is a musical
Musical theatre is a form of theatre combining songs, spoken dialogue, acting, and dance. The emotional content of the piece – humor, pathos, love, anger – as well as the story itself, is communicated through the words, music, movement and technical aspects of the entertainment as an...
with a book by Francis Essex
Francis Essex was a British Television and stage Producer, Author and Composer. Essex's career spanned several decades during which he worked for several TV Production Companies, including: Light Entertainment Producer for the BBC Channel in the UK from 1954 to 1960; Senior Producer for the ATV ...
and Rob Bettinson and a score composed of tunes by some of the all-time greatest songwriter
A songwriter is an individual who writes both the lyrics and music to a song. Someone who solely writes lyrics may be called a lyricist, and someone who only writes music may be called a composer...
s of Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century...
Based on the life of legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...
ary Al Jolson
Al Jolson was an American singer, comedian and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer"....
, it spans thirty years in the career of one of America
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
's most popular entertainers. Out of the limelight
Limelight is a type of stage lighting once used in theatres and music halls. An intense illumination is created when an oxyhydrogen flame is directed at a cylinder of quicklime , which can be heated to 2572 °C before melting. The light is produced by a combination of incandescence and...
, and the plot emphasizes his personal faults as much as it does his professional successes. Other major characters include wife Ruby Keeler
Ruby Keeler, born Ethel Hilda Keeler, was an actress, singer, and dancer most famous for her on-screen coupling with Dick Powell in a string of successful early musicals at Warner Brothers, particularly 42nd Street . From 1928 to 1940, she was married to singer Al Jolson...
and his longtime friend and agent Louis Epstein.
The West End
West End theatre is a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of London's 'Theatreland', the West End. Along with New York's Broadway theatre, West End theatre is usually considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English speaking...
production, directed by Bettinson, opened on October 26, 1995 at the Victoria Palace Theatre
Victoria Palace Theatre is a West End theatre in Victoria Street, in the City of Westminster, opposite Victoria Station.-Origins:The theatre began life as a small concert room above the stables of the Royal Standard Hotel, a small hotel and tavern built in 1832 at what was then 522 Stockbridge...
, where it ran for seventeen months. The cast included Brian Conley
Brian Conley is an English comedian, television presenter, singer and actor. At the peak of his television career, he was the highest-paid male television personality in the UK. Outside of television, he is best known for his frequent portrayals of Buttons in pantomime versions of...
as Jolson, Sally Ann Triplett
Sally Ann Triplett is a British singer and actress most famous for her participation in the Eurovision Song Contest and many West End productions.-Eurovision:...
as Keeler, and John Bennett
John Bennett was an English actor. Born in Beckenham, Kent, he was educated at Bradfield College in Berkshire, then trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, followed by a wide Rep experience including Bromley, Bristol Old Vic, Dundee, Edinburgh Festival and Watford before going to...
Under the auspices of the Laurence Olivier Awards, it won the American Express
American Express Company or AmEx, is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Three World Financial Center, Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Founded in 1850, it is one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company is best...
Award for Best New Musical. Olivier nominations went to Conley for Best Actor in a Musical and Bennett for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical.
An original cast album was recorded live during the performances of February 29, March 1, and March 2, 1996 and released by First Night Records.
Jolson - The Musical
was staged at the Royal Alexandra Theatre
The Royal Alexandra Theatre is a theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada located near King and Simcoe Streets. Built in 1907, the Royal Alex is the oldest continuously operating legitimate theatre in North America.-History:...
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...
from June through October 1997. A proposed move to Broadway
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...
- I'm Sitting on Top of the World
- Rock-a-Bye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody
- Toot-Toot-Tootsie Goodbye
- There's a Rainbow Round My Shoulder
- Let Me Sing and I'm Happy
- For Me and My Gal
- You Made Me Love You
"Swanee" is an American popular song written in 1919 by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Irving Caesar. It is most often associated with singer Al Jolson....
- California Here I Come
- Blue Skies
- My Mammy
- This is the Army, Mr. Jones
- I'm Just Wild About Harry
- I Only Have Eyes for You
- Waiting for the Robert E. Lee
- Baby Face
- Sonny Boy
- The Spaniard That Blighted My Life
- I'm Just Wild About Harry
- Around a Quarter to Nine
- Carolina in the Morning
- Give My Regards to Broadway
- My Mammy (Reprise)