Once upon a time there was no such thing as the musical theatre until the Americans invented it. In the late 1800s and the early 1900s there were lots of old-fashioned musicals with old-fashioned songs, but audiences didn’t know any better and enjoyed them. Then Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, and other musical geniuses wrote better songs, but their musicals are hardly ever done anymore, except Anything Goes and Annie Get Your Gun. Then along came Rodgers and Hammerstein, who brought a lot of class and a lot of serious stuff to the musical, but that was all right because there were still musical comedies like Guys and Dolls and Damn Yankees, so the musical was doing fine. By the end of the 1960s and into the 1970s, some musicals started getting really serious, but that was mostly Stephen Sondheim’s fault, and at least there was Annie and La Cage aux Folles. Then a weird thing happened: the British starting making good musicals. And they were very popular on Broadway, which was more than a little upsetting, because it was like the British showing up at Lexington and Concord all over again. Suddenly, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera were the biggest hits on Broadway, which didn’t seem kosher. And some of these British musicals weren’t really British, like the French-British Miss Saigon or the Scandinavian-British Momma Mia! Luckily, this invasion lost steam, because even Andrew Lloyd Webber ran out of hit musicals. By the turn of the new century, there were fewer London musicals. The Producers and Wicked opened, and the big hits were American once again. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, there was the occasional Billy Elliot and such, but most of the shows were American, and some were even hip-hop and rap, but that was okay because it reflected America’s national diversity. The musical theatre was saved. And it lived happily ever after.
While there is hardly any truth to this fairy tale, it is the scenario that many American theatregoers actually believe. It would take several books to untangle all the inaccuracies in such a fable, but this book aims to clear up one widely held misconception: the role of the British musical in the American theatre.
Just as the only theatre in the colonies was British theatre, so too, just about all of the musicals seen on Broadway for many years were from London. Ballad operas, comic operettas, and musical comedies from Great Britain filled the New York theatres for decades in the nineteenth century and continued to do so up through World War One.
The idea that The Black Crook in 1866 was the first American musical is true up to a point. Its combination of spectacle, dance, songs, and story was unique, and it laid the groundwork for the later all-American musicals. But there were dozens of British musicals before and after The Black Crook that captivated American audiences. For much of the history of the New York theatre, the idea of theatregoing without British musicals was unthinkable. So many hits came from London that for many New Yorkers the only kind of successful book musical was a British one. The American revues, such as the Ziegfeld Follies, and comic farces with songs, such as the Harrigan and Hart shows, were widely popular, but for a plot with hummable songs, one turned to the English imports. Only the fast-paced musicals by George M. Cohan early in the century gave the British a run for their money. In fact, the Cohan shows were anti-British (the villain was usually an Englishman putting on airs) and emphasized American-sounding songs. The Princess Musicals in the 1910s were also strong on plot and tuneful scores (most by composer Jerome Kern), but they had librettos and lyrics by Guy Bolton (raised in England) and the Brit P. G. Wodehouse, and they were closer to London musicals than a Cohan show. Not until the 1920s, when there were more Broadway musicals than in any decade before or since, was the American musical starting to dominate the genre in New York.
Because so few London musicals were imported to New York in the 1940s and 1950s, it was a bit of a surprise when a British production was a big hit in New York in the 1960s. Musicals like Oliver! and Half a Sixpence were exceptions, not the rule. By the late 1970s, so many Broadway hits were from London that there was actual panic over the United States losing its place as the source of the greatest stage musicals. Those American theatregoers with short memories or no sense of history saw the British on Broadway as upstarts. Even worse, the younger generation of musical lovers were more captivated by The Phantom of the Opera than South Pacific, which to some meant the beginning of the end of the American musical. Balance was restored in the new century, and the situation now is closer to that of the distant past, when American and British musicals played side by side on Broadway and the importing of overseas musicals moved in both directions.
While theatre artists tend to fade away, the musicals—at least the best of them—have a habit of sticking around. Theatregoers who today ask Noel Who? will someday be joined by a generation that asks Andrew Lloyd Who? Very few British songwriters have a long shelf life unless they are pop or rock stars. Similarly, so many of the British musicals and their creators who enthralled Americans in the distant past are long forgotten now. Of course, the same can be said for American musicals of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth. That is where this book comes in. The aim is to describe the British musicals of the past and the present as they were appreciated or neglected once they reached New York. We have selected 110 British musicals to describe and to compare their success (or lack of it) in New York and London. There will be surprises along the way. Just as certain popular American shows did not go over well in the West End, so too there are London hit musicals that flopped in America. Just as surprising, some London musicals were even more successful in New York than they were back home. We will also look at the changes that were made to the British musicals when they were reworked for Broadway audiences. In some cases, the very Britishness of the show was discarded to make the musical more American. Just as often, it was that very Britishness that was so appealing to New York theatregoers. We have not included foreign musicals that came to Broadway by way of Britain; Irma La Douce and Les Misérables were already hits in France before translated and adapted by British craftsmen. Yet Miss Saigon, which was written by French songwriters but put together and premiered in London, is included. In some cases, there have been thoroughly British musicals, such as The Pirates of Penzance and Sail Away, that actually premiered in New York before opening in London and we have included them.
According to the above fairy tale, all is right with the American musical because it is, mostly, American. But much of the richness of musical theatre is lost if one does not consider the impact the British musical has made over the past two centuries. And is still making. The art of musical theatre is not exclusive to either Great Britain or the United States. We may be divided by our common language, as George Bernard Shaw once wryly stated, but we are unified by our musicals.
I wish to express my thanks and appreciation to my wife and proofreader Cathy Hischak. Thanks also to Jessica McCleary, John Cerullo, and Deni Remsberg at Rowman & Littlefield, and to the staff at Photofest. A very special thanks to Stephen Ryan, who has edited and guided me through fourteen books at Rowman & Littlefield.
