King David (musical)

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King David
King David Musical Highlights.jpg
Music Alan Menken
Lyrics Tim Rice
Book Tim Rice
Basis Biblical story of David
Productions 1997 Broadway concert

King David is a musical, sometimes described as a modern oratorio, with a book and lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Alan Menken. The musical is based on Biblical tales from the Books of Samuel and 1 Chronicles, as well as text from David's Psalms.

Description and history[edit]

King David is mostly sung-through with little dialogue, and the music swings from pop to jazz to grand choral arrangements. It uses a large orchestra and a large choir.

The work was conceived as an outdoor piece to commemorate the 3,000th anniversary of the city of Jerusalem. However, according to Rice, "When it proved logistically and financially impossible to do it and Disney took an interest, we changed gears.... We felt we'd been commissioned to write it as an oratorio, and still hoped it would be performed as such in Israel. ... we should have emphasized that more to avoid being judged primarily as a Broadway show."[1]

Musical numbers[edit]


A concert version, produced by Disney Theatrical Productions and André Djaoui and directed by Mike Ockrent, was presented as the inaugural production at Disney's newly renovated New Amsterdam Theatre (the former home of the Ziegfeld Follies), playing for a nine-performance limited run in May 1997. The cast included Roger Bart, Stephen Bogardus, Judy Kuhn, Alice Ripley, Martin Vidnovic, and Michael Goz, with Marcus Lovett in the title role.[2] The piece ran two hours and 45 minutes[3] and was only partially staged.

On September 6, 1997, Patti LuPone, Davis Gaines, and Rebecca Luker gave a concert at the Hollywood Bowl that ended with three selections from King David. [4] There was a production in Irving, Texas in 2004 [1] and another in Newnan, Georgia, near Atlanta, by Landmark Christian School in 2005. A concert performance was produced by NYU Steinhardt's Vocal Performance and the NYU Symphony Orchestra in conjunction with the authors on November 13 and 14, 2008. In the summer of 2012, Neighborhood Church in Castro Valley, California, near Oakland, performed the musical as part of their yearly Summer Musical Series. At present, there are no plans for a fully staged Broadway production.

Opening night cast[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The 1997 debut concert performance provoked a lukewarm review by The New York Times. Ben Brantley wrote: "...the show is sober, respectful, packed with enough information for a month of Bible-study classes and, on its own terms, most carefully thought out, with pop equivalents of operatic motifs and exotic folkloric touches a la Borodin. Yet while the well-sung cast, under Mike Ockrent's direction, and the orchestra (Michael Kosarin is the music director and Douglas Besterman the orchestrator) have been painstakingly polished, the show, at two hours and 45 minutes, just can't help being a Goliath of a yawn."[3]

Variety called it "Unrelentingly serious-minded and devoid of the wit that Menken brought to previous projects".[5]

The cast album, however, which cuts several musical numbers and reprises, has been praised.


  1. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. "Menken and Rice's King David Will Rule Again in 2004-05" Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine., August 23, 2004
  2. ^ "'King David' Broadway", accessed January 20, 2016
  3. ^ a b Brantley, Ben. "Theater Review. With Strobe Lights (but No Philistine Trophies), It's Disney's 'King David'" The New York Times, May 20, 1997
  4. ^ Isenberg, Barbara. "LuPone, Luker, Gaines and the Great White Way" Los Angeles Times, September 9, 1997
  5. ^ Evans, Greg. "Review: ‘King David’" Variety, May 20, 1997

External links[edit]