Wish You Were Here (musical)
|Wish You Were Here|
Original Cast Recording
|Basis||Arthur Kober play, Having Wonderful Time|
1953 West End
Wish You Were Here is a musical with a book by Arthur Kober and Joshua Logan and music and lyrics by Harold Rome. The musical was adapted from Kober's 1937 play, Having Wonderful Time, and revolves around a summer camp for adults.
Camp Karefree is a mountain resort for adults. Teddy Stern, depressed and stressed about her upcoming marriage to Herman Fabricant, a man she doesn't love, arrives on doctor's orders to get rest. She is met by her flirtatious blonde bombshell friend Fay Fromkin. Fay introduces the social director, Itchy, an all-around entertainer, who is her "special friend" ("Social Director"). Fay soon becomes entranced with the new athletic director, Harry Green ("Shopping Around"). Before long, Teddy too finds herself becoming entangled romantically with one of the waiters who is also a dancer, charming law student Chick Miller. Since one of his jobs is to dance with the unattached women, Chick spends the evening with Fay ("Tripping the Light Fantastic").
However, when Chick proposes to Teddy, she turns him down, believing she owes her loyalty to Herman, angering Chick. Teddy enters the bathing beauty contest run by Pinky, but he kisses her, uninvited, and Chick throws him into the pool. Chick leaves with a flirtatious young lady. Pinky comforts Teddy, finally seducing her into spending the night with him—but she passes out. Herman, having forgiven Teddy, and Teddy drive away. But Herman returns with two suitcases, and Teddy falls into Chick's arms. Chick now has the engagement ring, which he gives to Teddy.
The Broadway production opened at the Imperial Theatre on June 25, 1952 and closed on November 28, 1953 after 598 performances. Directed and choreographed by Logan, uncredited show doctoring was by Jerome Robbins, with scenic and lighting design by Jo Mielziner. The cast included Patricia Marand as Teddy Stern, Jack Cassidy as Chick Miller, Phyllis Newman as Sarah, Larry Blyden, Harry Clark as Herman Fabricant, Florence Henderson, Reid Shelton, Tom Tryon, Sheila Bond as Fay Fromkin, John Perkins as Harry "Muscles" Green, Sidney Armus (as Itchy Flexner), and Paul Valentine. (Original cast member George Lenz is the grandfather of One Tree Hill actress Bethany Joy Lenz.)
The elaborate set included a fully functional swimming pool.
The York Theatre Company Musicals in Mufti series presented their concert version of the show in January 2000.
The original Broadway cast album was released by RCA Victor. Stage Door Records re-issued the Broadway original cast recording in 2008. Sepia Records re-issued the London cast album in 2004 (Sepia 1030).
Ken Bloom, in his book The Routledge Guide to Broadway wrote that the initial reviews were not positive, and the creative people worked on strengthening the book. As good word-of-mouth built an audience, some critics returned to review the show again, and it had a long run.
According to Cecil Michener Smith and Glenn Litton (in their book Musical Comedy in America), the original "warmth and unpretentiousness" of the original play were lost in the "monumental stage spectacle. Their new wonder featured a center-stage swimming pool and every other extravagance for which they could invent an excuse:a basketball game... a fire...and a rain storm." The critics, "even the dispassionate ones, growled their disgust." In addition to rewriting the book, they brought Jerome Robbins in to "restage the dances and add a new ballet" and Rome added a new song.
In 1952, the original Broadway cast performed on The Ed Sullivan Show which, at the time, was known as Toast of the Town. This appearance by the cast played a major role in the show's ultimate success. An excerpt from the book, A Really Big Show: A Visual History of the The Ed Sullivan Show notes: "The musical comedy, Wish You Were Here, was dead in the summer humidity until the producer sent its stars to rescue it on Sullivan. Ed even had one of the show's first sets constructed to accommodate those stars: A replica of a swimming pool, with mirrors to simulate depth. The next day, lines formed early at the theater, the closing notice came down, and Wish You Were Here lasted 587 additional performances"  (eleven performances had already taken place).
Wish You Were Here launched the show business career of Florence Henderson who is best known to the world as Carol Brady (the matriarch) on the long-running ABC-TV sitcom The Brady Bunch. In her chorus role as "The New Girl" (which she originated), Henderson had but one line to deliver. That one line, which started it all for her, was: "Can I see the game?"
Awards and nominations
- Green, Kay (1996, ed. 5). Broadway Musicals, Show By Show. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 0-7935-7750-0, p. 154
- Holden, Stephen. "The Stage: In Revival, 'Wish You Were Here'" The New York Times, May 16, 1987
- Jones, Kenneth." 'Wish You Were' Here Revived in York Mufti Series Jan. 21–23" playbill.com, January 21, 2000
- RCA Victor Records: Numerical Catalog - October 1953. Camden, NJ: RCA Victor Records. 1953. p. 125.
- Gans, Andrew."Stage Door Records Launches with Four Vintage Releases" playbill.com, January 2, 2, 2008
- Suskin,Steven."On the Record: Wish You Were Here and Love from Judy" playbill.com, March 21, 2004
- "Harold Rome biography" songwritershalloffame.org, accessed August 27, 2009
- Bloom, Ken (2006). The Routledge Guide to Broadway. CRC Press. ISBN 0-415-97380-5, p. 227
- Smith, Cecil Michener; Litton, Glenn (1981 ed. 2). Musical Comedy in America. Routledge. ISBN 0-87830-564-5, pp. 227–228
- Leonard, John. A Really Big Show: A Visual History of the Ed Sullivan Show, Viking Studio Books, 1992, ISBN 067084246X, p. 166
- Internet Broadway Database listing
- Broadway Cast Recording Reissue
- Guide to Musical Theatre plot and production notes
- Wish You Were Here at the Music Theatre International website