Really Rosie

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Really Rosie
MusicCarole King
LyricsMaurice Sendak
BookMaurice Sendak
Productions1975 Animated TV Special
1980 Off-Broadway
2017 Off-Broadway

Really Rosie is a musical with a book and lyrics by Maurice Sendak and music by Carole King. The musical is based on Sendak's books Chicken Soup with Rice, Pierre, One was Johnny, Alligators All Around (which comprise 1962's The Nutshell Library), and The Sign on Rosie's Door (1960). Sendak based the story on a demonstrative little girl who used to sing and dance on the stoop of her building, whom he observed while he was a little boy growing up in Brooklyn. The show follows a typical summer day in the life of the Nutshell Kids, a group of several neighborhood friends, including Pierre, Alligator, Johnny, and Chicken Soup from the Nutshell Library books, and Rosie and Kathy from The Sign on Rosie's Door. Rosie, the self-proclaimed sassiest kid on her block of Brooklyn's Avenue P, entertains everyone by directing and starring in a movie based on the exciting, dramatic, funny (and slightly exaggerated) story of her life.

A half-hour animated television special aired on CBS TV on February 19, 1975.[1] It was directed by Maurice Sendak, animated by Ronald Fritz and Dan Hunn of D&R Productions Inc., with Carole King voicing the title character. King was ultimately selected as the voice of Rosie when casting directors had difficulty selecting a child actor whose voice could complement the pre-recorded songs. An album of the songs by King and lyrics by Sendak is available on Ode/Epic/SME Records. In the animated special, only the first seven songs and Really Rosie (Reprise) were showcased.

Sendak expanded the piece for London and Washington, DC, stage productions in 1978,[2] and an off-Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Patricia Birch with designs by Sendak, which opened on October 14, 1980, at the Westside Theatre, where it ran for 274 performances.[3] During its off-Broadway run, the lead role of Rosie was first played by a then-12-year-old Tisha Campbell-Martin. Midway through the run, Tisha left the cast and was replaced by cast member and "Rosie" understudy Angela Coin, age 10. Angela also sang the role of "Rosie" on the cast recording.

The musical has become a mainstay of children's theater groups.[4] It was also one of John Mulaney's main inspirations for his Netflix Special John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch.


Rosie and the Nutshell Kids (Johnny, Alligator, Pierre, and Kathy) live on the same block on Avenue P in Brooklyn, New York. On a hot July Saturday, the children are bored and need something to do. Rosie imagines herself as a talented star, and decides to produce an imaginary musical about her life and in particular the demise of her brother Chicken Soup, called Did You Hear What Happened to Chicken Soup?

She gets her friends to audition for a role in the film, but they begin to fight over casting. A thunderstorm forces them to move into the cellar for shelter. To keep the kids' attention, Rosie decides that they need to show the producer the movie's big finale number. She gets them all to close their eyes and imagine the producer inviting them to make her movie. Afterward, when the children go home, Rosie remains to dream of stardom in her big number.

Voice cast[edit]

Home media[edit]

  • The special was released on VHS by Children's Circle in 1993.
  • Though the special has never been released in its entirety on DVD, the Carole King song adaptations of The Nutshell Library, set to the 1999 remastered CD version of the soundtrack were made available on the very first Scholastic Video Collection/Storybook Treasures DVD "Where The Wild Things Are and more Maurice Sendak Stories" released on September 24, 2002.


Really Rosie
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedFebruary 1975
May 25, 1999 (CD reissue)
GenreChildren's music, soft rock
Length33:24 (Original album)
35:50 (CD reissue)
LabelOde / Epic
ProducerLou Adler, Sheldon Riss
Carole King chronology
Wrap Around Joy
Really Rosie
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4.5/5 stars link
Christgau's Record GuideB+[5]

Track listing[edit]

Lyrics by Maurice Sendak, music by Carole King.

Side 1
  1. "Really Rosie" – 1:51
  2. "One Was Johnny" – 2:08
  3. "Alligators All Around" – 1:54
  4. "Pierre" – 5:38
  5. "Screaming and Yelling" – 1:16
  6. "The Ballad of Chicken Soup" – 2:15
  7. "Chicken Soup with Rice" – 4:20
Side 2
  1. "Avenue P" – 3:03
  2. "My Simple Humble Neighborhood" – 3:07
  3. "The Awful Truth" – 3:11
  4. "Such Sufferin'" – 2:55
  5. "Really Rosie" (Reprise) – 1:40
Bonus track (1999 remaster)
  1. "Really Rosie" (Original piano demo)


  • Carole King - vocals, piano
  • Charles Larkey - bass
  • Andy Newmark - drums
  • Louise Goffin, Sherry Goffin - backing vocals
  • Hank Cicalo, Milt Calice - engineers
  • Maurice Sendak - lyrics, story, artwork
  • Ronald Fritz - animation producer, animation director

Chart position[edit]

Year Country Chart Position
1975 United States Billboard Top 200[6] 20


  1. ^ Woolery, George W. (1989). Animated TV Specials: The Complete Directory to the First Twenty-Five Years, 1962-1987. Scarecrow Press. pp. 333–334. ISBN 0-8108-2198-2. Retrieved 27 March 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Maurice Sendak (1928– ) Biography." Retrieved from on August 27, 2008.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "KU Theater for Young People to stage Sendak's Really Rosie in February," University of Kansas, February 5, 2004
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: K". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved February 28, 2019 – via CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Allmusic - Carole King > Really Rosie > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums


Jennings, Coleman A. and Maurice Sendak. Theater for Young Audiences: 20 Great Plays For Children, New York: St. Martin's Press/Macmillan, 2005 ISBN 0-312-33714-0

External links[edit]