Goodtime Charley (1975)

Book by Sidney Michaels
Music by Larry Grossman
Lyrics by Hal Hackady

Directed by Greg MacKellan
Musical Director: Lauren Meyer

Playbill Notes

In the early 1970's, playwright Sidney Michael thought up the idea for a musical based on the relationship between Joan of Arc and Charles Valois, the Dauphin of France. Instead of the usual treatment of Joan's life, Michaels' idea was to focus on the Dauphin and to tell the story of these two young people and their remarkable effect on each other as an intimate comedy. Producer Edgar Lansbury put Michaels together with composer Larry Grossman and lyricist Hal Hackaday (fresh from their Broadway musical, Minnie's Boys) and the trio began work on what was then called Charley and Joan.

As plans progressed, their intimate musical began to disappear. Rouben Ter-Arutunian and Willa Kim were enlisted to create the sets and costumes, and they came up with a visually stunning--but massive--design which would give the show the look of a Maxfield Parrish print. Stephen Sondheim's regular arranger, Jonathan Tunick, agreed to write the orchestrations, ultimately giving the show a striking but decidedly "Big Broadway" sound. Ann Reinking, (the lead dancer in Over Here!) won the part of Joan (narrowly beating out the other top contender Andrea Marcovicci). Susan Browning (the original April in Company) was recruited to play Agnes Sorel, and Richard Shull, Jay Garner, and Louis Zorich signed on to play Minguet, the Archbishop, and the General. Most importantly, Joel Grey agreed to play the leading role in the now-retitled Goodtime Charley. Grey was looking for a change of pace from the song-and-dance roles he had become famous for, and Goodtime Charley seemed to fit the bill.

Out-of-town try-outs began in the winter of 1975 in Boston. Reviews were mixed to negative and it was clear that major surgery would be needed on the three-and-a-half hour show if it was to succeed. The company set to work and Goodtime Charley arrived at its next stop, Philadelphia, shorn of more than an hour of its running time and four of its songs.

The reviews this time were raves, with one major paper's headline commenting humorously on the work done since Boston ("Joan Performs Another Miracle"). But something else had started to happen: star Grey's "change of pace" now began to resemble a typical "Joel Grey musical," epitomized by the insertion of numerous jokes in the book and the replacement of a well-received number ("All She Can Do is Say No") with a six-minute song-and-dance turn for Grey, "Born Lover." What arrived in New York was a curious amalgam of the authors' original intentions and an old-style razzmatazz Broadway musical.

The notices came in mixed again (with almost uniform praise for the score and Ann Reinking's commanding performance as Joan), but audiences loved the show--often greeting the cast with a standing ovation at the end--and, buoyed by seven Tony nominations and a superb original cast recording by RCA, Goodtime Charley settled in for a run. Unfortunately, frequently-missed performances by Reinking (who was still recovering from a serious back injury sustained during her last performance of Over Here!) and an enticing film offer for Joel Grey led to the show's early shuttering after 104 performances.

Nothing more was heard of Goodtime Charley until the stock and amateur rights were finally released in 1986. By that time, the show had developed a cult following thank to the original cast recording, which preserved the best part of the show: Grossman's richly melodic score and Hackady's clever lyrics. When we decided to present Goodtime Charley as 42nd Street Moon's first ever contemporary musical, we approached Grossman and Hackaday for input, and are delighted that they have given us the opportunity to try to return the show to its original, more intimate, conception. With their permission and assistance, we have restored three cut songs from the score ("All She Can Do Is Say No," "There Goes the Country," and "Tomorrow's Good Old Days") and deleted two which were heard on Broadway ("Confessional" and "Born Lover").

We invite you to enjoy the beautiful songs, the off-beat comedy, and the touching story of Goodtime Charley, a "lost musical" from the 1970's

-- Greg MacKellan

Plot Summary

A humorous take on actual historical events, it focuses on the Dauphin of France, who evolves from a hedonistic young man enamored of women in general (and Joan of Arc in particular) into a regal king while Joan follows her voices to her tragic fate.

Press Release

SAN FRANCISCO (20 May 1996)-- 42nd Street Moon introduces its first contemporary "lost" musical when it brings the 1975 Tony nominated musical Goodtime Charley to the stage in concert version. The third show in its 1996 Lost Musical Series, Goodtime Charley will be presented June 6 - 23, 1996 (preview June 5), at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco. Composer Larry Grossman and Lyricist Hal Hackady are consulting with 42nd Street Moon co-producers to re-shape the show for its Bay Area premiere, including the restoration of three songs which were cut prior to Broadway. Putting a comic spin on history, Goodtime Charley re-tells the story of Joan of Arc and the Dauphin of France, in which the Dauphin is presented as a hedonistic young man more interested in having a good time than he is in succeeding to the French throne.

