The Rink (musical)
1988 West End
The musical focuses on Anna, the owner of a dilapidated roller skating rink on the boardwalk of a decaying seaside resort, who has decided to sell it to developers. Complicating her plans are her prodigal daughter Angel, who returns to town seeking to reconnect with the people and places she long ago left behind. Through a series of flashbacks, revelations, and minimal forward-moving plot development, the two deal with their pasts in their attempt to reconcile and move on with their lives.
The musical began as a small off-Broadway musical with music by Kander and Ebb, the book by Albert Innaurato, and direction by Arthur Laurents, focusing on an Italian-American mother and her estranged daughter. As the project was not doing well, Terrence McNally was brought in to write the book and Laurents left. In place of the intimate musical, there were now a small male chorus and large sets.
The musical opened on Broadway on February 9, 1984 at the Martin Beck Theatre, where it ran for 204 performances and 29 previews. The production was directed by A. J. Antoon, with choreography by Graciela Daniele, set design by Peter Larkin, costume design by Theoni V. Aldredge, lighting design by Marc B. Weiss, sound design by Otts Munderloh, and musical direction by Paul Gemignani.
Despite the presence of box-office draws Liza Minnelli (as Angel) and Chita Rivera (as Anna), it could not overcome the mostly negative reviews. The cast also included Jason Alexander (Lino/Lenny/Punk/Uncle Fausto), Kim Hauser (Little Girl), Mel Johnson, Jr. (Buddy/Hiram/Mrs. Jackson/Charlie/Suitor/Junior Miller), Scott Holmes (Guy/Dino/Father Rocco/Debbie Duberman), Scott Ellis (Lucky/Sugar/Punk/Arnie/Suitor/Bobby Perillo/Danny/Additional singer), Frank Mastrocola (Tony/Tom/Punk/Suitor/Peter Reilly), Ronn Carroll (Ben/Dino's Father/Sister Philomena), and Rob Marshall (additional singers). Stockard Channing replaced Liza Minnelli as of July 14, 1984.
The musical had an engagement in the West End at the Cambridge Theatre, opening on February 17, 1988 through March 19, 1988, running for 38 performances. Josephine Blake and Diane Langton starred as Anna and Angel. This production, directed by Paul Kerryson, whilst not successful at the large Cambridge Theatre in London, had enjoyed sell out success at the smaller Forum Theatre in Manchester in 1987, where its run had been extended. Kerryson revived the show at the Leicester Haymarket in 1998 starring Kathryn Evans and Linsey Hateley. 
In The New York Times, critic Frank Rich praised Rivera but described the show as "turgid" and "sour," filled with "phony, at times mean-spirited content" and "empty pretensions." Of the book, he wrote, "Mr. McNally is a smart and witty playwright, but you'd never know it from this synthetic effort. His dialogue is banal, and his characters are ciphers."
Reacting to the bad reviews, the show's composer, John Kander, commented that the show "was the most complete realization" of his intentions of any production he had done. Lyricist Fred Ebb agreed, asserting that "Every single element of it was exactly as we imagined. Up there on the stage were two of my best friends, Liza and Chita. It was an overwhelming experience; and when they weren't treated well, it was as if we had gotten attacked on the street.... That show hurt me more than any show I've written.... I felt that I had let them down."
Awards and nominations
- Tony Award for Best Original Score (nominee)
- Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical (Rivera, winner; Minnelli, nominee)
- Tony Award for Best Scenic Design (nominee)
- Tony Award for Best Choreography (nominee)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical (nominee)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical (Rivera, winner; Minnelli, nominee)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Musical (nominee)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design (nominee)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design (nominee)
- Hischak, Thomas S. Boy loses girl (2002), Rowman & Littlefield , ISBN 0-8108-4440-0, p. 222
- Nemy, Enid. "Broadway", The New York Times, July 13, 1984, p.C2
- The Rink London listing guidetomusicaltheatre.com, accessed July 23, 2009
- Morley, Sheridan. "Arts (Musicals): Finding direction / Interview with Diane Langton, star of The Rink", The Times (London), February 17 1988
- Rich, Frank."Theatre:The Rink"The New York Times, February 10, 1984
- Bryer, Jackson R. and Davison, Richard Allan. The art of the American musical (2005), Rutgers University Press, p. 108. ISBN 0-8135-3613-8
- The Rink at the Internet Broadway Database
- The Rink plot, songs, production notes at guidetomusicaltheatre.com