Martin Beck Theatre, (5/07/1977 - 7/10/1977)

Opening Date: May 07, 1977
Closing Date: Jul 10, 1977
Total Performances: 75

Category: Musical, Original, Broadway
Setting: Chicago. December 1915.

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by Jujamcyn Theaters (under the direction of Richard G. Wolff, President)

Produced by Michael Harvey and The Chelsea Theater Center (Robert Kalfin: Artistic Director; Michael David: Executive Director); Associate Producer: Wilder Luke Burnap

Music by Kurt Weill; Lyrics by Bertolt Brecht; Original German play by Elisabeth Hauptmann; Book adapted by Michael Feingold; Musical Director: Roland Gagnon; Lyrics adapted by Michael Feingold

Chelsea Theater Center Production newly conceived by Robert Kalfin; Directed by Robert Kalfin and Patricia Birch; Staged by Patricia Birch

Scenic Design by Robert U. Taylor; Costume Design by Carrie F. Robbins; Lighting Design by Jennifer Tipton; Hair Design by Patrik D. Moreton; Make-Up Design by Patrik D. Moreton

General Manager: Jack Schlissel and Jay Kingwill; Company Manager: Albert Poland

Production Stage Manager: Mark Wright; Stage Manager: Charles Kindl; Technical Supervisor: Mitch Miller

General Press Representative: Susan Bloch; Advertising: Great Scott Advertising; Photographer: Martha Swope

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Opening Night Cast

Grayson HallA Lady in Gray
"The Fly"
Christopher Lloyd
Due to a leg injury, Christopher Lloyd did not perform on opening night; Bob Gunton went on until Mr. Lloyd could resume the role on crutches
Bill Cracker
Meryl StreepLieutenant Lillian Holiday
"Hallelujah Lil"
Benjamin RaysonSam "Mammy" Wurlitzer
Liz SheridanMajor Stone
Tony AzitoDr. Nakamura
"The Governor"
Raymond J. BarryJohnny Flint
"Baby Face"
Alexandra BorrieSister Jane
Christopher CaraBrother Ben Owens
John A. CoeJimmy Dexter
"The Reverend"
Donna EmmanuelMiriam
the barmaid
Joe GrifasiCaptain Hannibal Jackson
Bob Gunton
Performed the role on opening night
Bill Cracker
Prudence Wright HolmesSister Mary
Kristin JolliffMember of The Fold
Frank KopycMember of The Fold
Tom MardirosianMember of The Fold
Martha MillerMember of The Fold
Victor PappasMember of The Fold
David PursleyA Cop
Robert WeilBob Marker
"The Professor"

Standby: Bob Gunton (Bill Cracker)

Understudies: Alexandra Borrie (Lieutenant Lillian Holiday), Donna Emmanuel (Sister Jane), Kristin Jolliff (Miriam, Sister Mary), Frank Kopyc (Captain Hannibal Jackson), Tom Mardirosian (A Cop, Johnny Flint), Martha Miller (A Lady in Gray, Major Stone), Victor Pappas (Bob Marker, Dr. Nakamura) and David Pursley (Jimmy Dexter, Sam "Mammy" Wurlitzer)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1977 Best Musical [nominee] 

Produced by Michael Harvey and The Chelsea Theater Center (Robert Kalfin: Artistic Director; Michael David: Executive Director)

 1977 Best Book of a Musical [nominee] 

Based on Elisabeth Hauptmann; Book adapted by Michael Feingold

 1977 Best Original Score [nominee] 

Music by Kurt Weill; Lyrics by Bertolt Brecht and Michael Feingold

Drama Desk Award

 1977 Outstanding Musical [nominee] 

Produced by Michael Harvey and The Chelsea Theater Center (Robert Kalfin: Artistic Director; Michael David: Executive Director)

 1977 Outstanding Actress in a Musical [nominee] 

Meryl Streep


music by Kurt Weill; lyrics by Bertolt Brecht

ACT 1 Sung By
The Bilbao SongGovernor, Baby Face, Bill Cracker and Gang
Lieutenants of the LordLieutenant Lillian Holiday ("Hallelujah Lil") and Army
March AheadArmy
The Sailors' TangoLieutenant Lillian Holiday ("Hallelujah Lil")
ACT 2 Sung By
Brother, Give Yourself a ShoveArmy and Fold
Song of the Big ShotGovernor
Don't Be AfraidSister Jane, Army and Fold
In Our Childhood's Bright EndeavorCaptain Hannibal Jackson
The Liquor Dealer's DreamCaptain Hannibal Jackson, Governor, Sister Jane, Army and Fold
ACT 3 Sung By
The Mandalay SongSam "Mammy" Wurlitzer and Gang
Surabaya JohnnyLieutenant Lillian Holiday ("Hallelujah Lil")
Song of the Big Shot (Reprise) Bill Cracker
Ballad of the Lily of HellThe Fly
The Happy EndCompany


New York Daily News: "Will it end too soon?"

