000 in several
theatres, in several revised versions. It also had a US National tour.
The Scarlet Pimpernel started as a workshop with Carolee Carmello as
Marguerite and directed by Nick Corley, following a concept album (and
Top 40 Adult Contemporary Hit - "You Are My Home").
The musical debuted on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre on October 7,
1997 in previews, officially on November 9, 1997. Directed by Peter H.
Hunt, it starred Douglas Sills (Sir Percy Blakeney), Christine
Andreas (Marguerite), Marine Jahan (Madame St. Cyr), Tim Shew (St. Cyr),
Elizabeth Ward (Marie), Philip Hoffman (Tussaud), James Judy (Dewhurst),
Sandy Rosenberg (Lady Digby), Pamela Burrell (Lady Llewellyn), Gilles
Chiasson (Armand St. Just), Ed Dixon (Ozzy), Allen Fitzpatrick
(Farleigh), Bill Bowers (Leggett), Adam Pelty (Elton), Ron Sharpe (Hal),
William Thomas Evans (Hastings), Dave Clemmons (Ben), R.F. Daley
(Neville), David Cromwell (Robespierre/Prince of Wales/Fisherman), Ken
Labey (Grappin), Eric Bennyhoff (Coupeau), Jeff Gardner (Mercier), James
Dybas (Jessup), Melissa Hart (Helene), Alison Lory (Chloe), and Terrence
Mann (Citizen Chauvelin).
In June shortly before the Tony Awards were announced, the show was
slated to close. The show's fans known as "The League" decided it should
have another try. With falling ticket sales, the show ushered in new
producers and reopened with Sills and two new leads, Rex
Smith and Rachel York and a vastly rearranged production in October 1998
(a year after the previous opening). The show closed at the Minskoff
Theatre on May 30, 1999. It had a mini-tour of a scaled-down version in
the Summer of 1999 with three new leads. The revised version (called the
3.0 version) opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on September
7, 1999, closing on January 2, 2000 for a grand total of 772
performances and 39 previews. The cast starred Ron Bohmer, Marc Kudisch and Carolee
Carmello. Like Wildhorn's two other big budget Broadway efforts (Jekyll
& Hyde and The Civil War), the musical closed having lost money.
A US National tour began on February 20, 2000 through April 1, 2001,
directed and choreographed by Robert Longbottom with Douglas Sills
re-creating his role and with Amy Bodnar as Marguerite and William Paul
Michals as Chauvelin. Sills was replaced by Robert Patteri and finally
The musical has had numerous regional US productions and has been
produced in Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Great Britain,
Ireland, Sweden, Canada and Mexico, as well as Malta and Norway, among
It has also been produced by the Japanese Takarazuka Revue under the
guidance of Frank Wildhorn, which had previously commissioned Never
Say Goodbye from Wildhorn in 2006. The show ran from June to October
2008 and was performed by the group's Star Troupe. It starred Kei Aran as
Percy, Asuka Tono as Marguerite, and Reon Yuzuki as Chauvelin. In the
spring of 2010, it will be performed again by the Revue, this time by
Moon Troupe. Hiromu Kiriya and Yuki Aono will star as Percy and
Marguerite, respectively, with Masaki Ryuu and Rio Asumi double-cast as
Clip from the Broadway production:
a musical with music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter
Stone. It is based on the events leading to the writing and signing of
the United States Declaration of
Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1776.
The musical was produced on Broadway in 1969, running for 1,217
performances, and was made into a film of the same name in 1972. The
show was nominated for five Tony Awards and won three, including Best
Sherman Edwards, a singer of pop-songs with several top ten hits in the
late fifties and early sixties, developed lyrics and libretto for a
musical based on the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Edwards
recounted that, "I wanted to show [the founding fathers] at their
outermost limits. These men were the cream of their colonies... They
disagreed and fought with each other. But they understood commitment,
and though they fought, they fought affirmatively." Producer Stuart
Ostrow recommended that librettist Peter Stone collaborate with Edwards
on the book of the musical. Stone recalled, "The minute you heard ["Sit
Down, John"], you knew what the whole show was.... You knew immediately
that John Adams and the others were not going to be treated as gods, or
cardboard characters, chopping down cherry trees and flying kites with
strings and keys on them. It had this very affectionate familiarity; it
wasn't reverential." Adams, the outspoken delegate from Massachusetts,
was chosen as the central character, and his quest to persuade all
thirteen colonies to vote for independence became the central conflict.
Stone confined nearly all of the action toIndependence Hall and the
debate among the delegates, featuring only two female
characters, Abigail Adams and Martha Jefferson, in the entire
musical. After tryouts in New Haven and Washington, the show opened on
Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre on March 16, 1969. Peter Hunt,
previously known as a lighting designer, directed.
According to The Columbia Companion to American History on Film,
historical "[i]naccuracies pervade 1776, though few are very
troubling." Because Congress did not keep detailed records on the debate
over the Declaration of Independence, the authors of the play created
the narrative based on later accounts and educated guesses, inventing
scenes and dialogue as needed for storytelling purposes. Some of the
dialogue was taken from words written, often years or even decades
later, by the actual people involved, and rearranged for dramatic
The central departure from history is that the separation from Great
Britain was accomplished in two steps: the actual vote for independence
came on July 2 with the approval of Lee's resolution of independence.
The wording of the Declaration of Independence—the statement to the
world as to the reasons necessitating the split—was then debated for
three days before being approved on July 4. The vote for independence
did not hinge on some passages being removed from the Declaration, as
implied in the play, since Congress had already voted in favor of
independence before debating the Declaration. For the sake of drama, the
play's authors combined the two events. In addition, some historians
believe that the Declaration was not signed on July 4, as shown in 1776,
but was instead signed on August 2, 1776. The authors of 1776 had the
delegates sign the Declaration on July 4 for dramatic reasons.
