LP0303. THE NERVOUS SET (Theodore J. Flicker), Original 1959 Broadway Cast, w.Larry Hagman, Richard Hayes, Tani Seitz, Del Close, Gerald Hiken, Thomas Aldredge. Columbia 6-eye grey label OL 5430, w.Jules Feiffer cover art & Richard Avedon photography.
“THE NERVOUS SET, a musical based on an unpublished novel by Landesman, with a book co-written with Theodore J. Flicker, premiered March 10, 1959 at Crystal Palace, St Louis and enjoyed a long run there, but lasted only 23 performances on Broadway at Henry Miller's Theatre where it opened 12 May, 1959 and closed on the 30th. Featuring Larry Hagman in a leading role, the show in New York suffered from mixed reviews.”
“Theodore J. Flicker, a writer and director who led an influential improvisational theater troupe in New York in the 1960s, helped form a version of the Compass Players, an improvisational group that was a predecessor of Second City. By 1960 he had moved to New York and begun performing in and producing THE PREMISE, an irreverent revue in Greenwich Village. He offered audiences a distinctive greeting before performances. ‘I feel it only fair to warn you’, he would say, ‘that we have nothing prepared for you’.
Louis Calta, reviewing the show in THE NEW YORK TIMES, explained the trick: ‘A company of four young players, led by Mr. Flicker, a mustached, bewhiskered and bespectacled person of amiable mien, improvises scenes from words (animate or inanimate) and from topics provided by members of the audience. The category can be anything - a phrase or something having to do with films, art, politics or telephone operators’. Mr. Calta was not impressed, but others were. In 1961, Mr. Flicker received a Drama Desk Award for creating ‘an irreverent, brash and novel form of entertainment’. THE PREMISE had a long run and energized the careers of several of its stars, including George Segal, Buck Henry, Joan Darling and Tom Aldredge.
In 1962 Mr. Flicker took THE PREMISE to London, where he had trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Early in the run, the troupe was ordered to remove scenes that parodied the Kennedy family - in one, 4-year-old Caroline was portrayed as the real power in the family - because they violated English laws against lampooning heads of state. A telegram from Jacqueline Kennedy’s press secretary saying the family hoped the Brits would allow the scenes had no effect.
Mr. Flicker followed THE PREMISE with another New York revue, THE LIVING PREMISE, before moving to Hollywood to work in film and television.
In 1959, Mr. Flicker directed THE NERVOUS SET, a musical about the Beat generation that opened in St. Louis in March and moved to Broadway in May. It lasted for just 23 performances.”
- William Yardley, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 17 Sept., 2014