Three Sisters (musical)

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For the play by Anton Chekhov, see Three Sisters (play).
Three Sisters
Music Jerome Kern
Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II
Book Oscar Hammerstein II
Productions 1934 West End

Three Sisters is a musical written by Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics and book) and Jerome Kern (music).

The musical introduced the song "I Won't Dance", and also includes "Lonely Feet", "Hand in Hand", "Now I Have Springtime", and "My Beautiful Circus Girl".[1][2]


The show, set at the beginning of World War I in 1914, concerns the romantic lives of three sisters. The sisters travel the English countryside with their widowed father Will Barbour, a traveling photographer who works at local fairs.[3] The eldest daughter, Tiny, is engaged to Eustace, an earnest if slightly dull constable, although she is attracted to George, an adventurous carnival performer. Dorrie, the middle daughter, is ashamed of her itinerant upbringing and seeks to marry into the aristocracy and enter high society. The youngest daughter, Mary, falls for a gypsy performer.[2] The men are sent to the Western Front in France to fight, while the women remain home.[2]


The original production opened in London at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on April 19, 1934.[2][4] The production featured Victoria Hopper, Stanley Holloway, Adele Dixon, Esmond Knight, and Charlotte Greenwood.[2][5] Reception was mixed, and the play closed after two months, the shortest run in the history of the Drury Lane Theatre to that point. Kern and Hammerstein did not produce Three Sisters in the US, and it was Kern's last new show to appear in the West End.[3]

Greg MacKellan, the artistic director of the 42nd Street Moon theatre company, researched the musical, and in 1995 they presented a concert reading at the New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, California.[3] MacKellan used a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts in 2010 to reconstruct the script and score, as parts were missing. The following year, 42nd Street Moon presented the American debut of Three Sisters in San Francisco at the Eureka Theatre for a three-week run.[1][3]


Although this show was not considered a success and never made it to Broadway, the song "I Won't Dance" was later included in the film version of Roberta (1935).[6] and became so popular in that context that it is almost always included in stage revivals and cast recordings of Roberta.[citation needed] The song "Lonely Feet" was sung by Irene Dunne in the 1934 film adaptation of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein musical Sweet Adeline.


  1. ^ a b "Three Sisters (1934)". Retrieved December 9, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Hischak, Thomas S. (2007). The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 291. ISBN 0-313-34140-0. Retrieved December 9, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Alonzo, Gregory M. (December 4, 2011). "Theater Review: 'Three Sisters' – The classic that should have been". StarkInsider. Blue Lizard Group Media. Retrieved December 8, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Three Sisters' in London'; New Kern-Hammerstein Musical Play Produced at Drury Lane". The New York Times. April 10, 1934. p. 26. Retrieved December 4, 2011.  (subscription required)
  5. ^ "Basil Dean to Wed a British Actress; Theatrical and Film Producer and Director Engaged to Miss Victoria Hopper". The New York Times. April 19, 1934. p. 33. Retrieved December 4, 2011.  (subscription required)
  6. ^ Taylor, John Russell; Jackson, Arthur (1971). The Hollywood Musical. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 28–29.