Show History



Before Cameron Mackintosh and Gillian Lynne achieved the phenomenal success of Cats, they collaborated on this revue of the songs of Tom Lehrer, who rose to prominence in the 1950s and '60s. Mackintosh had been a fan of Lehrer's satirical songs since the age of ten. Once Mackintosh had successfully produced Side by Side by Sondheim, he tracked down Lehrer in Santa Cruz, California, and began developing Tomfoolery.


Tomfoolery is a musical revue based on lyrics and music that Tom Lehrer first performed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Devised and produced by Cameron Mackintosh, it premiered in London at the Criterion Theatre, directed by Gillian Lynne, on June 5,1980, where it had a successful run of 486 performances. It subsequently opened Off-Broadway on December 14, 1981, at the Top of the Gate in Greenwich Village, New York, where it ran for 120 performances, before closing in March of 1982.

Since its UK production and Off-Broadway run in New York, Tomfoolery has enjoyed much regional success, playing in such cities as Washington, D.C., Denver, Portland and Chicago.

Cultural Influence

  • A cast recording from the original London cast of Tomfoolery was released by Jay Records in 1980, and a cast recording from the original Canadian cast was recorded in front of a live audience on September 5, 1981, in Vancouver.


  • The selection of songs, and their assignment to specific cast members, varied somewhat among the many productions of Tomfoolery, which has made it difficult to decide on a definitive script. The running order in the Boston production seemed the most satisfactory, and so it was decided – rather arbitrarily – to base the published script on that version. This, in turn, meant that in assigning character names to the four cast members, it was simplest to use the names of the Boston cast. This was merely a matter of convenience and in no way reflects on the relative merits of the various casts. The songs and the spoken links between them may, of course, be distributed differently, according to the strengths of the individual performers, in which case, it may be necessary to alter the running order somewhat.