Butterflies Are Free (play)

Butterflies Are Free is a play by Leonard Gershe.

Butterflies Are Free
Written byLeonard Gershe
CharactersDon Baker
Mrs. Baker
Jill Tanner
Ralph Austin
Date premiered21 October 1969 (1969-10-21)
Place premieredBooth Theatre
Original languageEnglish
SettingDon Baker's apartment, at East 11th Street, New York

Loosely based on the life of attorney Harold Krents, the plot revolves around a blind man living in downtown Manhattan whose controlling mother disapproves of his relationship with a free-spirited hippie. The title was inspired by a passage in Charles Dickens' 1853 novel Bleak House: "I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole what it concedes to the butterflies."

After 12 previews, the Broadway production, directed by Milton Katselas, opened on October 21, 1969 at the Booth Theatre, where it ran for 1,128 performances. The original cast consisted of Keir Dullea, Blythe Danner, Eileen Heckart, and Paul Michael Glaser. Replacements during the run included Gloria Swanson, Pamela Bellwood, Kipp Osborne and David Huffman.

The title song, which was performed in the play as an original composition by the blind character played by Keir Dullea, was written by composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz. Dullea subsequently recorded the song for his 1969 self-titled solo album. It was also covered and released as a single by a number of other artists including The Cinnamon Ship (in a version arranged and produced by Schwartz), The Free Design, Ed Ames and The Going Thing.

Gershe, Katselas, Heckart, and Glaser were reunited for the 1972 screen adaptation (set in San Francisco) with Edward Albert and Goldie Hawn. Heckart won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role in the film.

Broadway awards and nominationsEdit

Year Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1970 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Blythe Danner Won
Eileen Heckart Nominated
Best Direction of a Play Milton Katselas Nominated
1971 Theatre World Award Kipp Osborne Won
1972 Clarence Derwent Award[1] Female Supporting Performance on Broadway Pamela Bellwood Won


  1. ^ "The Clarence Derwent Award". Actors' Equity. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-10-04.

External linksEdit