First Monday in October

First Monday in October is a play by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. The title refers to the day on which the United States Supreme Court traditionally convenes following its summer recess.


The play premiered on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on October 3, 1978. It transferred to the ANTA Playhouse on November 14, 1978, where it closed on December 9, for a total of 79 performances. Directed by Edwin Sherin, the cast starred Jane Alexander (as Judge Ruth Loomis) and Henry Fonda (as Associate Justice Daniel Snow), with Larry Gates (as Chief Justice James Jefferson Crawford).[1] Alexander was nominated for the 1979 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. The play had a pre-Broadway engagement at the Kennedy Center, starting in December 1977.[2]

The play originally was staged at the Cleveland Play House in 1975 and starred Jean Arthur and Melvyn Douglas in the lead roles.[3]

There was a production at the Huntington Hartford Theatre in Los Angeles in March 1979, starring Henry Fonda and Eva Marie Saint. [4]

The play was produced by the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Los Angeles, California, in April to June 2006. The cast featured Ralph Waite (Associate Justice Daniel Snow) and Laurie O'Brien (Justice Ruth Loomis).[5]


Role Cast, December 28, 1977
Washington, DC, Kennedy Center
Custodians John Stewart, P.J. Sidney
Chief Justice James Jefferson Crawford Larry Gates
Associate Justice Josiah Clewes Earl Sydnor
Associate Justice Waldo Thompson Maurice Copeland
Associate Justice Daniel Snow Henry Fonda
Associate Justice Harold Webb John Wardwell
Marshal John Newton
Judge Ruth Loomis Jane Alexander
Mason Woods Tom Stechschulte
Associate Justice Ambrose Quincy Alexander Reed
Associate Justice Richard Carey Eugene Stuckmann
Associate Justice Christopher Halloran Patrick McCullough
Photographer John Stewart
Blake Ron Faber


The play begins after the death of Stanley Moorehead, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The remaining justices speculate about whom the President of the United States will appoint to fill the vacancy, with jokes among the justices that the appointee may be a black man, or a woman. While playing tennis, Ruth Loomis, a staunch conservative judge from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California, learns that she is to be the nominee. Associate Justice Daniel Snow is appalled to learn this, as her conservative views are strongly in conflict with his own liberal thinking.

Loomis testifies before the United States Senate, and is questioned about the business ties of her late husband. The Senate confirms her, and she is the first woman appointed to the US Supreme Court. On the court, Loomis and Snow immediately clash on their opposing legal and philosophical viewpoints, on such matters as freedom of speech and individual rights vs. the rights of society as a whole. One case concerns a fictional pornographic film, The Naked Nymphomaniac.

Although Snow and Loomis never concur on any of the issues before the Court, they learn to develop a respect and affection for one another with the passing of time.

Awards and recognition

  • 1979 Selection, The Burns Mantle Theater Yearbook, The Best Plays of 1978-1979[6]


  1. "'First Monday in October' Broadway", accessed January 10, 2016
  2. "1977-78 Season", accessed January 10, 2016
  3. "The Theater: Not Legal Tender". Time. 1975-11-03. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  5. Hitchcock, Laura. "Curtain Up Review", April 14, 2006
  6. Guernsey Jr. (Ed.), Otis L. (1979). The Best Plays of 1978-1979. New York & Toronto: Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 149–167. ISBN 0-396-07723-4.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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