Golden Boy (play)

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Golden Boy is a drama by Clifford Odets. The play was initially produced on Broadway by The Group Theatre in 1937. Odets' biggest hit was made into a 1939 film of the same name, starring William Holden in his breakthrough role, and also served as the basis for a 1964 musical with Sammy Davis, Jr..

Plot[edit]

The play focuses on Joe Bonaparte, whose dream of becoming a violinist could become a reality when prizefight promoter Roxy Gottlieb offers to sponsor him as a boxer. He finds himself torn between the lure of big money and the distinct possibility of injuring his hands, thereby destroying his musical career. Among those offering him advice are his Italian immigrant father, his manager Tom Moody, and Tom's girlfriend Lorna Moon, with whom Joe falls in love.[1]

Production history[edit]

Following his 1935 successes Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing!, Odets went to Hollywood to write The General Died at Dawn with the intention of using his salary to support the Group Theatre, the independent theatre company that had produced his earlier plays,[2][3] despite his previous protests against large corporations, including movie studios. His own internal struggle to choose between art and materialism became the basis for the theme of his play, his first to focus more on psychology and personal relationships than social criticism. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reviewer noted that Odets wrote about social consciousness in Waiting for Lefty and "lessons of faith" in Awake and Sing, but in Golden Boy he set out to "merely tell a story."[4]

Odets called the play "symbolic," with one latter-era critic noting that "the show pits spiritual ideals against lust for fame and money in what can only be termed an implausible setup."[5] According to John Lahr, "The heroes of 'Golden Boy' and 'The Big Knife' are both torn between commercial success and artistic fulfillment, driven crazy by their decision to live against their natures; both murder themselves out of nostalgia for their lost integrity."[2]

The Broadway production, directed by Harold Clurman, opened on November 4, 1937 at the Belasco Theatre,[6]where it ran for 250 performances. The cast included Luther Adler as Joe, Robert Lewis as Roxy, Morris Carnovsky as Joe's father, Roman Bohnen as Tom, and Frances Farmer as Lorna, with Lee J. Cobb, Elia Kazan, Harry Morgan, Howard Da Silva, Karl Malden and John Garfield in supporting roles.[1][7]

The play was revived on Broadway at the ANTA Playhouse, opening on March 12, 1952 and closing on April 6, 1952 after 55 performances. John Garfield played Joe.[8]

A second Broadway revival, produced by the Lincoln Center Theater, opened on December 6, 2012 at the Belasco Theatre. Direction is by Bartlett Sher with Seth Numrich as Joe Bonaparte and Yvonne Strahovski as Lorna Moon.[9][10] The play closed on January 20, 2013 after 53 performances and 30 previews.[11] Golden Boy received eight 2013 Tony Award nominations, including Best Revival of a Play,[12]and three Drama Desk Award nominations, including Outstanding Revival of a Play.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Nugent, Frank S. "Movie Review Golden Boy (1939)", The New York Times, September 8, 1939
  2. ^ a b Lahr, John."Stage Left, The struggles of Clifford Odets"The New Yorker, April 17, 2006
  3. ^ "Clifford Odets Papers 1926-1963 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts" jewish-theatre.com, retrieved March 27, 2010
  4. ^ Cohen, Harold W.ReviewPittsburgh Post-Gazette, (news.google.com), December 21, 1937
  5. ^ Herman, Jan."Stage Review Odets 'Golden Boy' Is Still Powerful in Bold UCI Revival"Los Angeles Times, March 13, 1990
  6. ^ Atkinson, Brooks. GOLDEN BOY'; Clifford Odets Rewards the Group Theatre With One of. His Best Plays" The New York Times (abstract), November 21, 1937, p.1
  7. ^ Odets, Clifford."'Golden Boy' published script", Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1948, ISBN 0-8222-0456-8 books.google.com, retrieved March 27, 2010
  8. ^ Atkinson, Brooks. "GOLDEN BOY'; Clifford Odets' Drama About a Prize Fighter Still a Powerful Work" The New York Times (abstract), March 23, 1952, p.XI
  9. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Clifford Odets' 'Golden Boy', Starring Seth Numrich, Tony Shalhoub, Danny Burstein, to Play the Belasco" playbill.com, August 8, 2012
  10. ^ Isherwood, Charles "The Sweet Science vs. the Stradivarius: Review of ‘Golden Boy,’ Directed by Bartlett Sher", New York Times, published December 6, 2012.
  11. ^ Hetrick, Adam. "Clifford Odets' 'Golden Boy' Leaves the Ring; Broadway Revival Concludes Jan. 20" playbill.com, January 20, 2013
  12. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Nominations Announced for 67th Annual Tony Awards; 'Kinky Boots' Earns 13 Nominations" playbill.com, April 30, 2013

External links[edit]