Oh, Captain!

Oh, Captain! is a musical comedy based on the film The Captain's Paradise with music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and the book by Al Morgan and José Ferrer. The basis of the musical was the 1953 film The Captain's Paradise, which had been written by Alec Coppel and Nicholas Phipps.

Oh, Captain!
Playbill from the Broadway production
MusicJay Livingston
Ray Evans
LyricsJay Livingston
Ray Evans
BookAl Morgan
José Ferrer
Basis1953 film The Captain's Paradise
Productions1958 Broadway

The musical updated the film's Gibraltar and Algiers setting to London and Paris. The production was dismissed by the critics as a "tired businessman's show", but the cast and choreography were much praised.

A 5 minute dance sequence between Tony Randall (in the title role) and prima ballerina Alexandra Danilova is called "the best five minutes in the show" by Ken Mandelbaum.[1]


There was talk of adapting the movie into a musical as early as 1955.[2] Danny Kaye was mentioned as a possible star and Lindsay and Crouse as possible adaptors.[3] Later Bob Merrill was offered the job as composer and David Wayne was mooted as a possible star.[4]


Oh, Captain! opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre) on February 4, 1958 and closed on July 19, 1958 after 192 performances. The musical was directed by José Ferrer, with set and lighting design by Jo Mielziner, costumes by Miles White, hair design by Ernest Adler, dances and musical numbers created by James Starbuck, and musical director Jay Blackton. The original cast included Tony Randall as Captain Henry St. James, Abbe Lane, Susan Johnson, Jackie McKeever, Edward Platt, Paul Valentine, and Stanley Carlson.

Abbe Lane was under contract to a rival studio, which refused to allow her to record the original cast album. Her songs were recorded by Eileen Rodgers. Lane did record two of her numbers on one of her subsequent solo albums. Hollywood musical star Dorothy Lamour made her Broadway debut when she replaced Lane for the last week of the Broadway run in July 1958.

Ram's Head, the Stanford theatrical society, produced the show in 1962, starring Laurence Guittard.[5][6]

42nd Street Moon (San Francisco) presented it in a staged concert in 2003.[7]


Critical response

Frank Aston of the World Telegram and Sun said of the show, "splendiferous, gaudy. songful, comical, dancing joy that happens none too often!, José Ferrer's production of Oh, Captain! had smooth sailing all the way. It was the outstanding musical success of the Philadelphia season, and found New Yorkers equally eager to absorb its high spirits and salty humours. With no aim other than entertainment, it instantly became one of Broadway's biggest hits and seems securely berthed at the Alvin Theatre for many months to come."[8]

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award[9] Category Nominee Result
1958 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Tony Randall Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Susan Johnson Nominated
Jacquelyn McKeever Nominated
Best Scenic Design Jo Mielziner Nominated
Best Costume Design Miles White Nominated
Theatre World Award Jacquelyn McKeever Won


  1. Mandelbaum, Ken. Oh, Captain. Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops, Macmillan, 1992, ISBN 0312082738, p. 168
  2. GUINNESS' SKIPPER MAY WOO TO MUSIC: Danny Kaye Sought to Star in Theatre Guild Production of 'Captain's Paradise' By Sam Zolotow. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]11 Feb 1955: 20.
  3. "Broadway Debut For 'Samarkand': Symbolic Melodrama Bows at Morosco Tonight After a Series of Setbacks", By Sam Zolotow. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]16 Feb 1955: 25.
  4. Comedy Booked At Helen Hayes: 'Goodbye Again' to Open at Theatre April 24--Donald Cook Starred in Revival Bob Merrill Has 4 Bids Fashion Note, By Sam Zolotow. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]16 Mar 1956: 20.
  5. "Ram's Head Stanford" www.stanford.edu/group/rams-head, accessed july 17. 2013
  6. "'Oh, Captain!', 2003", 42ndstmoon.org, accessed july 17. 2013
  7. "'Oh, Captain!', 2003", 42ndstmoon.org, accessed december 30. 2011
  8. "'Oh, Captain' Plot, Songs", GuideToMusicalTheatre.com, accessed December 30, 2011
  9. Oh, Captain! Playbill, retrieved January 3, 2018
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