Show History



The Drunkard is based on the notable American temperance play, first performed in 1844.  It was written as a way to capitalize on the Temperance Movement at the time, which sought to wipe out alcohol consumption across the United States.  The play was one of the most popular dramatized works in Americna history until the stage version of Uncle Tom's Cabin several years later.  It opened at the Boston Museum and ran for 140 performances, which was an astonishing feat in those days.  Famed circus owner, P. T. Barnum, caught wind of the show's popularity and produced his own production at the Moral Lecture Room in his American Museum in New York City for 150 performances.  Many revivals of The Drunkard have come and gone since then, most notably a production at the Theatre Mart is Los Angeles that ran for 36 years.  The play has also spurned many other musical versions, including one at the Tulsa Spotlight Theatre that has been allegedly running every Saturday night since 1953.

Manilow was brought into the fold on the musical through a series of fortunate events.  He had been working in the mailroom of CBS for some time in order to pay for his education at Julliard.  A director whom he had met at CBS approached him (at only the age of 19) about arranging several public domain songs into a score for this new musicalized version of the melodramatic play.  Manilow jumped at the opportunity, but deciding to write an entirely new score by himself.


This version of The Drunkard premiered in 1964, after playwright, Bo Herrod, decided to bring his own adaptation to the stage with the help of Barry Manilow's music.  The premiere production opened at the 13th Street Theatre in New York City. A revised version by the same authors reopened there on April 13, 1970, and ran for the next two years.

Cultural Influence

  • Composer, Barry Manilow's, work on The Drunkard was a great kickstart to his eventual pop music career.  After the musical went up, Manilow got bumped up to a jingle writer at CBS, and the rest was history.


  • The original Off-Broadway cast of The Drunkard included performances from Christopher Cable, Joy Garrett, Clay Johns, Drew Murphy, Susan Rush, Donna Sanders, Marie Santell and Lou Vitacco.