Charleston’s South Carolina Gazette announced in 1735 that the opera Flora; or, Hob in the Well would be performed in the courthouse on Tuesday, 18 February, along with a pantomime and a dance performance. This is the earliest record of a work of musical theatre in the colonies. It was, of course, British. Just as theatre in the New World was European theatre, so too musical entertainments were from abroad. Original forms of American music can trace their roots to the eighteenth century, but it takes quite a long time for homegrown musical theatre to fully develop its own character and style. There are instances of some American musicals as far back as 1767, the same year that the first play written by an American-born playwright (The Prince of Parthia by Thomas Godfrey) was produced. But for the most part, the musicals that colonists saw were products from Great Britain. The most popular form of musical at the time was the ballad opera, a more accessible form of opera, with dialogue scenes, individual songs that were sometimes already known to the audience, and a strong plot. Of all the ballad operas to play in the colonies in the eighteenth century, none was more popular than John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera. It was first performed in England in 1728 and was an immediate success, revived in London and the provinces throughout the rest of the century. The first production of The Beggar’s Opera in America was not until 1750 in New York City, and it eventually became a staple with theatres across the colonies except in puritanical New England.
By the end of the century, comic operas were finding a niche in theatres both in Britain and America. These were closer to musical comedies yet were still operatic, with recitatives and many of the conventions of opera. What made them so popular was their lighter plots and farcical characters, usually played by favorite stage comedians. In 1796, a notable comic opera, The Sicilian Romance; or, The Spectre of the Cliffs, opened in New York. It had been a hit in London and was brought to America by Lewis Hallam Jr. (The Hallams were pioneers in touring plays and musicals in the colonies before the Revolutionary War, and the son continued the practice in the new nation.) As would happen often over the next 130 years, the British score for The Sicilian Romance was replaced by American songs. It was the first, and far from the last, time a London success was Americanized for New Yorkers. The nineteenth century saw more and more British musicals finding audiences in New York. A good example was Tom & Jerry; or, Life in London (1823) which was billed as “An Extravaganza Burletta of Fun, Frolic, Fashion, and Flash.” The musical was so popular that in 1856 it was remembered well enough to have an American musical counterpart titled Life in New York; or, Tom and Jerryon a Visit. Ironically, the most successful musical from Britain to open in New York before the Civil War was not a ballad opera or a comic opera but the melodramatic operetta The Bohemian Girl. It was a sensation in London in 1843 and the next year it thrilled New Yorkers. It and The Beggar’s Opera are perhaps the only two British musicals before the Civil War to still be performed today with any frequency.
The Black Crook (1866) is usually credited as the first truly American musical. That is questionable, but it was the first successful mixture of song, melodrama, dance, and spectacle on a “Broadway” scale. The Black Crook featured chorus girls (French ballerinas, no less); tons of scenery and special effects; tuneful songs that changed as needed; and sometimes, during its long run, stars. No British importation had ever come up with something so big. Or so successful. The Black Crook ran over a year in its first engagement, toured and returned to New York over the rest of the century, and made more money than any theatrical venture the world had yet seen. Such a juggernaut spawned more American musical spectacles as well as musicals, like A Trip to Chinatown (1891), which succeeded on the merits of its story, characters, and songs. But The Black Crook did not diminish the number of British musicals crossing the Atlantic and finding a ready audience in New York. Perhaps the most notable of them was the melodramatic musical The Lily of Killarney (1868). Its Irish setting and characters were especially appealing to Irish Americans, though, in truth, immigrants in New York were flocking to the more street-savvy, rough-and-tumble musical comedies put on by Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart. Their raucous Mulligan Guard series of musical farces in the 1880s were a bold alternative to British musicals. Similarly, Lew Fields and Joe Weber presented their own series of musical burlesques at the turn of the century. Yet neither had much effect on the London imports that reached an all-time high between 1875 and World War One.
The impetus for this golden age of British musical theatre in America was, quite simply, Gilbert and Sullivan. Between 1875 and 1894, these very British, very Victorian artists brought the art of comic operetta to heights it had never seen before or since. Such blockbusters as H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, and The Gondoliers were as popular in America as they were throughout the British Commonwealth. This fertile era may have started with Gilbert and Sullivan, but dozens of other artists kept up the momentum and London was flooded with musicals, many of which they sent to New York. Just as George M. Cohan was developing the All-American brand of musical at the turn of the century, various British producers, playwrights, and songwriters were moving the British musical away from operetta to its own kind of musical comedy. Because of the economics of London theatre, several of these musicals were able to run hundreds of performances, some even over a thousand. The popularity of such musicals as Erminie (1886), Florodora (1900), The Geisha (1896), San Toy (1900), A Chinese Honeymoon (1902), The Toreador (1902), The Arcadians (1910), Chu Chin Chow (1917), and The Maid of the Mountains (1918) is remarkable even by today’s long-run standards. But these long-run hits did not have Gilbert and Sullivan–like superior quality and very few can be revived today.
The Roaring Twenties saw a record number of homegrown American musicals on Broadway. With the emergence of such new songwriters as the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Vincent Youmans, E. Y. Harburg, Harold Arlen, and Oscar Hammerstein, the American musical was a clearly defined and ever-growing art form. London also saw a record number of musicals in the 1920s, but the traffic seemed to be moving mostly eastward across the Atlantic. British playgoers saw plenty of Broadway, but New Yorkers saw little of the West End. Only Noel Coward seemed to find audiences on both continents with his plays, revues, and book musicals. Coward was also able to brave the Depression in the 1930s when the number of musicals in both New York and London dropped considerably. The war years and the rest of the 1940s were a boom time for musicals in both cities. It was the beginning of the golden age for the American musical with Lady in the Dark (1940), Pal Joey (1940), Oklahoma! (1943), Carousel (1945), Annie Get Your Gun (1946), Brigadoon (1947), and South Pacific (1949). Yet it was also a prodigious period for the British musical, despite the war and postwar recession. The strongest single force in the West End during this time was Ivor Novello. Too little known in the States, he was a dashing film and stage actor and a busy song-writer who gave London seven hit musicals between 1935 and his untimely death in 1951. Not one of them ever came to New York. The Dancing Years opened six months before World War Two broke out in 1939 and ran two and a half years before closing only because of so many London air raids. Perchance to Dream opened in 1945 and ran 1,022 performances. Novello’s other hits during this period were King’s Rhapsody in 1949 (839 performances) and Gay’s the Word in 1951 (504 performances). If Novello’s musical hits did not interest Broadway, what chance did the other 1940s London musicals have of going to New York?
