Comedy by George Axelrod. The Seven Year Itch tells the story of Richard Sherman, a New York publishing executive whose wife and son depart for their summer holidays out of town, leaving him to fend for himself. As he tries to quit smoking and stay of the booze, he encounters his new upstairs neighbour, an exquisitely beautiful and extremely friendly young woman who provokes him into the most extravagant flights of fantasy. The man has been married for seven years and faithful throughout that time. But as anyone who has ever had an itch knows, sometimes you've just got to have a stratch...
The comedy was made into a film in 1955 starring Marilyn Monroe as 'The Girl' and Tom Ewell as 'Richard Sherman', reprising his role from the original Broadway stage version.
Original London West End Production - Aldwych Theatre 1953
Opened 14 May 1953, Closed 27 February 1954 at the Aldwych Theatre
The cast featured Brian Reece as 'Richard Sherman' and Rosemary Harris as 'The Girl' with Margot Stevenson as 'Helen Sherman', Alexander Gauge as 'Dr Brubaker', Vernon Greeves as 'Tom Mackenzie', Jill Melford as 'Miss Morris', Isabel George as 'Elaine', Toni Frost as 'Marie', Bunny May as 'Ricky', Anne Purkiss as 'Pat', Ronald Wilson as 'The voice of Richard's conscience' and Lee Washburn as 'The voice of the Girl's conscience'. Directed by John Gerstad with designs by Frederick Fox.
1st London West End Revival - Albery Theatre 1985
Previewed 14 February 1985, Opened 21 February 1985, Closed 8 June 1985 at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre)
The cast featured Patrick Mower as 'Richard Sherman' and Adrienne Posta as 'The Girl' with Isabelle Amyes as 'Helen Sherman', Royce Mills as 'Dr Brubaker', Michael Roberts as 'Tom Mackenzie', Paula Jensen as 'Miss Morris', Sandra Smith as 'Elaine', Suzi Jerome as 'Marie', Mandy Humphrey as 'Pat', Michael Roberts as 'The voice of Richard's conscience' and Paula Jensen as 'The voice of the Girl's conscience'. Directed by James Roose-Evans.
2nd London West End Revival - Queen's Theatre 2000
Previewed 2 October 2000, Opened 9 October 2000, Closed 9 December 2000 at the Queen's Theatre in London
A major revival of George Axelrod's comedy The Seven Year Itch in London starring Daryl Hannah in her stage debut for a strictly limited season
The cast features Rolf Saxon as 'Richard Sherman' and Daryl Hannah as 'The Girl' with Debora Weston as 'Helen Sherman', Anthony O'Donnell as 'Dr Brubaker', William Hope as 'Tom Mackenzie', Helene Wilson as 'Miss Morris', Leigh Zimmerman as 'Elaine', Myriam Acharki as 'Marie', William Hope as 'The voice of Richard's conscience' and Helene Wilson as 'The voice of the Girl's conscience'. Directed by Michael Radford with designs by Tim Goodchild, lighting by Howard Harrison, music by Dominic Muldowney and sound by Simon Whitehorn.
Michael Radford, the play's director said: "The Seven Year Itch was suggested to me by the producer Laurence Myers and we both felt that it was the perfect vehicle for Daryl Hannah, not just because of the excellence of the writing, but because the part of the girl is admirably adapted to Daryl's talents as a comedienne. I was surprised at how the quality of the play has stood the test of time. It is written in that delicious style of American theatre, which has so informed the best screenplay writing over the decades, where the dialogue rolls from the tongue with deceptive ease and where humour is lurking round every corner, even in moments where it is not immediately evident in the text. The surprise is finding, as you begin to rehearse and perform, just how naturally funny it is. This is a play which is neither sententious nor moralistic. Any attempt to bring this to it would date it immediately. My solution has been to treat it completely in and out of its period, bringing out the skill and humour of the writing. I wanted to give a feeling of New York in the summer, the heat, the period. To bring to it some of my abilities as a filmmaker with sound, atmosphere, lighting. This is the ultimate in well-made plays, and my idea is to serve it as such; not to burden it with what it cannot carry, but to create a fast paced evening of sophisticated humour and romance such as we find in the theatre and films of America in the fifties."
