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The Curse is Reversed!
A Musical Tribute to the Red Sox









Site by David Kruh

What is the Curse of the Bambino?

It's one thing when the ump forgets his glasses,
Or another when you cannot score a run.
But how do you explain your gold-glove fielder,
Just lost a crucial grounder in the sun?
(From "I'm a Red Sox Fan" by Steven Bergman & David Kruh)

The Curse

In 1918 the Boston Red Sox won their fifth World Series, thanks in great part to the pitching and hitting of an orphan boy from the slums of Baltimore named George Herman Ruth, a.k.a. The Babe, or The Bambino. Following the 1919 season in which the team failed to make the Series but one in which Ruth hit an astounding (for that era) 29 home runs, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold the Babe to the New York Yankees for $100,000 cash and a $300,000 mortgage on Fenway Park.

The Yankees went on to dominate the game of baseball, not just during the Ruth era but for decades afterwards, winning a total of 25 World Series since. The Red Sox, who had won five of the first 15 World Series ever played, have never won another since, instead subjecting their fans to years of blown leads, bone headed base running, and booted grounders.

Some people call this The Curse of the Bambino.

We call it a musical.

The Curse of the Bambino: A history of the show

December, 1997 - 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."

January, 1999 - 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 David 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 2000-2001 season.

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 - Casting of the show.

April, 2001 - Rehearsals begin.

April 20, 2001 - Preview performances begin.

April 25, 2001 - World Premiere

April 26, 2001 - The Baseball Hall of Fame requests a copy of the script, score, and promotional materials related to the musical, for its archives in Cooperstown, New York.

April 27, 2001 - Chris 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.

September, 2004 - 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 Bambino.

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 (We 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 (Bucky Dent).

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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