Beggar's Holiday presented by Opera Theater of Pittsburgh
|Lyrics||John La Touche|
|Book||John La Touche|
|Basis||The Beggar's Opera by John Gay|
2004 Mill Valley, California
2012 Paris, France
An updated version of The Beggar's Opera by John Gay, it focuses on a corrupt world inhabited by rakish mobsters and their double crossing gangs, raffish madams and their dissolute whores, panhandlers and street people as they conduct their dirty business, ply their trade, and struggle to survive in brothels, shanty towns, and prisons.
The Broadway production, directed by Nicholas Ray and choreographed by Valerie Bettis, opened on December 26, 1946 at The Broadway Theatre, where it ran for 111 performances. The cast included Alfred Drake, Zero Mostel, Thomas Gomez, Avon Long, and Herbert Ross. Beggar's Holiday, Ellington's only book musical, included an interracial relationship resulting in nightly picketing outside the theater.
No cast album was recorded, but a demo tape was discovered and released, together with the score from the West End musical Bet Your Life featuring Julie Wilson and Sally Ann Howes, on an LP on the Blue Pear label . Lena Horne's recording of "Tomorrow Mountain," the show's first-act closer, was a hit.
In 2004, Dale Wasserman, one of the musical's producers and the author of Man of La Mancha, teamed with the Marin Theatre Company in Mill Valley, California to create a revamped, updated, and radically rewritten version that toned down much of the original's social criticism and political humor. The substantially rearranged jazz score included hints of funk, blues and rock and roll. Overall, its mood was far lighter and more optimistic than that of the 1946 version. Although Wasserman had hopes of a Broadway staging, to date his plans have not materialized.
In 2012, French baritone David Serero performed and produced a full revival production of Beggar's Holiday by Ellington and Wasserman in November 2012 in Paris. David Serero has also performed, arranged and produced the only Cast Album Recording of Beggar's Holiday.
Song list