Many characters in 1776 differ from their historical counterparts.
Central to the drama is the depiction of John Adams as "obnoxious and
disliked". According to biographer David McCullough, however, Adams was
one of the most respected members of Congress in 1776. Adams's
often-quoted description of himself in Congress as "obnoxious,
suspected, and unpopular" is from a letter written forty-six years later
in 1822, after his unpopular presidency had likely colored his view of
the past. According to McCullough, no delegate described Adams as
obnoxious in 1776. Historian Garry Wills earlier made a similar
argument, writing that "historians relay John Adams's memories without
sufficient skepticism", and that it was Dickinson, not Adams, who was
advocating an unpopular position in 1776.
For practical and dramatic purposes, the play does not depict all of the
more than 50 members of Congress who were present at the time. The John
Adams of the play is, in part, a composite character, combining the real
Adams with his cousin Samuel Adams, who was in Congress at the time but
is not depicted in the play. Although the play depicts Caesar Rodney as
an elderly man near death from skin cancer (which would eventually kill
him), he was just 47 years old at the time and continued to be very
active in the Revolution after signing the Declaration. He was not
absent from the voting due to health, however the play is accurate in
having him arrive "in the nick of time", having ridden eighty miles the
night before (an event depicted on Delaware's 1999 State Quarter). In
the play, Richard Henry Lee announces that he is returning to Virginia
to serve as governor. He was never governor; his cousin Henry Lee (who
is anachronistically called "General 'Lighthorse' Harry Lee", a rank and
nickname earned later) did eventually become governor and would also
become the father of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. John Adams was
also depicted in the play and the film as disliking Richard Henry Lee.
That is not the case as, according to David McCullough, Adams expressed
nothing but "respect and admiration for the tall, masterly Virginian."
He did, however, contrary to what was portrayed in the play and the
film, dislike Benjamin Franklin. Martha Jefferson never traveled to
Philadelphia to be with her husband. In fact, she was extremely ill
during the summer of 1776, having just endured a miscarriage. The play's
authors invented the scene "to show something of the young Jefferson's
life without destroying the unity of setting." James Wilson was not
the indecisive milquetoast depicted in the play. The real Wilson, who
was not yet a judge in 1776, had been cautious about supporting
independence at an earlier date, but he supported the resolution of
independence when it came up for a vote. Pennsylvania's deciding swing
vote was actually cast by John Morton, who is not depicted in the
The quote attributed to Edmund Burke by Dr. Lyman Hall in a key scene
with John Adams is a paraphrase of a real quote by Mr. Burke.
The musical also deviates from history in its portrayal of attitudes
about slavery. In 1776, after a dramatic debate over slavery, the
southern delegates walk out in protest of the Declaration's denunciation
of the slave trade, and only support independence when that language was
removed from the Declaration. The walkout is fictional, and apparently
most delegates, northern and southern, supported the deletion of the
clause. Thomas Jefferson is depicted as saying that he has resolved to
free his slaves, something he did not do, except for a few slaves freed
after his death 50 years later (Ironically, the historical Edward
Rutledge did free his own slaves later in life). Franklin claims that he
is the founder of an abolitionist organization, but the real Franklin
did not become an abolitionist until after the American Revolution,
becoming president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society in 1785.
In both the play and the film, John Adams is seen offering a tribute to
Benjamin Franklin, saying, "Franklin smote the ground and out
sprang.....George Washington.....fully grown and on his horse. Franklin
then electrified them with his magnificent lightning rod and the three
of them.....Franklin.....Washington.....and the horse.....conducted the
entire Revolution all by themselves." Adams did offer that tribute to
Franklin - in April of 1790, just after Franklin's death.
The original Broadway production of 1776 opened on March 16, 1969
at the 46th Street Theatre (now the Richard Rodgers Theatre) and closed
on February 13, 1972 after 1,217 performances. In its three-year run, it
played in three different theatres: the 46th Street, the St. James
Theatre (1970) and, finally, the Majestic Theatre (1971). The principal
cast included William Daniels, Howard Da Silva,Paul Hecht, Clifford
David, Ronald Holgate, David Ford, Virginia Vestoff and Ken Howard. Rex
Everhart, who was Da Silva's standby, replaced him on the original
Broadway cast album after Da Silva suffered a mild heart attack, which
required him to leave the show temporarily. Betty Buckley made her
Broadway debut as Martha Jefferson in the original stage production.
1776 was revived by the Roundabout Theatre Company, opening on August 4,
1997, in a limited engagement at the Roundabout's home theatre,
the Criterion Center, before transferring to the George Gershwin
Theatre on December 3, 1997 for a commercial run. It closed on June 14,
1998, after 333 performances and 34 previews. The production was
directed by Scott Ellis with choreography by Kathleen Marshall, and
featured Brent Spiner as Adams, Michael Cumpsty as Dickinson, Pat Hingle as
Franklin, and Paul Michael Valley as Jefferson. Rex Everhart, who
replaced Howard Da Silva on the original cast album, understudied Hingle
Clip from the 1997 revival:
Musical, Book by Gretchen Cryer; Lyrics by Gretchen Cryer; Music
by Nancy Ford.
Preview: Jan 22, 1973 Total Previews: 16 Opening: Feb 6, 1973
Closing: Mar 3, 1973 Total Performances: 31 Director: Austin
Shrek the Musical is a musical with music
by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics byDavid Lindsay-Abaire. It is
based on the 1990 book Shrek! by William Steig as well as the
2001 DreamWorks film of the same name. After a tryout in Seattle, the
originalBroadway production opened in December 2008 and ran for over 12
months, closing in January 2010. The first North American tour began in
July 2010, with the West End production opening in June 2011.
