Show History



Archy & Mehitabel is a musical with a book by Mel Brooks and Joe Darion, music by George Kleinsinger and lyrics by Darion. It is based on an extremely popular news column of the same name that appeared in the New York Tribune, starting in 1916. The column talked of a poetic cockroach and his alley cat friend; the articles themselves served as allegories for New York City society in the 1910s and 1920s.

Archy & Mehitabel first came together as a 45-minute album in 1954, which featured performances from Carol Channing as Mehitabel and Eddie Bracken as Archy. George Kleinsinger, known for his work on the children's musical, Tubby The Tuba, worked on the music while Joe Darion, who would later go on to write the song, "The Impossible Dream," wrote the lyrics.


The musical was presented in a concert version at Town Hall in New York City in December 1954. In the two years that followed, Kleinsinger and Darion reworked the piece and added a new member to the creative team, a young humor writer by the name of Mel Brooks. After Mel Brooks became a bookwriter for the musical, they changed the name to Shinbone Alley and premiered it as a full-scale Broadway musical on April 13, 1957, at the Broadway Theatre. It closed on May 25 of the same year after 49 performances.

After almost 50 years, productions of Archy & Mehitabel began to reemerge in the 21st century. The musical made its international premiere in 2005 in Melbourne, Australia. In November 2006, the "Musicals Tonight!" series presented a staged concert version.

Cultural Influence

  • Darion, Brooks, and Kleinsinger adapted their musical into an animated musical comedy film. It was titled Shinbone Alley and was released in 1971.
  • On May 16, 1960, an abridged version of Archy & Mehitabel was broadcast in the syndicated television anthology series, "Play of the Week."
  • The Broadway production of Archy & Mehitabel has been heralded as a key show for racial relations in musical theatre. It was one of the first shows to use a fully racially integrated cast.
  • Archy & Mehitabel has been said to be a notable precursor to the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit musical, Cats. Both musicals feature performances from anthropomorphic animals.


  • Celebrities that have starred in all iterations of Archy & Mehitabel include: Carol Channing (mehitabel), Eartha Kitt (mehitabel), Chita Rivera, Eddie Bracken (archy), Erik Rhodes (tyrone), George S. Irving (big bill), Ross Martin, Cathryn Damon, Jacques d'Amboise and Lillian Hayman.