They're Playing Our Song

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They're Playing Our Song
Original Cast Recording
MusicMarvin Hamlisch
LyricsCarole Bayer Sager
BookNeil Simon
BasisRelationship between Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch
Productions1978 Los Angeles
1979 Broadway
1980 Sydney
1980 West End
1980 Buenos Aires
1992 Buenos Aires
2000 Manila
2007 Budapest
2008 Off-West End Revival
2009 Brazil
2011 Békéscsaba

They're Playing Our Song is a musical with a book by Neil Simon, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, and music by Marvin Hamlisch.

In a story based on the real-life relationship of Hamlisch and Sager, a wisecracking composer finds a new, offbeat lyricist, but initially the match is not one made in heaven; the two undergo a series of trials and overcome a number of hurdles before finding true love by the final curtain.

They're Playing Our Song is essentially a two-character show. Vernon and Sonia are the sole characters on stage; each character has a three-person Greek chorus acting as their inner voices, and there are no big production numbers.


Broadway and West End

Produced by Emanuel Azenberg, the musical had its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles in December 1978.[1][2]

The musical opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on February 11, 1979 where it ran for 1,082 performances and 11 previews. Directed by Robert Moore and choreographed by Patricia Birch, the cast starred Robert Klein and Lucie Arnaz (in her Broadway debut). Douglas W. Schmidt designed the scenery and projections, Ann Roth designed the costumes and lighting was by Tharon Musser. Notable cast replacements included Tony Roberts, Stockard Channing, Victor Garber, Anita Gillette, Diana Canova and Ted Wass. An original cast recording was released by Casablanca Records.

Film rights were purchased by Rastar Films in late 1979. Producer Ray Stark planned a 1982 release through Columbia Pictures with new songs contributed by Hamlisch and Sager; the film, however, was never produced.[3]

The first U.S. national tour opened in 1979 with Victor Garber and Ellen Greene.[4]

The musical opened in the West End on October 1, 1980 at the Shaftesbury Theatre with Tom Conti and Gemma Craven,[5] who won a 1980 Laurence Olivier Award for Actress of the Year in a Musical.[6] Among the "Inner Voices" was Deena Payne. According to the history of the Shaftesbury Theatre, "The most successful production during this time was the musical They're Playing Our Song (1980), starring Tom Conti and Gemma Craven, which ran for nearly two years."[7] Notable replacements during its original London run included Martin Shaw and Diana Terry, it closed on May 8, 1982.[8] A London cast recording was released on the Chopper label.

A London revival opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory on August 4, 2008 to mixed reviews and closed on September 28, it starred How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? winner Connie Fisher and Alistair McGowan.[9]

International productions

The original Australian production opened on August 23, 1980 at the Theatre Royal in Sydney, it starred John Waters and Jacki Weaver, with Rhonda Burchmore as one of the "Inner Voices." An Australian Cast Recording was released by Festival Records.

The Argentinian production opened in 1980, it starred Valeria Lynch and Victor Laplace, in 1992 they starred a new production. Argentinian cast recording was released by Philips.

The Singapore Repertory Theater production opened in the Philippines, from July 2000 to August 13, it starred Tony Award winner Lea Salonga as Sonia and Singaporean actor Adrian Pang as Vernon. The musical ran in the AFP Theatre.[10]

A Brazilian production will open on March 2009, starring Tadeu Aguiar[11] and Amanda Acosta.

An Australian production has just concluded at St. Jude's in Brighton, Adelaide, South Australia.

2011 played in Békéscsaba, Hungary. The name of show of Békéscsa version: Kapj el! (Falling (the name of 1. song)). Original crew: Sonia: Anna Balogh, Vernon: György Szomor, Voices: Árpád Burány, Róbert Nagy, Sándor Molnár, Boglárka Farkas, Tünde Judit Török / Anita Gábor,Enikő Szandra Litauszki. Directed by Zoltán Seregi,Choreographer: Judit Kerekes, set designer: Katalin Juhász, costume designer: Anikó Vesztergombi, lighting designer: Ferenc Takács, Péter Orbán, Viktor Szentgróti, Sound designer: Gábor Papp, Gergő Bajusz, projection designer: László Szalai, promoter and director assistant: Kata Kiss, stage manager: Károly Szente.[12]


On August 30, 2010, Seth Rudetsky and Sutton Foster starred in a one-night only Actors Fund Benefit performance of the show at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre.[13]

In fall of 2010, The Reprise Theatre Company in Los Angeles staged a production starring Jason Alexander and Stephanie J. Block. [14]

