I Love My Wife
|I Love My Wife|
Original Broadway production logo
1977 West End
A satire of the sexual revolution of the 1970s, the musical takes place on Christmas Eve in suburban Trenton, New Jersey, where two married couples who have been close friends since high school find themselves contemplating a ménage-à-quatre.
In Trenton, New Jersey old high school buddies Wally (now an executive in public relations) and Alvin (a furniture mover) discuss the possibility of adding some spice to their lives by having a foursome. Alvin suggests to his wife Cleo that they share their bed with Monica, Wally's wife. Cleo thinks that she would enjoy Wally. They agree that whoever enters first becomes the evening's partner, but the couple walks in together. The three discuss the situation after Monica has left, and decide on a foursome on Christmas Eve.
Alvin and Cleo arrive for dinner and the later foursome on Christmas Eve, but while Monica is initially unhappy with the arrangement, she finally agrees. Too excited to eat, they undress and get into bed and take pot to relax. As Wally suggests ideas from a sex manual, the group discards all of the ideas.
The pre-Broadway tryout opened at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia on March 21, 1977. The Broadway production opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on April 17, 1977 and closed on May 20, 1979, after 857 performances and seven previews. Directed by Gene Saks and choreographed by Onna White, the cast included James Naughton as Wally, Joanna Gleason as Monica, Lenny Baker, as Alvin, Ilene Graff as Cleo, Michael Mark (Guitar) as Stanley, Joseph Saulter (Drummer) as Quenton, John Miller (bass) as Harvey, and Ken Bichel (Piano) as Norman. During the show's run, cast replacements include Tom and Dick Smothers, Tom Wopat, Janie Sell and, in an African American version, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and Hattie Winston. Don Farrar RPT tuned the piano for the Tom & Dick Smothers Broadway production.
The West End production opened on October 6, 1977 at the Prince of Wales Theatre, where it ran for 401 performances. It was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Musical of the Year. The show originally starred Porridge and Rising Damp star Richard Beckinsale, who was replaced as the lead mid-run by Confessions of a Window Cleaner actor Robin Askwith.
The band consisted of four on-stage musicians who were among the friends and acted in the opening scene. The show was filled with their shenanigans in the background during the songs. They sang along with some of the numbers and sometimes one of them took a solo and sang alone.
A production was staged by the Reprise Theatre Company, Brentwood Theatre, Brentwood, California, in December 2008. The musical starred Jason Alexander (Alvin), Vicki Lewis (Cleo), Patrick Cassidy (Wally), and Lea Thompson (Monica).
Clive Barnes, reviewing for The New York Times wrote that the musical is "bright, inventive, amusing and breezy." He noted that what Coleman and Stewart did regarding the band "is breathtakingly simple, but none...has ever done it before. They have taken the band and put it up on stage...The musicians are welded into the play, as a kind of Greek chorus." He especially noted that "It is a gorgeous cast-just right." Finally, he called the musical "mildly sexy, vastly diverting and highly amusing."
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1977||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Book of a Musical||Michael Stewart||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical||Lenny Baker||Won|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Gene Saks||Won|
|Best Choreography||Onna White||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Musical||Nominated|
|Outstanding Actor in a Musical||Lenny Baker||Won|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||Ken Bichel||Won|
|Outstanding Director of a Musical||Gene Saks||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music||Cy Coleman||Won|
|Theatre World Award||Joanna Gleason||Won|
Original London production
|1977||Laurence Olivier Award||Best New Musical||Nominated|
Watch and listen
- I Love My Wife excerpt - YouTube
- I Love My Wife excerpt - YouTube
- I Love My Wife: A Musical (1977 Original Broadway Cast Recording) CD (April 10, 1992) DRG Records (ASIN: B000000PG7)
- Broadway Bound 216: Yesterday & Today plus Cy Coleman - The Public Radio Exchange (PRX)
- "Everybody Today is Turning On": Bea Arthur & Rock Hudson - The Beatrice Arthur Special
- Cy Coleman, Cy; Stewart, Michael (1980). I Love My Wife'. Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 0-573-68110-4, p. 3
- Corry, John. "Broadway", The New York Times, March 4, 1977, p. 48
-  musicals101.com
- Olivier Awards, 1977 officiallondontheatre.co.uk, accessed August 28, 2009
- Rendell, Bob."Hey There, Good Times, Cy Coleman is Here" broadwaytalk.com, accessed August 28, 2009
- Hodgins, Paul."'I Love My Wife' pokes fun at swinging '70s" ocregister.com, December 4, 2008
- Barnes, Clive. "Stage: Tuneful 'I Love My Wife'", The New York Times, April 17, 1977, p. 38