Show History



Current scholars herald Let 'Em Eat Cake as the third in a history-making political trilogy that began with Strike up the Band, followed by the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama, Of Thee I Sing. Let 'Em Eat Cake is inspired by current events of the time period in which it was written (the 1930s), with its thinly veiled references to Hitler's Brown Shirts, totalitarianism and anarchy.


Let 'Em Eat Cake opened October 21, 1933, at the Imperial Theatre after no preview performances. Because America was still in the throes of the Great Depression, Let 'Em Eat Cake suffered from slow ticket sales when audiences found themselves penny-pinching through hard times.  It played 90 performances and closed on January 6, 1934.

The property languished for years, until 1987, when a renewal of interest in all things George and Ira Gershwin brought Of Thee I Sing and Let 'Em Eat Cake to the Brooklyn Academy of Music for a wildly successful series of concert performances with Larry Kert, Maureen McGovern and Jack Gilford.

Opera North, the renowned English opera company based in Leeds, staged the Let 'Em Eat Cake along with a revival of Of Thee I Sing, during its 2008-9 season.

Cultural Influence

  • A concert version of Let 'Em Eat Cake was performed on BBC Radio in 1994. The cast included Denis Quilley, Kim Criswell, Joss Ackland, Henry Goodman and Louise Gold.
  • The Opera North production was broadcast again by BBC Radio 3 on Saturday, September 26, 2009, as part of BBC's "Opera on 3" series.
  • Original Studio recordings of Of Thee I Sing and Let 'Em Eat Cake were released together in 1987. The singers included members of the BAM cast: Larry Kert, Maureen McGovern and Jack Gilford.
  • Let 'Em Eat Cake writers, George S. Kaufman and George and Ira Gerswhin, are some of the most storied names in the history of American theatre. Kaufman is known for such classics as the plays, You Can't Take It With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner and Merrily We Roll Along, from which the Stephen Sondheim/George Furth musical is adapted. The Gershwin brothers are both household names in theatre and popular music of the 1920s and 30s and wrote the groundbreaking American folk opera, Porgy and Bess.


  • Several musical themes from Of Thee I Sing are reused in Let 'Em Eat Cake, including the Supreme Court Judges' song and the campaign song, "Wintergreen for President," which includes parts of folk and patriotic songs, such as John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever," and "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here."
  • Many of the same characters from Of Thee I Sing reappear in Let 'Em Eat Cake, and several of the actors from the Broadway production of Of Thee I Sing reprised their roles in the Broadway production of Let 'Em Eat Cake;  for example, William Gaxton played J.P. Wintergreen and Victor Moore played Alexander Throttlebottom in both productions.
  • The song, "First Lady and First Gent," was cut from Let 'Em Eat Cake before it made it to Broadway.
  • The Broadway production was directed by the show's co-bookwriter, George S. Kaufman. Let 'Em Eat Cake was the last Broadway musical that the Gershwins wrote (Porgy and Bess came afterwards, but is largely considered an opera rather than a musical).