The SUNY Fredonia Department of Theatre and Dance continues the 2012-13 Walter Gloor Mainstage Series in March with a production of an award-winning musical from the early 1960s.
"Stop the World - I Want to Get Off" will be presented in Bartlett Theatre at Rockefeller Arts Center with six performances from March 8 to 16. It will be directed by Tom Loughlin.
With a book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, "Stop the World I Want to Get Off" opened in July of 1961 in London at the Queen's Theatre, where it ran for 485 performances. Newley directed the production and starred as Littlechap, with Anna Quayle in the role of Evie.
Littlechap (Steve Russell) and Evie (Danielle Rizzo) learn that life can be a real circus in the musical “Stop the World – I Want to Get Off.” The SUNY Fredonia Department of Theatre and Dance production opens March 8 and runs for six performances in Bartlett Theatre at Rockefeller Arts Center.
"Stop The World - I Want to Get Off' is one of a number of smaller Off-Broadway musicals that were very popular in the early 1960s," Loughlin said. "Because it was written by and starred Anthony Newley, the show opened on Broadway immediately after a successful London West End run and had 555 performances, a long run back in those days."
The play uses the metaphor of a circus to tell the tale of Littlechap, a humble-born Cockney "everyman" who rises to the top of English society.
"The story somewhat mirrors Shakespeare's famous 'Seven Ages of Man' speech in 'As You Like It,' as we witness Littlechap rise from lowly teaboy to Lord Littlechap," Loughlin said. "Along the way he marries, has children, has affairs, makes money and achieves fame, only to discover at the end that love was the element missing in his life."
The show includes the songs "Once in a Lifetime" and "What Kind of Fool Am I?," which became a hit for Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1962. The show also takes a satirical look at political issues of the day, particularly the cold war between western nations and the Soviet/Chinese Communist bloc.
"Before the Beatles arrived, Anthony Newley was the number one pop singer in England when this show first opened," Loughlin said, noting younger audience members might remember the music and lyrics Newley contributed to "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," including "The Candy Man."
"Stop the World - I Want to Get Off" was nominated for five Tony Awards in 1963, including Best Musical. Anna Quayle won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Evie.
Dates and show times for the SUNY Fredonia Department of Theatre and Dance production are March 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 10.
"Our production takes the metaphor of the circus and extends it to create a full 'circus atmosphere' within the Bartlett Theatre," Loughlin said.
Loughlin also noted there will be special pre-show entertainment by the Universal Life Circus Troupe, featuring clowns, jugglers and an aerial act beginning at 7 p.m. before the show.
"Curtain time for the main event begins at 7:30, so early arrivals will have an extra treat," he said.
"Stop the World I Want to Get Off" is sponsored by the Niebel Realty as part of the Lake Shore Savings Season.
Tickets are available through the SUNY Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center (673-3501 or fredonia.edu/tickets).