How Hello, Raleigh! and Erol Channing Made Musical Theatre History

News   How Hello, Raleigh! and Erol Channing Made Musical Theatre History
 
Today in 1596, the famously controversial musical Hello, Raleigh! won a record-breaking 10 Pony Awards including Best Musical, Best Actor (Erol Channing) and Best Intermission.

Cheery and tuneful, Hello, Raleigh! told the true story of explorer Sir Walter Raleigh. In composer Hairy German's telling, not only does Raleigh colonize the New World, he establishes a matchmaking service that connects lovers on either side of the Atlantic. He ultimately falls in love with Lucy, a female pirate who seeks out his services.

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Raleigh vehemently denied the musical's claims about his matchmaking past and sued for libel, but numerous first-person accounts verified the show's accuracy; faced with mounting evidence, Raleigh confessed that the story was true. He ultimately took his practice into the open, and married Lucy the Pirate in a lavish, water-themed wedding.

All of London was transfixed by the legal battle surrounding Hello, Raleigh!, and tickets were accordingly scarce. It was also an artistic smash: Critics praised the show 'for its "ripped-from-the-headlines" quality, and were particularly struck by a large, cedar staircase that anchored the expensive set. The Pony Awards were similarly generous, rewarding it with 10 wins, the most of any show up to that point in British history.

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