The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall
|The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall|
The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall is a musical with music and lyrics by Clark Gesner and a book by Gesner and Nagle Jackson. The production opened and closed on May 13, 1979 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway after only seven previews and one regular performance.
- Act I
Morrissey Hall is a girls school in England. The day has hardly begun when Headmistress Julia Faysle reads in an unflattering remark about the quality of girls produced by her school. The Sixth Form mistake her subsequent concern for their health and grooming as being a sign that they are all about to be sold into slavery. The Fifth Form, in turn, find the Sixth's newest behaviour very strange and prepare their own defenses. The headmistress' secretary, Elizabeth Wilkins, attempts to convey to the audience that she is indeed not any part of this madhouse, then returns to her duties. Meanwhile, the headmistress and her faculty chum, Foresta Studley, get carried away with jolly memories of their own girlhood at Morrissey Hall.
A letter arrives. It is for Helen Wells-Morton, from her boyfriend, Charles. The letter contains a key, and when a trunk arrives for Helen, Headmistress Faysle uses all her wiles to try to get the key so she can open and inspect the trunk. When it is finally opened, Charles leaps out and escapes to the upper reaches of the school. Early on in all this, a salesman, Richard Tidewell, has arrived to see the Headmistress. He has waited patiently in the outer office with Elizbeth for most of the Act, but now he must go. It is revealed that he and Elizabeth have fallen in love.
- Act II
The Fifth Form, in a history competition, has won a Bumper Car ride, and the huge amusement park contraption is now set on the campus. The school loves the ride, but retaliation is obviously demanded. While Mrs. Delmonde rehearses a St. George and the Dragon pageant, the Bumper Car is attacked. It is obviously the beginning of the end. Miss Winkle, faculty leader of the Fifth Form and now drunk with power as commander of the Bumper Car, whips them around in the ride.
It has obviously been too much for the headmistress. She has, since the beginning of the Act, been sequestered in her office, seeing nobody, and having a lovely, quiet time pressing flowers and arranging them in an album. She is at peace. Helen, too, has found her dear if slightly reluctant Charles, and even manages to get him to sing with her on matters of the heart. But it is all too late. The Fifth and Sixth have been arming themselves from mail order catalogues, and even the Headmistress' perennial optimism seems tentative to say the least, just prior to the outbreak of full scale, all-school, hell-bent-for-leather war.
Soon, however, life at Morrisey Hall has gone back to normal. The Sixth Form graduates and life goes on. And that does seem to be the glory of such a place: that in spite of everything—the heartrending, overwhelming odds—they do, always and ever, go on.
Sixth Form Students:
Fifth Form Students:
The production had a well received engagement in San Francisco in 1976, starring Jill Tanner as Headmistress Julia Faysle. The show also played at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California in 1979.
Morrissey Hall began previews on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on May 3, 1979. However, the show closed on opening night, May 13, 1979. Cast members included Celeste Holm as Julia Faysle and Taina Elg as Mrs. Delmonde. Before the show closed, an original cast recording, featuring most of the shows musical numbers, was released. The creative team included direction by Jackson, lighting by Howard Bay, costumes by David Graden, and choreography by Buddy Schwab.
The show was staged again at The Lamb's Players Theatre in San Diego in 1992. Nancy Churnin of the Los Angeles Times said that "it is openly and unabashedly cartoonish", but that "nothing in the story of The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall is new or familiar."
-  guidetomusicaltheatre.com
- "One Performance Wonders on Record". Theatre Aficionado At Large. June 18, 2009.
- "Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall". Doollee: A Complete Guide to the Playwrights.
- Broadway World. "The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall" (Original Broadway Production, 1979). International Show Database.
- Gesner, Clark. "Barnes & Noble: Celeste Holm in The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall (Original Cast Recording)".
- Churnin, Nancy. "Theater: There's nothing new or special about 'The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall' by the Lamb's Players, but it does tickle the funny bone". June 29, 1992. Los Angeles Times.