ANTA Playhouse, (4/13/1981 - 4/26/1981)

First Preview: Mar 25, 1981
Opening Date: Apr 13, 1981
Closing Date: Apr 26, 1981
Total Previews: 26
Total Performances: 13

Category: Musical, Original, Broadway

Opening Night Production Staff

Theatre Owned / Operated by ANTA (Alfred de Liagre, Jr., Managing Director)

Produced by Don Gregory, Mike Merrick and Dome Productions (Steve Herman, Jon Cutler)

Book by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn; Music by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn; Lyrics by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn; Based on the book "David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens; Musical Director: Larry Blank; Vocal arrangements by Larry Blank; Music orchestrated by Irwin Kostal; Dance arrangements by Donald Johnston; Incidental music by Donald Johnston

Directed by Rob Iscove; Choreographed by Rob Iscove

Scenic Design by Tony Straiges; Costume Design by John David Ridge; Lighting Design by Ken Billington; Sound Design by John McClure; Wig Design by Paul Huntley

Company Manager: Martin Cohen

Production Stage Manager: Peter Lawrence; Stage Manager: Jim Woolley; Technical Director: Arthur Siccardi

Music Contractor: John Monaco; Associate Conductor: Donald Johnston

Dance Captain: Missy Whitchurch; Production Coordinator: Arthur Anagnostou; General Press Representative: Seymour Krawitz; Press Representative: Patricia Krawitz and Warren Knowlton; Advertising: Norman Weiner and Lawrence Weiner and Associates; Photographer: Martha Swope; Casting: Julie Hughes and Barry Moss

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Opening Night Cast

David Ray BarteeEnsemble
Ralph BraunMr. Quinion
Katharine BuffaloeNurse
Julia Mills
Maris ClementJane Murdstone
Michael ConnollyMr. Murdstone
Michael DanekConstable
Daniel DeeSwing Dancer
Leslie DennistonAgnes Wickfield
Spence FordVictoria
Beulah GarrickMrs. Heep
Heather Lea GerdesSwing Dancer
Michael GormanTicket Taker
David HorwitzBootmaker
Barrie InghamUriah Heep
George S. IrvingMr. Micawber
Mary MastrantonioDora Spenlow
Carmen MathewsAunt Betsey Trotwood
Brian MatthewsDavid Copperfield
Pamela McLernonClara Copperfield
Darleigh MillerJanet
Dana MooreVanessa
Gary MunchMick Walker
Keith PerryMr. Wickfield
Linda PoserMrs. Micawber
Richard Warren PughDr. Chilip
Brian QuinnMealy Potatoes
Evan RichardsYoung David
Lynne SavageEnsemble
Bruce ShermanButcher
Christian SlaterBilly Mowcher
Mary StoutPeggotty
Claude TessierEnsemble
Missy WhitchurchEnsemble
Lenny WolpeMr. Dick

Understudies: Ralph Braun (Mr. Murdstone), Katharine Buffaloe (Mrs. Heep), David Horwitz (Adult David), Pamela McLernon (Dora Spenlow), Darleigh Miller (Agnes Wickfield), Keith Perry (Uriah Heep), Linda Poser (Aunt Betsey Trotwood), Richard Warren Pugh (Mr. Dick), Christian Slater (Young David), Missy Whitchurch (Peggotty) and Lenny Wolpe (Mr. Micawber)

Awards and Nominations

Tony Award®

 1981 Best Original Score [nominee] 

Music by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn; Lyrics by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn


music by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn; lyrics by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn

ACT 1 Sung By
I Don't Want a Boy
(music by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn; lyrics by Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn )
Aunt Betsey Trotwood, Peggotty and Ensemble
Mama, Don't Get MarriedYoung David, Clara Copperfield and Peggotty
CopperfieldYoung David, Mr. Quinion, Mealy Potatoes, Billy Mowcher, Mick Walker and Ensemble
Something Will Turn UpMr. Micawber, Young David, Creditors and Ensemble
AnyoneYoung David
Here's a BookAunt Betsey Trotwood, Mr. Dick and Young David
Here's a Book (Reprise) Aunt Betsey Trotwood, Mr. Dick and Adult David
UmbleUriah Heep and Mrs. Heep
The Circle WaltzAdult David, Dora Spenlow, Agnes Wickfield and Ensemble
ACT 2 Sung By
Up the LadderUriah Heep and Mr. Micawber
I Wish He KnewAgnes Wickfield
The Lights of LondonAdult David, Dora Spenlow and Company
Umble (Reprise) Uriah Heep
Something Will Turn Up (Reprise) Mr. Micawber and Adult David
Villainy Is the MatterAdult David, Uriah Heep, Mr. Micawber, Agnes Wickfield, Aunt Betsey Trotwood, Mr. Dick, Mrs. Heep, Peggotty and Mrs. Micawber
With the One I LoveAdult David
Something Will Turn Up (Reprise) Mr. Micawber and Ensemble
Anyone (Reprise) Adult David and Agnes Wickfield


New York Daily News: "Musical 'Copperfield' a computerized cartoon"

"Copperfield," which opened last night at the ANTA, may just be the first fully-computerized musical. It is as if Dickens had been fed to a machine, buttons pressed, and out came book, songs, scenic and costume designs, and a batch of mechanical performances.

Aside from the customary amplification, which makes almost everybody on Broadway sound funny, a false note is struck by the performance as a whole, as if the actors were mindlessly running through parts they'd been doing for a year or more and were sick and tired of it by now.

This is because the evening (or Wednesday matinee press preview, in my case) is relentlessly on the go, as though a moment's pause, with no shifting scenery or moving actors, would cause the entire flimsy edifice to collapse. Under the busy and undistinguished staging of Rob Iscove, who is also responsible for the commonplace dance routines, everything is done in broad strokes. Smiles, frowns, strides, "takes" - all are so much larger than life and so simplified as to make the actors resemble animated cartoon figures.

And this, in turn, has obviously resulted from the puerile book-and-song reduction of "David Copperfield" by the team of Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn. Trying to crowd as much as possible into a couple of hours or more has resulted in a succession of flats and furniture sliding on and off before huge backcloths modeled on Constable landscapes, these scenes capped at the end of the first act by a colorful merry-go-round fair scene, and at the finish by a London dock scene with a glimpse of ship's rigging.

And all of this busyness turns on the bland songs (a pretty but quickly forgettable "Circle Waltz," a love ballad called "I Wish He Knew," a bustling "Lights of London" routine, and so on) with rhymes that, when they are not discouragingly predictable, as in most instances, are merely silly ("Here's a book in Latin/It's the tongue to chat in').

The show is as harmless as a vanilla milk shake, and it may even appeal to children. It seemed to that afternoon when busloads of kids poured into the house, not helping to fill it, by any means, but whooping it up at dramatic moments in the unfolding of David's career with its abruptly shifting fortunes. Take, for example, that moment when the boy David having disappeared behind a tableful of books, the handsome young man David smilingly rises from behind them. And there are several other moppet stimulants, particularly when Uriah Heep and Mr. Murdstone are engaged in their dirty work. But maybe those kids where programmed, too!

Speaking of Uriah Heep, a red-crested and spidery Barrie Ingham in black knee breeches kicks "Copperfield" into a semblance of life during his "umble" and villainous scenes and songs. He does so because, unlike all the others with the exception of Michael Connolly as the unbearably stern Murdstone, he is immersed in his part and brings a childlike conviction to it.

I was pleased no end to leave the faintly obnoxious boy David (Evan Richard) behind late in the first half; for, besides good looks, the grown-up hero (Brian Matthews) possesses a pleasing singing voice. Mary Mastrantonio adorns the role of dumb Dora, David's young bride who conveniently expires, leaving the field clear for dear loyal Agnes, a part in which Leslie Denniston is equally decorative. George S. Irving's Micawber, Carmen Mathews' Aunt Betsey and Mary Stout's Peggotty are among the more boldly-drawn characters in the large cast of this restless show.

Tony Straiges' scenery, opulent-looking and at the same time smoothly functional, suits the story of "David Copperfield" very well, and I could find no fault with either John David Ridge's period costumes (the pastels for the fair scene create a lovely effect) nor Ken Billington's artful lighting. Irwin Kostal's orchestrations, conducted by Larry Blank, often make the score sound better than it is.

"Copperfield" just barely qualifies as live theater. Push another button.

New York Daily News

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