The 1950s were the glory days for the Broadway musical with such memorable successes as Guys and Dolls (1950), The King and I (1951), The Pajama Game (1954), Damn Yankees (1955), My Fair Lady (1956), The Music Man (1957), West Side Story (1957), The Sound of Music (1959), Gypsy (1959), and many others. All of these plus several more went to London, and the West End was overwhelmed with American musicals. Considering the economic hardships in postwar Britain, the number of English works in the West End and in the developing fringe theatres was significant. But these musicals weren’t being exported to America for various reasons. The British excelled in the revue format and audiences loved them. In the 1950s, over sixty musical revues opened in London. But these topical entertainments just did not translate to the New York stage. There was one surprising exception: the two-man revue At the Drop of a Hat (1959). Another favorite London pastime was the musical pantomime, which was prevalent during the holiday seasons. Here was a concept Americans did not even know about, much less yearn to see. There were successful book musicals as well, including the long-run champ Salad Days with 2,283 performances. But the only musical to travel to Broadway and thrive was The Boy Friend (1954). By the 1960s, when the British economy was stronger, music and musicals from Great Britain started to make quite an impact in the States. The Beatles led the invasion in popular music and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice would, at the very end of the decade, be heard for the first time with the “concept” album Jesus Christ Superstar. Broadway saw some West End hits, such as Stop the World—I Want to Get Off (1962), Oliver! (1963), and Half a Sixpence (1965), but the focus was on such American products as Bye Bye Birdie (1960), Camelot (1960), How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying (1961), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Hello, Dolly! (1964), Fiddler onthe Roof (1964), Man of La Mancha (1966), Mame (1966), Cabaret (1966), Hair (1968), Promises, Promises (1968), and 1776 (1969). Once again these and many other Broadway musicals transferred to London.
In the 1970s there was a turnabout on several levels. New York City was in economic crisis, tourism plummeted, the number of offerings on Broadway shrank to an all-time low, and the Theatre District had more crime and empty playhouses than entertainment that wasn’t X-rated. Ironically, the quality of the musicals from the 1970s was very high, mostly due to songwriter Stephen Sondheim and director-producer Harold Prince. It may have been a time of rock-bottom business, but, thanks to Sondheim and Prince, it offered Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976), and Sweeney Todd (1979). These were not necessarily hits, but they were artistic high points. The musicals that made money and kept the American musical alive in the 1970s were Grease (1972), Pippin (1972), The Magic Show (1974), The Wiz (1975), Chicago (1975), A Chorus Line (1975), Annie (1977), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1978), and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1978). There was also the beginning of what later became known as the British Invasion. Actually, in the 1970s it was more of a surprise than an invasion. After decades of not seeing many British musicals on Broadway, it was unusual to see Jesus Christ Superstar (1971), The Rocky Horror Show (1975), and Evita (1979). These were followed in the 1980s with A Day in Hollywood—A Night in the Ukraine (1980), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1981), Cats (1982), Me and My Girl (1986), Starlight Express (1987), The Phantom of the Opera (1988), and Chess (1988), not to mention the Franco-British Les Misérables (1987). Such a lineup can certainly be seen as an invasion, and not everyone on Broadway was happy about it. These musicals were not just West End hits in New York; several were international mega-musicals. Broadway produced many memorable musicals in the 1980s, including such noteworthy works as Barnum (1980), Nine (1982), La Cage aux Folles (1983), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Big River (1985), Into the Woods (1987), Grand Hotel (1989), and City of Angels (1989). But there wasn’t a mega-musical among them.
The status quo was regained in the 1990s, and since then there seems to be a balance between Broadway and the West End unlike any time in the past. Of course, it is the big spectacular musicals that get all the attention and make all the money, but that is true for the Broadway productions as well as the London ones. For every Miss Saigon (1991), Sunset Boulevard (1994), Mamma Mia! (2001), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2005), Mary Poppins (2006), Billy Elliot (2008), and Matilda (2013), there is the American-made The Lion King (1997), Ragtime (1998), The Producers (2001), Hairspray (2002), Wicked (2003), Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (2011), and Aladdin (2014). The traffic across the Atlantic is now two-way and at any one time, the lists of musicals currently playing in London and in New York will have many of the same titles. While it is still true that a musical that succeeds in one city will not necessarily run in the other, the British musical on Broadway is an expected and accepted part of the theatrical landscape.
A musical comedy fantasy by Mark Ambient, Alexander M. Thompson, and Robert Courtneidge
Score: Lionel Monckton, Howard Talbot (music), Arthur Wimperis (lyrics)
Original London production: 29 April 1909; Shaftsbury Theatre; 809 performances
Original New York production: 17 January 1910; Liberty Theatre; 193 performances
Notable songs: The Pipes of Pan (Are Calling); The Girl with the Brogue; Charming Weather; My Motter; All Down Piccadilly; Half Past Two; Arcady Is Always Young; Light Is My Heart; Truth Is So Beautiful; Come to Arcady; The Joy of Life; Back Your Fancy; The Two-Step
A tuneful gem from the Edwardian stage, this London hit managed a run of only seven months in New York yet was the most successful British import of the 1909–1910 Broadway season. The Arcadians is considered one of the most satisfying musicals of the era because it is filled with variety: fantasy, satire, romance, spectacle, farce, and a set of songs that remained in favor for decades. Theatre historian Kurt Gänzl put it best when he described the musical as “the most complete of all British Edwardian musical comedies.” The idea for The Arcadians originated with the struggling writer Mark Ambient, who went to the successful producer-director Robert Courtneidge, who saw possibilities in Ambient’s premise: an English businessman plucked down into a land where telling an untruth is unheard of. He teamed Ambient with the experienced librettist Alexander M. Thompson and even contributed to the script himself. Courtneidge secured the services of composers Lionel Monckton and Howard Talbot, then at the peak of their careers, and lyricist Arthur Wimperis; together they came up with the delightfully memorable score.
Arcadia is an inaccessible land forgotten by time and hidden somewhere in the snowy North where the inhabitants celebrate the joy of telling the truth and cannot conceive of uttering a lie. The scrappy hotel owner James Smith from London is flying over Arcadia when engine trouble forces him to parachute out of his airplane and land among the happy Arcadians. The citizens are friendly to the stranger until they catch him in several lies and are horrified. To cure Smith, they dip him in the Well of Truth. Now known as Simplicitas, he is a handsome shepherd who captures the love of the maiden Sombra. Smith has a wife back in London but revels in his new demeanor and looks, which will last only as long as he refrains from telling an untruth. Hearing that London is filled with such wicked tellers of lies, several of the Arcadians accompany Simplicitas and Sombra back to England where they have a series of adventures. Using Sombra’s magical powers, Simplicitas wins a horse race at the Askwood racetrack. Various romances are formed, Smith encounters his wife who doesn’t recognize him, and the Arcadians open a restaurant in which telling the truth becomes a fad. But Londoners are hopelessly untruthful, and Simplicitas tells a lie and becomes James Smith again. Sombra and the Arcadians give up hope on converting the civilized Brits and return to Arcadia.