Lindsay-Abaire and Jason Moore began working on the show in 2002, with
Tesori joining the team from 2004. A reading took place on August 10,
2007, with Stephen Kramer Glickman in the title role, Celia
Keenan-Bolger as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad and
Robert L. Daye, Jr. as Donkey.
The musical premiered in an out-of-town tryout at the 5th Avenue
Theatre in Seattle, beginning August 14, 2008, in previews, and
officially opening on September 10. The tryout ran through September 21,
and played to generally favorable reviews, being cited as one of the few
movie-to-stage adaptations "with heart". The principal cast
included Brian d'Arcy James as Shrek, Sutton Foster as Princess
Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad, Chester Gregory II as
Donkey, John Tartaglia as Pinocchio, and Kecia Lewis-Evans as the
After many extensive changes were made, the show began previews
on Broadway at The Broadway Theatre on November 8, 2008, with the
official opening on December 14. The original cast included Brian d'Arcy
James as Shrek, Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber as
Lord Farquaad, John Tartaglia as Pinocchio. Daniel Breaker took over the
role of Donkey, as the creative team thought Chester Gregory did not fit
the part. Changes included the deletion of four songs: "The Line-Up", "I Could Get
Used to This", "More to the Story" and "I Smell a Happy Ending". "Story
of My Life," "Don't Let Me Go", "When Words Fail," and "This Is Our
Story" were added in their respected places. "Freak Flag" and "Donkey
Pot Pie" were shortened and "Let Her In" underwent some minor changes to
become "Make a Move". "Who I'd Be" changed from being a solo for Shrek,
to a trio with Fiona and Donkey joining him towards the end. During
Seattle previews, a brief reprise of "Who I'd Be" was sung after Shrek
overhears Fiona's misleading comment about being with a hideous beast,
which led into "Build a Wall". This was cut and "Build a Wall" was
placed after "Morning Person (reprise)". Another change included The
Dragon being voiced by members of the ensemble, instead of a soloist.
Kecia Lewis-Evans was therefore offered a part in the show's ensemble,
but declined. The song "I'm a Believer", which was originally played
as the audience left the theatre, was added to the score on October 2,
2009, and was sung by the entire company at the end of the performance.
The Broadway production closed on January 3, 2010, after 441
performances and 37 previews.
Julie Andrews, who played Queen Lillian provides the voice for the audio instructions
before each performance that reminds the audience to turn off their cell
phones, the use of recording devices is forbidden, etc. and "if you
refuse, a terrifying ogre will leap from the stage, lift you from your
seat, and drag you far, far away."
"Who'd I be" from the Broadway production:
Heavenly, a musical folk comedy in 2 Acts, 17 scenes: Music by David
Martin: Book and lyrics by Langston Hughes. Based on the novel Simple
Takes A Wife and other Simple stories by Langston Hughes. First
produced in New York Off-Broadway 21 May 1957 at the 85th Street
Playhouse for 44 performances. Playhouse Theatre, New York - 20 August
1957 (62 perfs) After Broadway run opened Off-Broadway 8 November 1959
at the Renata Theatre, and closed 31 December 1957 after 63 additional
performances. Total for all engagements: 169 performances.
The Broadway musical Simply Heavenly is based on “Simple Takes a
Wife” and other “Simple” stories by the celebrated black poet Langston
Hughes. The story is about Jess Simple, an honest, easy-going man trying
to raise enough money to divorce the wife he does not love in order to
marry his new love, Joyce; his experiences with the neighborhood
colorful characters and his unsuccessful attempts to escape Zarita, the
local man eater who is bent on leading him astray. Simply Heavenly
also highlights many aspects of Harlem, its jazz, its humour and the
universal problem of paying the rent and buying a shot of gin.
Langston Hughes, who also wrote the book and lyrics for this musical,
collaborated with musician and bandleader David Martin, who contributed
the music, on Simply Heavenly. The show opened in New York in
1957 to moderate success but failed to find an audience in London when
it transferred to the West End in 1958 with Bertice Reading in the lead.
As a result of the failure the original London production was not
recorded. However it was revived in London in 2003 and it was second
time lucky for this time the show achieved a healthy run of over 200
performances and won numerous awards.
a musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch and book and lyrics by Howard
Ashman. It was originally produced on Broadway in 1986. The musical is
based loosely on a 1975 film of the same title, from
a screenplay by Jerry Belson.
The original production opened on Broadway on November 24, 1986 at
the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and closed on January 3, 1987 after 48
performances. It was directed by Ashman with musical staging by Mary
Kyte. It received a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical as
well as Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Featured Actor in a
Musical (Michael O'Gorman) and Outstanding Costume Design (William Ivy
Smile chronicles the backstage troubles of the fictional 1985
California Young American Miss beauty pageant held in Santa Rosa,
California. The main characters include Robin Gibson and Doria Hudson,
two contestants who befriend and help each other throughout the week;
Brenda DiCarlo Freelander, an ex-Young American Miss second-runner-up
coordinating the pageant; and Brenda's husband Big Bob, an RV Salesman
trying to help her through the week.
Smile is considered a "lost" musical because no official cast
recording was ever made. However, there does exist a demo CD which is a
primary source for groups performing the show. Some of the songs from
the show, "Disneyland," "Smile," and "In Our Hands," have been released
commercially in compilations of songs from little-known musicals. In
November 2008, the record label PS Classics rectified this loss,
releasing the album Howard Sings Ashman. The second disc comprised
completely of songs from Smile, sung by Ashman with Hamlisch at the
piano. They also put a transcript of a taped conversation between
Ashman, Hamlisch and Bob Fosse discussing the development of the musical
on their website.
