A Thurber Carnival – Original Broadway Cast 1960
I’m certainly not the fellow who has the right to assay the literary qualities of James Thurber; but as a private citizen, surely I may say that I am enchanted beyond measuring by such a phrase as “With a high heart, because he had found a unicorn in his garden …” and certainly that mot juste-er, M. Flaubert, would have found himself hard put to find a better word for the thrashing about of a mermaid than “flobbered.” Thurber’s art is similarly acute: anyone who thinks his dogs are just drawings is quite mistaken because I happen to have known several of them myself. But those are little things. The big things of Thurber are the ideas, the concepts, the insights, and they are the result not of his humor, but of his humanity. This he has in such large proportion that no matter how amusing are the things he says, or writes, or draws, no one ever has the effrontery to consider him comical – he is much better than that: he is seriously funny. – Goddard Lieberson * * * “Both the freshest and funniest show on Broadway, and it establishes some sort of standard in skill, taste and comic dexterity … In style and taste A Thurber Carnival is wonderful – a glorious world of meaningful nonsense.” Atkinson, The Times “Completely captivating … between the meaningful silences and the great guffaws there are dandy chuckles … A Thurber Carnival is sheer delight … The whole thing is dandy. And very advanced.” Kerr, Herald Tribune “About as agreeably comic as it can be … very often we find ourselves laughing at what was said a couple of lines ago … From the opening dance … we feel perfectly adjusted to the dry climate of (Mr. Thurber’s) unostentatious humor … (and) comfortably participating in the chaos of our times.” Hewes, Saturday Review “A tonic anthology of the great man’s work compiled by himself, and easily the funniest show on Broadway … music which is unfailingly spruce and witty.” Tynan, The New Yorker “If there is one proposition upon which every intelligent English-speaking man, woman and child is in hearty agreement, it is that James Thurber is incomparable as wit, humorist and sage … [A Thurber Carnival] is a civilized joy … there is cause for nothing but delight.” Watts, Post “A joyous, magnificently lunatic festival … anybody who shuns this house of laughter is crazy…” Chapman, News James Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1894. Before joining the staff of the New Yorker in 1927, he worked for a period in the State Department in Washington as a reporter for newspapers, and later was on the staff of the New York Post. His first book, written in collaboration with E.B. White, was Is Sex Necessary? This was followed by a long series of other volumes of writings and drawings that are among the most treasured books ever published. My Life and Hard Times, Fables for Our Time, The Thurber Carnival, Alarms and Diversions, and Thurber Country are among them; so is the comic and touching Thurber Album, the wonderful quasi-fairy tales The White Deer, The 13 Clocks, and The Wonderful O, and the recent biography of Harold Ross, editor of the New Yorker, The Years with Ross. Mr. Thurber and Elliott Nugent collaborated on The Male Animal, a play which was a success on its initial run, in the movies, in a long-running revival, and on television as well. Many of the Thurber stories have been adapted for movies and for television, and the present production suggests that a whole new area has opened up; that of the literate, hilarious (albeit songless) revue. Mr. Thurber was blinded in one eye while engaged in a game of Indians as a boy, and has since been troubled by a progressive loss of vision in the other eye. He lives, when he is not in New York, with his wife Helen in West Cornwall, Connecticut, and there writes those infinitely imaginative, brilliantly composed criticisms of the modern world which inspire his readers to disturbed laughter and amused contemplation. From the original liner notes for KOS 2024/KOL 5500 A Thurber Carnival opened at the ANTA Theatre in New York City on February 26, 1960 and ran for 223 performances, with a break from June 25 to September 5. It closed on November 26, 1960.
Opening: Don Elliott Quartet Word Dance (Part I): Peggy Cass, Paul Ford, John McGiver, Alice Ghostley, Peter Turgeon, Wynne Miller, Margo Lungreen, Charles Braswell The Night the Bed Fell: Tom Ewell The Unicorn in the Garden: Narrator, Peter Turgeon; Man, Paul Ford; She, Alice Ghostley; Pyschiatrist, John McGiver; Policeman, Charles Braswell The Little Girl and the Wolf: Narrator, Peggy Cass; Wolf, Paul Ford; Little Girl, Wynne Miller Memorial to a Dog: Tom Ewell Casuals of the Keys: Visitor, John McGiver; Darrel Darke, Paul Ford; The Last Flower: Tom Ewell File and Forget: James Thurber, Tom Ewell; Miss Bagley, Margo Lungreen; Miss Alma Wineage, Peggy Cass; Miss Wynne, Wynne Miller; Jeannette Gaines, Alice Ghostley; Clint Jordan, Paul Ford; H.F. Cluffman, John McGiver Word Dance (Part II): Tom Ewell, Peggy Cass, Paul Ford, John McGiver, Alice Ghostley, Peter Turgeon, Wynne Miller, Margo Lungreen, Charles Braswell, Don Elliott Quartet