Booth Theatre, (4/19/1979 - 6/28/1981)

First Preview: Apr 12, 1979
Opening Date: Apr 19, 1979
Closing Date: Jun 28, 1981
Total Previews: 8
Total Performances: 916

Category: Play, Drama, Original, Broadway
Setting: Victorian London.
Comments: Production cost $350,000

Opening Night Production Staff

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

Produced by Richmond Crinkley, Elizabeth I. McCann and Nelle Nugent; Associate Producer: Ray Larsen and Ted Snowdon

Originally produced by The American National Theatre and Academy; Originally produced in London by Foco Novo Productions and The Hampstead Theatre; Originally produced in New York by ANTA at St. Peter's Church

Written by Bernard Pomerance; Incidental music by J. S. Bach, Sammartini, Camille Saint SaĆ«ns, Gabriel Fauré, Sir Edward Elgar and David Heiss; Music arranged by David Heiss

Directed by Jack Hofsiss

Scenic Design by David Jenkins; Costume Design by Julie Weiss; Lighting Design by Beverly Emmons; Sound Consultant: Erskine-Shapiro, Theatre Technology, Inc.; Wig Design by Paul Huntley

Company Manager: Susan Gustafson

Production Supervisor: Brent Peek; Production Stage Manager: Pat DeRousie

General Press Representative: Solters / Roskin / Friedman, Inc.; Advertising: Serino, Coyne & Nappi; Casting Consultant: Johnson-Liff Associates; Graphics by Gilbert Lesser

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Opening Night Cast

Philip AnglimJohn Merrick
(Apr 12, 1979 - Oct 27, 1979)
Kevin ConwayFrederick Treves
(Apr 12, 1979 - Oct 13, 1979)
Belgian Policeman
(Apr 12, 1979 - Oct 13, 1979)
Carole ShelleyMrs. Kendal
(Apr 12, 1979 - Oct 13, 1979)
(Apr 12, 1979 - Oct 13, 1979)
Richard ClarkeCarr Gomm
Dennis CreaghanOrderly
Cordis HeardPinhead
Miss Sandwich
Princess Alexandra
David HeissCellist
I. M. HobsonRoss
Bishop Walsham How
John Neville-AndrewsPinhead Manager
London Policeman
Lord John

Standby: Michael Goldschlager (Cellist) and Jack Wetherall (John Merrick)

Understudies: JoAnne Belanger (Countess, Miss Sandwich, Orderly, Pinhead, Princess Alexandra), Dennis Creaghan (Earl, London Policeman, Lord John, Pinhead Manager, Will), Cordis Heard (Mrs. Kendal) and John Neville-Andrews (Belgian Policeman, Frederick Treves)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

winner 1979 Best Play [winner] 

Written by Bernard Pomerance; Produced by Richmond Crinkley, Elizabeth I. McCann and Nelle Nugent

 1979 Best Actor in Play [nominee] 

Philip Anglim

winner 1979 Best Actress in a Play [winner] 

Carole Shelley

 1979 Best Scenic Design [nominee] 

David Jenkins

 1979 Best Costume Design [nominee] 

Julie Weiss

 1979 Best Lighting Design [nominee] 

Beverly Emmons

winner 1979 Best Direction of a Play [winner] 

Jack Hofsiss

Drama Desk Award

winner 1979 Outstanding New Play [winner] 

Produced by Richmond Crinkley, Elizabeth I. McCann and Nelle Nugent; Written by Bernard Pomerance

winner 1979 Outstanding Actor in a Play [winner] 

Philip Anglim

 1979 Outstanding Actress in a Play [nominee] 

Carole Shelley

 1979 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play [nominee] 

I. M. Hobson

winner 1979 Outstanding Director of a Play [winner] 

Jack Hofsiss

 1979 Outstanding Costume Design [nominee] 

Julie Weiss

 1979 Outstanding Lighting Design [nominee] 

Beverly Emmons

Theatre World

winner 1979 Award [recipient] 

Philip Anglim


New York Daily News: "'Elephant Man' a true triumph"

"He was highly intelligent, had an acute sensibility and worse for him, a romantic imagination," Frederick Treves said of John Merrick. There was no need to add that Merrick was a hideously malformed young man who, the closer he came to a kind of normalcy, the closer he came to death. And now Bernard Pomerance's moving and remarkable play about Merrick, "The Elephant Man," has come from Off Off Broadway to Broadway, where it opened last night at the Booth.

Not unlike patrons of the freak shows in which Merrick was exposed until he found care and a measure of understanding in London Hospital in 1886, we watch this grotesque's intellectual progress and physical degeneration with fascination. And something more. For Pomerance takes us to the very heart of this awesome, true, oft-repeated story in which Merrick's "romantic imagination" is checked by the good doctor, Treves, who brings Merrick fame and position as a kind of lionized freak.

"If your mercy is so cruel," says Merrick, "what do you have for justice?"

