Original Cast Recording
|Basis||Play by Sean O'Casey
Juno and the Paycock
Juno is a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Marc Blitzstein and book by Joseph Stein, based closely on the 1924 play Juno and the Paycock by Sean O'Casey. The original Broadway production opened at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York, on March 9, 1959.
Despite light moments, the musical, like the play, is essentially a tragedy. Ths story centers around the disintegration of an Irish family in Dublin in the early 1920s, during the Irish War of Independence. Juno is a hardworking matriarch who strives to hold her family together in the face of war, betrayal, and her worthless husband's drinking. For a more detailed synopsis see the article for Sean O'Casey's original play.
Modern scholars of musical theatre consider Blitzstein and Stein's musicalization of the source material to be strong, but initial reviews of the piece were mostly negative, mainly because critics and audiences felt that the story was too dark for a musical. The production closed after only 16 performances. Fortunately, Blitzstein's score was preserved by Columbia Records, which released the original cast album in both mono and stereo editions. The Fynsworth Alley label re-released the recording on compact disc in 2002.
Revival of Juno has since been attempted a few times with little success, with revisions and new material by Richard Maltby, Jr. and severely reduced orchestrations. City Center's Encores! presented a semi-staged concert production of Juno on March 27 to 30, 2008 directed by Garry Hynes, starring Victoria Clark and John Schuck using the original orchestrations. Critical response was more favorable after nearly fifty years, with praise for the score and performances.
Original production details
Direction was originally to have been by Tony Richardson, who dropped out of the production during the early stages. Vincent J. Donehue replaced him, but the rest of the creative team were not satisfied with his work. He was then replaced by José Ferrer. Orchestrations were by Blitzstein, with additional support from Robert Russell Bennett and Hershy Kay. The show was conducted by Robert Emmett Dolan and choreographed by Agnes de Mille.
The production starred Shirley Booth (as Juno Boyle), Melvyn Douglas (as Captain Boyle), Jack MacGowran (as Joxer), and Tommy Rall (as Johnny Boyle), with a cast that also included Loren Driscoll, Monte Amundsen, Nancy Andrews, Jean Stapleton, and Sada Thompson.