The Act (musical)

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The Act
The Act Original Recording CD Cover.png
Original Cast Recording
MusicJohn Kander
LyricsFred Ebb
BookGeorge Furth
Productions1977 Chicago
1977 San Francisco
1977 Los Angeles
1977 Broadway

The Act is a musical with a book by George Furth, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and music by John Kander.

It was written to showcase the talents of Kander and Ebb favorite Liza Minnelli, who portrayed Michelle Craig, a fading film star attempting a comeback as a Las Vegas singer. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1977.


Originally titled, Shine It On, The Act played out-of-town tryouts for 15 weeks in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.[1] The musical opened on Broadway on October 29, 1977, at the Majestic Theatre, where it ran for 233 performances and six previews.[2]

Directed by Martin Scorsese, choreographed by Ron Lewis, with costumes by Halston, the cast included Barry Nelson, Mark Goddard and Wayne Cilento.[3] The New York Times reported that "director Gower Champion quietly came in to doctor the show during its final month in Los Angeles."[1]

The New York Times reviewer wrote that "The Act is precisely what its name implies: It is an act, and a splendid one. On the other hand, it is a little less than its pretensions imply. Theatrical though it is as a performance, it is indifferent musical theater."[4] Another New York Times writer noted that "If there's a point 'The Act' underscores most, it's that Miss Minnelli on Broadway has incomparable star power."[1]

With an all-time ticket-price high of $25 for Saturday night orchestra seats, The Act had $2 million in advance sales,[1] then the highest in Broadway history. But the production was doomed from the start, with its star in erratic behavior and frequently missed performances, more than 10% of the entire run. During out-of-town tryouts, Gower Champion was called to help with the staging (but took no directorial credit).[1] Additionally, the original costumes were replaced.[1] With the additional costs and with refund demands running high, it was impossible for the show to recoup its costs.[5]

For her role, Liza Minnelli won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Michelle Craig – Liza Minnelli
  • Dan Connors – Barry Nelson
  • Molly Connors – Gayle Crofoot
  • Lenny Kanter – Christopher Barrett
  • Charley Price – Mark Goddard
  • Arthur/One of the Boys – Roger Minami
  • Nat Schrieber – Arnold Soboloff
  • Dance Alternate – Claudia Asbury
  • Dance Alternate – Brad Witsger
  • One of the Boys – Wayne Cliento
  • One of the Boys – Michael Leeds
  • One of the Boys – Albert Stephenson
  • One of the Girls – Carol Estey
  • One of the Girls – Laurie Dawn Skinner

Song list[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1978 Tony Award Best Original Score Kander and Ebb Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Barry Nelson Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Liza Minnelli Won
Best Choreography Ron Lewis Nominated
Best Costume Design Halston Nominated
Best Lighting Design Tharon Musser Nominated


  1. ^ a b c d e f Jahr, Cliff. "In 'The Act,' The Drama Backstage Is Not An Act: Behind the Scenes Of 'The Act'", The New York Times, October 23, 1977, p.D1. Retrieved July 4, 2016
  2. ^ The Act Playbill. Retrieved July 4, 2016
  3. ^ Furth, George, Kander, John, and Ebb, Fred."Script, 'The Act'" The act: a musical play (1987), Samuel French, Inc., ISBN 0-573-68155-4, pp.3-4
  4. ^ Eder, Richard. "Liza Minnelli's 'Act' Is Fine as Cabaret"The New York Times (abstract), October 31, 1977, p.39
  5. ^ Suskin, Steven. Second Act Trouble: Behind the Scenes at Broadway's Big Musical Bombs (2006), pp. 19-27, Hal Leonard Publishing, ISBN 1-55783-631-0

External links[edit]