King of Hearts (musical)

King of Hearts is a 1978 musical with a book by Joseph Stein, lyrics by Jacob Brackman, and music by Peter Link, orchestrated by Bill Brohn. It is based on the 1966 anti-war cult film of the same name.

King of Hearts
King of Hearts musical.jpg
Original Broadway Cast Recording
MusicPeter Link
LyricsJacob Brackman
BookJoseph Stein
Basis1966 film the same name
Productions1978 Boston (try-out)
1978 Broadway


Set in the fictional French town of DuTemps in September 1918, shortly before the end of World War I, its protagonist is Private Johnny Perkins, whose mission is to defuse a bomb intended to destroy the entire village. All the local residents have fled, leaving behind only the cheerful inmates of the insane asylum, who happily take over the town and proclaim Johnny their King of Hearts. The show raises the question of who is more insane, the asylum's patients or those who wage war.


The Broadway production was directed and choreographed by Ron Field. After a Boston tryout at the Colonial Theatre and six Broadway previews, it opened on October 22, 1978 at the Minskoff Theatre and ran for 48 performances. The cast included Don Scardino as Johnny and Pamela Blair, Bob Gunton, and Millicent Martin in supporting roles. Santo Loquasto designed the sets.

New York City was in the midst of a three-month-long newspaper strike when the musical opened, and the lack of advertising and print reviews might have contributed to its quick demise. Of it, musical theatre historian Ken Mandelbaum recalls, "its score was only so-so; its theme (the insane are somehow "saner" than the sane) had a '60s feel; and its cast was not particularly distinctive."[1] Critic and musical historian Peter Filichia calls it a "noble failure".[2]

Two recordings of the score have been released: one, released on the Original Cast label, featuring the original Broadway cast[3] and another with the 1982 Los Angeles cast.[4]

In 2002 the Goodspeed revival, directed by Gabriel Barre, used the script as the authors, librettist Steve Tesich[5] and songwriters Link and Brackman first intended, before other "doctors" were brought in.[6]

Song listEdit

Awards and nominationsEdit

Original Broadway ProductionEdit

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1979 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Millicent Martin Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Bob Gunton Nominated
Outstanding Set Design Santo Loquasto Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design Patricia Zipprodt Won


  1. ^ "Broadway Buzz - Videos, Interviews, Photos, News and Tickets -". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2011-08-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Playbill, Nov 2002

External linksEdit