The House of Blue Leaves

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The House of Blue Leaves
The House of Blue Leaves.jpg
Poster by James McMullan
Written by John Guare
Date premiered 1966
Place premiered Eugene O'Neill Theater Center
Waterford, Connecticut
Original language English
Subject A zookeeper longs to write songs for the movies as his AWOL son and the Pope arrive in New York City
Genre Black comedy
Setting A bar and an apartment in Queens, New York, 1965

The House of Blue Leaves is a play by American playwright John Guare, first staged in 1966 by Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut.

Set in Sunnyside, Queens in 1965, on the day Pope Paul VI visited New York City, the black comedy features nuns, a political bombing, a GI headed for Vietnam, a zookeeper who dreams of making it big in Hollywood as a songwriter, and his wife Bananas, a schizophrenic destined for the institution that provides the play's title.


The House of Blue Leaves, directed by Mel Shapiro, opened on February 10, 1971 Off-Broadway at the Truck and Warehouse Theatre, where it ran for 337 performances. The cast included Frank Converse, Harold Gould, Katherine Helmond, William Atherton, and Anne Meara.

A 1986 revival directed by Jerry Zaks was staged Off-Broadway Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and then transferred to the Vivian Beaumont Theater, where it played five months before transferring again to the Plymouth Theatre, for a total run of 398 performances. The opening night cast included Swoosie Kurtz, John Mahoney, Stockard Channing, Danny Aiello, Ben Stiller (in his stage debut), and Julie Hagerty. Christine Baranski and Patricia Clarkson joined the production later in the run. It won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival. It was also nominated for the Tony Award for Best Play.

A 2011 Broadway revival was staged by David Cromer at the Walter Kerr Theatre. Starring Ben Stiller (Artie), Edie Falco (Bananas) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Bunny), the production began previews on April 4, with an opening date on April 15 for a limited 16-week engagement.[1]

Film adaptation[edit]

Directed by Kirk Browning and Jerry Zaks, the play was staged at the Plymouth Theatre in 1987 with Swoosie Kurtz, John Mahoney, Christine Baranski, and Ben Stiller specifically for a broadcast on the PBS series American Playhouse. The film adaptation was shot with minicams before an audience.

Awards and nominations[edit]

1971 production[edit]

1986 production[edit]

  • Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play (nomination)
  • Tony Award Best Direction of a Play, Jerry Zaks (winner)
  • Tony Award Best Featured Actor in a Play, John Mahoney (winner)
  • Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play
Swoosie Kurtz (winner)
Stockard Channing (nominee)
  • Tony Award Best Scenic Design, Tony Walton (winner)
  • Tony Award Best Costume Design, Ann Roth (nominee)
  • Tony Award Best Lighting Design, Paul Gallo (nominee)
  • Theatre World Award, Julie Hagerty (winner)
  • Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival (winner)
  • Drama Desk, Outstanding Set Design, Tony Walton (winner)
  • Drama Desk, Outstanding Director, Jarry Zaks (winner)
  • Obie Award, Best Performance, Swoosie Kurtz (winner)
  • Clarence Derwent Award, John Mahoney (winner)
  • Henry Hewes Design Award, Tony Walton (winner)

2011 production[edit]

  • Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play - Edie Falco (nominated)


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]