Show History



Saturday Night is based on the play, Front Porch in Flatbush, which was written by twin brothers, Julius J. and Philip G. Epstein, about their third brother and his friends in 1929 Brooklyn, just before the stock market crash.

Lemuel Ayers (who had produced Kiss Me, Kate and Out of This World) acquired the rights to the play, which he planned to turn into a musical. After hearing some songs by a young Stephen Sondheim, Ayers was impressed and brought Sondheim onto the project to write songs.


Saturday Night was scheduled to open in the 1954-1955 Broadway season; it was expected to be Stephen Sondheim's Broadway debut. However, in August of 1955, lead producer Lemuel Ayers died. The production was scrapped, and the musical material shelved.

In 1959, Jule Styne (Sondheim's collaborator for Gypsy) wanted to produce Saturday Night with Bob Fosse directing. However, Sondheim, feeling that he had moved on from the show artistically, did not want the production.

Nearly 36 years later, in 1995, London's the Bridewell Theatre hosted a "reading" of material from Saturday Night by the Stephen Sondheim Society and Stephen Banfield. They then approached Sondheim about doing a production, which came to fruition in December 1997 with the premiere of Saturday Night. The production was directed by Carol Metcalfe and Clive Paget. The orchestrations were by Peter Corrigan, who worked from the piano-vocal score, and the score was performed by a five-piece orchestra under the supervision of Mark Warman. The show ran through January 1998.

The U.S. premiere was presented by the Pegasus Players at the O'Rourke Center for the Performing Arts in Chicago and opened in May 1999. It was directed by Gary Griffin. The orchestrations were by Jonathan Tunick, and the incidental music was by Sean Patrick Flahaven. The production had an extended run through July 1999. 

The New York premiere was Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre, beginning previews in January 2000 and opening on Valentine's Day. It was directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall. The musical director was Rob Fisher.

Saturday Night opened in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003, followed by a March 2009 UK revival in London that featured the revised Off-Broadway score. The Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, presented a concert staging of the piece in October 2011.

Cultural Influence

  • Although Saturday Night went unproduced for more than forty years, several songs from the show have been recorded. A partial list includes: "What More Do I Need," "Isn't It" and "Saturday Night," recorded on A Stephen Sondheim Evening; "Love's a Bond," "All for You" and "In the Movies," on Varese Sarabande's Unsung Sondheim; and "So Many People" and "A Moment with You," included on the cast album for the Off-Broadway revue, Marry Me a Little.
  • A cast recording of the Bridewell Theatre production was made and distributed by First Night (UK) and RCA Victor (US).
  • Nonesuch Records released a new recording of the New York Second Stage cast on June 20, 2000.


  • In 1953 and 1954, backers' auditions were held for Saturday Night, and the show was capitalized for $250,000.
  • Stephen Sondheim's work on Saturday Night led to his involvement with West Side Story. Arthur Laurents, the bookwriter, liked Sondheim's lyrics for Saturday Night and introduced him to composer Leonard Bernstein. After hearing his work, Bernstein agreed that Sondheim should become the lyricist for West Side Story.
  • Sondheim edited the book and wrote two new song/scenes ("Delighted I'm Sure" and "Montana Chem") for the Pegasus Players production in Chicago.
  • The Bridewell Theatre, where Saturday Night premiered, is a 133-seat space that used to be a swimming pool.