Imperial Theatre, (2/11/1979 - 9/06/1981)

First Preview: Feb 02, 1979
Opening Date: Feb 11, 1979
Closing Date: Sep 06, 1981
Total Previews: 11
Total Performances: 1082

Category: Musical, Romantic Comedy, Original, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

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

Produced by Emanuel Azenberg

World premiere at Center Theatre Group / Ahmanson Theatre (Robert Fryer, Artistic Director)

Music by Marvin Hamlisch; Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager; Book by Neil Simon; Musical Director: Larry Blank; Music orchestrated by Ralph Burns, Richard Hazard and Gene Page

Directed by Robert Moore; Choreographed by Patricia Birch

Scenery and Projections by Douglas W. Schmidt; Costume Design by Ann Roth; Lighting Design by Tharon Musser; Hair and Wig Design by Kathryn Blondell and Cinema Hair Designs; Sound Design by Tom Morse; Multi-Image Producer: Wendall K. Harrington

General Manager: Jose Véga; Company Manager: Susan Bell; Assistant Co. Mgr: Maria Anderson

Production Stage Manager: Robert D. Currie; Stage Manager: Philip Cusack and Bernard Pollack

Musical Coordinator: Earl Shendell; Assistant to Mr. Hamlisch & Associate Conductor: Fran Liebergall; Music Preparation Supervision: JoAnn Johnson and Camillo Fidelibus

Press Representative: Bill Evans and Howard Atlee; Dance Captain: Lani Sundsten; Casting: T.N.I. Casting, Julie Hughes and Barry Moss; Advertising: The Entertainment Group of J.W.T., Gene Secunda, Dick Pell and Regis Albrecht; Photographer: Jay Thompson

"I Still Believe In Love" (Reprise) sung by Johnny Mathis

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Opening Night Cast

Lucie ArnazSonia Walsk
Robert KleinVernon Gersch
Helen CastilloVoice of Sonia Walsk
Philip CusackVoice of Phil the Engineer
Celia Celnik MatthauVoice of Sonia Walsk
Wayne MattsonVoice of Vernon Gersch
Andy RothVoice of Vernon Gersch
Debbie ShapiroVoice of Sonia Walsk
Greg ZadikovVoice of Vernon Gersch

Swings: Max Stone and Lani Sundsten

Standby: John Getz (Vernon Gersch)

Understudies: Debbie Shapiro (Sonia Walsk)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1979 Best Musical [nominee] 

Produced by Emanuel Azenberg

 1979 Best Book of a Musical [nominee] 

Book by Neil Simon

 1979 Best Actor in a Musical [nominee] 

Robert Klein

 1979 Best Direction of a Musical [nominee] 

Robert Moore

Drama Desk Award

 1979 Outstanding Musical [nominee] 

Produced by Emanuel Azenberg

 1979 Outstanding Book [nominee] 

Book by Neil Simon

 1979 Outstanding Actress in a Musical [nominee] 

Lucie Arnaz

 1979 Outstanding Music [nominee] 

Music by Marvin Hamlisch

 1979 Outstanding Lighting Design [nominee] 

Tharon Musser

Theatre World

winner 1979 Award [recipient] 

Lucie Arnaz


music by Marvin Hamlisch; lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager

ACT 1 Sung By
Fallin'Vernon Gersch
Workin' It OutVernon Gersch, Sonia Walsk and Voices
If He Really Knew MeSonia Walsk and Vernon Gersch
They're Playing Our SongVernon Gersch and Sonia Walsk
If He Really Knew Me (Reprise) Vernon Gersch and Sonia Walsk
RightSonia Walsk, Vernon Gersch and Voices
Just for TonightSonia Walsk
ACT 2 Sung By
When You're in My ArmsVernon Gersch, Sonia Walsk and Voices
I Still Believe in LoveSonia Walsk
Fill in the WordsVernon Gersch and Voices


New York Daily News: "Klein's comedy alights 'Playing Our Song'"

"They're Playing Our Song," which came to the Imperial last evening after having amused the West Coast for a spell, is an amiable two-character musical, a slender Neil Simon comedy interlaced with some pleasant songs by Marvin Hamlisch (music) and Carole Bayer Sager (words). What gives it its special distinction, however, is a fine, even masterly, light-comedy performance by Robert Klein.