After the Broadway production of Smile flopped, Ashman and
Hamlisch revised the show for stock productions. Book changes include
the change of Shawn's roommate from Connie-Sue to Maria, and the
addition of some material for Bob. The score was further revised,
gaining a completely re-structured opening number (though retaining most
of the original melody and words), a new song for Brenda (Very Best Week
of Your Lives) that completely replaced the Orientation Sequence
musically, a new song for Bob (Bob's Song), a new number for the winner
of the pageant (There Goes the Girl) and perhaps most notably, a
completely new melody and lyric set for Robin's letters home and a
slight decrease in the time given to them. The ending was also re-worked
giving Bob a significant musical section new to the revised version.
Many of the small lyric changes to the licensed version actually
originated before the Broadway production. When reading Lincoln Center's
photocopy of the Broadway rehearsal script to Smile, many of the
licensed lyrics are printed but scratched out and replaced with what was
sung at the Lunt-Fontanne, handwritten.
An hour long recording of the licensed version was made for Samuel
French (the licensing agent) to distribute to groups interested in
performing Smile. It uses many of the original Broadway cast, including
Marsha Waterbury, Jodi Benson, Anne Marie Bobby, Tia Riebling and Dick
Patterson. Director and author Howard Ashman played the role of Big Bob
in Jeff McCarthy's absence. This recording is often referred to
incorrectly as an unreleased cast recording when it is in fact a demo.
Recording of "Disneyland":
It’s So Nice to be Civilized, Book by Micki Grant; Lyrics by Micki
Grant; Music by Micki Grant.
Preview: May 13, 1980 Total Previews: 23 Opening: Jun 3, 1980
Closing: Jun 8, 1980 Total Performances: 8 Cast: Mabel King, Vivien
Reed, Obba Babatunde, Vondie Curtis-Hall.
Soon, A musical in two acts. Book by Martin Duberman; Lyrics
by Scott Fagan; Music by Scott Fagan, J. M. Kookolis, Joseph M. Kookolis.
The cast featured Peter Allen, Barry Bostwick, Nell Carter, Richard Gere.
Preview: Total Previews: 21 Opening: Jan 12, 1971 Closing:
Jan 13, 1971 Total Performances: 3.
Something More! is a musical with music by Sammy
Fain and lyrics by Marilyn Bergman and Alan Bergman. The book by Nate
Monaster is based on the 1962 novel Portofino P.T.A. by Gerald
Green. Composer Robert Prince also contributed some music to a few dance
The musical opened on Broadway on October 28, 1964 at the Brooks
Atkinson Theatre where it closed on November 21, 1964 after 29
performances. The production was directed by Jule Styne and
choreographed by Bob Herget. The original cast included Arthur Hill as
Bill Deems, Barbara Cook as Carol Deems, Joan Copeland as Marchesa
Valentina Crespi, Ronny Graham as Monte Checkovitch, Michael Kermoyan as
Lepescu, Peg Murray as Mrs. Ferenzi, Rico Froehlich as Joe Santini,
Victor R. Helou as Tony Santini, Paula Kelly as Mrs. Veloz, Jo Jo Smith
as Mr. Veloz, Kenny Kealy as Freddy Deems, Neva Small as Suzy Deems,
and Eric White as Adam Deems.
Monty Python's Spamalot is a musical comedy "lovingly ripped off
from" the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Like the
film, it is a highly irreverent parody of the Arthurian Legend, but it
differs from the film in many ways, especially in its parodies of
Broadway theatre. Eric Idle, a member of the Monty Python team, wrote
the musical's book and lyrics and collaborated with John Du Prez on most
of the music.
Idle explained the title in a February 2004 press release:
I like the title Spamalot a lot. We tested it with audiences on my
recent US tour and they liked it as much as I did, which is gratifying.
After all, they are the ones who will be paying Broadway prices to see
the show. It comes from a line in the movie which goes: "we eat ham, and
jam and Spam a lot."
The musical previewed on Broadway, at New York's Shubert Theatre,
beginning February 14, 2005, and, after some changes, officially opened
on March 17, 2005. Mike Nichols directed, and Casey Nicholaw choreographed.
The Broadway previews were practically sold out, leaving only obstructed
view tickets for sale. The production won the Tony Award for Best
Musical and was nominated for 14 Tony Awards. The show played its final
performance on January 11, 2009 after 35 previews and 1,574
performances; it was seen by more than two million people and grossed
over $175 million, recouping its initial production costs in under six
The original Broadway cast included Tim Curry as King Arthur, Michael
McGrath as Patsy, David Hyde Pierce as Sir Robin, Hank Azaria as Sir
Lancelot and other roles (e.g., the French Taunter, Knight of Ni,
and Tim the Enchanter), Christopher Sieber as Sir Galahad and other
roles (e.g., the Black Knight and Prince Herbert's Father), and Sara
Ramírez as the Lady of the Lake. It also included Christian Borle as
Prince Herbert and other roles (e.g., the Historian and Not Dead Fred),
Steve Rosen as Sir Bedevere and other roles (e.g., Concorde and Dennis's
Mother) and John Cleese as the (recorded) Voice of God.
The show has had mixed reactions from Idle's former colleagues in Monty
Terry Gilliam, in an audio interview, describes it as "Python-lite". He
later told the BBC News, "It helps with the pension fund, and it helps
keep Python alive. As much as we'd like to pull the plug on the whole
thing it carries on - it's got a life of its own."