The fantastical script is surprisingly logical in its way and is filled with some colorful characters to keep the plot moving, such as the sassy Irish girl Eileen Cavanaugh and the morose jockey Doody, who never wins a race. The libretto also opened up opportunities for two love stories, comic scenes, large production numbers, and some exotic locales. The land of Arcadia was rendered as an idyllic Utopia, with both sets and costumes curiously floral. The Askwood racetrack scene climaxed with an exhausted Simplicitas riding onstage grasping onto the back of the horse “Deuce.” Courtneidge’s elaborate staging was roundly applauded, as was the cast. Comic actor-singer Dan Rolyat shone as Smith/Simplicitas, the diminutive and bewitching Florence Smithson used her light soprano voice to great effect as Sombra, and the Gaiety Theatre comic Alfred Lester turned the gloomy jockey Doody into a hilarious sad sack. During the run of The Arcadians, the producer-director’s daughter Cecily Courtneidge made her London stage debut in the cast, eventually playing Eileen and launching a long and memorable stage and screen career.
Much of the success of The Arcadians must be attributed to its superior score. Both Monckton and Talbot came up with music that the British public listened to, hummed, and danced to up through World War Two. The score has as much variety as the rest of the production. Three ballads written for Sombra—the bouncy “The Pipes of Pan (Are Calling),” the anthem-like “Arcady Is Always Young,” and the buoyant “Light Is My Heart”—were thrilling operatic airs that allowed the coloratura Florence Smithson to shine. Phyllis Dare, as Eileen, stopped the show with her saucy “The Girl with the Brogue” and sparkled in two catchy duets: the up-tempo march “Charming Weather” and minuet-like “Half Past Two.” The downhearted jockey Doody had only one song, “My Motter,” about his relentlessly cheerful mother, and it was a winner. Perhaps most popular of all was a sing-along ditty titled “All Down Piccadilly,” which was added after the musical opened and remained a British favorite for years. Also added during the long run were the dance number “The Two-Step” and the lyrical “Come to Arcady,” both of which caught on as well. The Arcadians’ score is filled with memorable songs, right down to the chorus numbers, and for many these tunes best represent the musical stage of the Edwardian era. The Arcadians ran two years and two months, breaking the house record for the Shaftsbury Theatre, then toured the British Isles for the next thirty years. There were also successful productions in Melbourne, Vienna, Bombay, and (atypically) Paris.
1909 London cast
1910 New York cast
The Arcadians was such an immediate hit upon opening in London that American producer Charles Frohman wasted no time in buying the rights. The Broadway production opened eight months later and was very similar to the English original. Only music by Monckton and Talbot was used and, although a few numbers were cut, others from the British tour were added. The very-British “All Down Piccadilly” was slightly altered to “Willy of Piccadilly” and was still a showstopper. The script also survived pretty much intact. The role of Mrs. Smith was enlarged to feature comedienne Connie Ediss but the cast of characters remained close to the original. Frank Moulan, a comic star on Broadway since the turn of the century, was a merry Smith/Simplicitas, Ethel Cadman delivered Sombra’s ballads with style, and comic Percival Knight delivered “My Motter” as the farcical climax of the third act. The multitalented Julia Sanderson found her first major recognition on Broadway playing the feisty Eileen and singing the waltzing “The Girl with the Brogue.” (Four years later, Sanderson would make musical theatre history when she introduced Jerome Kern’s “They Didn’t Believe Me” in the British import The Girl from Utah.)
While The Arcadians on Broadway did not enjoy as long a run as the London original, it was a considerable hit and was also very successful during its nationwide tour. The popularity of the songs was also less durable than in Britain. The cockney and Irish flavor of some of the numbers may have limited some of the score’s appeal in America. Also the musical never returned to Broadway or received many subsequent productions across the country over the years outside of operetta companies. Despite it fantasy-land setting in the first act, The Arcadians is thoroughly British. The citizens of Arcady are described as some kind of noble savages but they have strictly British demeanors and manners. The satirical aspects of the musical, of which there are many, are aimed at Edwardian England. British audiences continued to enjoy the script’s W. S. Gilbert–like sarcasm well into the 1920s and 1930s, but a similar nostalgia did not repeat itself in America. With the new musical sounds of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Hammerstein and Kern, and others, the Broadway musical was coming into its own and a fondness for Edwardian musical comedy faded away. In 1927, a silent film version of The Arcadians was made in Britain, directed by Victor Saville with American comic Ben Blue as Simplicitas. The plot was barely recognizable and, of course, there were no songs.
AN ARTIST’S MODEL
A musical comedy by Owen Hall
Score: Sidney Jones (music), Harry Greenbank (lyrics)
Original London production: 2 February 1895; Daly’s Theatre; 392 performances
Original New York production: 23 December 1895; Broadway Theatre; 56 performances
Notable songs: The Gay Tom-Tit; The Lady Wasn’t Going That Way; The Laughing Song; Daisy with the Dimple; Is Love a Dream; Mine, Oh Love, at Last; Music and Laughter; The Popular Art of the Day; I Love Only Him; Antici-tici-pation; Queen of the Sea and Earth; Gay Bohemi-ah; My School Is Most Select; Give Me Love
Besides being a substantial hit in its day, An Artist’s Model is important because it established a tradition of witty, modern, tuneful musical comedies that were built around a romantic singing couple and an equally important secondary comic couple, a pattern that would become very familiar on the musical stage on both sides of the Atlantic. The useful and ingenious structure, like many developments in the theatre, was a happy accident. Producer George Edwardes, flush with his runaway success with The Gaiety Girl (1894), reassembled librettist Owen Hall (the nom de plume of journalist Jimmy Davis), composer Sidney Jones, lyricist Harry Greenbank, and leading lady Lottie Venne to present another modern musical farce, this one set in the art world of Paris. Titled A Naughty Girl, then later A Woman’s Portrait, the popular soubrette Venne was cast as Madame Amélie, a Parisian lady “with a past” who, with the British tomboy Daisy Vane, enjoys a series of misadventures in Gay Paree and stodgy London. It was a slight but serviceable vehicle, and the Jones-Greenbank songs filled in the gaps nicely. Before the musical went into rehearsal, Edwardes learned that popular singing star Marie Tempest was returning to England after performing in America for five years. He signed her up posthaste then went to Hall and asked that a new libretto be written with Tempest’s talents in mind. Not wishing to lose his “gaiety girl” Venne, Edwardes insisted on keeping the original plot with Madame Amélie, thus featuring two female stars—a classy singer and a comedienne—in his new production. Hall’s new storyline ended up being the stronger of the two and actually made the musical unique. Tempest played the title model Adele, who had abandoned her lover, the struggling artist Rudolph, years ago when she married into wealth. She is now a “merry widow” and wishes to rekindle their former romance. The libretto moves effortlessly from this wistful tale to the madcap doings of Daisy on the run from her guardian, Sir George, and Madame Amélie running her unorthodox art studio with her sidekick, Smoggins. Jones and Greenbank wrote some additional songs well suited to Tempest and to the more romantic aspects of the libretto and all seemed to be well.
