It will have performed 16 previews and 507 regular performances. Opening night was Nov. 23, 2003. The run is only slightly short of the 559 regular performances that the original 1953 clocked—not bad for a production that has suffered more than its share of adverse press.
Shields, the well-reviewed new Ruth Sherwood in the Broadway revival, recently extended her run until Jan. 30. She was to have departed on Jan. 3. She began her run on Sept. 28, 2004. Her departure does not end her long relationship with producers Barry and Fran Weissler; Shields will join the London company of Chicago in the spring.
"This experience of bringing Wonderful Town to Broadway has been one of the most exciting opportunites in my career," Murphy said in a statement at the time. "To be blessed with this wonderful role performing the magnificent music of Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics of Betty Comden and Adolph Green has been an actor's dream. It's a joyous show and I pass the torch with admiration and best wishes to Brooke Shields." The press statement also stated, "Producers Roger Berlind and Barry and Fran Weissler acknowledge the wonderful contribution that Ms. Murphy made to the production and wish her much luck and best wishes in all her future endeavors."
Murphy's tenure inTown was not a smooth one. She first won solid notices for her quirky performance as the less-pretty, characterful older sister in the musical when it was revived in an Encores! concert at City Center in 2000. That staging was beefed up and brought to Broadway in fall 2003, and Murphy snagged a 2004 Tony Award nomination for her work in the spring (as did Jennifer Westfeldt as younger sister Eileen).
But she missed several previews of the show due to illness, and her attendance record soon became a matter of comment in the press and within the theatrical community.
Murphy won Tony Awards for Passion and The King and I.
The book is by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov based on their play, My Sister Eileen, which itself is based on the stories of Ruth McKenney. Music is by Leonard Bernstein, with lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Wonderful Town plays the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 West 45th Street. The production garnered a 2004 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical Revival as well as a 2004 Tony Award for Best Choreography for Kathleen Marshall. Marshall also directed.
The 2003 company's work has been preserved on a cast album on the DRG label. In an unusual move, a second cast recording was made with Shields (she sang on instrumental tracks that were created for the Murphy album).