Terry Jones - who co-directed the original film with Gilliam - expressed
his opinions forthrightly in May 2005: "Spamalot is utterly
pointless. It's full of air…Regurgitating Python is not high on my list
of priorities." However, when asked whether he liked Spamalot during
an interview with Dennis Daniel on 98.5 WBON-FM "The BONE" on Long
Island shortly after the musical's opening on Broadway, Jones said,
"Well, I thought it was terrific good fun. It’s great to see the
audience loving it. I suppose I had reservations as far as…well…the idea
of doing scenes from a film on stage. I just don’t get the point of it.
They do them terribly well…I mean, they really are good…but I just quite
don’t understand what that’s about. It isn’t really 'Python.' It is very
much Eric." Jones went on to say, "...I think the best parts of the
musical are the new things. For instance, when they do the Andrew Lloyd
Webber take-off and this girl comes in and sings 'Whatever Happened To
My Part' since she hasn’t appeared since the opening number and she’s
really furious! That is one of the great moments where the show really
comes alive for me."
In an Oct. 2006 interview, Michael Palin said, "We’re all hugely
delighted that Spamalot is doing so well. Because we’re all
beneficiaries! It’s a great show. It’s not ‘Python’ as we would have
written it. But then, none of us would get together and write a ‘Python’
stage show. Eric eventually ran out of patience and said, ‘Well, I’ll do
it myself then.’ He sent us bits and songs and all that and we said,
‘Yeah, that’s all right, have a go.’ But its success is so enormous that
it took us all by surprise, including Eric, and now we’re just proud to
be associated with it, rather pathetically."
When asked by a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter in 2008 if he had to
be persuaded to provide the recorded voice of God in the musical, John
Cleese said, "Yeah, that’s right. And in the end I think Spamalot turned
out splendidly. It’s had a tremendous run. I defy anyone to go and not
have a really fun evening. It’s the silliest thing I’ve ever seen and I
think Eric did a great job."
"I'm making them money, and the ungrateful bastards never thank me. Who
gave them a million dollars each for 'Spamalot'?" – Eric Idle
The show proved to be an early success when moving to London's West End.
After high advance ticket sales the show's run was extended by four
weeks, four months before the run commenced. The play makes many
references to the film and other material in the Python canon, including
a line from "The Lumberjack Song", nods to "Ministry of Silly Walks,"
the "Election Night Special" and "Dead Parrot Sketch" routines,
a bar from "Spam" worked into "Knights of the Round Table", a rendition
of the song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from the film Monty
Python's Life of Brian (1979), and the "Fisch Schlapping Song" which is
a reference to both "The Fish-Slapping Dance" and the song "Finland".
Another reference is actually part of the Playbill of the show; there
are several gag pages about a musical entitled "Dik Od Triaanenen Fol
(Finns Ain't What They Used To Be)". This gag programme was written by
Palin, and echoes the faux-Swedish subtitles in the credits of the
original Grail Python film.
Broadway musical fans appreciate its references to other musicals and
musical theatre in general, such as: "The Song That Goes Like This" (a
spoof of Andrew Lloyd Webber productions and many other Broadway power
ballads); the knights doing a dance reminiscent of Fiddler on the
Roof, and another reminiscent of West Side Story (including the
music); Sir Lancelot's mimicking ofPeter Allen in "His Name Is
Lancelot"; the character of Sir Not Appearing in This Show being Man
of La Mancha's Don Quixote; a member of the French "army" dressed as
Eponine from Leled from "Another Hundred People" from
Stephen Sondheim's Company by the "damsel"
Herbert. The song "You Won't Succeed (On Broadway)" also parodies The
The West End version opened to two rave reviews. "It’s a wonderful
night, and I fart in the general direction of anyone who says
otherwise", wrote Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph (echoing a joke
from the show. According to Paul Taylor in the Independent, "it leaves
you that high and weak with laughter, thanks not just to the Python
provenance of the basic material but to the phenomenal speed, wit, cheek
and showbiz knowingness of the direction, which is by the great veteran,
Mike Nichols". Michael Billington in the Guardian was less enthusiastic,
though, stating "while I'm happy to see musicals spoofed, the show's New
York origins are clearly exposed in a would-be outre number which
announces "we won't succeed in show business if we don't have any Jews":
a Broadway in-joke that has little purchase this side of the Atlantic."
Billington adds, "With hand on heart, I'd much rather watch Lerner and
Loewe's Camelot than Eric Idle's smart-arsed Spamalot."
"You Won't Succeed on Broadway" original cast:
in Your Eyes, A musical in two acts. Book by J. P. McEvoy; Lyrics
by Dorothy Fields; Music by Arthur Schwartz. Opening: Feb 9, 1939
Closing: May 27, 1939 Total Performances: 127. Cast: Jimmy Durante,
Ethel Merman, Mildred Natwick, Jerome Robbins, Mary Wickes
Stars in Your Eyes was Dorothy’s second book musical, and her
first project after she returned to New York for married life with
second husband Eli Lahm.
The creative process was a troubled one, with the show’s original
conception being radically altered by director Joshua Logan, who removed
the left-wing political comment which had originally featured strongly.
Songs were cut and replaced, and the piece emerged as a lively romantic
comedy taking place in Hollywood.
Some serious songs remained, such as the rueful, resigned "I’ll Pay The
Check", delivered by Ethel Merman. The cast was a great asset, featuring
not only Merman but Jimmy Durante; the pair had a show-stopping number
in It’s All Yours, during which they repeatedly interrupted the chorus
with wisecracks, jokes and ad-libs.
"If It’s All Yours" was a throw-away number, but some of the other
numbers represented Dorothy’s first foray into writing lyrics integrated
with the characters and plot of a show.
