LP0234. JUNO (Blitzstein), Original 1959 Broadway Cast, w.Shirley Booth, Melvyn Douglas. Original 6-eye 'Promotional' white label Columbia stereo OS 2013.
“JUNO is a musical with music and lyrics by Marc Blitzstein and book by Joseph Stein, based closely on the 1924 play JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK by Seán O'Casey. The story centers on the disintegration of an Irish family in Dublin in the early 1920s, during the Irish War of Independence. Juno is a hardworking matriarch who strives to hold her family together in the face of war, betrayal, and her worthless husband's drinking.
The original production opened on Broadway in 1959 and closed after only 16 performances. Its somber tone did not please the critics, who were disappointed that its stars, particularly Shirley Booth, did not have an opportunity to play comedy. The score and original cast album have found some praise.
Despite light moments, the musical, even more than the satiric play, is essentially a tragedy. Modern scholars of musical theatre consider Blitzstein and Stein's musicalization of the source material to be strong, but initial reviews of the piece were mostly negative, mainly because critics and audiences felt that the story was too dark for a musical. The production closed after only 16 performances. According to Robert Viagas, writing in PLAYBILL, ‘The consensus is that the score may have been ahead of its time, especially harmonically’.
Juno premiered on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on March 9, 1959. The original director was originally to have been Tony Richardson, who dropped out of the production during the early stages. Vincent J. Donehue replaced him, but the rest of the creative team were not satisfied with his work. He was then replaced by José Ferrer.”