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|Poster for the Broadway production|
|Basis||The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens|
|Productions||1963 West End|
Pickwick is a musical with a book by Wolf Mankowitz, music by Cyril Ornadel, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Based on The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, it is set in and around London and Rochester in 1828.
Set in England in 1828, the story centers on wealthy Samuel Pickwick and his valet Sam Weller, who are confined in a debtor's prison where they recall the misadventures that led to their present circumstances.
On the previous Christmas Eve, Pickwick introduces his friend Wardle, his daughters Emily and Isabella, and their Aunt Rachel to Nathaniel Winkle, Augustus Snodgrass, and Tracy Tupman, all members of the Pickwick Club. They soon are joined by Alfred Jingle, who manages to trick Tupman into paying for his ticket to a ball that evening. Upon learning Rachel is an heiress, Jingle sets about to win her hand and eventually succeeds.
Pickwick engages Sam Weller as his Gentleman's Gentleman and, through a series of misunderstandings, he mistakenly leads innkeeper Mrs. Bardell to believe he has proposed marriage to her. Pickwick is charged with breach of promise and hauled into court, where he is found guilty as charged and sentenced to prison when he stubbornly refuses to pay her compensation.
The musical opened on 3 June 1963 at the Palace Theatre, Manchester prior to the West End premiere on 4 July 1963 at the Saville Theatre and closed on 27 February 1965 following 694 performances. The Broadway premiere was at the 46th Street Theatre on 4 October 1965. It closed on 18 November after 56 performances. The New York production was directed by Peter Coe, choreographed by Lynne, and featured Secombe as Pickwick, Charlotte Rae as Mrs. Bardell, Roy Castle as Sam Weller, Nancy Haywood as Isabella, Michael Logan as Mr. Wardle, and Peter Bull as Sgt. Buzfuz.
One of the better known songs from the score is "If I Ruled The World".
The cast for the first production in Manchester and London featured Harry Secombe as Pickwick, Jessie Evans as Mrs. Bardell and Teddy Green as Sam Weller. The Pickwickians Tracy Tupman, Augustus Snodgrass and Nathaniel Winkle were played by Gerald James, Julian Orchard and Oscar Quitak respectively. Anton Rodgers put in a fine performance as Mr. Jingle not to mention the amusing 'gruffly common' performance of Robin Wentworth as Tony Weller. Rachel, Isabella and Emily were played by Hilda Braid, Vivienne St.George and Jane Sconce respectively with Sam Weller's 'Girl'Mary performed superbly by Dilys Watling. The remaining cast and Company were equally impressive.
Design was by the Legendary Sean Kenny and Peter Coe directed. Choreography was by Leo Kharibian (yes the same Leo as Broadway's 'West Side Story') with costumes by Roger Furse. The Musical Direction was by Marcus Dodds and the Orchestration the work of Brian Fahey.
Awards and nominations
Harry Secombe was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, Roy Castle was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical, and Charlotte Rae was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical.