1967 Television Broadcast
Presented as a 90-minute television special, Androcles and the Lion premiered on NBC-TV on November 15, 1967. Starring Norman Wisdom as Androcles, with Geoffrey Holder as the Lion, Noël Coward as Caesar and Patricia Routledge as Megaera, the production also featured such theatre notables as Ed Ames, Brian Bedford, John Cullum and Inga Swenson. Of his score, Richard Rodgers said, “I simply went back to my No Strings collaborator – me – and we got along just fine.” The production was produced by Marc Merson and directed and choreographed by Joe Layton.
Reviews were mixed, with most critics faintly praising the score and taking issue with the book, but Jerry Coffey of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram called Androcles and the Lion “quite probably the best TV-originated musical ever made, citing the “tuneful and inventive” score and dubbing the program “a thoroughly delightful and engaging 90 minutes of television.” Despite praise from Coffey and others, the special was never rebroadcast.
Released in mono by RCA Victor in 1967, the original soundtrack recording of Androcles and the Lion featured ebullient orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett and dance arrangements by David Baker. The lead vocals were sung by Norman Wisdom, Noël Coward, Ed Ames, Brian Bedford, John Cullum and Inga Swenson. The 13-track LP featured all eight songs from the special, along with plenty of spoken dialogue, particularly from Patricia Routledge, who played the non-singing role of Androcles’ wife, Megaera. Geoffrey Holder provided sound effects as the Lion. Long out of print, the soundtrack recording was released as a CD from Masterworks Broadway in 2014.