Fade Out – Fade In

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Fade Out – Fade In
Original cast recording
Music Jule Styne
Lyrics Betty Comden
Adolph Green
Book Betty Comden
Adolph Green
Productions 1964 Broadway

Fade Out – Fade In is a musical with a book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and music by Jule Styne. The story involves the movie industry in the 1930s. It starred Carol Burnett, returning to the Broadway stage for the first time in four years.

Comden and Green, who tackled the problems Hollywood players faced when the film industry transitioned from silent movies to talkies in the classic Singin' in the Rain, now turn to Hollywood in the 1930s. The show spoofs some of the great film stars of the era, such as Shirley Temple and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and Governor is based on MGM honcho Louis B. Mayer, known for his roving eye for pretty starlets and deep-seated nepotism.


The musical opened on Broadway on May 26, 1964 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, and closed on April 17, 1965, after 274 performances and six previews. Directed by George Abbott and choreographed by Ernest Flatt, the cast included Carol Burnett as Hope Springfield, Dick Patterson as Rudolf, Lou Jacobi as Lionel Z. Governor, Jack Cassidy as Byron Prong, and Tina Louise. Cassidy was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Dick Shawn replaced Cassidy in February 1965.

Excellent reviews led to a box office bonanza, and in its early weeks the show consistently outgrossed other current musicals Hello, Dolly! and Funny Girl. Howard Taubman, in his review for The New York Times, for example, praised the direction ("gusto"), the performers (exuberant), some production numbers ("vivacious") and an occasional bright line, concluding that " Fade Out-Fade In spreads enough good cheer to suggest that it will be around for quite a while". He also praised Burnett's "amiable zest" and "genial comic impudence".[1]

Then Burnett was sidelined due to a serious neck injury sustained in a taxi accident in July 1964.[2] The production temporarily shut down for one week starting on July 27, 1964, then reopened with Betty Hutton in the lead.[3] After recuperating, Burnett returned to the show, but left shortly afterwards to participate in The Entertainers, a television variety series her husband Joe Hamilton was producing for CBS. Burnett announced in October 1964 that she was leaving the show to have therapy, and the producers announced that they would try to find a replacement.[4] Mitzie Welch went on for Burnett, but in November 1964 the producers announced that the show would close until Burnett was able to return.[5] When the show's producers threatened a breach-of-contract lawsuit, Burnett returned on February 15, 1965.[6] According to Steven Suskin, the show was then "a hard sell" and, also, during the hiatus, several other musicals had opened (Fiddler on the Roof and Golden Boy), and the show did not regain its momentum.[7] Finally, the financial losses sustained during Burnett's two absences proved to be insurmountable, and the production closed.[8] An original cast recording was released by ABC Records (then known as ABC Paramount), whose parent company, The American Broadcasting Companies, Inc., co-produced the show. Universal Music Group, ABC Records' eventual successor, rereleased the cast album on CD in 2003 on their Decca Broadway imprint.

When Burnett created her eponymous variety series in 1967, she hired Fade Out – Fade In choreographer Flatt and lead dancer Don Crichton to join the creative team.

Plot synopsis[edit]

Chorus girl Hope Springfield, full of hope but not much talent, is inadvertently given the starring role in a new movie. When the error is discovered, heads roll and the completed film is shelved. But Rudolf, the nephew of studio head Lionel Z. Governor, takes a liking to the girl and arranges for a sneak preview. The movie is a success, Hope becomes a star ("Lila Tremaine"), and in true Hollywood happily-ever-after fashion she and Rudolf walk off into the sunset hand-in-hand.

Note: the plot was revised after a hiatus as follows

Hope is an usherette in a movie house.[6]

Song list[edit]

"Call Me Savage" would be recycled 2 years later as "Witches Brew" in the musical Hallelujah, Baby!

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1965 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Jack Cassidy Nominated


  1. ^ Taubman, Howard. "Theater: Fade Out-Fade In Opens", The New York Times, May 27, 1964, p. 45
  2. ^ "Carol Burnett, Hurt in Taxi, May Return to Role Tonight", The New York Times, July 13, 1964, p. 24
  3. ^ "Hamlet Regains Burton Tonight", The New York Times, July 20, 1964, p. 18
  4. ^ Zolotow, Sam. "Miss Burnett Ill, Leaving 'Fade In'", The New York Times, October 14, 1964, p. 50.
  5. ^ "Miss Burnett Show To Close Saturday", The New York Times, November 10,1964, p. 56
  6. ^ a b Zolotow, Sam. " 'Fade Out-Fade In' Resumes Its Run", The New York Times, February 16, 1965, p. 40
  7. ^ Suskin, Steven. "ON THE RECORD: Fade Out—Fade In and Green Songs" playbill.com, 2003
  8. ^ Suskin, Steven "Fade Out-Fade In", Second Act Trouble (2006), ISBN 1-55783-631-0, pp 90-93
  • Fade Out – Fade In Original Broadway Cast Recording, compact disc released by Decca USA, May 2003, liner notes by Peter Filichia

External links[edit]