The Royal Family (play)
The Royal Family is a play written by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Its premiere on Broadway was at the Selwyn Theatre on 28 December 1927, where it ran for 345 performances to close in October 1928. It was included in Burns Mantle's The Best Plays of 1927–1928.
|The Royal Family|
First edition (1928)
|Written by||George S. Kaufman|
|Date premiered||28 December 1927|
|Place premiered||Selwyn Theatre|
New York City
|Setting||a New York City duplex apartment in 1927|
- Fanny Cavendish – Cavendish Family Matriarch
- Julie Cavendish – Fanny's daughter
- Tony Cavendish – Fanny's son
- Gwen Cavendish – Fanny's granddaughter
- Herbert Dean – Fanny's brother
- Kitty Dean – Fanny's sister-in-law
- Oscar Wolfe – Cavendish Family's Long-time Agent
- Gilbert Marshall – Julie's Love Interest
- Perry Stewart – Gwen's Fiancee
The story is a parody of the Barrymore family of actors, with particular aim taken at John Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore. The character Tony Cavendish, a heavy-drinking womanizer, represents John Barrymore. Julie Cavendish is the prima donna Broadway star Ethel Barrymore. Ethel Barrymore was offended and her critical comments were quoted by the press; however John Barrymore saw the production in Los Angeles and was amused, and congratulated Fredric March on his performance as Tony Cavendish. (Otto Kruger had played the role on Broadway.)
- In England, Noël Coward directed the West End version of the play in 1934, with a cast that included Laurence Olivier as Tony.
- Before moving to Broadway, the play had successful out-of-town try-outs in Newark and Atlantic City.
- The Royal Family opened one day after the revolutionary musical Show Boat, based on Ferber's novel of the same title.
- Edna Ferber herself acted in The Royal Family at the Maplewood Theater in 1940, in a production staged by Cheryl Crawford
- A revival of the comedy was one of the highlights of the 1975–76 season on Broadway. Directed by Ellis Rabb, it starred Rosemary Harris as Julie Cavendish, George Grizzard as Tony, and Eva Le Gallienne as the theatrical matriarch, Fanny and Sam Levene as Oscar Wolfe. Rabb received the 1976 Tony Award for best director. The production was telecast on the PBS series Great Performances on November 9, 1977, with Rabb replacing Grizzard as Tony. This version was released on DVD.
- The play was revived as part of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre's 2001–02 season with Amy Morton and Rondi Reed in the cast.
- Another revival ran from September to December 2009 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. It starred Rosemary Harris as Fanny, Jan Maxwell as Julie Cavendish, and Ana Gasteyer as Kitty Dean.
- In 2001, Emily Blunt made her debut opposite Judi Dench in Sir Peter Hall's production of the play.
The play was adapted in 1930 by Herman Mankiewicz for the film The Royal Family of Broadway released by Paramount Pictures. The film was directed by George Cukor and Cyril Gardner and stars Ina Claire and Fredric March.
Several live television adaptions were produced, including one in 1952, a BBC film for television, starring Morton Lowry as Tony Cavendish and Charmion King as Julia, renamed as 'Theatre Royal' and one in 1954, with Fredric March reprising his role as Tony, Helen Hayes as Fanny, and Claudette Colbert as Julie.
Awards and nominations
- 1975 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Play
- 2010 Nominated for Best Revival of a Play