Because the production was so complicated and the scenery so elaborate (the ballroom setting arrived only hours before the opening night curtain), the now-titled An Artist’s Model was the size of two musicals and nearly as long. The first performance ran over four hours and the audience, though delighted with the performers and the songs, became discernibly restless during the book scenes, and the critics’ notices the next day were mixed to disparaging. Had the musical not had such a huge advance sale, it might have closed in a week. Instead Edwardes and the creative team immediately went to work cutting scenes and songs, adding new songs, eliminating some characters, and building up others. So many changes were made that the production of An Artist’s Model playing a few weeks after opening was not only a better show but an outstanding one. The musical was so popular that it had to change theatres twice before it closed thirteen months later. Librettist Hall, who had received the brunt of the poor reviews on opening, must be credited with much of An Artist’s Model’s success. His double plot was both unique and satisfying, showing audiences that musical comedy need not be paper thin in its structure. Hall’s script is also filled with a kind of wit reminiscent of W. S. Gilbert, often barely surviving the keen eyes of the censors. One added song, “Queen of the Earth and Sea,” was deemed too critical of allies Germany and the Kaiser and had to be altered. Also, the Paris setting lent itself to a kind of non-British joi de vivre that audiences expected and secretly enjoyed. Perhaps the original title, A Naughty Girl, was still an accurate one.
So many songs were written before and during the run of An Artist’s Model that an “original score” is not a very useful or accurate term. For example, the musical’s most enduring number, the snappy “The Laughing Song,” was added later and sung with great success by Maurice Farkoa in the supporting role of Carbonnet. Farkoa not only sang the ditty throughout his career but made several gramophone recordings of it, both in English and in French. It is believed that his 1896 record made in New York City is the first “original cast” recording from a British musical. Two duets written for Tempest and C. Hayden Coffin as Rudolph are first class: the rhapsodic “Mine, Oh Love, at Last” and the lilting “Is Love a Dream.” There is a rousing song for the art students, “Gay Bohemi-ah”; Madame Amélie sang about her questionable past in the sly “The Lady Wasn’t Going That Way” and about her studio in the wry “My School Is Most Select.” There is a playful patter song for Sir George about “The Popular Art of the Day” and a merry trio about “Antici-tici-pation.” Letty Lind charmed with “Daisy with the Dimple,” but the number most audiences remembered with fondness was her rendition of the fable song “Gay Tom-Tit.” All in all, An Artist’s Model is treasure trove of top-notch songs.
The musical enjoyed a profitable tour and saw several revivals regionally over the next two decades. The format (and often the success) of An Artist’s Model was repeated in other productions by Edwardes, most memorably The Geisha (1896), A Greek Slave (1898), San Toy (1899), and A Country Girl (1902), making for a decade of memorable musical comedy at Daly’s. One of London’s most prolific producers, Edwardes presented seventy-one musicals between 1885 and his death in 1915. He is credited with first introducing “musical comedy,” as opposed to comic operetta, to the British stage. An Artist’s Model was far from his first hit, or his last.
Before 1895 was over, An Artist’s Model opened on Broadway, jointly produced by Al Hayman and Charles Frohman with Australian star Nellie Stewart as Adele and much of the rest of the cast filled with British performers. Maurice Farkoa reprised his Carbonnet, singing “The Laughing Song,” and the score consisted of numbers written before and during the London run. The producers took the best of the many musical options and Broadway audiences heard Jones and Green-bank at their best. The New York production lacked the star power of the British original, so even with favorable reviews An Artist’s Model ran only seven weeks, enough to turn a profit and to go on tour. Why Americans did not embrace the show wholeheartedly is debatable. A British musical with a mostly British cast and no major star is an easy answer. Had Marie Tempest chose to return to Broadway as Adele, things might have been different. But another more likely possibility is the French aspect of An Artist’s Model. It was unabashedly “naughty” in both of its plots, and the loose Parisian morals displayed in the libretto might have been a touch too Gallic for Victorian-era America, even in New York City. Edwardes’s newfangled kind of British musical comedy would not totally win over Broadway audiences until the next year with his whirlwind hit The Geisha.
