The Happy Time (musical)

The Happy Time (musical)

Infobox Musical
name= The Happy Time

music= John Kander
lyrics= Fred Ebb
book= N. Richard Nash
basis= Samuel A. Taylor's play
"The Happy Time"
productions= 1968 Broadway
2008 Virginia

"The Happy Time" is a musical with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and a book by N. Richard Nash loosely based on a 1950 hit Broadway play, "The Happy Time" by Samuel A. Taylor, which was in turn based on stories by Robert Fontaine. The story had also been made into a 1952 film version.

The original 1968 Broadway production was directed and choreographed by Gower Champion, who won Tony Awards in each category.

Background and productions

Producer David Merrick had initially asked Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields to write the songs and Yves Montand to play the lead, but they were all busy with other projects and declined to participate. [Gilvey, p. 183] Merrick then asked N. Richard Nash to write the script, but Nash suggested an original story of his own. Merrick, holding the rights to "The Happy Time", asked that the setting be changed to Canada, and the deal was set. The final script had little of the Taylor play but did use the characters and some minor details from Fontaine's stories. Nash showed the outline of the story to Kander and Ebb, who agreed to write the music. [Gilvey, pp. 182-84]

"The Happy Time" opened on Broadway at The Broadway Theatre on January 18, 1968. It received mixed reviews from the critics, who generally admired the performances but noted large deficiencies in the script. [Gilvey, p. 200] It closed on September 28, 1968, after a run of 286 sparsely attended performances and 23 previews. It was the first Broadway musical to lose a million dollars. [ [ William Ruhlmann, "All Music Guide"] ] The production starred Robert Goulet as Jacques Bonnard, David Wayne as Jacques' father, Mike Rupert as Bibi, Julie Gregg as Laurie Mannon, and George S. Irving and Charles Durning as Jacques' brothers.

Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA staged a revised production of "The Happy Time" from April 1, 2008 through June 1, 2008. The production was directed by Michael Unger and choreographed by Karma Camp. [Jones, Kenneth. [ "Sentimental Journey: Signature Revives Kander & Ebb's Happy Time April 1",], April 1, 2008] It received favorable reviews. For example, the "Washington Post" wrote: "A little charmer... Effervescent. The cast is strong... which is part of why it generally feels like a luxury to be able to see the show in this space." [Pressley, Nelson. [ "The Happy Time: a Little Charmer",] "The Washington Post", April 10, 2008, p. C05] "Variety" agreed: "Fresh and earnest... staged with ultimate intimacy in Signature's tiny ARK Theater." [Harris, Paul. [ "The Happy Time",] "Variety", April 7, 2008]


Jacques Bonnard is a prize-winning photographer who travels the world. He returns to his 1920s French-Canadian village, after five years away, seeking the happy time of his childhood. His cantankerous but lovable father (Grandpere), two brothers and their wives, and their children all welcome him ("He's Back"). His stories of his travels have a profound effect on his nephew Bibi, who is having trouble at school and going through an especially rough puberty, inspiring the boy to want to live life to the fullest. Jacques goes to a nightclub and takes Grandpere and Bibi, where they are entertained by the dancers (Six Angels) ("Catch My Garter"). After their night on the town, Bibi begs Jacques to "Please Stay".

When Bibi takes Grandpere's "naughty" pictures to school and is discovered, his stern father Philippe forces him to apologize to his school-mates. Bibi is embarrassed and upset and tries to cajole Jacques into taking him away when he leaves. Although Jacques at first agrees, thinking that Bibi will be a companion, he quickly realizes that this would not be good for Bibi.

Meanwhile, Jacques finds it difficult to commit to his former sweetheart Laurie ("I Don't Remember You"). The couple finally realize that they have opposite ideas about life and the future ("Seeing Things"), with Laurie understanding that Jacques is emotionally a boy, like her students. Grandpere, Jacques and Bibi playfully sing an ode to "A Certain Girl". Jacques finally realizes that he returned home searching for family and love ("Being Alive"), and understands that he must set out alone again.


;Act I
*The Happy Time – Jacques Bonnard and Family
*Jeanne-Marie - Jacques and Family "(Revised 2008 Signature Theatre Production)"
*He's Back – Family
*Catch My Garter – Six Angels
*Tomorrow Morning – Jacques, Grandpere, Bibi, and Six Angels
*Please Stay – Bibi and Jacques
*I Don't Remember You – Jacques
*St. Pierre – Glee Club, Laurie Mannon, and Jacques
*I Don't Remember You (Reprise) – Laurie and Jacques
*Without Me – Bibi and Schoolmates
*In His Own Good Time - Suzanne and Phillipe "(Revised 2008 Signature Theatre Production)"
*The Happy Time (Reprise) – Jacques

;Act II
*Among My Yesterdays – Jacques
*Please Stay (Reprise) - Laurie "(Revised 2008 Signature Theatre Production)"
*The Life of the Party – Grandpere , Six Angels, and Schoolboys
*I'm Sorry - Bibi ("Revised 2008 Signature Theatre Production")
*Seeing Things – Jacques and Laurie
*A Certain Girl – Grandpere, Jacques, and Bibi
*Running - Jacques "(Revised 2008 Signature Theatre Production)"
*St. Pierre - Bibi, Laurie, and Glee Club
*The Happy Time (Reprise) – Jacques and Company

Awards and nominations

*Tony Awards and Nominations
**Best Musical (nominee)
**Best Score -- Music by John Kander; Lyrics by Fred Ebb (nominee)
**Best Actor (Musical)
***Robert Goulet (winner)
***David Wayne (nominee)
**Best Featured Actor (Musical) -- Michael Rupert (nominee)
**Best Featured Actress (Musical) -- Julie Gregg (nominee)
**Best Scenic Designer -- Peter Wexler (nominee)
**Best Costume Designer -- Freddy Wittop (nominee)
**Best Choreographer -- Gower Champion (winner)
**Best Director (Musical) -- Gower Champion (winner) [ [ List of 1968 Tony Award Nominees and Winners] ]

*Theatre World Award -- for debut performances
**Julie Gregg (winner)
**Michael Rupert (winner) [ [ List of Theatre World Award Winners] ]


The Original Broadway cast recording was released by RCA Victor Broadway in January 1968 and the CD was released on March 10, 1992. [ [ The Happy Time (1968 Original Broadway Cast)] ]



*Gilvey, J., "Before the Parade Passes by: Gower Champion and the Glorious American Musical" (2005), St. Martin's Press, ISBN 0312337760

External links

* [ Internet Broadway Database]
* [ Broadwayworld article on 2007 concert]
* [ Theatreonline review of the 2007 concert]
* [ Potomac Stages review of Signature Theatre production]

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