1976 Broadway Revival

Rodgers & HammersteinPal Joey

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1976 Broadway Revival

Music by Richard Rodgers | Lyrics by Lorenz Hart | Book by John O'Hara

After a limited engagement at City Center starring Bob Fosse, Pal Joey returned to Broadway at the Circle in the Square Theatre, this time presented in the round – a challenging obstacle for shows designed for the proscenium. The rehearsal process was plagued with challenges and conflict; ballet dancer/choreographer Edward Villella, who was originally cast as Joey, struggled to sing and dance in a musical theatre style; several choreographers came and went; numbers were rearranged, removed and restored; and leading lady Eleanor Parker, known for her Academy Award-winning portrayal of the Baroness in The Sound of Music, felt overlooked and under-rehearsed. In the end, both Villella and Parker left the show, replaced with their respective understudies, Christopher Chadman and Joan Copeland. Dixie Carter sang the show-stopping “Zip.”

According to Clive Barnes’ New York Times review of the production, Joan Copeland as Vera was “a knock-out. She was tough, lovely and credible, singing with a husky, whisky smokiness.” While there were other positive notes for certain moments and elements, including the set design by John J. Moore, Barnes concluded his review with this unfortunate summation: “All these swallows never made a summer.”