Stop the World – I Want to Get Off

Stop the World – I Want to Get Off is a 1961 musical with a book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley.

Stop the World –
I Want to Get Off
Original 1961 London Cast Recording
MusicLeslie Bricusse
Anthony Newley
LyricsLeslie Bricusse
Anthony Newley
BookLeslie Bricusse
Anthony Newley
Productions1961 West End
1962 Broadway
1966 Film
1978 Broadway revival

According to Oscar Levant, the play's title was derived from a graffito.[1]


The show, set against a circus backdrop, focuses on Littlechap from the moment of his birth until his death. Each time something unsatisfactory happens, he calls out 'Stop the world!' and addresses the audience. After being born, going through school, and finding work as a tea-boy, his first major step towards improving his lot is to marry his boss' daughter Evie after getting her pregnant out of wedlock. Saddled with the responsibilities of a family, he is given a job in his father-in-law's factory. He has two daughters, Susan and Jane, but truly longs for a son. He allows his growing dissatisfaction with his existence to lead him into the arms of various women in his business travels—Russian official Anya, German domestic Ilse, and American cabaret singer Ginnie—as he searches for something better than he has. He becomes rich and successful and is elected to public office. Only in his old age does he realize that what he always had, the love of his wife, was more than enough to sustain him. But Evie dies, and Littlechap comes to terms with his own selfishness while writing his memoirs. At the moment of his death, he watches his second daughter give birth to a son. When the boy nearly dies, Littlechap intervenes and allows Death to take him instead. He then mimes his own birth, beginning the cycle once again.

Production historyEdit

Opening first in Manchester, the original production transferred to the West End and opened on 20 July 1961 at the Queen's Theatre. Directed by Newley, it ran for 485 performances. Newley starred as Littlechap, with Anna Quayle playing the multiple roles of Evie and the other women in his life. Marti Webb made her West End debut as a member of the chorus. An original cast recording was released by Decca Records.[2]

Producer David Merrick, always impressed by a low-cost project requiring minimal sets, costumes, and a small cast, decided to stage the show in New York City. It was directed by Newley, and featured scenery and lighting design by Sean Kenny, musical supervision by Ian Fraser, musical direction by Milton Rosenstock, orchestrations by Ian Fraser. After one preview, the Broadway production opened on 3 October 1962 at the Shubert Theatre, eventually transferring to the Ambassador to complete its 555-performance run. Newley and Quayle reprised their London roles. Newley later was replaced by Kenneth Nelson, then Joel Grey, and Joan Eastman assumed the roles of Evie et al.

A Broadway cast limited run recording was originally released by RCA Victor Records however the mainstream version was subsequently released by London Records.[3] On the national company tour, the show starred Grey and Julie Newmar.

A Broadway revival directed by Mel Shapiro opened on 3 August 1978 at the New York State Theater in Lincoln Center, where it ran for 30 performances. The cast included Sammy Davis Jr. and Marian Mercer. A revival cast recording was released by Warner Bros. Records[4]

A London revival, directed by Newley, opened at the Lyric Theatre on 19 October 1989, starring Newley and Rhonda Burchmore. It was updated slightly, but it retained the Nazi-ish Fraulein, the Bolshevik Russian girl, and the Judy-Holliday-ditzy American blond—all much more distant than in 1961 and thus outside the experience of anyone under 40. It received poor reviews and closed after just 52 performances over five weeks. Newley was very disappointed and bitter about the reviews, as he told the audience after the final curtain.

Film adaptationEdit

A 1966 Warner Bros. release was little more than a filmed version of a staged production. Directed by Philip Saville, it featured additional material by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, David Donable, and Al Ham. The cast included Tony Tanner and Millicent Martin. Neither a critical nor commercial success, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Music Scoring. The film deleted the German mistress sequence and substituted a Japanese mistress. It is not clear whether this was the Bergman contribution or if Newley and Bricusse created the new sequence. It is also unclear why this substitution was made. In the film version, the show ends with "What Kind of Fool Am I?" There is no birth of a grandson, nor of Littlechap choosing to die in his place and being reborn, as in the original musical play. With the exception of "Typische Deutsche," the original score is transferred complete.

Sammy Davis Jr. and Marian Mercer reprised their Broadway revival roles for Sammy Stops the World, a 1978 television adaptation [5]

In 1996, a TV movie version was produced starring Peter Scolari as Littlechap and Stephanie Zimbalist as Evie.[6] Made for the A&E Network, it adhered closely to the format of the original stage production.



Role Original London Production Original Broadway Production 1978 Broadway Revival 1989 London Revival
Littlechap Anthony Newley Sammy Davis Jr. Anthony Newley
Evie, Anya, Isle, Ginnie Anna Quayle Marian Mercer Rhonda Burchmore
Jane (Littlechap's Daughter) Jennifer Baker Shelly Burch
Susan (Littlechap's Daughter) Susan Baker Wendy Edmead
Greek Chorus
  • Amanda Bayley
  • Barbara Halliwell
  • Gloria Johnson
  • Carole Keith
  • Virginia Mason
  • Vivienne St George
  • Marti Webb
  • Robert O'Leary
  • Rawley Bates
  • Bonnie Brody
  • Diana Corto
  • Jo-Anne Leeds
  • Karen Lynn Reed
  • Sylvia Tysick
  • Stephanie Winters
  • Mark Hunter
  • Paul Rufo

Awards and nominationsEdit

Original Broadway productionEdit

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1963 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Author Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley Nominated
Best Composer and Lyricist Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Anthony Newley Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Anna Quayle Won


  1. ^ Oscar Levant, The Unimportance of Being Oscar, Pocket Books 1969 (reprint of G.P. Putnam 1968), page 6 (ISBN 0-671-77104-3)
  2. ^ Cast Album DB.
  3. ^ Cast Album DB.
  4. ^ Cast Album DB.
  5. ^ IMDb.
  6. ^ IMDb.

External linksEdit