I COULD WRITE A BOOK when it comes to exciting news!!! It has just been announced that 2 of the most celebrated performers Savion Glover and Tony Goldwyn are set to join forces to co-direct an upcoming Broadway revival of the Rodgers & Hart classic Pal Joey. This new production is set to debut during the 2022-2023 Broadway season.
For this new play PAL JOEY, it will be a fully updated production of this classic show for this generation. Along with the classic Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart score, it will feature an updated book by Richard LaGravenese while still staying true to John O’Hara’s original script. Along with Goldwyn and Glover (who will also choreograph the production), it will feature a full Award winning creative team consisting of….
Tony Award winner Derek McLane doing the sets
Tony Award nominee Emilio Sosa doing the costumes,
Tony Award winner Natasha Katz doing the lights,
Orchestrations by Tony Award winner Daryl Waters.
Dates, casting, and theater for this production will be announced soon.
For anyone may not know, PAL JOEY is based off of John O’Hara’s best selling novel of the same name. It tells the story of a manipulative small-time nightclub performer whose ambitions lead him into a romantic affair with a middle-aged and married woman who is already married. Many of the musical’s notable songs by Rodgers & Hart have gone on to become legendary standards including I COULD WRITE A BOOK, YOU MUSN’T KICK IT AROUND, and of course the haunting BEWITCHED, BOTHERED, & BEWITHERED.
The show was first concieved by John O’Hara himself after the success of his 1940 novel of the same name. He one day offered his book to Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wanting to adapt the short stories as a musical. While developing the script and casting the show, Rodgers, Hart and O’Hara knew that they wanted their main character to be primarily a dancer, not a singer, and the actor who played Joey would have to be more likeable. In the actual book, the title role was very unpleasant.
The show went directly to Broadway in that same year of 1940 playing the Ethel Barrymore Theatre for a year long run of 374 performances. Under the direction of George Abbott and choreography by Robert Alton, the cast was led by….
The original production earned rave reviews. It did NOT receive any Tony nominations or Awards that year. The Tonys itself were NOT created until 1947.
FUN FACT: Despite the original production’s success, PAL JOEY did get some controversial backlash for its themes which also caused the show’s music to be banned from being played on radio in being considered as a set of standards. By the late 40’s and early 50’s, the songs started getting more attention and finally got its status as beloved standards we know today.
Life after its original production, PAL JOEY went on to debut with productions around the world including London’s West End. There would later be various multiple productions of the show revived in our New York City Theater community.
The first major ON Broadway revival debuted in 1952 at the Broadhurst Theatre. This production went on to become even more successful vs. the original staging. Under the direction of David Alexander and choreographed by Robert Alton, the cast was led by….
Harold Lang as “Joey Evans”,
Vivienne Segal reprising her OG performance as “Vera Simpson”,
Helen Gallagher (later Nancy Walker) as “Gladys Bumps”.
The cast also featured 2 notable future Broadway legends serving as understudied including Bob Fosse and Elaine Stritch.
The 1952 revival went on to get so many top Award honors. It won all 3 of its Tony categories that same year for BEST FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL (for Helen Gallagher), BEST CHOREOGRAPHY (for Robert Alton), and a former Award no longer there consisting of BEST CONDUCTOR & MUSICAL DIRECTOR. It also won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for BEST MUSICAL and won all 11 of its Donaldson Award categories (including BEST MUSICAL).
PAL JOEY later returned to the Big Apple in 1963 with a 15 performance limited engagement at New York City Center. Under the direction of Gus Schirmer Jr. and co-choreographed by George and Ethel Martin, the cast was led by….
Bob Fosse as “Joey Evans”,
Viveca Lindfors as “Vera Simpson”,
Elaine Dunn as “Gladys Bumps”.
That 1963 revival went on to be nominated for 1 Tony Award for BEST LEADING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL (for Bob Fosse) but lost the category.
The 2nd ON BROADWAY revival of PAL JOEY happened in 1973. It played Circle in the Square Theatre for only 73 performances. Under the direction of Theodore Mann and choreographed by Margo Sappington, the cast was led by….
Christopher Chadman as “Joey Evans”,
Joan Copeland as “Vera Simpson”,
Janine Sell as “Gladys Bumps”.
This production did not get any Tony nominations or wins. However, it did receive a Drama Desk nomination for OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL (for Joan Copeland) but lost the category.
PAL JOEY continue to wow audiences with more revivals in London’s West End and around the world.
It would return to the Big Apple in the Spring of 1995 with a week long engagement again at New York City Center…. this time as a semi-staged concert presentation part of its popular ENCORES series. Under the direction of Lonny Price, choreographed by Joey McKneely, and an updated script by the late Terrence McNally, this cast was led by….
Peter Gallagher as “Joey Evans”,
Patti LuPone as “Vera Simpson”,
Vicki Lewis as “Gladys Bumps”.
The recent ON Broadway revival of PAL JOEY happened in the Fall of 2008 by Roundabout Theatre Company. After a year long delay initially set for 2007, this revival played Studio 54 for a limited engagement of 37 previews and 85 regular performances. This version featured an updated book by Richard Greenberg. It also included several additional Rodgers & Hart songs into the show including I’M TALKING TO MY PAL, ARE YOU MY LOVE, and I STILL BELIEVE IN YOU. There was also a casting drama…. originally the role of “Joey Evans” was supposed to be played by Tony winner Christian Hoff. However, he was forced to dropped out of the production due to an injury. He would be replaced by understudy Matthew Risch. Under the direction of Joe Mantello and choreographed by Graciella Danielle, the cast was led by….
Matthew Risch as “Joey Evans”,
Stockard Channing as “Vera Simpson”,
Martha Plimpton as “Gladys Bumps”.
This recent limited engagement revival of PAL JOEY was nominated for 3 Tony Awards in 2009 including BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL. However, it lost all its categories.
Today, PAL JOEY is continued to be performed in schools, community, and regional theaters everywhere.
Along with the success of the stage version, PAL JOEY was a successful movie musical which was released in 1957. Under the direction of George Sidney, choreographed by Hermes Pan, and featuring additional Rodgers & Hart tunes, the cast was led by…..
Frank Sinatra as “Joey Evans”,
RITA Hayworth as “Vera Simpson”,
Barbara Nichols as “Gladys Bumps”.
It went on to be nominated for various Awards including the Oscars and the Golden Globes in 1958.
We are so excited to see this timeless musical back on Broadway once again.
Who is excited?!!!