Show History



Kean is an operetta with a book by Peter Stone (1776) and a score by Robert Wright and George Forrest (Kismet, Grand Hotel). It is based on the life of Edmund Kean, the premiere Shakespearean actor in eighteenth-century London, and focuses, in particular, on his frequent womanizing and the dangerous love pentagon that results. In creating the show, Stone pulled from plays written about Kean from both Alexandre Dumas and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Musical theatre star, Alfred Drake, gained the rights to Jean-Paul Sartre's play about Edmund Kean with the desire to musicalize it. He brought on his agent, Robert Lantz, as a producer and brought back many of the people with whom Drake worked on Kismet, including songwriters, Robert Wright and George Forrest.


Kean had tryout runs in both Boston and Philadelphia before opening on November 2, 1961, at the Broadway Theatre. Directed and choreographed by Jack Cole, it ran for 92 performances.

Cultural Influence

  • Kean was the first musical with a book by Peter Stone. He would go on to win Tony Awards for his work on the musicals, 1776, Titanic and Woman of the Year.
  • Robert Wright and George Forrest's score for Kean was the first of the duo's actually to reach Broadway.


  • The original Broadway production of Kean starred Alfred Drake, Larry Fuller, Christopher Hewett, Joan Weldon and Lee Venora.
  • The Broadway production of Kean was nominated for two Tony Awards in 1962.