Nominated for seven Tony Awards in 1975, Goodtime Charley took to the New York Stage for a six month run after opening in Boston and moving to Philadelphia, with headlines ringing "Joan performs another miracle." After poor reviews in Boston, likely having to do with the musical's extraordinary length of three and a half hours, the show was shortened to a respectable hour and twenty- five minutes for the Philadelphia and New York run, much to the joy of reviewers.

Composed by Larry Grossman, with lyrics by Hal Hackady, Goodtime Charley opened on Broadway starring Joel Grey as the Dauphin and Ann Reinking, as Joan of Arc. Grossman and Hackady, set on having Ann Reinking play Joan, postponed the opening of the show for two months while Ann recovered from a back injury sustained during a jitterbug mishap on the stage of the 40's dancing musical Over Here!. Somewhat recovered, Reinking joined the cast of Goodtime Charley wearing a back brace. About the accident, fellow Over Here! cast member Maxene Andrews warned "Oh honey, if you think this is bad, they're going to burn you in your next show."

Changed from its original script, the New York run of Goodtime Charley was tailored for rising star ("waif extraordinaire and Broadway baby") Joel Grey. Of the role, Clive Barnes of the New York Times said, "Charley fits him like a slipper." Constructed around this star, the show ran for four months, as long as Joel Grey was a part of the cast. The show was forced to close when Ann Reinking got the flu, by which time Joel Grey had already accepted a part in the Paul Newman movie Buffalo Bill & The Indians and there was no suitable replacement.

In consultation with composer Larry Grossman and lyricist Hal Hackady, 42nd Street Moon producers Greg MacKellan and Stephanie Rhoads are reinstating three songs that were cut from 1975 run of the show, and omitting others to return the work back to its original conception, before it became a star vehicle for Joel Grey. Says lyricist Hal Hackady, "Originally, Goodtime Charley was a much more 'in your face' sort of musical. The original concept had a group of down-at-the-heels St. players showing up and identifying themselves as these characters as they discover remnants of costumes, rather than in the final Broadway production, where these characters became grey statues that came alive. "

With the reinstated songs "All She Can Do is Say No," "Tomorrow's Good Old Days," and "There Goes the Country," Goodtime Charley will delight connoisseurs of musical classics. Written with a contemporary flavor akin to that of a Stephen Sondheim musical, Goodtime Charley marks 42nd Street Moon's first foray into recent revivals. Of venturing into the "near distant" past, director Greg MacKellan explains that "both co-producer Stephanie Rhoads and I felt it was important to investigate plays from a later era, in addition to those from the early half of the century."

Greg MacKellan will direct 42nd Street Moon's production of Goodtime Charley. Portraying the Dauphin will be Bill Fahrner, with Juliette Morgan as the valiant Joan of Arc. A frequent performer with 42nd Street Moon, Fahrner most recently appeared as Ivanov in Silk Stockings. The villains of the piece, Archbishop of Reims and his general, will be played by Jon DiSavino in his second appearance with the company and Patrick Flick, in his company debut.

The founding member of the East Bay company TheatreFIRST, DiSavino's Bay Area credits include appearances with San Jose Stage Company and the Woodminster Theatre. Joan's trusty page, Minguet, will be Sean Sharp. 42nd Street Moon audiences will remember Sharp as Bibinski in Silk Stockings. Last season he appeared in Three Sisters, Very Warm for May, America's Sweetheart and Pipe Dream. The Dauphin's paramour, Agnes Sorel, will be played by Caroline Altman. Rounding out the cast will be Lisa Peers as the Dauphin's mother Queen Isabella, Dyan McBride as Marie, Leslie DePalo as sister Kate, Jaxy Boyd as Yolanda of Sicily, and Sean Fawcett, Nathan Brown, and John Keitel.

Lyricist Hal Hackady and composer Larry Grossman are best known for their collaboration on the scores for the Broadway musicals Minnie's Boys, the story of the Marx Brothers and the mother who pushed them toward success, starring Shelley Winters, and Snoopy!!!, an international hit performed in six languages, inspired by the Peanuts comic strip. Hal Hackady has most recently been at work on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which opens this June at the Jupiter Theatre in Florida. He is also currently working on the musical version of Whatever Happened to Bayby Jane, scheduled to open this fall in London, starring Millicent Martin.

Larry Grossman, with Betty Comden and Adolph Green, wrote the Tony-nominated score for A Doll's Life, a musical sequel to the story of Ibsen's Nora, originally directed by Harold Prince, and which premiered in San Francisco in 1982. In 1985, Grossman teamed with Ellen Fitzhugh on Harold Prince's Tony-nominated production of Grind, and the musical version of Paper Moon, which will open at Connecticut's Goodspeed Opera House this June. In addition to his work on stage, Grossman has been awarded six Emmy's and two ACE awards for his television work, and has received a Peabody Award for his musical work with The Muppet Show.

42nd Street Moon, one of only four companies in the world devoted to presenting the "lost" treasures of musical theatre, introduces Goodtime Charley as its first "lost musical" of the 70's.