Look Homeward, Angel (play)

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Look Homeward, Angel
Jo Van Fleet Anthony Perkins Look Homeward Angel 1958.jpg
Jo Van Fleet and Anthony Perkins on Broadway, 1958
Written by Ketti Frings
Characters Eugene Gant
Eliza Gant
W.O. Gant
Date premiered November 28, 1957
Place premiered Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Broadway
Original language English
Genre Drama
Setting Altamont, North Carolina, in 1916

Look Homeward, Angel is an acclaimed 1957 stage play by the playwright Ketti Frings. It opened on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre November 28, 1957,[1] and ran for a total of 564 performances, closing on April 4, 1959.

The play is based on Thomas Wolfe's largely autobiographical novel of the same title, which was published in 1929.

In 1958, Ketti Frings won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award. The production received Tony Award nominations for Best Play; Best Actor in a Play (Hugh Griffith and Anthony Perkins); Best Actress in a Play (Jo Van Fleet); Best Scenic Design (Jo Mielziner); Best Costume Design (Motley); and Best Director (George Roy Hill).

John Drew Barrymore was to co-star with Miriam Hopkins in the tour of Look Homeward, Angel, which was set to open in Wilmington, Delaware, on October 21, 1959, but Barrymore, who was said to be suffering from a skin infection and was underweight, quit the touring company during rehearsals. He was replaced by Jonathan Bolt.[2]


Look Homeward, Angel traces the coming of age of Eugene Gant in the small town of Altamont, North Carolina. Eliza, his mother, is a woman who likes to make "Deals"—in business and with people. With the proverbial iron hand in the velvet glove and almost equal concern, she runs "Dixieland," her seedy boarding house, an alcoholic husband, a daughter and two sons.

Broadway Opening Night Cast[edit]

Musical adaptation[edit]

Frings' stage adaptation of Look Homeward, Angel was readapted as a Broadway musical, Angel, which opened at the Minskoff Theatre in New York on May 4, 1978, and closed May 13 after five performances and poor reviews. Frings co-wrote the book with the show's lyricist, Peter Udell, whose lyrics were set to music by Gary Geld. This songwriting team had created the musicals Shenandoah and Purlie and penned the hit song "Sealed With a Kiss."

Angel was directed by Philip Rose and choreographed by Robert Tucker. The production featured costumes by Pearl Somner, lighting design by John Gleason and scenery by Ming Cho Lee.

For her performance in the show, Frances Sternhagen received a 1978 Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Additionally, Joel Higgins was nominated for a 1978 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical.


  1. ^ New York Times, Nov. 29, 1957, "The Theatre: 'Look Homeward, Angel' --- Luminous Adaptation of Wolfe Novel Opens," by Brooks Atkinson, p. 33.
  2. ^ New York Times, Oct.. 14, 1959, "Barrymore Quits Play --- Had Been Rehearsing in Tour of 'Look Homeward, Angel,'" p. 51.

External links[edit]