In the four years that Merrick dwelt in London Hospital, Whitechapel, until he died in 1890 of asphyxiation brought on by the nodding (subconsciously willed?) of his enormous head, he learned to express his native wit, he developed poise, and he designed and constructed the model for a cathedral that remains on view at the hospital.

Pomerance' sensitive, never sentimental writing (he has revised the second half a bit, by the way, mostly to clarify a subsidiary situation in which Treves is swindled) is beautifully realized in all respects. David Jenkins' extraordinary boxlike setting, twice as effective expanded for Broadway, conjures up its many characters (played by eight actors) from its dim sides. And under Jack Hofsiss' fluid direction, the 21 scenes succeed one another effortlessly. This is one of the most imaginative pieces of staging in town.

The three principal characters - merrick, Treves and the actress Mrs. Kendal - are impeccably performed by Philip Anglim, Kevin Conway and Carole Shelley, in that order. Though these are the main roles, both Conway and Shelley are seen also as, respectively, a Belgian policeman and a freak-show pinhead, and all but one of the remaining actors play two or more roles. In one vivid scene, the latter are royal visitors, each of whom finds in Merrick a likeness to himself.

We can now add Anglim's name to the growing list of bravura performances by actors playing stricken people on Broadway. Merely by twisting his trunk and right arm out of shape, walking pigeon-toed and speaking with effort, he convinces us that he is this misshapen man whose genuine pictures have already been shown to us so that we automatically superimpose Merrick's defects on the actor's unblemished frame.

Conway is splendid, indeed, as Treves, to whom his patient's condition remains a mystery and who, like Dysart in "Equus," winds up questioning the value of normalcy. And Shelley is superbly at her very best as Mrs. Kendal, who amusedly consents to visit Merrick when nurses are repelled by the sight and stench of him, and who develops a deep sympathy for this bright, lonely man encased in a body of supreme ugliness. In one of the evening's most affecting scenes, Merrick, who has been reading "Romeo and Juliet," analyzes Romeo for Mrs. Kendal, who has played Juliet, and finds him lacking in any love but self-love which, says Merrick, seals his doom. "If I had been Romeo," he says, "we'd have gotten away."

There are other praiseworthy performances by Richard Clarke as the urbane hospital head, and I. M. Hobson as both an Anglican bishop and Merrick's greedy and raffish manager. Cellist David Heiss, positioned along the sidelines, plays concert excerpts while furniture and props are shifted between scenes.

"The Elephant Man" is ravishing theater and, because of the moral questions it raises, profoundly disturbing.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

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

Booth Theatre

(4/19/1979 - 6/28/1981)
Company Manager: Sam Pagliaro.

Production Stage Manager: William Dodds; Stage Manager: William Chance.

Press Associate: David LeShay; Press Representative: Becky Flora.


Judith Barcroft
Miss Sandwich
Princess Alexandra
David Bowie
John Merrick (Sep 23, 1980 - Jan 4, 1981)
Bruce Davison
John Merrick (Feb 18, 1980 - Jul 13, 1980)
Donal Donnelly
Belgian Policeman (Oct 15, 1979 - ?)
Frederick Treves (Oct 15, 1979 - ?)
Patricia Elliott
Mrs. Kendal (Oct 15, 1979 - Jan 4, 1981)
Pinhead (Oct 15, 1979 - Jan 4, 1981)
Tom Fitzsimmons
John Merrick (? - Sep 21, 1980)
Michael Goldschlager
Mark Hamill
Broadway debut
John Merrick (Jun 9, 1981 - Jun 28, 1981)
Jeff Hayenga
John Merrick (Jul 15, 1980 - ?)
Benjamin Hendrickson
John Merrick (Jan 6, 1981 - Jun 7, 1981)
Munson Hicks
Jeffrey Jones
London Policeman
Lord John
Pinhead Manager
Danny Sewell
Bishop Walsham How
Carole Shelley
Mrs. Kendal (Jan 6, 1981 - Jun 28, 1981)
Pinhead (Jan 6, 1981 - Jun 28, 1981)
Concetta Tomei
Miss Sandwich
Princess Alexandra
John C. Vennema
London Policeman
Lord John
Pinhead Manager
Jack Wetherall
John Merrick (Oct 29, 1979 - Feb 16, 1980)

Standbys: Tom Fitzsimmons (John Merrick), Benjamin Hendrickson (John Merrick).

Understudies: Judith Barcroft (Mrs. Kendal), Munson Hicks (John Merrick, London Policeman, Lord John, Pinhead Manager, Will), Jeffrey Jones (Belgian Policeman, Frederick Treves), Laurence Lenske (Cellist), Concetta Tomei (Mrs. Kendal), John C. Vennema (Belgian Policeman, Frederick Treves), Peter Vogt (Bishop Walsham How, Carr Gomm, Conductor, Orderly, Ross, Snork), Peter Webster (John Merrick).

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