1895 London cast
1895 New York cast
C. Hayden Coffin
Algernon St. Alban
Joe Farren Souter
Sir George St. Alban
Lady Barbara Cripps
E. W. Garden
ASPECTS OF LOVE
A sung-through musical by Charles Hart and Don Black, based on the novel by David Garnett
Score: Andrew Lloyd Webber (music), Charles Hart, Don Black (lyrics)
Original London production: 17 April 1989; Prince of Wales Theatre; 1,325 performances
Original New York production: 8 April 1990; Broadhurst Theatre; 377 performances
Notable songs: Love Changes Everything; The First Man You Remember; Seeing Is Believing; She’d Be Far Better Off with You; There Is More to Love; Anything But Lonely; Everybody Loves a Hero; Other Pleasures; A Memory of a Happy Moment; Chanson d’enfance; The Journey of a Lifetime; Falling; Mermaid Song; Hand Me the Wine and the Dice
The actress Rose Vibert (Ann Crumb, far left) and her daughter Jenny (Danielle DuClos) dance to the delight of the aging, sickly George Dillingham (Kevin Colson) in the 1990 Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “small chamber musical.” New Yorkers preferred their Lloyd Webber musicals big, so Aspects of Love lost money on Broadway. Photofest
What does the most successful theatre composer of the twentieth century do after he has launched the most popular musical of his career? A year after The Phantom of the Opera (1988) opened on Broadway, Aspects of Love, which Andrew Lloyd Webber described in his autobiography as “my small chamber musical,” premiered in London. It was indeed small, particularly in comparison to his previous mega-shows like Phantom, Cats (1981), and Starlight Express (1984). The focus was on a handful of characters over a period of twenty years, the style was realistic and, though it was an exquisitely designed production, Aspects of Love was light on spectacle. In the opinion of many, it remains Lloyd Webber’s most intimate and satisfying musical. London audiences certainly embraced the romantic drama, allowing it to run over three years; Broadway was less enthralled, and Aspects of Love lasted just under a year. Both productions were identical, offering the same director, design, and superb (but starless) cast. And, because of the runaway success of The Phantom of the Opera, the new Lloyd Webber musical had a huge box office advance in both London and New York. (It was this advance that kept the show running in New York for its 377 performances.) So why was Aspects of Love a hit in the West End and an unprofitable venture on Broadway? Looking at the reviews gives one a hint. The London critics were mostly supportive, encouraging the composer in his efforts to write musical theatre on a more intimate scale. Some of the London notices were even more enthusiastic, claiming Aspects of Love to be Lloyd Webber’s best work to date. The New York reviews, generally critical of all of the Lloyd Webber musicals, ranged from mixed to disparaging, the New York Times going so far as proclaiming that the musical “generates as much heated passion as a trip to the bank.” This reference to the financial success of the past Lloyd Webber musicals is indicative of the American press, the attitude being that no one that popular can be that good. All the same, other Lloyd Webber musicals ran on Broadway despite negative reviews, most notably Starlight Express. Why not Aspects of Love?
Perhaps looking at the musical closely might explain its failure in America. Lloyd Webber had been considering musicalizing David Garnett’s 1955 novel Aspects of Love for several years. (In 1979 he and Tim Rice were slated to adapt the book into a movie musical but nothing materialized from the plan.) The book was far from a bestseller but gained considerable attention because its complex romantic triangle was supposedly based on the unconventional Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists of which the bisexual Garnett was a member. In post–World War Two Europe, a handsome Englishman, the seventeen-year-old Alexis Dillingham, joins the army when he is “sent down” from boarding school. While on leave he falls in love with the older Rose Vibert, a struggling actress forced to play provincial towns. He invites her to his rich Uncle George’s empty villa while she waits for her next acting job, and the two have a passionate affair that is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of George. Although he has a bisexual mistress in Paris, the sculptress Giulietta Trapani, George is also swept away by the free-spirited Rose, and eventually she drops Alexis and weds George. Years later they have a thirteen-year-old daughter, Jenny, who is a life spirit like her mother, now a successful stage actress. When Alexis is reunited with the family, his passion for Rose is rekindled, but he also finds himself falling in love with the young Jenny, especially when she returns his affections. This development causes such a strain that the now elderly and sickly George has a fatal heart attack. Alexis realizes a relationship with his cousin Jenny is impossible and that life with Rose would be a perpetual torment; thus, he ends up in the arms of the wily Giulietta. The libretto for the musical version of Aspects of Love follows the novel closely, making only a few changes, such as renaming the hero Alex and making Jenny fifteen years old. The complexity of the characters was retained and their sometimes self-destructive natures even embellished when musicalized. These are very confused and frustrated people who either connect with you emotionally or become tiresome over the plot period of twenty years.
As with the previous Lloyd Webber musicals, Aspects of Love was sung-through, Don Black and Charles Hart providing a kind of conversational recitative between the actual songs. Such an artificial kind of dialogue seemed more palatable in a period piece like The Phantom of the Opera than in a modern tale like Aspects of Love, and some critics and theatregoers found the musical banter between songs irritating. This “chamber musical” featured a small cast of characters and scenic elements were on a smaller scale, yet Maria Björnson, who had designed Phantom, created sets and costumes that were so ravishing to behold that the production seemed bigger than it needed to be. (Later productions done on a smaller scale would end up being closer to Lloyd Webber’s original intent.) Aspects of Love was directed with delicacy by Trevor Nunn and the cast was roundly applauded. Michael Ball (Alex), Ann Crumb (Rose), Kevin Colson (George), and Kathleen Rowe McAllen (Giulietta) were not box office names, but their performances were so thrilling that Lloyd Webber insisted on all four reprising their roles on Broadway.
The score for Aspects of Love has been championed as one of the composer’s best. The musical’s theme song, “Love Changes Everything,” was recorded by Ball and was already on the charts before the London opening. It is an insistent and catchy melody and for many is best enjoyed as a separate song. In the musical it is reprised no less than six times by different characters with different lyrics and for many theatregoers the number became something of a chore. The most emotional song in the score is Rose’s pathetic “Anything But Lonely” heard near the end of the musical. Also noteworthy is the gushing duet “Seeing Is Believing” (also reprised a lot), the entrancing “The Last Man You Remember,” the lively “Give Me the Wine and the Dice,” the knowing female duet “There Is More to Love,” and the lovely “Chanson d’enfance/Song of Childhood.” For some, the music throughout is often more entrancing than the lyrics which sometimes wallow in predictable clichés. But to be fair, these are operetta-like lyrics and easier to accept than the recitative which aim to be conversational.
1989 London cast
1990 New York cast
Kathleen Rowe McAllen
Kathleen Rowe McAllen
Aspects of Love was brought to Broadway one year after the London opening by Lloyd Webber’s The Really Useful Company and was wisely housed in the Broadhurst Theatre, a mid-sized playhouse rather than a large musical house. The West End production was re-created down to the last detail, every song intact, the principal actors again on board, and the same designs on view. The advance was substantial, but so was the cost of bringing this “small” show to New York: an estimated $8 million. As stated earlier, the American press was not overwhelmingly supportive. Elements of the musical, such as the performances and the designs, were roundly praised, while there was a widely mixed reaction to the script and score. Theatregoers expecting another giant musical spectacle were, of course, disappointed, and others, hearing that the piece was more of a realistic drama, stayed away. Sarah Brightman, who had found fame as the original Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, took over the role of Rose during the New York run and Broadway favorite John Cullum played George when Colson returned to England. But box office sales were sluggish, and once the advance was used up the musical faltered. By the time Aspects of Love closed one year later, it had lost its entire $8 million investment. How was this possible? The Broadhurst seated only 1,155 seats, so the few times it sold out could not compensate for the many performances with empty seats. By the end of the 1980s, the economics of producing any kind of musical on Broadway were skyrocketing and Aspects of Love was one of the early victims.
