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The Drunkard
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The Drunkard
July, 1979
Cider Mill Playhouse, Endicott, New York
The Drunkard or The Fallen Saved was first presented in 1844 at the Boston Museum, which was anxious to capitalize on the rising popularity of the Temperance Movement. The production met with instant success - played for 140 performances and was soon being toured by various troupes. When Boston audiences began to dwindle, P.T. Barnum latched onto The Drunkard and brought it to New York and staged it in the Moral Lecture Room of his American Museum. In true Barnum style he began the "Ballyhoo" by himself publicly taking the "pledge" and during the entire run of 150 performances he personally appeared between acts to lecture for Temperance and encourage the audience to take the "pledge" - with provisions arranged for doing so at the box office. It was soon noted that many of the nightly audience of two thousand would laugh in the wrong places. Worse yet, many males between acts checked out for a fast belt to fortify themselves for the denouement. The women, however, absorbed every nuance of the melodrama and wept and sobbed throughout each performance. Barnum did a slight land-office business on the side by selling handkerchiefs. He finally decided to close The Drunkard when he found the crass New Yorkers applauding the villain, encouraging the hero to drink, and vilely cursing the reformers. The Drunkard had regular revivals as the Temperance Movement flowed high and waned low down through the following decades --hitting its second peak in the '90s -- and was still going strong leading in the Prohibition Era. In 1933, the play was vividly revived in Los Angeles and enjoyed the longest run in the history of legitimate theatre, playing to packed houses of hissing and booing audiences until it finally closed in 1962. In 1964, Bro Herrod decided to have a go with The Drunkard and thought this time around it should be given the full musical treatment. The musical version with music and lyrics by Barry Manilow opened at the 13th Street Theatre in New York and ran continuously for six years. Encouraged by audience approval, Herrod and Manilow experimented with new staging and injected new music and a revised version opened in 1970, which ran another two years.
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Lori Winner; Robin Gordon; Jim Ansart; David Mingrino; John Wilson; Suzanne Smith; Chris Honan; Allison Davis; Tom Kremer; Steve Sabowitz; Neal Herlands; Marilu Morreale; Sue Carlini; Susan J. Peters; Rene Tedesco
Special thanks to Pa's Woodshed.
© Binghamton University Theatre Department
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