Father Knickerbocker's Stories
|Productions||1938 - 1939 Broadway
Knickerbocker Holiday is a musical written by Kurt Weill (music) and Maxwell Anderson (book and lyrics); it was produced by the Playwrights' Company and directed by Joshua Logan. Among the songs introduced was the "September Song", now considered a pop standard.
Knickerbocker Holiday is both a romantic comedy and a thinly veiled allegory equating the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt (whose ancestor is one of the characters on the corrupt town council) with fascism. As is apparent from the preface he wrote for the play, as well as the play and the songs themselves, Maxwell Anderson was a rugged individualist, but not a full-blown anarchist. Anderson believed that government was necessary in society, but that government must always be watched because government is just as selfishly interested as any of the individuals that compose it. He saw the New Deal as another example of the corporatism and concentration of political power which had given rise to Nazism and Stalinism.
His animus toward the state is more soberly revealed in one of his two tragedies about the Sacco and Vanzetti execution, Winterset. That play, coincidentally, starred Burgess Meredith, who was originally to star in Knickerbocker Holiday. Meredith, a friend of Weill's, was to play the romantic young lead Brom Broek, but he left when he saw the villainous Peter Stuyvesant character growing into a more and more lovable and important role, upstaging his.
The time is shortly before the arrival of the new Governor of New Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant. Brom Broek, an American individualist, cannot take orders. If ever anyone gives him an order, he assaults them. This has made it difficult to court his beloved, Tina Tienhoven, the daughter of the head of the town council.
Stuyvesant arrives just in time to rescue Broek from a hanging engineered by his beloved's father, in order to get the impoverished ne'er do well to make way for the wealthy and powerful Stuyvesant himself as a suitor for the fair Tina. Naturally Broek is grateful: until Stuyvesant quickly asserts what is for all intents and purposes a fascist dictatorship.
The musical premiered on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on October 19, 1938 and closed on March 11, 1939 after 168 performances. The original production starred Walter Huston (as Peter Stuyvesant), Richard Kollmar (as Brom Broeck), Jeanne Madden (as Tina), and Ray Middleton (as Washington Irving).
Burt Lancaster starred in a revival production of the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, L.A in June, 1971. The cast also included David Holliday and Jack Collins.
The musical premiered in Germany on September 25, 1976, at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg.
Light Opera Works of Evanston, IL mounted a major revival of the work in December 1992 with artistic direction by Philip Kraus, stage direction by Seth Reines and conducted by Peter Lipari.
Knickerbocker Holiday made its Canadian premiere on February 20, 2009 at the Jane Mallet Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto, Ontario. It was produced by the Toronto Operetta Theatre, under the direction of Guillermo Silva-Marin. This production featured Curtis Sullivan as Washington Irving, Dale Miller as Brom Broeck, Amy Wallis as Tina Tienhoven, David Ludwig as Governor Peter Stuyvesant and Rejean Cournoyer as Roosevelt. It also featured Jeffery Sanders as Schermerhorn, Greg Finney as Vanderbilt and Ford Roberts as Mr. Tienhoven. It was directed by Guillermo Silva-Marin, musically directed and conducted by David Speers, and featured the TOT Orchestra and vocal ensemble.
In June 2009, Knickerbocker Holiday was presented by the York Theatre's "Musicals in Mufti" in a staged concert. Directed by Michael Unger, the cast featured Josh Grisetti as Washington Irving, Nick Gaswirth as Brom, Kelli Barrett as Tina, Martin Vidnovic as Stuyvesant, William Parry as Roosevelt, and Walter Charles as Tienhoven.
The Collegiate Chorale at Alice Tully Hall, New York City, presented a concert version on January 25–26, 2011, with Kelli O'Hara, Victor Garber, Christopher Fitzgerald, Ben Davis, Bryce Pinkham and David Garrison, and the American Symphony Orchestra and a chorus of 65. A recording of this performance was released on CD in June 2011 by Sh-k-boom Records.
The 1944 film version, written by Thomas L. Lennon, starring Nelson Eddy as Broeck, Constance Dowling as Tina, and Charles Coburn as Stuyvesant, not only removed most of the songs and added new ones not by Weill and Anderson, but watered down the political allegory considerably, despite being released during World War II.
- "Internet Broadway Database" ibdb.com, accessed March 9, 2013
- "Repertoire 1981-2012". Light Opera Works. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- Feingold, Michael. "Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson Cooked Some Great Burghers For 'Knickerbocker Holiday'" The Village Voice, July 8, 2009
- Gans, Andrew and Jones, Kenneth. Mufti Knickerbocker Holiday Begins Weekend Run June 26" playbill.com, June 26, 2009
- Asch, Amy. "A Long, Long "Weill": 'Knickerbocker Holiday' Gets a Starry NYC Revival" playbill.com, January 24, 2011
- "First Full Recording of Knickerbocker Holiday Now Available". The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, June 28, 2011
- Knickerbocker Holiday at the Internet Broadway Database
- Knickerbocker Holiday at the Internet Movie Database
- Knickerbocker Holiday production, songs, and writer's note at rnh.com
- 1945 Theatre Guild on the Air radio adaptation at Internet Archive