Marlowe (musical)

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Marlowe is a 1981 musical with a book by Leo Rost, lyrics by Rost and Jimmy Horowitz, and music by Horowitz. Despite a claim in the Playbill that "the story of this drama is essentially true and accurate," much of it is a fictionalized account of the life of Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe.


While the plot refers to his rebellious anti-clerical views, the main focus is on Marlowe's romantic relationship with Emelia Bossano, a woman he supposedly lured away from William Shakespeare. Other historical figures who put in an appearance are Richard Burbage, Matthew Parker, Ingram Frizer, and Queen Elizabeth I.

In keeping with the general rock music tone of the score, neither the set nor costume designs (miniskirts, Day-Glo tights and silver lamé jumpsuits) suggested the show was a period piece, although the action is set in 1593.


The Broadway production was directed and choreographed by Don Price. The musical opened at the Rialto Theatre on October 12, 1981 and ran for 40 performances and 8 previews. The cast included Patrick Jude as Marlowe, Lisa Mordente as Emelia, John Henry Kurtz as Burbage, Raymond Serra as Parker, Robert Rosen (who later performed under the pseudonyms OZN and Robert Ozn) as Frizer, and Margaret Warncke as the Queen. Mordente was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.[1]

In his review in the New York Times, Frank Rich described Marlowe as "a wholly ridiculous show that is much more fun to sit through than many merely mediocre musicals . . . If Marlowe isn't quite a classic of its kind, that's a matter of size, not content. Tacky-looking and sparsely populated, this show lacks the Titaniclike splendor and expenditure of Broadway's all-time fabulous wrecks."[2]

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  1. ^ "'Marlowe' Broadway", accessed September 19, 2015
  2. ^ Rich, Frank. "Theater. 'Marlowe' A Rock Musical" The New York Times, October 13, 1981

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