The Curse of the
Bambino: A history of the show
- Steven Bergman
(music and lyrics) and David
Kruh (book and lyrics) meet to outline the show that will become "The
Curse of the Bambino." Bergman was looking for a follow-up to his 1997
premiere, "Jack the Ripper: The Whitechapel Musical," and Kruh had recently
completed his first full-length play, "The Trial of William Shakespeare."
First songs include "Home Run King," "Baseball Man" and "Showbiz."
- A year of writing (and rewriting) culminates in an informal reading of
the first draft that takes place at the Lyric
Stage Company, Boston, MA. A cast of 12 reads and sings "The Curse
of the Bambino." In attendance are the authors and Lyric Stage Artistic
Director Spiro Veloudos,
who considers the piece for production at his theater.
May, 1999 -
Staged reading at the Lyric Stage. Over 120 people see a very different
piece from the January presentation as two subplots, three songs, and five
characters have been cut. Attendees include members of the local press,
local theater producers, and even a few critics. The cast of 9 includes
Robert "Jake" Jacobs (Harry Frazee), Chip Phillips (Steve Waterman), Eileen
Nugent (Betty Danvers), Jerry Bisantz (Colonel Jake Ruppert), and J.H.Williston
(Babe Ruth). The song list of 20 songs now also includes "The Red Sox Boogie,"
"The Bambino's Curse," "I'm a Red Sox Fan," "Bucky Dent," "Face the Music,"
and "Lucky Again."
October 19, 1999
- As the Red Sox advanced in that year's playoffs, the Boston Globe's
Names and Faces column reported that: "Two local playwrights could be excused
for having divided loyalties during the Red Sox/Yankees series. Writer
Kruh and composer Steven Bergman have been working for two years
on a musical about the Red Sox' misfortunes, called "The Curse of the Bambino."
Local director Spiro Veloudos directed a staged reading at the Lyric
last [sic] year, and hopes to present it there sometime in the next few
years. 'It would be kind of weird, if the Red Sox won the World Series,
to do a play about how they never won the World Series," Veloudos said.'"
February, 2000 -
Another informal reading takes place, this time without music, to view
the progress of the piece. One of the cut characters (Myron) from the first
reading has been put back in the show to feature the song "Beisball Manifesto."
Once again in attendance is Veloudos, who is now interested in both directing
and producing the World Premiere of the show at the Lyric Stage in the
March 1, 2000 -
Following a successful presentation to the theater's Board of Directors,
Artistic Director Veloudos informed the authors that "The Curse of the
Bambino" would receive its World Premiere at the Lyric Stage Company of
Boston in April, 2001.
October, 2000 -
of the show.
- Rehearsals begin.
April 20, 2001
- Preview performances begin.
April 25, 2001 -
April 26, 2001 -
Baseball Hall of Fame requests a copy of the script, score, and promotional
materials related to the musical, for its archives in Cooperstown, New
April 27, 2001 -
Herrlein, the great-grandson of Babe Ruth, attends a performance of the
show. "I loved it," he proclaimed.
May 1, 2001 - The
Lyric Stage announces and extension of the show's run to June 3.
- With the Red Sox inching ever closer to their first World's Championship
in 86 years, Theater to Go in Stoneham, MA produces The Curse of the
October 27, 2004
- YES! The Red Sox win the World Series, beating the St. Louis Cardinals
in four games.
December 1, 2004
- A new, revised version
of the script for The Curse of the Bambino, one in which the father
(on the phone with his daughter, now a college student) and the Rooters
watch the Red Sox win the Series, is posted on line.
May 11 - 27, 2007
- The Hovey
Players will premiere the the post-World Series version of "Curse of
the Bambino" musical.
The Curse of the
Bambino Musical: The plot
It is October, 1986,
and the sixth game of the World Series plays on the television set of a
suburban New England home. A father enters, carrying his infant daughter
to the couch so that, as he tells her, “you will be able to tell your children
that you saw the Red Sox win it all.” As events on the field progress,
four men – in raccoon coats - appear behind the father. They are the ghosts
of Red Sox fans from the 1910s, known as the Royal Rooters, and they express
the feelings of fans for the Boston baseball team in the show’s first songs
Royal Rooters Four, I'm a Red Sox Fan).
Now we turn the clock
back to the last days of 1919, and join the immigrant patrons of a Boston
bar as they argue over the fate of their favorite team, the Boston Red
Sox, and their favorite player, Babe Ruth (Everybody’s Got Their Heroes).
They are joined by one of the patron’s brother, a young man named Steve
Waterman, who had been sent ahead by his family to America, where he got
an education and a job – as the business manager for Red Sox owner Harry
Frazee. It is a night that will change Steve’s life, as he takes pity on
a desperate young World War widow named Betty Danvers, who comes to bar
seeking food for her hungry child. He offers her a job as a bookkeeper.
Working with Steve
at Fenway Park, Betty learns of the passions that drive Steve, the team's
biggest fan (There's Always Next Year) and Harry Frazee the team's
owner (Showbiz). When a bunch of reporters decide to go to the Babe's
house to investigate rumors of a trade, Steve - unaware of the truth -
goes there himself to protect Harry and the team. There, he contends with
the Boston press - who have amongst their ranks a novice reporter whom
they teach a lesson in the ways of treating a star such as the Babe. (Home
Run King). What Steve doesn't know is that the rumors are true - and
we witness the meeting between Red Sox owner Harry Frazee and New York
Yankees owner Jake Ruppert that lead to the sale of Babe Ruth (Baseball
Man). The reporters, the Babe, and his fans then close the first act
with the show’s theme song (The Curse of the Bambino), which is
sung to Harry Frazee, Boston’s newest villain.
The second act begins
back at the bar as the patrons, in one of the show’s funnier songs, teach
a young Russian immigrant the value of baseball by using Communism (Beisball
Manifesto). Then the news of the sale of Babe Ruth hits the bar, and
we see how the average fan reacted to the news, as well betrayal felt by
the friends and brother of Steve – who in truth was not aware that Frazee
was going to sell the Babe. Later, back at Fenway Park, Steve vents his
own frustration at Harry Frazee (Face the Music).
How Betty plays a pivotal
role in our telling of the Curse of the Bambino, how that affects her relationship
with Steve, how she ultimately mends the hard feelings felt by Steve’s
friends and brother, and how the lessons that Steve learned from being
a Red Sox fan cement her love, are just two parts of our story that will
surprise and delight the Curse of the Bambino Musical audiences.
Throughout the show,
the Royal Rooters return to tell, in song, moments of Red Sox frustration.
Pesky holds the ball in 1946 (The Red Sox Boogie). Journeyman Denny
Galehouse pitches - and loses - a crucial playoff game against Cleveland
in 1948 (A Sure Thing). An early doo-wop serves as the theme to
a re-telling of the great collapse of 1949 (Twelve Games Behind).
Psychedelic rock, Bubble-gum pop, and Disco help them tell the tales of
1967, 1972, 1974, and 1975 (The Finish Line) and (shudder) 1978
The show ends as it
began, in the living room of that suburban father in October, 1986, as
the events of the tenth inning play themselves out, and the ball goes dribbling
through the legs of you-know-who. Yet, as our show ends, we find there
is still one more valuable lesson to be learned from the game, and from
being a Red Sox fan.
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