Original Cast Recording Artwork
|Lyrics||Various (see below)|
|Book||Cheryl L. West|
|Productions||1996 San Diego |
The original production, conceived by director Sheldon Epps, premiered in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre in September 1996. After 19 previews, it opened on Broadway on March 20, 1997 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where it ran for 61 performances. The cast included Tonya Pinkins, André De Shields, and Carl Anderson. An original cast recording was released on May 20, 1997 on Varèse Sarabande. A 1999 production of Play On! at the Pasadena Playhouse was recorded for the PBS series Great Performances.
Vy comes to swinging 1940s Harlem to write songs for the Duke, Harlem's greatest band leader. To overcome the sexist barriers of the time against women songwriters, she disguises herself as a man, Vy-man. She finds the Duke in tears over his loss of Lady Liv, Harlem's "queen of the blues". The Duke likes Vy-man's music, so he instructs the songwriter to go to the Cotton Club and present one of her songs as if it were a new song written by the Duke for Lady Liv. Lady Liv finds Vy-man charming, and a series of mistaken pairings results.
Meanwhile, several of the performers at the Cotton Club are rebelling against the overly serious and tyrannical club manager, Rev. Since Rev has a crush on Lady Liv, the performers persuade him that he should woo her by learning to swing and scat, giving up his old fashioned ballads. More confusion results before the truth is revealed, and the couples are appropriately united.
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1997||Tony Award||Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical||André DeShields||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Tonya Pinkins||Nominated|
|Best Orchestrations||Luther Henderson||Nominated|
|Drama Desk Award|
|Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical||André DeShields||Nominated|
- Jones, Kenneth (2000-06-21). "Play On! Finds Its Way to Small Screen, on PBS, June 21". Playbill. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
- "Play On!". Guide to Musical Theatre. Retrieved 2013-01-24.