A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant is a satirical musical about Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, written by Kyle Jarrow from a concept by Alex Timbers, the show's original director. The one-act musical lasts about an hour. Jarrow based the story of the musical on L. Ron Hubbard's writings and Church of Scientology literature. The musical follows the life of L. Ron Hubbard as he develops Dianetics and then Scientology. Though the musical pokes fun at Hubbard's science fiction writing and personal beliefs, it has been called a "deadpan presentation" of his life story. Topics explored in the piece include Dianetics, the E-meter, Thetans, and the story of Xenu. The show was originally presented by Les Freres Corbusier, an experimental theatrical troupe and debuted in November 2003 in New York City, where it had sold-out Off-Off-Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. Later performances have included Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Atlanta and Philadelphia. Productions of A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant in 2003, 2004 and 2006 were well received. The musical received an Obie Award for the 2003 New York production, and director Alex Timbers received a Garland Award for the 2004 Los Angeles production. The play also received positive reviews in the press.
Ethel Merman (January 16, 1908 – February 15, 1984) was a Tony Award- and Grammy Award-winning American star of stage and film musicals, well known for her powerful voice and vocal range, often hailed by critics as "The Queen of the Broadway stage."
Merman starred in five Cole Porter musicals, among them Anything Goes in 1934, where she introduced "I Get a Kick Out of You", "Blow Gabriel Blow", and the title song. Her next musical with Porter was Red, Hot and Blue in which she co-starred with Bob Hope and Jimmy Durante and introduced "It's Delovely" and "Down in the Depths (On the Ninetieth Floor)"/ In 1939's DuBarry Was a Lady, Porter provided Merman with a "can you top this" duet with Bert Lahr, "Friendship". Like "You're the Top" in Anything Goes, this kind of duet became one of her signatures. Porter's lyrics also helped showcase her comic talents in duets in Panama Hattie ("Let's Be Buddies", "I've Still Got My Health"), and Something for the Boys, ("By the Mississinewah", "Hey Good Lookin'").
Irving Berlin supplied Merman with equally memorable duets, including counterpoint songs An Old-Fashioned Wedding with Bruce Yarnell, written for the 1966 revival of Annie Get Your Gun, and "You're Just in Love" with Russell Nype in Call Me Madam. Merman won the 1951 Tony Award for Best Actress for her performance as Sally Adams in Call Me Madam. She reprised her role in the lively Walter Lang film version.
Perhaps Merman's most revered performance was in Gypsy as Gypsy Rose Lee's mother Rose. Merman introduced "Everything's Coming Up Roses", "Some People", and ended the show with the wrenching "Rose's Turn". Critics and audiences saw her creation of Madame Rose as the performance of her career. She did not get the role in the movie version, however, which went to movie actress Rosalind Russell, and an infuriated Merman was quoted as saying: "There's a name for women like her but it's seldom used in society outside [of] a kennel." (Since this is a line from the film The Women, in which Russell appeared, the story may be apocryphal.) She also insulted Russell's husband, Freddie Brisson, by calling him the "Lizard of Roz". Merman decided to take Gypsy on the road and trumped the motion picture as a result.