During and after its successful run in the West End, Aspects of Love saw other productions in Canada, Australia, Hungary, Denmark, Germany, and Japan, some of which were reconceived as true “chamber” musicals and worked very well. Yet the musical has never joined the ranks of Lloyd Webber’s frequently revived pieces. A movie or television version was never made, and it has become one of the composer’s lesser-known works. All the same, Aspects of Love remains a favorite for many lovers of British musicals.
AT THE DROP OF A HAT, AN AFTER-DINNER FARRAGO
A musical revue by Donald Swann and Michael Flanders
Score: Donald Swann (music), Michael Flanders (lyrics)
Original London production: 31 December 1956; New Lindsay Theatre; 808 performances
Original New York production: 8 October 1959; John Golden Theatre; 215 performances
Notable songs: Madeira, M’Dear?; The Hippopotamus; A Gnu; The Reluctant Cannibal; Sea Fever; Songs for Our Time; Kokoraki; A Song of the Weather; The Hog Beneath the Skin (The Warthog); A Transport of Delight; The Wompom
An unlikely and surprise hit in both London and New York, this unpretentious little revue might have felt like an intimate cabaret or supper club attraction (as suggested by its wry subtitle, “an after-dinner farrago”), but it held its own in traditional West End and Broadway playhouses. Pianist and composer Donald Swann and actor, singer, and lyricist Michael Flanders first started performing their original revues when they were students together at the Westminster School and at Christ Church College at Oxford University. While serving in World War Two, Flanders contracted polio and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Nevertheless, they reteamed in 1956 and offered their revue At the Drop of the Hat at a small London theatre. The duo would go on to perform it and variations of the program over two thousand times in over six countries over the next decade.
At the Drop of a Hat was unique in its simplicity and casual nature. Swann sat and played at the piano while the wheelchair-bound Flanders sang their songs and delivered much of the comic commentary between numbers. The tone ranged from very droll to downright silly, but the comedy was never loud or boisterous except in a few songs. Although their banter seemed off-the-cuff and even improvised, it was meticulously prepared and timed, so the program was as much a comedy revue as it was a musical one. In fact, some songs did not involve any singing at all but offered musical accompaniment under some ridiculously farcical tale, such as the history of the old ditty “Greensleeves.” Because some of the songs were released as single novelty records, they were well known enough that the audience was able to join in on the chorus, as with the childish number “The Hippopotamus” in which one reveled in the “mud, mud, glorious mud!” There were other animal songs about a warthog, an armadillo, a rhinoceros, and a sloth, but most memorable was “The Gnu” in which Flanders’ lyrics went slaphappy adding “g” to various words. Other highlights in the score include “The Reluctant Cannibal,” in which a father and son argue over the tribe’s dietary traditions; “Kokoraki,” a zany list song about barnyard critters sung in rapid-fire Greek complete with animal sounds; “A Song of the Weather” that mocks an optimistic old English ditty about the local climate; and the sly seduction number “Madeira, M’Dear?” filled with merry wordplay.
1956 London cast
1959 New York cast
Flanders and Swann convinced the owner of the New Lindsay Theatre, an out-of-the-way fringe theatre, to book At the Drop of a Hat, but the authors/performers had to pay the rent. The revue opened quietly in 1956 but soon both critics and audiences discovered the two-person piece and the demand for tickets prompted a transfer to a West End theatre, The Fortune, where it entertained theatregoers for two and a half years. American producers Alexander H. Cohen and Joseph I. Levine took a gamble in 1959 and brought the very small, very British revue to Broadway, wisely putting it in the relatively intimate John Golden Theatre. The New York reviews were nearly all enthusiastic, Walter Kerr in the Herald Tribune noting that the revue “has no scenery, no costumes, no orchestra—just two men alone on stage completely surrounded by talent.” Although neither Flanders and Swann nor their songs were much known in America, At the Drop of a Hat was a surprise hit, running over seven months on Broadway. Such unlikely success may appear puzzling until one experiences the duo’s songs and banter, preserved on several LPs, video, and CDs. This is tame and quiet entertainment when put in light of the later, more raucous, British humor in Beyond the Fringe and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Yet there is a silliness in Flanders and Swann that ranges from the satirical to downright goofy. New York was experiencing an American form of this kind of comedy in Off-Broadway revues but to find a niche on Broadway was surely unique.
After touring Britain and Switzerland, Flanders and Swann put together the follow-up revue At the Drop of Another Hat, which offered new material and reprised some past favorites, all in the same simple but satisfying format. The revue opened in the West End in 1963 and, in two separate engagements, entertained theatregoers for nearly twelve months. Cohen again brought the program to Broadway in 1966, and it was welcomed with another set of favorable notices and a run of thirteen weeks. In 1967 Flanders and Swann dissolved their partnership and parted on friendly terms. Over the next two decades, Swann continued to write songs for various singers and composed many hymns and art songs set to Victorian poetry. Flanders also remained active, writing opera libretti, children’s books, radio and stage plays, and poetry until his premature death at the age of fifty-three in 1975. Fortunately, the results of their collaboration in the two Hat musical revues is well documented and preserved, so the special talents of Flanders and Swann are there to be enjoyed.