Porchlight Music Theatre presented They're Playing Our Song as a part of their "Porchlight Revisits" season where they stage forgotten musicals three times per year; this production was in Chicago, Illinois in March 2018. It was directed and choreographed by Christopher Carter and music directed by Andra Velis Simon. [15]


Act I

Top pop music composer Vernon Gersch, hoping to find a new collaborator, meets offbeat Sonia Walsk, who has already had some success writing lyrics and is in awe of his accomplishments, at his luxury Manhattan apartment, she is surprised that his Oscar is so light, and Vernon quips, "They're chocolate inside." He is aloof and focused, while she is disorganized and distracted, but Vernon has already written music to one of Sonia's lyrics, and they decide to forge ahead. Sonia, frazzled by her break up with lover Leon, arrives a day late for their first work session; when they begin, she tells Vernon they should get to know each other on a personal level in order for their work to gel, and they decide to have dinner at "Le Club."

Sonia, who has been trying to ease Leon's anguish, is late yet again, and the evening begins badly, she and Vernon argue, then dance in an effort to calm down. The two settle down to enjoy the evening, and they hear their own songs being played over the sound system. Another work session, in which the two really don't listen to each other, follows, but Vernon convinces Sonia to join him for a romantic weekend at a Long Island beach house; the trip to the island in Vernon's small sports car is fraught with engine trouble, calls to Leon, and arguments. They finally arrive at the house, but a phone call from Leon threatens the romantic mood. Determined to concentrate on Vernon, Sonia tells Leon that she can't help him and hangs up.

Act II

It's a week later and Vernon is suffering from insomnia. Sonia manipulates her way into his apartment by telling him she has no place to stay since Leon is back living at her place. Sonia and Vernon's romance and collaboration seems successful for a while, but the relationship begins to crumble because of her inability to send her ex-boyfriend away. Also, away from his piano, Vernon is a bundle of neuroses and unable to express his deepest feelings. After some psychologizing about the difficulties of living and working together, the pair split up at a recording session.

A few months later, while Vernon is in a Los Angeles hospital, Sonia arrives unexpectedly with a tiny red child's piano as a get-well gift. Months later, both have separately come to the realization that, despite their differences, they are better together. Vernon arrives at Sonia's apartment in New York to tell her that he wants to try again, she agrees, and they reconcile with a kiss.


Awards and nominations[edit]

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1979 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Neil Simon Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Robert Klein Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Robert Moore Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Book of a Musical Neil Simon Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Musical Lucie Arnaz Nominated
Outstanding Music Marvin Hamlisch Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design Tharon Musser Nominated
Theatre World Award Lucie Arnaz Won

Original London production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1980 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated
Best Actor in a Musical Tom Conti Nominated
Best Actress in a Musical Gemma Craven Won


  1. ^ "L.A. as a Tryout Town: What's So Bad About That?", Los Angeles Times, pp. R87, 10 December 1978
  2. ^ Simon, Neil. "Introduction. Script" They're Playing Our Song, Samuel French, Inc., 1980, ISBN 0573681058, p. 3
  3. ^ "Col, Rastar films buy Neil Simon's 'Playing Our Song'". The Hollywood Reporter. December 12, 1979.
  4. ^ Green, Kay (ed.) "'They're Playing Our Song'" Broadway Musicals, Show by Show, Hal Leonard Corporation, 1996, ISBN 0793577500, p.252
  5. ^ "'They're Playing Our Song' Production Information", accessed December 9, 2015
  6. ^ "Olivier Awards 1980", accessed December 8, 2015
  7. ^ "Shaftesbury Theatre History", accessed December 8, 2015
  8. ^ Listing, retrieved January 18, 2010
  9. ^ Shenton, Mark. "They're Playing Our Song, with Sound of Music's Fisher, Opens in London Aug. 4",, August 4, 2008
  10. ^ Llamas, Cora. "Lifestyle: They're Playing A Good Song", Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 10, 2000, p. 6
  11. ^ Tadeu Aguiar - They're playing our song - Brazil April/2009.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Gans, Andrew. "Full Cast of Sutton Foster-Seth Rudetsky They're Playing Our Song Announced", August 18, 2010
  14. ^ Ganz, Andrew. "They're Playing Our Song, With Stephanie J. Block and Jason Alexander, Begins Reprise Run Sept. 28", September 28, 2010
  15. ^ "Porchlight Revisits They're Playing Our Song | Porchlight Music Theatre". Porchlight Music Theatre. Retrieved 2018-05-15.


External links[edit]