Pal Joey features music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, along with a book by John O’Hara. The plot is based on a number of short stories that were initially published in The New Yorker magazine. The show features a number of show standards such as ‘I Could Write a Book’ and ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ which has been covered by a number of artists around the world. Frank Sinatra starred in the film version and covered a number of the songs on his albums. Gene Kelly starred in the original production which ran for almost a year in 1940. Recent revivals have included the Studio 54 production which starred Stockard Channing.
short stories by John O'Hara
Pal Joey Original Broadway
Ethel Barymore, Schubert Theatre, St James Theatre - Opened 25 Dec 1940, closed 18 Feb 2013, 374 performances
Cast: Vivienne Segal, Gene Kelly, June Havoc, Jack Durant, Leila Ernst, Jean Casto, Van Johnson, Stanley Donen, Tilda Getze
Pal Joey First Broadway Revival
Broadhurst Theatre - Opened 3 Jan 1952, closed 1 Jan 1970, 540 performances
Cast: Vivienne Segal, Harold Lang, Helen Gallagher, Lionel Stander, Patricia Northrop, Elaine Stritch, Helen Wood, Barbara Nichols, Jack Waldron & Robert Fortier
Pal Joey Original London
Princes Theatre - Opened 1 Mar 1954, closed 1 Jan 1970
Pal Joey 2nd Broadway Revival
City Centres Theatre - Opened 23 May 1963, closed 1 Jan 1970, 15 performances
Pal Joey 3rd Broadway Revival
Circle in the Square Theatre - Opened 27 Jun 1976, closed 1 Jan 1970, 73 performances
Cast: Joan Copeland, Christopher Chadman
Pal Joey London Revival
Albery Theatre (Noel Coward) - Opened 1 Sep 1980, closed 12 Sep 1981
Pal Joey 4th Broadway Revival
Studio 54 - Opened 18 Dec 2008, closed 1 Jan 1970, 85 performances
Cast: Stockard Channing, Martha Plimpton, Robert Clohessy, Jenny Fellner, Daniel Marcus, Matthew Risch, Steven Skybell
What was your favourite production? Add your thoughts in the comments box
Joey Evans is a playboy in 1930’s Chicago who hopes to one day run his own nightclub. He gets a job as an emcee at a low-class dive (“You Musn’t Kick It Around”). Rehearsals begin and the club’s lead singer Gladys dislikes Joey from the start.
Joey meets pretty young stenographer Linda English who falls for his cheesy pick-up lines (“I Could Write a Book”). She comes to meet Joey at the club that evening. That same night, a wealthy married woman named Vera Simpson flirts with Joey, who rebuffs her advances. Furious, she leaves the club, as does Linda who is putt off by Joey’s rude behaviour. Joey is fired for treating a rich customer so poorly.
Linda refuses to take Joey’s calls, so he moves on to Vera (“What a Man”). They begin a torrid affair (“Happy Hunting Horn”), and as Vera is now “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered,” she sets him up in a new apartment and even buys him his own nightclub, which he names “Chez Joey.” Joey is thrilled by his luck and plans to become even an even bigger name in Chicago (“Pal Joey”).
Joey has installed all of the dancers from his old club at Chez Joey (“The Flower Garden of My Heart”). Gladys and her ex, Ludlow Lowell, plot to blackmail Vera and get Joey to absentmindedly sign papers they will ultimately use against him. Joey and Vera are still enjoying their affair (“In Our Little Den”), but when Linda overhears what Gladys and Ludlow plan to do, she calls Vera to warn her. Vera does not trust Linda and confronts Joey, believing they are having an affair of their own (“Do It the Hard Way”). Linda arrives to convince Vera that nothing is going on, a fact Vera soon realises. Both women agree that Joey is more trouble than he is worth (“Take Him”). Vera has Gladys and Ludlow arrested for blackmail, and she then breaks up with Joey and closes the club.
Joey runs into Linda in front of the shop where they first met. She invites him to dinner, but he refuses, and she says she hopes they’ll meet one day again. In the end, Joey is left all alone.
- You Musn’t Kick It Around
- I Could Write a Book
- Chicago – A Great Big Town
- That Terrific Rainbow
- What is a Man
- Happy Hunting Horn
- Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered
- Pal Joey
- Flower Garden in My Heart
- Plant You Now, Dig you Later
- In Our Little Den of Iniquity
- Do it the Hard ay
- Take Him
- Reprise: Bewitched
- Finale: I Could Write a Book
1952 Tony Award: Best Performance by a Featured Actress (Helen Gallagher), Best Choreography (Robert Alton), Best Musical Director.
UK: Josef Weinberger
USA: R & H Theatricals