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First Bite In 60 Years: Lyric Stage Revives Original “The Golden Apple”
by Shelley Kenneavy 30 Oct 2014

Lyric Stage presents the musical as it was meant to be seen – splash-less ending and all. KERA’s Shelley Kenneavy gets a taste of what makes this musical and this company so different.

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Mayor Hector and soldiers

James Williams as Mayor Hector addresses his soldiers in “The Golden Apple.” Photo: Steven Jones.

  • Elaine Liner’s review in the Dallas Observer
  • Nancy Churnin’s review in the Dallas Morning News
  • Gregory Sullivan Isaacs’ review in Theater Jones 
  • The Golden Apple runs through November 2nd at Irving Arts Center
  • Listen to the report that aired on KERA FM:


Lyric Stage in Irving is dedicated to preserving the American musical – whether that means premiering new ones or rediscovering classics. The company’s latest project is The Golden Apple – performed with the original Broadway orchestrations and the original ending.

The Golden Apple was the first Off-Broadway show in history to win the NY Drama Critics Circle’s Best Musical award. The show is a re-telling of The Iliad and The Odyssey, set in Washington State after the Spanish-American War. It opened in 1954, and after earning raves and awards, it moved to Broadway – where it closed after only four months. Perhaps it was because the producers changed the ending to something more splashy for Broadway.

Christopher J. Deaton as Ulysses and Kristen Lassiter as Penelope. Photo: James Jamison

Christopher J. Deaton as Ulysses and Kristen Lassiter as Penelope. Photo: James Jamison

Whatever the reason it closed, The Golden Apple still developed a cult following, mostly for its score, which includes the standard, “Lazy Afternoon.”

The Golden Apple was also hailed for its groundbreaking, delicate sets, designed by William and Jean Eckart. The husband-and-wife team went on to design Broadway hits like Mame – and then had a second career teaching at SMU.

Now, Lyric Stage has revived the show with the original ending and the original orchestration – which has never been done before. Susanna Moross Tarjan, daughter of the show’s composer, Jerome Moross, is excited to see a fleshed-out revival.

She says, “For me, it’s very thrilling. My father, of course, would be thrilled. There have been many productions over the years, but never one with the full complement of 43 cast members and the full 36 orchestra members. So it’s quite different and more marvelous to hear it that way than with two pianos.”

She says it’s a difficult show to produce.

“It’s a very big show. It’s really an opera – my father called it ‘an opera for Broadway.’”

In fact, it was one of the first sung-through musicals, a musical with only songs and no spoken dialogue – like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats.

Lyric Stage’s musical director and conductor Jay Dias even calls it “the great American opera.”

“Like good art it functions on so many different levels simultaneously.” Dias adds,  “And it’s extremely deep… it’s thought-provoking. And it leaves you questioning a lot of things about your own life which I think any great piece of art does.”

Menelaus, Helen and Paris

Andy Baldwin (Menelaus), Danielle Estes (Helen), and Hayden Clifton (Paris) in “The Golden Apple.” Photo: Steven Jones

Director Stefan Novinski thinks Lyric Stage’s reconstructions of original Broadway musicals adds an extra dimension for audiences seeing and hearing them.

“If you can hear a show, like Lyric Stage does with the original orchestrations and the full orchestra, you’re getting it in Technicolor. And if you haven’t had a chance to hear it like that, you haven’t quite heard the original piece.”

Novinski also thinks Moross, The Golden Apple’s composer, and John Latouche, the lyricist, were ahead of their time.  Perhaps that’s why the show didn’t succeed on Broadway in a big way. Novinski points out, when Ulysses, the veteran, returns to his small town, there’s no rosy musical comedy ending.

“That’s gutsy, but that’s more honest. How does Penelope welcome Ulysses back? They say, well here it is. And they let it sit. It’s gutsy. You don’t end a musical with two people on stage! That’s it – what? And no big fancy curtain call, either. Shocking.”

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  • Charles Christesson Jr.

    This is probably the only time someone will ever dare to call the brilliant lyrics of the brilliant John LaTouche——-unsophisticated. And, if I’m not mistaken, THE GOLDEN APPLE predates CANDIDE by a few years.

  • Charles Christesson Jr.

    Elaine Liner is undoubtedly the only person to ever dare call the lyrics of the great John LaTouche————————unsophisticated. And I’m pretty sure that THE GOLDEN APPLE predated CANDIDE by a few years. And also had lyrics by LaTouche.

  • Charles Christesson Jr.

    Elaine Liner is undoubtedly the only person to ever dare call the lyrics of the great John LaTouche————————unsophisticated. And I’m pretty sure that THE GOLDEN APPLE predated CANDIDE by a few years. And also had lyrics by LaTouche.

  • Alexandra Bonifield
  • Alexandra Bonifield
  • Pingback: The Golden Apple: Shelley Kenneavy review | Lyric Stage()

  • DrCaligari

    But unlike Cats, The Golden Apple is about something.

  • DrCaligari

    But unlike Cats, The Golden Apple is about something.