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, rewrote a section of the Goodspeed Opera House revival of The Apple Tree this autumn, but the tree falls Dec. 12.
Bock and Harnick attended the Oct. 28 opening of The Apple Tree at Goodspeed in East Haddam, CT,taking a look at a new song and scene added for the staging. The show was slated to close Dec. 19, but will close a week early due to the loss of two performers to other shows.
The writers, whose body of work includes Tenderloin, Fiorello! and The Rothschilds, consulted to rewrite one scene in the Goodspeed revival of their trio of one-act musicals, The Apple Tree (1966).
A scene and song were added to the revival, which began previews Oct. 8. The show now includes "Talkin' Truth," a tune that was cut from the Broadway original. The Apple Tree, which had earned a cult following, is made up of three one-act musicals (each based on a short story) on the theme of Eve and Temptation.
In the original, "Talkin' Truth" was written for the rock star celebrity named Flip, in the Jules Feiffer-inspired Passionella section of the show.
The revised revival re-includes the song, but sung by the acting teacher of the goofy Cinderella character, Passionella (who longs to be a movie star).
Lyricist Sheldon Harnick (who shares book credit on the show with composer Bock) told Playbill On-Line Oct. 1 that director-choreographer Ted Pappas got ahold of a 1966 demo recording which included "Talkin' Truth," and asked Harnick if it was possible to use the number in the revival.
"I no longer recall why it wasn't used [in 1966, but] everybody really liked it," Harnick said. "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 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.
Along with Bock and Harnick, Jerome Coopersmith was credited in 1966 with "additional book material."
Joanna Glushak, John Scherer and Kevin Ligon will play three characters each in the Goodspeed Apple Tree. Composer Bock shared libretto credit with lyricist Harnick on the show originally, with additional book material by Jerome Coopersmith.
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.
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 draw on short 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 one-acts are quirky and comic in tone and provided a wide canvas for Barbara Harris, who took home a Tony Award for the role. "What Makes Me Love Him?" is the standout song from the musical.
The Goodspeed 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.
-- By Kenneth Jones