The Teahouse of the August Moon
Theatre Company website)
1954 Broadway Program- starring David Wayne (Sakini) and
John Forsythe (Fisby)
Teahouse of the August Moon was not written and then submitted
for production, but was written on order when commissioned by
its producer, who first saw the theatrical possibilities in the
producer was the notable actor-director-producer, Maurice
Evans, who was so delighted upon reading Vern
(this was late in 1951, when Evans was acting in New York
in Dial M for Murder) that he immediately obtained dramatization
rights to it, and then assigned a well-known playwright to
make a stage adaptation.
playwright was unable to control the material, was called
off the job and Evans then tried again by commissioning John
Patrick to do a stage version.
original novel, The Teahouse of the August Moon, by Vern Sneider,
is more or less a close picture of real life as observed by
Sneider, who is himself not beyond comparison with his character
of Capt. Fisby.
novel won considerable success when it was published in 1951.
play-script was finished in the spring of 1953, and that spring
and summer were spent in assembling the perfect cast and scenery
and other production details that were finally shown to New
York audiences at its opening night, Oct. 15, 1953 at
the Martin Beck Theatre.
world premiere was in New Haven, CT on Sept. 24, 1953, followed
by two weeks in Boston as pre-New York tuning-up engagements.)
even early in the summer of that year, the word was flashing
along the theatrical grapevine that a notable hit was on the
1955 Souvenir Program
of clubs and charitable organizations were bidding for blocks
of tickets, more than four months before its premiere. When
the opening night came along, none of the advance expectation
was disappointed. The reviews were ecstatic, the public mobbed
the box-office, and the same kind of fevered demand for tickets
went on for over two years, as had characterized the runs of
such hits as South Pacific and Oklahoma!
original production was directed by Robert Lewis, with settings
and lighting by Peter Larkin, costumes by Noel Taylor, music
by Dai-Keong Lee.
New York, Teahouse scored a run of 128 weeks (over 29 months)
from Oct. 15, 1953 to March 24, 1956, or a total of 1,026
performances - the 20th longest run in the history of the Broadway
stage. The show ran up similar records for popularity
everywhere, running more than 30 weeks in Chicago.
became a favorite in foreign countries. Germany
and Austria gave it a kind of popularity no previous play
had ever had in those countries. Productions staged by the
U.S. Army in Japan and in Okinawa itself drew world-wide
attention. Foreign theatergoers had a special relish
for a play that showed that Pentagon-made plans, devised
without accounting for local manners, customs and prejudices,
must be amended by people on the ground, in order to work.
the season of its original Broadway production, Teahouse
made a clean sweep of every prize for theatrical excellence. It
captured The Pulitzer Prize, N.Y. Drama Critics' Award, The
Donaldson Award, The Theatre Club Award, The Aegis Theatre
Club Award, The American Theatre Wing's Antointette Perry Award. This
was only the fifth play in theatre history to win both the
Pulitzer Prize and the N.Y. Drama Critics' Award.
film version of the play, starring Marlon Brando as Sakini
and Glenn Ford as Capt. Fisby, was released in the fall of
musical version of the play called Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen
was presented on Broadway early in 1971. It did not receive
encouraging reviews and closed quickly.