Stop the World – I Want to Get Off
|Stop the World –
I Want to Get Off
London Cast Recording
|Productions||1961 West End
1978 Broadway revival
Set against the backdrop of a circus, the show focuses on Littlechap, from the moment of his birth to his death. Each time something unsatisfactory happens, he calls out 'Stop the world!' and addresses the audience. After being born, going through school, and finding work as a tea-boy, his first major step towards improving his lot is to marry Evie, his boss's daughter, after getting her pregnant out of wedlock. Saddled with the responsibilities of a family, he is given a job in his father-in-law's factory. He has two daughters, Susan and Jane, but truly longs for a son. He allows his growing dissatisfaction with his existence to lead him into the arms of various women in his business travels—Russian official Anya, German domestic Ilse, and American cabaret singer Ginnie—as he searches for something better than he has. He becomes rich and successful, and is elected to public office. Only in his old age does he realize that what he always had—the love of his wife— was more than enough to sustain him. Evie dies, however, and writing his memoirs, Littlechap comes to terms with his own selfishness. At the moment of his death, however, he watches his second daughter give birth to a son. When the boy nearly dies, Littlechap intervenes, and allows Death to take him instead. He then mimes his own birth, beginning the cycle once again.
The West End production, directed by Newley, opened on 20 July 1961 at the Queen's Theatre, where it ran for 485 performances. Newley starred as Littlechap, with Anna Quayle playing the multiple roles of Evie and the other women in his life. Marti Webb was a member of the chorus. An original cast recording was released by Decca Records
Producer David Merrick, always impressed by a low-cost project requiring minimal sets, costumes, and a small cast, decided to stage the show in New York City. It was directed by Newley, and featured scenery and lighting design by Sean Kenny, musical supervision by Ian Fraser, musical direction by Milton Rosenstock, orchestrations by Ian Fraser. After one preview, the Broadway production opened on 3 October 1962 at the Shubert Theatre, eventually transferring to the Ambassador to complete its 555-performance run. Newley and Quayle reprised their London roles. Newley later was replaced by Kenneth Nelson, then Joel Grey, and Joan Eastman assumed the roles of Evie et al. A Broadway cast recording was released by Polydor. On the national company tour, the show starred Grey and Julie Newmar.
A Broadway revival directed by Mel Shapiro opened on 3 August 1978 at the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, where it ran for 30 performances. The cast included Sammy Davis, Jr. and Marian Mercer. A revival cast recording was released by Warner Bros. Records 
A London revival, directed by Newley, opened at the Lyric Theatre October 19th, 1989, starring Newley and Rhonda Burchmore. It was updated slightly, but it retained the Nazi-ish Freulein, the Bolshevik Russian girl, and the Judy-Holliday-ditzy American blond--all much more distant than in 1961 and thus outside the experience of anyone under 40. So it seemed quite dated (which is why it's not performed today, despite wonderful songs and the powerful message of Littlechap's life). It received poor reviews and closed after just 52 performances over five weeks. Newley was very disappointed and bitter about the reviews, as he told the audience after the final curtain.
A 1966 Warner Bros. release was little more than a filmed version of a staged production. Directed by Philip Saville, it featured additional material by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, David Donable, and Al Ham. The cast included Tony Tanner and Millicent Martin. Neither a critical nor commercial success, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Music Scoring.
Sammy Davis, Jr. and Marian Mercer reprised their Broadway revival roles for Sammy Stops the World, a 1978 television adaptation 
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1963||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Author||Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley||Nominated|
|Best Composer and Lyricist||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Anthony Newley||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Anna Quayle||Won|