Original Cast Recording
James Lee Barrett
|Basis||1965 film Shenandoah|
|Productions||1974 Goodspeed Opera House
1989 Broadway revival
|Awards||Tony Award for Best Book|
Shenandoah is a musical that was written in 1974 with music by Gary Geld, lyrics by Peter Udell, and a book by Udell, Philip Rose and James Lee Barrett, based on Barrett's original screenplay for the 1965 film Shenandoah.
The musical first opened at the Goodspeed Opera House in 1974 and then transferred to Broadway, opening on January 7, 1975. It ran on Broadway for a total of 1,050 performances, closing August 7, 1977. The cast featured John Cullum (Charlie Anderson), Joel Higgins (James), Penelope Milford (Jenny), Robert Rosen (Henry), Ted Agress (Jacob), Gordon Halliday (Sam), Chip Ford (Gabriel), Joseph Shapiro (Robert, the boy), David Russell (John), Jordan Suffin (Nathan), Gary Harger (Corporal), Charles Welch (Rev. Byrd), and Donna Theodore (Anne), who won a Drama Desk Award for her performance. The rest of the cast included Betsy Beard, Tedd Carrere, Stephen Dubov, Gary Harger, Brian James, Robert Johanson, Sherry Lambert, Craig Lucas, Gene Masoner, Paul Myrvold, Dan Ormond, Casper Roos, J. Kevin Scannell, Jack Starkey, E. Allen Stevens, Marshall Thomas, Matt Gavin, Edward Penn, and Ed Preble. The show was directed by Philip Rose, scenery by C. Murawski, lighting by Thomas R. Skelton, costumes by Pearl Somner and Winn Morton, choreography by Robert Tucker, dance arrangements by Russell Warner, musical direction by Lynn Crigler, and orchestrations by Don Walker. Michael P. Price was Executive Director of the Goodspeed Opera House.
Shenandoah was revived on Broadway, again with Cullum in the lead role, on August 8, 1989, closing on September 2, 1989. It returned to the Goodspeed Opera House in 1994, with Marc Kudisch. A new production opened March 22, 2006 at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., starring Scott Bakula. Positive critical notices and strong ticket sales resulted in the show's run being extended through May 21 (although Bakula departed the production April 30).
Charlie Anderson, a widower, lives with his large family in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, during the American Civil War. Anderson does not wish to be involved in the war because he doesn't consider it "his" war, but he is forced to take action when his youngest son Robert is taken prisoner by Union soldiers. In the course of searching for Robert, Charlie, his daughter Jenny, and some of his sons rescue Sam (Jenny's newlywed Confederate soldier husband), from a Yankee POW train. After enduring the tragedy of losing his eldest son Jacob (to a sniper), and his second eldest son James and his wife Anne (to a deserter), Charlie is finally reunited with Robert at the end.
Walter Kerr, of the New York Times, said it had "beauty in old truths...threaded figures that might be sewn into a farmhouse sampler." Kevin Kelly said in the Boston Globe that the show was "absolutely magnificent....a traditional musical...that tells us something about the suffering human spirit." He also said of Cullum's performance, "one of the great performances in the musical theatre."
- Klein, Alvin."After 20 Years, Goodspeed Opera's 'Shenandoah' Back Again"The New York Times, August 21, 1994
- Jones, Kenneth."D.C. Shenandoah Extends; Bakula Will Leave, Sutherland Joins the Fray", playbill.com, April 10, 2006