Ah, Wilderness!

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Ah, Wilderness!
Ah Wilderness poster.jpg
Poster for WPA production of Ah, Wilderness! at Federal Theater Playhouse, New Orleans
Written by Eugene O'Neill
Date premiered 2 October 1933
Place premiered Guild Theatre
New York City
Original language English
Genre Comedy
Setting The Miller family home in small town Connecticut, July 4, 1906.
Ah, Wilderness! playbill, 1934, Curran Theatre, San Francisco, California

Ah, Wilderness! is a comedy by American playwright Eugene O'Neill that premiered on Broadway at the Guild Theatre on 2 October 1933.

The play was included in Burns Mantle's The Best Plays of 1933-1934.

Plot summary[edit]

The play takes place on the Fourth of July, 1906, and focuses on the Miller family, presumably of New London, Connecticut. The main plot deals with the middle son, 16-year-old Richard, and his coming of age. The title derives from Quatrain XII of Edward Fitzgerald's translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (5th edition, 1889), one of Richard's favorite poems:

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Opening Night Cast[edit]

George M. Cohan as Nat Miller
Adelaide Bean as Mildred Miller
John Butler as Salesman
Ruth Chorpenning as Norah
Elisha Cook, Jr. as Richard Miller
Ruth Gilbert as Muriel McComber
Eda Heinemann as Lily Miller
Ruth Holden as Belle
Gene Lockhart as Sid Davis
Marjorie Marquis as Essie Miller
Donald McClelland as Bartender
William Post, Jr. as Arthur Miller
Richard Sterling as David McComber
Walter Vonnegut, Jr. as Tommy Miller
John Wynne as Wint Selby


The story was also made into the 1959 Broadway musical Take Me Along starring Jackie Gleason as the drunken Uncle Sid (Beery's role in the film), Walter Pidgeon as Nat and Robert Morse as Richard. The production ran for 448 performances. Gleason won the 1960 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. A revival in 1984 had a successful run for 6 months in CT & Washington D.C. but closed on Broadway after only a short debut and a week of previews.

The play was made into a 1935 film of the same title and again in 1948 as the musical Summer Holiday.
Mickey Rooney starred as Tommy in the former and Richard in the latter.

The play was also adapted for the radio on the Campbell Playhouse produced by and starring Orson Welles on September 17, 1939, and Ford Theatre.


Further reading[edit]

  • O'Neill, Eugene (1933). Ah, Wilderness: A Comedy of Recollection in Three Acts (First ed.). London: Samuel French. OCLC 70376389. 

External links[edit]