Klein and a vibrant Lucie Arnaz play two halves of a loving, warring song writing team, and since songwriting "marriages" are notoriously more problematic than the real thing, theirs is an up-and-down, in-and-out affair further complicated by the background presence of a former lover of hers, Leon, whom she has great difficulty in bringing herself to shake off. Leon, for example, will phone for help at 3 in the morning when Vernon Gersh and Sonia Walsk, as our songwriters are called, are in bed, thereby causing an exasperated Vernon to tell Sonia, "They have numbers you can call when you are in trouble. You dial JUNKIE or something."

Arnaz is an attractive consort and gets to sing a couple of rueful ballads, "I Still Believe in Love" and "If He Really Knew Me" (the body mikes, unfortunately, have a way of making her husky voice raspy). But Sonia is, in the tradition of time-honored relationships dating as far back as "It Happened One Night," mostly a foil for Vernon, and in Klein, whose timing and delivery are impeccable, Simon has found his perfect mouthpiece.

When Sonia, a struggling lyricist meeting a very successful composer for the first time through her agent's intervention, blurts out, "You have great range; great, unexplored range," and then, catching herself, adds, "Did that come out wrong?," Vernon offhandedly states, "Only if you happen to hear it," and in Klein's delivery Simon's funny observation is hilarious.

The relationship is tenuous, and its breakup, before the happy ending, is a mere musical-comedy contrivance, but there's always a song to take over. And the best, as well as Klein's finest moment, comes along when, the two seated in a club, he perks up his ears at the disco music, leaps joyously to his feet and dementedly sings "They're Playing My Song."

Incidentally, though Simon has Vernon make a rather snide remark at the start about hating songs that rhyme such things as "Massachusetts" and "two sets" (a gratuitous slap at Lorenz Hart); I myself wince at pieces rhyming "together" with "clever," as Sager does here. Anyway, as I have said, the songs, except for the brightly engaging title number, are mainly of the wash-and-wear variety, utilitarian but hardly first-class goods.

A happy device employed in "I Love My Wife," the presence of backup musicians on stage, weaving in and out of the plot in appropriate costumes, is also utilized here, the musicians being singers in this case (three males for him, three females for her) rather than instrumentalists.

Characters such as Vernon and Sonia, whose definition relies more on the personalities of their interpreters than on the writing, come equipped with quirks. Hers rests in a wardrobe consisting of garments salvaged from closed plays and musicals (one ragtag outfit causes him to observe, "You look like you're going into the forest to visit your grandmother"). His is in the use of a tape recorder for his journal.

Robert Moore, the book director, and Patricia Birch, who has staged the musical numbers, have carried out the work's slick design admirably, abetted by Douglas W. Schmidt's clean-lined scenery and projections, Ann Roth's costumes, Tharon Musser's lighting, and the orchestrations by Ralph Burns, Richard Hazard and Gene Page.

"They're Playing Our Song" is engaging light entertainment, and Klein is a magnificent light comedian.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

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

Imperial Theatre

(2/11/1979 - 9/6/1981)
Musical Director: Richard Parrinello.

Company Manager: Maurice Schaded; Assistant Co. Mgr: Linda Cohen, Louise Bendall.

Stage Manager: Michael William Schaefer; Production Stage Manager: Martin Herzer; Stage Manager: Pat Trott; Production Supervisor: Philip Cusack; Production Stage Manager: Craig Jacobs.

Musical Supervisor: Fran Liebergall.

Dance Captain: Andrea Green; Photographer: Martha Swope.


Diana Canova
Sonia Walsk
Stockard Channing
Sonia Walsk
Rhonda Farer
Sonia Walsk
Victor Garber
Vernon Gersch (Aug 4, 1981 - ?)
Anita Gillette
Sonia Walsk (Sep 23, 1980 - ?)
John Hammil
Vernon Gersch
D. Michael Heath
Voice of Vernon Gersch
John Hillner
Voice of Vernon Gersch
Dorothy Kiara
Voice of Sonia Walsk
Donna Murphy
Voice of Sonia Walsk
Tony Roberts
Vernon Gersch
Hal Shane
Voice of Phil the Engineer
Marsha Skaggs
Sonia Walsk (Aug 4, 1981 - ?)
Ted Wass
Vernon Gersch

Standbys: Ray Gill (Vernon Gersch), John Hammil (Vernon Gersch), Orrin Reiley (Vernon Gersch).

Understudies: Rhonda Farer (Sonia Walsk), Pat Gorman (Sonia Walsk), John Hillner (Vernon Gersch), Wayne Mattson (Voice of Phil the Engineer), Michael William Schaefer (Voice of Phil the Engineer), Hal Shane (Vernon Gersch), Marsha Skaggs (Sonia Walsk), Greg Zadikov (Voice of Phil the Engineer).

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