"The whole thing doesn't aspire to be more than a diversion, though it has also acquired the charm (or, depending on your taste, the charmlessness) of a period piece: it preserves a succession of 1950s attitudes and fashions in aspic. That didn't necessarily seem a sufficient reason for reviving it; and I can't have been the only one whose doubts were increased when I heard that the Marilyn Monroe part was going to be played by Daryl Hannah... Yet Michael Radford's production is light and crisp enough to avoid the disasters which lay in wait. Daryl Hannah gives a passable Monroe impersonation, and adds a certain lanky allure of her own. (The famous skirt-blowing-up sequence is gently parodied in front of an electric fan.) Rolf Saxon is excellent as the publisher, negotiating his way from one panic to the next, and there is nifty comic support from Debora Weston as the publisher's iron-willed wife and William Hope as a tweedy, pipe-smoking author, the way authors used to be." The Sunday Telegraph
"The Seven Year Itch, by George Axelrod, demonstrates precisely the difference between a play and a vehicle. A play is a living thing, like a human body, capable of surprises, with characters you could imagine meeting and with a story that is at least marginally believable... The Seven Year Itch is a vehicle. Vehicles are made of cheap, insentient materials: wood and veneer, perhaps plastic or fibreglass if you are lucky, and held together by lengthy script conferences... Contrary to what I expected, Daryl Hannah is the best thing in this dimwitted affair. She plays a woman of 22 going on 5, but she has presence: a thing hard to define but only partly to do with her stunning looks. She knows how to move about the stage without looking as if she had got there by mistake; she speaks clearly, in that husky, high-whine, baby-baby voice American men seem to like so much... She does not act in takes, like some Hollywood glitter balls I have seen in the theatre, jerking from one pole to another, but fluidly, continuously, playing with her partner, not just opposite him. She does not just move about the stage, she lives on it. But, poor thing, will she be able to save this dire show? It has the acting language of the worst kind of American comedy soap: the big, inane gestures; the naive, gobsmacked stares; the wild, neighing laughs. Embarrassment, fear, guilt and joy are all bathed in the same infantile goo... The ending is both predictable and preposterous, which is quite an achievement." The Sunday Times
"While the Hollywood star of such films as Splash, Blade Runner, Roxanne and Steel Magnolias masters the giggle and the wiggle, she lacks the comic touch. It doesn't help that George Axelrod's 1950s play about a happily married New York publisher, who finds himself alone for the summer with a gorgeous girl in the apartment upstairs, comes across as terribly dated. It harks back to the days when adultery was shocking and so was the sight of a nude model in a magazine. Rolf Saxon waves his hands about a lot as the hapless husband and looks like Sgt Bilko only with more hair and in civvies... Daryl spends a lot of the time leaning over the furniture in low-cut dresses and a see-through nightie. Her legs seem to go on forever. And so does the play." The Daily Mirror
"Daryl Hannah plays a 22-year-old unnamed Girl in the New York apartment above Richard, a 38-year-old married man in publishing. Richard's wife and son have gone away to the beach. A heavy tomato plant falls from the balcony and just misses him. He meets his new neighbour. Now you will remember the 1955 Billy Wilder film in which Marilyn Monroe stood above a subway vent and allowed the steam to make waves through her white pleated skirt. Miss Hannah flutters a skimpy white blouse in front of a small domestic fan. The effect is not quite as sexy but the impression of careless sensuality is more amusingly made. The role of an innocent siren is perfect for an actress so memorable as the mermaid in Splash and the love object in Steve Martin's Roxanne... The Girl is performing soap commercials on television and wants to be an actress. The publisher does sleep with her - well, it's his birthday - but for one night only. Thus a marriage is renewed and the Girl's impulse to settle down suddenly stirred. It sounds preposterous, but Axelrod deftly mixes guilt with honest carnality. He uses voiceovers, flashbacks and fantasy fast-forwards to clunky but surprising effect. And film director Michael Radford's production lovingly restores a comic period piece last seen - less convincingly - in the West End 15 years ago. Miss Hannah is partnered by a superb technical actor, Rolf Saxon as Richard, who resembles a less overbearing version of Phil Silvers struck with the anxiety complex of Woody Allen. And there are clever contributions from Debora Weston as the wife and Anthony O'Donnell as a flustered psychiatrist who has written a book about sex and violence." The Daily Mail
The Seven Year Itch in London at the Queen's Theatre previewed from 2 October 2000, opened on 9 October 2000 and closed on 9 December 2000