This production of "Happy End" opened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music April 26, 1977, and later transferred to the Martin Beck Theatre.

"Happy End" is a treat: musical comedy with a wicked leer and some of the late Kurt Weill's most sinuously seductive songs. And yet this 1929 progenitor of "Cabaret" and the current "Chicago," which "opened" Tuesday in the Chelsea's fourth-floor playhouse in the Brooklyn Academy of Music, is scheduled to close Saturday after an accident-prone career of almost two months. The final blow fell on Thursday of last week when, after a change of directors and a replacement of the female lead, the leading man tore two ligaments on stage and was forced to turn over his role to an understudy who was playing a secondary character but was up in the lead part. The decision was made to "open," anyway, and I can't tell you how grateful I am to have seen this rarely performed work.

"Happy End" was a sort of throwaway piece by Bertolt Brecht, who wrote the lyrics while occupied with his play "St. Joan of the Stockyards," and Weill, who was at work on the score, to a libretto by Brecht, of "Mahagonny." The pair's initial collaboration, "The Threepenny Opera," had gone over so well in Berlin the year before, that the producer demanded a follow-up piece immediately. And it flopped, due to an emotional ad-libbed speech thrown into the last act by Brecht's actress-wife, a political activist. The book, by the way, was attributed to a "Dorothy Lane," a friend of Brecht's who preferred anonymity.

The book, whoever wrote it, anticipates "Guys and Dolls" with its tale of a Salvation Army lass who not only falls for Chicago's toughest gangster, but reforms him, thereby giving the show its title. It all takes place in 1915, shuttling back and forth between the mission and Bill's Beer Hall, the gang's hideout, in late December, ending on Christmas Eve.

However, though the characters are dressed for the period, the new book by Michael Feingold, who has also adapted the lyrics, seems to place events more squarely in the '20s, during Chicago's notorious gang wars. It hardly matters, though, for Feingold has done a top-notch job, accentuating the humor of the piece. And, anyway, neither Brecht nor Weill had ever been near Chicago, which gave the work its peculiar and charming slant.

The score is, with minor exceptions, a beauty with its hymns ("Lieutenants of the Lord," "In Our Childhood's Bright Endeavor"), aggressive declarations ("March Ahead," "Song of the Big Shot") and silken ballads ("The Bilbao Song," "Surabaya Johnny").

The principals go about their business in grand style under Robert Kalfin's over-all direction and Patricia Birch's musical staging. Meryl Streep leads the parade as Lt. Lillian Johnson (Hallelujah Lil), acting with precisely the right touch of lightness and poignancy, and while she polishes off that masterpiece, "Surabaya Johnny," as well as "The Sailor's Tango" with splendid expressiveness, though I could have wished for a slightly throatier delivery than her lyric soprano treatment. Bob Gunton, moving up from another role to substitute for the felled Lloyd, takes the dashing, evil and finally repentant Bill Cracker, the Chicago terror, in good stride. Grayson Hall as the bedizened Fly, the true gang leader; Liz Sheridan as the army's major and Prudence Wright Holmes as one of its sisters, along with all the gang members, especially Tony Azito's Dr. Nakamura, are all fine.

Robert U. Taylor's setting, which swings easily from mission to beer hall, is first rate and is topped by panels on which are shown the filmed bank robbery, stills, and song titles, and behind the central one the small orchestra does the score full justice. Carrie F. Robbins' costumes are excellent, and Jennifer Tiptons' light scheme is nicely plotted.

But take heart, one and all. There are indications -- though no hard evidence -- that happy "Happy End" will happily find a Manhattan home ere long.

New York Daily News

Replacement/Transfer Info

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

Martin Beck Theatre

(5/7/1977 - 7/10/1977)


Victor Pappas
Dr. Nakamura
"The Governor"
Janie Sell
Lieutenant Lillian Holiday
"Hallelujah Lil"

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