Lyceum Theatre, (4/10/1980 - 8/16/1981)

First Preview: Mar 27, 1980
Opening Date: Apr 10, 1980
Closing Date: Aug 16, 1981
Total Previews: 16
Total Performances: 564

Category: Play, Comedy, Revival, Broadway
Setting: Two backyards in a small midwestern town. 1922.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman; Bernard B. Jacobs: President)

Produced by Elizabeth I. McCann, Nelle Nugent and Ray Larsen

Written by Paul Osborn

Directed by Vivian Matalon

Scenic Design by William Ritman; Costume Design by Linda Fisher; Lighting Design by Richard Nelson; Hair and Wig Design by Paul Huntley; Sound Consultant: Erskine-Shapiro, Theatre Technology, Inc.

Company Manager: Barbara Darwall

Production Stage Manager: Marnel Sumner; Stage Manager: Ellen Raphael

General Press Representative: Solters / Roskin / Friedman, Inc.; Casting: Johnson-Liff Associates; Advertising: Serino, Coyne & Nappi; Poster Design by Gilbert Lesser; Photographer: Martha Swope

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Opening Night Cast

Nancy MarchandIda Bolton
Maureen O'SullivanEsther Crampton
Elizabeth WilsonAaronetta Gibbs
Teresa WrightCora Swanson
Maurice CopelandTheodore Swanson
Lois De BanzieMyrtle Brown
Richard HamiltonCarl Bolton
Gary MerrillDavid Crampton
David RoundsHomer Bolton

Understudies: Jonathan Farwell (Carl Bolton, David Crampton, Theodore Swanson), Martha Miller (Myrtle Brown), Harriet Rogers (Aaronetta Gibbs, Cora Swanson, Esther Crampton, Ida Bolton) and Daniel Ziske (Homer Bolton)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 1980 Best Featured Actor in a Play [winner] 

David Rounds

 1980 Best Featured Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Lois De Banzie

winner 1980 Best Direction of a Play [winner] 

Vivian Matalon

winner 1980 Reproduction (Play or Musical) [winner] 

Produced by Elizabeth I. McCann, Nelle Nugent and Ray Larsen

Drama Desk Award

winner 1980 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play [winner] 

David Rounds

winner 1980 Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play [winner] 

Lois De Banzie

winner 1980 Outstanding Director of a Play [winner] 

Vivian Matalon

 1980 Outstanding Costume Design [nominee] 

Linda Fisher

 1980 Outstanding Lighting Design [nominee] 

Richard Nelson

winner 1980 Outstanding Ensemble Performance [winner] 

Nancy Marchand, Maureen O'Sullivan, Elizabeth Wilson and Teresa Wright

 1980 Outstanding Set Design [nominee] 

William Ritman


New York Daily News: "Oh what a beautiful 'Morning's'!"

I had forgotten that they wrote plays like "Morning's at Seven," Paul Osborn's gentle, unassuming, but oh, so skillful comedy that was revived last night at the Lyceum. It caused no great stir when it first came to Broadway, in 1939, closing after 44 performances, nor is it likely to now, for that is not its way. Its way is to sneak up on you, and in this beautiful ensemble performance now before us it is an absolute charmer.

And then it occurred to me that Britain's Alan Ayckbourn writes plays like this; not the tricky, more aggresssive specimens that find their way here, but the quieter, serio-comic ones dealing with the prosaic lives of English suburbanites today with much the same humorous detachment with which Osborn approaches some occupants of a small midwestern town in 1922.

Well, not precisely the same. There is more sentiment in Osborn's writing, and it is not at all misplaced. He is best known, of course, for his fantasy "On Borrowed Time," but as it turns out, "Morning's at Seven" is a far better play, and one with unerring dialogue.

It has mostly to do with the elderly, which may be why it was given such short shrift originally (Broadway audiences have traditionally been cool toward plays about the aged). All but two of the nine characters are in their late 60s and early 70s, and those two, Homer and Myrtle, who provide the work's practically bloodless but hilarious romantic interest, are a respective 40 and 37.

The three acts take place during one mild late afternoon and the following morning in the adjoining backyards of the Swansons and the Boltons, whose white frame houses with gingerbread trimming are cheek by jowl. Cora Swanson's maiden sister, Aaronetta Gibbs, lives with Cora and her husband Thor (Theodore), and Ida Bolton, wife of Carl and mother of Homer, is a third sister. A fourth, Esther, lives down the block with her misanthropic husband David Crampton, a retired college professor who looks upon the Swansons and Boltons as "morons," and with some justification, and who refuses to have anything to do with them while trying to impose the same restraint on his wife.

They are a batty lot, but only heightened representatives of the deadening small-town life from which the more spirited young have habitually fled. The mild-mannered Carl, a carpenter and builder who once aspired to be a dentist, has a habit of wandering off in search of the fork in the road where he made the wrong turning. Aaronetta has harbored a guilty secret (known to all) for 40 or 50 years, and Homer has been courting Myrtle for 12. A fine, unoccupied house that Carl wishfully constructed on Sycamore Hill for Myrtle and Homer, who still lives at home, and that is sought after by Cora as a place in which she and Thor can spend their remaining days alone (leaving the old house to Aaronetta), stands as a symbol of various desires.

In the end, all get their wishes, and while it is a sentimental finish, it is also a funny one and true to the spirit of this disarming play. In Osborn's America, Moscows are within reach of all sisters.

The cast is exemplary. Elizabeth Wilson is as proper a nuisance of an old maid as you are ever likely to encounter, and David Rounds is miraculously right as the tongue-tied, fumbling mama's boy with a spine, after all, and more. But this is not to single them out at the expense of Teresa Wright's quietly determined Cora, Nancy Marchand's bewildered Ida, Maureen O'Sullivan's sunnily level-headed Esther, Lois de Banzie's terribly plain and terribly patient Myrtle, Gary Merrill's superior David, Maurice Copeland's easygoing Thor, and Richard Hamilton's hangdog Carl. What a joy they are, every one!

Vivian Matalon has staged the play impeccably, pacing it like a canter on a summer day. William Ritman's setting, Linda Fisher's costumes, and Richard Nelson's lighting evoke the time and place perfectly.

The four sisters. Chekhov would have smiled. So will you, and laugh out loud at times, too.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

The following people are credited as replacements or additions if they were not credited on opening night.

Lyceum Theatre

(4/10/1980 - 8/16/1981)
Company Manager: Veronica Claypool.


King Donovan
Carl Bolton
Nancy Kulp
Aaronetta Gibbs
Carmen Mathews
Cora Swanson
Robert Moberly
Homer Bolton
Charlotte Moore
Myrtle Brown
Russell Nype
David Crampton
Kate Reid
Ida Bolton
Harriet Rogers
Ida Bolton
Shepperd Strudwick
David Crampton

Standbys: Harriet Rogers (Cora Swanson, Ida Bolton).

Understudies: Frances Helm (Esther Crampton), Martha Miller (Aaronetta Gibbs), Robert Moberly (Homer Bolton).

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