Producer Bill Kenwright cast a series of well-known singers in his 1993 Broadway production to keep it running, but in the end it failed to become the hit musical he had created in London. Pictured are the popular singers Petula Clark and David Cassidy as mother and son during the forced Broadway run. Photofest
Julie Andrews (far left) secured her theatre career as the naive heroine Polly in this pastiche of 1920s British musicals. Andrews made her Broadway debut in 1954. She is pictured here with her fellow “perfect young ladies” played by Millicent Martin, Ann Wakefield, Stella Claire, and Dilys Lay. Photofest
Not until The Lion King (1997) would a musical featuring only animal characters find such success on the musical stage. Shown here are members of the original cast of the 1982 record-breaking Broadway production. Photofest
Noah Weisberg (center) played the mysterious and magical Willy Wonka in the 2019 American national tour of the Roald Dahl musical fantasy. The musical lost money on Broadway but later became a favorite regionally. ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
The Marx Brothers—Harpo (Priscilla Lopez), Groucho (David Garrison), and Chico (Frank Lazarus)—create havoc in Russia during the second part of this 1980 musical “double feature” which underwent a drastic sea change when it traveled from London to New York. Photofest
At the end of act 1 of this politically minded musical, Juan Peron comes to power in Argentina. Pictured center are Peron (Bob Gunton) and his ambitious wife, Eva (Patti LuPone), in the 1979 Broadway production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical masterfully directed by Harold Prince. Photofest
Don Alhambra, the Grand Inquisitor, is one of the funniest villains in the Gilbert and Sullivan canon. He is played here by George Gaynes in the City Center Gilbert and Sullivan Company’s 1964 production in New York City. The Duke of Plaza-Toro’s daughter Casilda (Janet Pavek) doesn’t seem to take the Inquisitor very seriously. Photofest
The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company brought Gilbert and Sullivan comic operettas to Broadway on a regular basis up into the 1980s. This 1962 production of the company’s H.M.S. Pinafore featured John Reed (left center) as the aristocratic Sir Joseph Porter and Thomas Round (right center) as the lowly tar Ralph Rackstraw. Photofest
The hyperactive Tommy Steele (center) played the jubilant draper’s assistant-turned-millionaire Arthur Kipps both in London and in New York. Here he is flying high with the chorus in the 1965 Broadway production, which was choreographed by Onna White. Photofest
Jeff Fenholt (center) was the first of many actors to play Jesus in the stage version of the best-selling Andrew Lloyd Webber–Tim Rice rock opera. Fenholt is shown here in the original 1971 Broadway production directed with panache by Tom O’Horgan. Photofest
American singer and soap opera star Michael Damian was featured as Joseph in the 1993 Broadway revival of this popular musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, which took a playful approach to an Old Testament story. Damian is pictured here wearing his biblical “coat of many colors.” Photofest
The very proper and “practically perfect” nanny Mary Poppins was also able to cut loose when the occasion called for it. Scarlett Strallen (center) played the title character during the 2004 London revival. PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Rob Howell’s ingenious scenic design consisting of books and children’s blocks not only brings the young heroine Matilda’s love of reading to life but also creates a fantastical atmosphere for this Roald Dahl musical that has touches of magic in it. PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo
When Sally Smith (Donna Bullock, center) from Lambeth crashes a posh party, Bill Snibson (Tim Curry, center) is thrilled to see his Cockney girlfriend. Soon they will have everyone dancing “The Lambeth Walk” in the 1986 American national tour of the old-new Broadway hit. Photofest
Karen Wood, Marie Baron, and Karen Skidmore as the “three little maids” seem to be overjoyed to be out of the “ladies seminary” in this acclaimed 1984 Stratford (Canada) Festival production, which was so popular it traveled the world and performed on Broadway in 1987. Photofest
Eva Noble Zada and Alistair Brammer played the ill-fated lovers, the Vietnamese Kim and the American GI Chris, in the 2014 London revival of this international musical sensation loosely based on the Puccini opera Madama Butterfly. Paul Brown / Alamy Stock Photo
An antiwar musical didn’t have much of a chance for financial success on Broadway in 1964, but this innovative and theatrical piece was very powerful all the same. Reprising his London performance as the Master of Ceremonies was Victor Spinetti (center). Also in the New York production were (left to right) Valerie Walsh, Myvanwy Jenn, Fanny Carby, and Barbara Windsor. Photofest / Photographer: Graphic House
The dangerous Bill Sikes (Danny Sewell, standing) and the pick-pocket master Fagin (Clive Revill, seated at table) convince Nancy (Georgia Brown) to kidnap Oliver Twist while the Artful Dodger (Davy Jones, far left) and the boys look on in the 1963 Broadway production of the Dickens musical. Photofest
A colorful “Masquerade” ball on the grand staircase of the Paris opera house opens the second act of this musical sensation that continues to break records. The romantic pair for the 1988 Broadway production was played by Sarah Brightman (Christine) and Steve Barton (Raoul de Chagny), seen downstage center. Photofest
The New York Shakespeare Festival’s 1981 mounting of the comic operetta, featuring Kevin Kline (center) as the Pirate King, holds the record as the longest-running Gilbert and Sullivan production in the history of the New York theatre. Photofest
The uniquely talented Elaine Stritch won plaudits in New York and London as the wisecracking cruise director Mimi Paragon in Noel Coward’s musical comedy. But Stritch lacked the box office clout to make the musical a hit in either city. Not until the 1970s would she become a true stage star. Photofest
The down-and-out rock musician Dewey Finn (Alex Brightman, center) gets a new lease on life when he inspires the students at the stuffy Horace Green prep school with his love for rock and roll in the Broadway musical version of the popular movie. Everett Collection Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
Bernadette Peters starred as the British actress Emma adrift in New York City in the 1985 Broadway production of the two-part musical. The renowned dancer Christopher d’Amboise was Joe, the man who danced in and out of her life. Photofest
The state-of-the-art locomotive Electra (Ken Ard, center) was one of the many nonhuman characters that raced across the stage in the 1987 Broadway production, but, as in the West End, the real stars of the musical were John Napier’s scenic and costume designs and David Hersey’s lighting. Photofest
A circus tent and mime-like players served as a metaphor for the world and for everyman Littlechap from his birth to his death. As they had in London, Anthony Newley and Anna Quayle played Littlechap and his wife Evie in the 1962 Broadway production. Photofest
Failed screenwriter Joe Gillis (Alan Campbell) is hired by silent screen star Norma Desmond (Glenn Close) to help her write her comeback movie, Salome, but he soon becomes her lover and then her victim. The 1994 Broadway production was a success in every way except in the financial ledger. Photofest / Photographer: Craig Schwartz
Gertrude Lawrence and Noel Coward play two music hall performers who seem to be in their cups as they ask the musical question “Has Anybody Seen Our Ship?” in the mini-musical Red Peppers as part of this three-night program of comedy, drama, and music. Photofest / Photographer: Vandamm Studio
Michael Crawford, who had become famous as the tormented yet romantic Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera (1986) was hardly recognizable as the crafty villain Count Fosco in the London production of the musical based on Wilkie Collins’s classic mystery novel. PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo