Harnick & Bock Rework Apple Tree for Oct. 8 Revival: New Scene, Cut Song Added

News   Harnick & Bock Rework Apple Tree for Oct. 8 Revival: New Scene, Cut Song Added Musical theatre writers Sheldon Harnick and Jerome Bock, who gave us Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me and more before going their separate ways, collaborated again recently to add a scene and insert a song into the upcoming Goodspeed Opera House revival of their 1966 musical,The Apple Tree.
John Scherer, Kevin Ligon and Joanna Glushak in Act One of Goodspeed Opera House's The Apple Tree.
John Scherer, Kevin Ligon and Joanna Glushak in Act One of Goodspeed Opera House's The Apple Tree. (Photo by Photo by Diane Soblewski)

Musical theatre writers Sheldon Harnick and Jerome Bock, who gave us Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me and more before going their separate ways, collaborated again recently to add a scene and insert a song into the upcoming Goodspeed Opera House revival of their 1966 musical,The Apple Tree.

The revival, which begins performances Oct. 8 at the East Haddam, CT, theatre, will include "Talkin' Truth," a tune that was cut from the Broadway original. The show is made up of three one-act musicals (based on short stories) on the theme of Eve and temptation.

In the original, the song was written for the rock star celebrity named Flip, in the Jules Feiffer-inspired Passionella section of the show.

The revised revival will feature the song, but sung by the acting teacher of the goofy Cinderella character, Passionella (who longs to be a movie star).

Sheldon Harnick told Playbill On-Line Oct. 1 that director-choreographer Ted Pappas got a hold of a 1966 demo recording which included "Talkin' Truth," and asked the lyricist-librettist if it was possible to use the number in the revival. "I no longer recall why it wasn't used [but] everybody really liked it. But it was never in the show. I told [Pappas] there doesn't seem to be a place for it."

Harnick said Pappas suggested revisiting the Feiffer source material. Consulting with librettist-composer Bock, Harnick wrote a new scene for the acting teacher character, which also gives another moment to the actor playing the daffy fairy tale's narrator (originally played by Larry Blyden, and played at Goodspeed by Kevin Ligon).

"Although he also plays the Fairy Godmother, he doesn't do too much else," Harnick said of the part.

Harnick did rewrite one line in the song because the reference was too arcane (and, he admitted, might've been in 1966): "I've seen your acting, man, you're east of Lynne."

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Joanna Glushak, John Scherer and Kevin Ligon will play three characters each in the Goodspeed Opera House's revival of The Apple Tree, the trio of short musicals by Bock (book and music) and Harnick (book and lyrics).

The production continues to Dec. 19 at the nationally-known revival house in East Haddam, CT.

Glushak, who appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables, Rags and Welcome to the Club, will play Eve, Princess Barbara, and Ella Passionella. Barbara Harris won a Tony Award for the roles. Glushak also appeared in Goodspeed's Madame Sherry and The Chocolate Soldier.

Scherer, an alum of Broadway's Sunset Boulevard and the Encores! staging of Out of This World, will play Adam, Captain Sanjar, and Flip, The Prince Charming. Alan Alda originated the roles.

Ligon, who toured as Nicely-Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls and appeared on Broadway in The Secret Garden, will play the Snake, the Balladeer, and the Narrator. Those roles were originated by Larry Blyden.

Both Ligon and Scherer starred in the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourn and Andrew Lloyd Webber's By Jeeves, at Goodspeed-at Chester/The Norma Terris Theatre. The production transferred to Los Angeles and The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

The Apple Tree is a cult musical that show-tune fans may know from its cast album, but it is not as frequently revived as Bock and Harnick's Fiddler on the Roof or She Loves Me. The acts are variations on the Adam Eve-Temptation story, drawing on shorts works by Mark Twain ("The Diary of Adam and Eve"), Frank R. Stockton's jealousy fable ("The Lady or the Tiger?") and Jules Feiffer's modern-day (1960s) celebrity fairy tale ("Passionella").

The Bock and Harnick-scripted one-acts (with additional book material by Jerome Coopersmith) -- quirky and comic in tone -- provided a wide canvas for Barbara Harris. "What Makes Me Love Him?" is the standout song from the musical.

The cast of 15 also includes Don Brewer, Renee Chambers-Liciaga, Dottie Earle, Michael Greenwood, Jenny Hill, Sloan Just, Neal Richard Lee, Eddy Marco, Mason Roberts, Tim Salamandyk, Betsy Sanders, and Lorna Ventura.

Michael O'Flaherty is musical director. Designers are James Noone (set), David C. Woolard (costumes) and David F. Segal (lighting).

Tickets are $20-$43. For information, call (860) 873 8668.

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The Apple Tree will displace Glimmerglass, the new musical about romance on the American frontier, as the final show in the Goodspeed season.

Glimmerglass will instead play the Goodspeed's second stage, Goodspeed-at-Chester/The Norma Terris Theater in Chester, CT, Nov. 11-Dec. 5. That space is devoted to new or developing works.

"Our decision to move Glimmerglass to Godspeed-at Chester will enable us to develop this musical-in-progress to reach its highest potential and provide a flexible and nurturing environment in which the authors can work," said Goodspeed executive director Michael Price, in a statement.

-- By Kenneth Jones