Musical comedy by Rodgers and Hart. The first musical ever adapted from Shakespeare remains the most madcap musical farce ever to animate the stage. Antipholus and his wily servant, Dromio, travel to Ephesus in search of their respective twins, from whom they were separated in a shipwreck. When they arrive in Epheseus a comedy of errors and mistaken identities ensues: perplexed wives, disgruntled courtesans, and outraged constables are left in its wake before this show's tangled web is unraveled. Featuring the songs Falling in Love with Love; Sing for Your Supper; and Oh, Diogenes!.
Music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart with book by George Abbot, based on by William Shakespeare based on The Comedy of Errors.
First performed on Broadway in 1938, the London West End Premiere took place twenty-five years later when Christopher Hewett restaged his 1963 Off-Broadway production at Drury Lane. Unfortunately West End musical tastes had changed and the show barely managed a run of three months despite the show starring Bob Monkhouse.
Original London West End Production 1963
Opened 7 November 1963, Closed 1 February 1964 at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane
The original cast featured Bob Monkhouse as 'Antipholus of Syracuse', Ronnie Corbett as 'Dromio of Syracuse', Denis Quilley as 'Antipholus of Ephesus', Sonny Farrar as 'Dromio of Ephesus', Maggie Fitzgibbon as 'Luce', Lynn Kennington as 'Adriana', Paula Hendrix as 'Luciana', Pat Turner as 'the Courtesan', April Olrich as 'Fatima' and Edward Atienza as 'Sorcerer'.
Directed by Christopher Hewett with choreography by Bob Herget, sets by Herbert Senn and Helen Pond and costumes by Irene Sharaff.
London Revival (Open Air Theatre) 1991
Previewed 22 July 1992, Opened 24 July 1991, Closed 5 September 1991 (in repertory) at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park
The cast featured Peter Woodward as 'Antipholus of Syracuse', Richard O'Callaghan as 'Dromio of Syracuse', Bill Homewood as 'Antipholus of Ephesus', Gavin Muir as 'Dromio of Ephesus', Jenny Galloway as 'Luce', Louise Gold as 'Adriana', Gillian Bevan as 'Luciana', Samantha Spiro as 'the Courtesan', Emily Raymond as 'Fatima' and Jim McManus as 'the Sorcerer' with Martin Chamberlain, David Gooderson, Nick Kemp, Robert Lidster, Jim McManus, Jo Montgomery, Anna Nicholas, Keith Osborn, Sarah Parks and Daniel Ryan.
Directed by Judi Dench with choreography by Kenn Oldfield, designs by James Merifield, lighting by Jason Taylor and sound by Simon Whitehorn.
Unfortunately there were rain showers throughout Opening Night which meant that the performance was 'stopped-and-started' a few times throughout the evening.
"Rodgers and Hart's witty 1938 variation on the theme of The Comedy of Errors - a gift for a theatre which has made its name with Shakespeare, but also a beguiling bit of froth in its own right. The Bard meets Broadway under the direction of one of our most distinguished Shakespearean actresses, Judi Dench, and the result is a deliciously actor-centred confection, as pleasing to the eye as the ear. Kenn Oldfield's choreography is exotically tacky, its chorus-line of courtesans glittering with vulgarity... The goings-on are quite as incomprehensible here as they are in the Shakespearean original. The Syracusean twins get the lion's share of the action. Peter Woodward, as the interloping Antipholus, deals as nobly with a homesick reverie of daffy go-go girls in leopard-skin beehives as he does with the showstopping duet 'This can't be love,' in which he is finely partnered by Gillian Bevan's Luciana. The Dromios of Richard O'Callaghan and Gavin Muir are skilfully and gleefully alike. One of the joys of the show is the mischievous way that it taints Shakespeare with the worldly wisdom of Broadway... It is all very silly, but it is also great fun - and the cast seem to be enjoying it too." The Financial Times
"Although it happened to be a rainy night in Ephesus, that did little to dampen the spirits of Judi Dench's rollicking production of Rodgers and Hart's 1938 musical based on The Comedy of Errors. Our great tragedienne, in her new role as director, has discovered a gift for light comedy. It is a fresh gift, served here by a cast that is always competent but seldom inspired. If the audience emerged dripping but merry, the tribute must go mainly to Rodgers' hummable tunes and the witty one-liners of George Abbott, who adapted Shakespeare's text so thoroughly that only a single line of original bard remains... Despite a pair of remarkably similar looking Dromios in Gavin Muir and Richard O'Callaghan, the acting and singing honours go to the women. Louise Gold not only produces a sweeter tone than the others as Adriana, but also coos winningly as she lures the wrong man back to bed. Star of the show is Jenny Galloway's diminutive Luce, the only character who packs enough New York feistiness to make sense of Rodgers and Hart's crazy blend of Greek, Roman, Elizabethan and Broadway." The Times
"Between the showers this 1938 Rodgers and Hart version of The Comedy Of Errors emerged as a genuine delight. Its trick is to retain Shakespeare's diabolically ingenious plot about the Syracusan twins constantly mistaken for their Ephesian counterparts while swathing it in showbiz corn... Today when most showbiz lyricists have a stunted 12-word vocabulary, it is a positive pleasure to savour the supple craftsmanship of a wordsmith like Lorenz Hart. The real test is that, like Cole Porter, he could make a love song shrewd and funny... Judi Dench's production, set by James Merifield in and around what looks like a Regent's Park bandstand... preserves the vital device of different actors for the separate twins and she highlights the sense of wonder in a dream sequence where one Dromio is confronted by his exact mirror-image. Two performers dominate the evening: Richard O'Callaghan as the Syracusan Dromio whom he endows with a pinched Brooklynesque twang and Jenny Galloway as the mountainous kitchen-wench, Luce, who voraciously pursues him crying 'I married him for life and by God he's going to show some'." The Guardian
The Boys From Syracuse in London at the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre previewed from 22 July 1991, opened on 24 July 1991 and closed on 5 September 1991 (in repertory)