The show was moderately well received by critics, but lasted less than
Express is a rock musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music), Richard
Stilgoe (lyrics) and Arlene Phillips (choreography), with later revisions
by Don Black (lyrics) and David Yazbek (music and lyrics for the 2nd US
tour). The story follows a child's dream in which his toy train set
comes to life; famously the actors perform wearing roller skates. It is
one of the longest running musicals in West End history with 7,461
performances, but the Broadway production only ran for 761 performances.
It is the most popular musical show in Germany.
During the 1970s, Lloyd Webber planned to produce a musical adaptation
of Rev W. Awdry's Railway Series books. This fell through, as Awdry felt
that Lloyd Webber wanted a greater degree of creative control than he
was prepared to give. A legacy of this early scheme is the Really Useful
Company, named in reference to a catchphrase used in several of the
Lloyd Webber was interested in developing the idea of a musical about
trains further, and conceived what he described as "a Cinderella story"
in which Rusty stands for Cinderella, and Greaseball and Electra, the
stepsisters. The Starlight Express itself fills the role of the fairy
Starlight Express musical, also directed by Trevor Nunn, is
similar in its theatrical concept to Cats in that it also
features dancers in costume representing non-human characters. However,
unlike Cats, the music is mostly in the realm of disco and pop with one
or twopastiche songs such as the Country and Western styled "U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D.",
love duet "Only You" and the title song, "Starlight Express". In some
ways this musical could be seen as more of a return to the style
of Joseph, although the latter was more varied in its use of musical
styles and influences.
Starlight has seen many stars in its cast, notably Jane Krakowski, Jeffrey
Daniel (Shalamar), Andrea McArdle, Ray Shell, Stephanie
Lawrence, Frances Ruffelle, John Partridge, Rachel Wooding. Greg Ellis, Martyn
Andrews, Reva Rice, Oliver Thornton, Jo Gibb,James Gillan and Greg Mowry.
The show is a spectacle, featuring live stunts by professional skaters
and a large racetrack built around the audience.
The Broadway production opened on 15 March 1987 at the Gershwin Theatre.
"One Rock 'n Roll Too Many" clip:
Pier is a musical written by the songwriting team of Kander and
Ebb from the original book by David Thompson.
Directed by Scott Ellis with choreography by Susan Stroman, it opened
on Broadway on April 24, 1997 and closed on June 28, 1997, running for
76 performances (and 33 previews). It starred Karen Ziemba as Rita
Racine, Daniel McDonald as Bill Kelly, Gregory Harrison as Mick
Hamilton, Debra Monk as Shelby Stevens, and Kristin Chenoweth as
Precious, making her Broadway debut. It received eleven Tony Award
nominations but did not win any awards.
Scene from the Tony Awards:
a musical with a book by George Abbott and Jerome Weidman, lyrics by
Sheldon Harnick, and music by Jerry Bock, their follow-up to the highly
successful Pulitzer Prize-winning Fiorello! a year earlier. The
musical is based on a 1959 novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams. Set in
the Tenderloin, a red-light district in 1890s Manhattan, the show's
story focuses on Reverend Brock, a character loosely based on American
clergyman and social reformer Charles Henry Parkhurst.
After six previews, the Broadway production, directed by Abbott
and choreographed byJoe Layton, opened on October 17, 1960 at the 46th
Street Theatre, where it ran for 216 performances. The cast
included Maurice Evans (better known as a Shakespearean actor than a
musical performer) as Reverend Brock and Ron Husmann as Tommy.
Tony Award nominations went to Evans for Best Actor in a Musical,
Husmann for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, and Cecil Beaton for his
costume design, and Husmann won the Theatre World Award for his
An original cast recording was released by Angel Records, and Bobby
Darin's recording of "Artificial Flowers" reached #20 on the Billboard
Reverend Brock, a single-minded 1890s social reformer works to sanitize
the Tenderloin, a red-light neighborhood in western Manhattan. He is
foiled by everyone associated with the district, including the corrupt
politicians and police who are taking their cut from the earnings of
the prostitutes who work the streets there. Tommy Howatt, a writer for
the local scandal sheet Tatler, infiltrates the minister's church and
proceeds to play one side against the other, eventually framing Brock by
revealing to the authorities his plan to raid the brothels, but
ultimately saving him by siding with him at his trial. As a result, the
Tenderloin is shut down and Brock, asked to resign from his church,
heads for Detroit with the hope of succeeding there as well.
Performance of "Little Old New York":
The Who's Tommy is a rock musical by Pete Townshend and Des
McAnuff based onThe Who's 1969 double album rock opera Tommy, also
by Pete Townshend, with additional material by John Entwistle and Sonny
The musical opened at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California in
July 1992. The Broadway debut was at the St. James Theatre on 22 April
1993 and closed on 17 June 1995, after 899 performances and 27 previews.
Directed by Des McAnuff with choreography by Wayne Cilento, the original
cast included Michael Cerveris (Tommy),Marcia Mitzman (Mrs.
Walker), Jonathan Dokuchitz (Captain Walker) and Cheryl Freeman (The
Gypsy/Acid Queen) plus an ensemble that included Alice Ripley, Christian
Hoff, Norm Lewis, Paul Kandel, Tracy Nicole Chapman, and Sherie Rene
Scott. The play subsequently was produced by various touring companies
throughout North America and Europe.
An original cast recording was produced by RCA Victor and released on 13
July 1993. A Canadian Production opened at the Elgin
Theatre in Toronto on 1 March 1995, and played throughout the year. The
production featured an entirely Canadian cast, and the lead character of
Tommy was played by Tyley Ross. Once the Toronto run ended, the
production went on a Cross-Canada tour. A revival ran in the West End at
the Shaftesbury Theatre from 5 March 1996 until 8 February 1997,
featuring Paul Keating (Tommy) and Kim Wilde (Mrs. Walker). A European
tour of Tommy opened on 26 January 2005 at the Chasse Theatre in Breda,
The Netherlands. The opening was set to celebrate the 35th anniversary
of the original Tommy album by The Who.
The original Broadway cast performed a one night only reunion benefit
concert at the August Wilson Theatre in New York City on 15 December
2008. Produced by The Path Fund/Rockers on Broadway, the concert was a
benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Broadway Dreams
Foundation and the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson Foundation.
Clip from the Broadway production:
Warm for May is a musical composed by Jerome Kern, with a libretto
by Oscar Hammerstein II. It was the team's final score for Broadway,
following their hits Show Boat, Sweet Adeline, and Music in
the Air. It marked a return to Broadway for Kern, who had spent
several years in Hollywood writing music for movies, including Swing
Time for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Vincente Minnelli directed Very Warm for May, which opened at
the Alvin Theatre on November 17, 1939. It contained such favorite songs
as "All the Things You Are", "All in Fun", and "In the Heart of the
Dark." Gerald Bordman, author of the definitive Kern biography Jerome
Kern: His Life and Music, hailed the score as one of Kern's finest.
Very Warm for May ran on Broadway for two months, with June
Allyson, Eve Arden, and Vera-Ellen among the performers. It closed after
59 performances. It received mixed reviews, with the New York
World-Telegram calling the show "Gay and delightful" and finding the
songs to be "the moJPcharming that Kern and Hammerstein have ever
written", while Brooks Atkinson, of the New York Times, yawned, "Very
Warm for May is not so hot for November", and Robert Benchley of The New
Yorker praised the show as "Lovely to the ear and complimentary to the
intelligence...unlike most musicals, (it) actually gets better and
funnier as it goes on."
Part of the lukewarm response may have been due to a book that was
changed at the last minute. Very Warm for May opened out of town with a
plot that had Long Island society girl May Graham fleeing threatening
gangsters and hiding out with an avant-garde summer stock troupe in
Connecticut. Eve Arden portrayed a dizzy society matron. This first
version of the show received rave reviews and played to sold-out houses.
Producer Max Gordon had been away when the show opened out of town and
when he saw it, he hated the gangster subplot and had it removed.
However, New Yorkers didn't seem to be as crazy about the summer stock
story, having just seen Babes in Arms the year before.
It was a very competitive season on Broadway. One month after Very
Warm for May opened, Cole Porter's Du Barry Was a Lady,
DeSylva and Henderson's George White's Scandals and Rodgers and Hart's Too
Many Girls all opened. Very Warm for May is a quintessential
"lost musical from the 1930s" because of its enduring score by two
Broadway legends and its surprisingly quick disappearance from the
In 1984, recordings of the original cast performances from 1939 were
discovered and which were assembled to form a long playing
(LP) album and thus became the oldest Original Broadway Cast Recording.
With notes by Gerald Bordman, the album received a Nomination for
a Grammy Award in 1985 as Best Cast Show Album. It was subsequently
released as a compact disc and later became available on iTunes. The
recordings, however, are actually from a promotional radio show and not
an attempt to faithfully record the full score. Several songs from the
show are missing, and "All the Things You Are" appears four times on the
Very Warm for May was transferred (loosely) to the silver screen
for the MGM movie Broadway Rhythm (1944) with only "All the
Things You Are" retained from the musical and the plot rewritten yet
again. The actor George Murphy plays snippets of songs from the original
score while seated at a piano awaiting the arrival of leading lady Ginny
Stephen Sondheim has cited Very Warm for May as an inspiration
for his interest in the musical theater. Sondheim saw the original
production at the age of nine.
Hammerstein refused to allow productions of Very Warm for May after
Kern's death. In 1985, however, the Hammerstein and Kern estates finally
authorized a performance by a small New York Company, followed in 1994
by a Carnegie Hall concert (with full orchestrations). San Francisco's
42nd Street Moon theatre performed it as a staged concert a year later
in 1995. In May of 2010, 42nd Street Moon produced a fully staged
version at the Eureka Theatre, subsequently making it the West Coast
A scene from the show by the 42nd Street Moon Theater with the song "All
the Things You Are":
and Wonderful, A Big City Fable Musical, Book by Phil
Phillips; Lyrics by Bob Goodman; Music by Bob Goodman.
Preview: Nov 29, 1971 Total Previews: 9 Opening: Dec 7, 1971
Closing: Dec 7, 1971 Total Performances: 1
The ensemble featured Ann Reinking.
Clive Barnes, NY Times Review
The new Broadway musical, “Wild and Wonderful,” is wet, windy and
wretched. It opened last night at the Lyceum Theater. I shall always try
to remember it, and to use it as a yardstick to measure the future.
I don’t want to be gratuitously unkind to the people who perpetrated
this — but why did they have the arrogance to imagine that their
garrulous wanderings justified two hours of my time, or anyone else’s
time? This is a show that insults the intelligence. Producers — even
amateur producers — shouldn’t do this. This is the kind of show that
sends you back to television — or, if that is too radical, at least back
to television commercials.
It is impossible to imagine the precise degree of cultural shock that a
show of this type can administer. A musical like this makes critics
wonder whether they should ask their publishers for hazardous duty pay
for their brains, or, failing that, a precise statement of where they
stand with Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
“Wild and Wonderful” is described as a “Big City” fable. Its hero is a
West Point dropout who has joined the Central Intelligence Agency. He is
assigned to infiltrate youthful radicalism. A girl throws her school
books off the George Washington Bridge — it happens every Tuesday, I
guess — and he confuses her with a radical bomb-thrower. His C.I.A.
chief, who lives in a helicopter, encourages him in this mistake.
The agent radicalizes the girl and takes her to a Roman Catholic
shelter. The shelter is managed by Brother John — who wears a
turtle-neck and is absolutely groovy — and Father Desmond, who appears
to have ulcers and a problem of incipient alcoholism. He also — quite
frankly — cannot understand the now generation, or even the youth
sub-drug culture. Father Desmond is without it.
The girl — a nice enough kid in all conscience — falls in love, without
knowing it, of course, with this young, hippy C.I.A. agent, who happens
to be the son of a multimillionaire. But I shall not detain you with the
story. The humor — at the performance I saw, people were giggling at the
show incontinently but with reason — is so flat that is makes Amsterdam
appear like a village at the top of Mount Everest. Indeed, this musical
provides a new dimension to flatness.
The music was bad, the lyrics were bad, the book was worse than bad, the
choreography unsupportable, the costumes proved singularly hideous and
were spectacularly unflattering to every woman in the cast and, in the
context, the settings seemed gratefully close to what we think of as
The role of the heroine — who had to carry the most stupid of cumulative
gags about late, late show movies — was played with more charm than it
deserved by Laura McDuffie, and Walter Willison threw in everything but
his kitchen sink, range and refrigerator — to say little or nothing of
the air-conditioning — in an effort to make the hero viable. Even Mr.
Willison failed, and Mr. Willison is unusually talented. Ted Thurston,
who played the priest with something of the gallant air of man about to
be defrocked, is also a fine performer who deserves better of life than
This was a terrible and witless show. The kind of show where you leave,
find that it is raining, instantly feel like Gene Kelly and start
singing. At least you are in the street rather than in the theater.
Wonderful Town is a musical with a book
written by Joseph A. Fields and Jerome Chodorov, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph
Green and music by Leonard Bernstein. It is based on Fields and
Chodorov's 1940 play My Sister Eileen, which is itself based on the
collection of short stories by Ruth McKenney of the same name.
Premiering on Broadway in 1953, Wonderful Town won five Tony Awards,
including Best Musical, and spawned a 1986 West End production and 2003
Broadway revival. A lighter piece than Bernstein's later works, West
Side Story and Candide, Comden and Green's lyrics are paired with
Bernstein's music to produce some of the most popular songs of the
The musical follows the story of sisters Ruth and Eileen Sherwood, who
travel to New York City from Columbus, Ohio in search of love and
fortune. My Sister Eileen, the collection of short stories on which the
play and musical are based, recounts Ruth's memories of growing up with
her sister. The collection was published as a hardcover book in 1938,
three years after the events depicted in the musical. Only the final two
stories in the book have anything to do with the plot of Wonderful Town,
and they are heavily modified for the musical. The stories also served
as the basis of two films and a television series.
Wonderful Town debuted on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on
February 25, 1953 and ran for 559 performances, closing on July 3, 1954
and starred Rosalind Russell and Edie Adams. It was directed by George
Abbott, choreographed by Donald Saddler and produced by Robert Fryer.
The show was broadcast live as a television special on CBS in 1958,
starring Russell. See below.
A production opened in the West End at the Queen's Theatre in August
1986 and closed in March 1987, after playing at the Watford Palace,
with Maureen Lipman (Ruth) and Emily Morgan (Eileen).
The City Center Encores! staged concert was presented in May 2000,
starring Donna Murphy and Laura Benanti and directed and choreographed
by Kathleen Marshall. It received "some of the best reviews the
in-concert series has seen in some time, with particular praise being
doled out for star Donna Murphy." A revival opened on Broadway at
the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on November 23, 2003 and closed on January 30,
2005, after 497 performances. With direction and choreography
by Kathleen Marshall, it starred Donna Murphy, and later Brooke Shields.
Here is Rosalind Russell and Jacqueline McKeever in a 1958 telecast
a musical with a book by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso, music by
Schwartz, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, Mary Rodgers, and James Taylor,
and lyrics by Schwartz, Carnelia, Grant, Taylor, and Susan Birkenhead.
The musical is based on the Studs Terkel book Working: People Talk
About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974),
which has interviews with people from different regions and occupations.
The musical was first staged at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago from
December 1977 through February 1978. It then was produced on Broadway at
the 46th Street Theatre, opening on May 14, 1978 where it ran for 24
performances and 12 previews. It was directed by Schwartz and
choreographed by Onna White, with a cast featuring Patti LuPone, Bob
Gunton, Joe Mantegna, Lynne Thigpen, David Patrick Kelly, Robin
Lamont, Steven Boockvor, Rex Everhart, Bobo Lewis, Lenora Nemetz, Brad
Sullivan, Matt Landers, and Arny Freeman, an actor who was interviewed
in the book. In 1982, Schwartz and Nina Faso adapted the show for a
ninety-minute telecast on the PBS series American Playhouse, directed by
Schwartz and Kirk Browning and introduced by Terkel.
The musical has undergone several revisions. In March 1999, it was
presented at Long Wharf Theater, New Haven, Connecticut, with direction
by Christopher Ashley. It had "developmental productions" at Asolo
Repertory Theatre, Sarasota, Florida in May 2008 and at the Old Globe
Theatre, San Diego, California, in March 2009. Schwartz revised the
musical, which includes two new songs written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. A
further revised version is expected to be produced at the Broadway
Playhouse at Water Tower Place, Chicago, starting in February 2011, with
direction and revisions by Gordon Greenberg.