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The Lieutenant (musical)

The Lieutenant is a rock opera with book, music and lyrics by Gene Curty, Nitra Scharfman and Chuck Strand. The musical concerns the court martial of Lieutenant Calley during the Vietnam War and ran on Broadway in 1975.

The Lieutenant
MusicGene Curty
Nitra Scharfman
Chuck Strand
LyricsGene Curty
Nitra Scharfman
Chuck Strand
BookGene Curty
Nitra Scharfman
Chuck Strand
Productions1975 Broadway


The original production of The Lieutenant, directed by William Martin and choreographed by Dennis Dennehy opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre on March 9, 1975 and closed on March 16, 1975 after nine performances and seven previews.[1] The cast featured Eddie Mekka and was produced by Joseph S. Kutrzeba and Spofford J. Beadle.

The Lieutenant was nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Musical, Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical, Tony Award for Best Original Score and Best Actor in a Musical.

The Lieutenant was originally produced by Queens Playhouse, (Flushing Meadows, New York) in 1974 by Joseph S. Kutrzeba, who started the Playhouse.[2][3] Alan Eichler was the press representative.[4]

Producer and Holocaust survivor Joseph Kutrzeba said of the reason he decided to produce The Lieutenant was "The show meant a lot to me on human values. I think the theme is one of cardinal importance to our times: The concept of obedience versus exercising one's own conscience." The Philadelphia Inquirer September 3, 1974 [5]

In 1994 an adaptation of The Lieutenant was performed under the title "...One of the Good Guys" by Israeli actor Meir Vardi and David Bolander at the Sanford Meisner Theatre in New York City.[6]

A 2018 revival of the show is in pre-production.[7][8]


The show poses the question: Where does the guilt lie for the My Lai massacre of civilians in 1968 Vietnam? Does it reside solely in the person of The Lieutenant, who gave the order to "waste them"? Or perhaps in the larger military itself, where wars are planned, body counts are calculated, and inconvenient casualties are sometimes scrubbed from the record? Or just maybe the seeds for deeds like My Lai are latent in the very fabric of the human race, and once in a while the perfect storm of events allows for something terrible like this to happen?

The use of music follows the approach of Brecht, whereby the songs comment on themes and issues of the play.

In August 2016, Miles Kreuger, president of The Institute for the American Musical in Los Angeles, California, accepted the script, score, libretto, reviews and playbill of The Lieutenant into their archives.

Original Broadway castEdit

  • Eddie Mekka starred as The Lieutenant.[9]
  • Steven Boockvor – Soldier in "C" Company
  • Gene Curty – Judge, OCS Sergeant
  • Chet D'Elia – First General
  • Gordon Grody – Defense Attorney
  • Walt Hunter – Captain
  • Clark James – Soldier in "C" Company
  • James "Jim" Litten – Sergeant, Soldier "C" Company, Clergyman and First Reporter
  • Donald Rayson McGrath – Chaplain and First Congressman
  • Jim-Patrick McMahon – Soldier in "C" Company
  • Eugene Moose – Second General
  • Joel Powers – Recruiting Sergeant, Senator
  • Joseph Pugliese – Soldier in "C" Company
  • Burt Rodriguez – Soldier in "C" Company, Second Congressman, Prosecutor
  • Alan K. Siegel – New Recruit
  • Jo Speros – Sole female, Third Reporter[9]
  • Danny Taylor – Third General
  • Tom Tofel – G.I., Second Reporter, Soldier in "C" Company


  • Mark Cianfrani on Lead Guitar
  • John Angelori on Rhythm Guitar
  • Alan Bowin on Organ
  • Joe DiCarlo on Drums
  • James Marino on Bass Guitar
  • Chuck Strand on Piano.


The cast album was recorded in 1975 but never officially released.[10]


  • The Indictment – Lieutenant and Judge
  • Join the Army – Lieutenant, Recruiting Sergeant and Recruits
  • Look for the Men With Potential – Generals
  • Kill – OCS Sergeant
  • I Don't Want to Go Over to Vietnam – Lieutenant and "C" Company
  • Eulogy – Chaplain
  • At 0700 Tomorrow – Captain and "C" Company
  • Massacre – Captain, Lieutenant, "C" Company and Vietnamese
  • Something's Gone Wrong – Captain and Lieutenant
  • Twenty-Eight – Generals, Captain and Lieutenant
  • Let's Believe in the Captain – Generals
  • Final Report – First General
  • I Will Make Things Happen – G.I.
  • He Wants to Put the Army in Jail – Senator, 1st & 2nd Congressmen and Clergyman
  • There's No Other Solution – Generals
  • I'm Going Home – Lieutenant and "C" Company
  • We've Chosen You, Lieutenant – Generals
  • The Star of This War – Reporters and Lieutenant
  • On Trial for My Life – Lieutenant
  • The Conscience of a Nation – Prosecutor
  • Damned No Matter How He Turned – Defense Attorney
  • On Trial for My Life (Reprise) – Lieutenant
  • The Verdict – Judge and Jurors
  • Finale – New Recruit, Recruiting Sergeant and Company

Critical responseEdit

The musical was described by Clive Barnes in his New York Times review as "extremely well staged" a "rock opera", and "it works very well indeed".[11]

He also mentioned in The Morning News that the Lieutenant is "attractive and supportive" and there is "never a dull moment" [12]

Ernest Leogrande of the New York News Service felt that "they have two of the essentials for any musical show: telling lyrics and strong melodies".[13]

The Long Island Press said "If you never see another show, you must see this one" [14]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Original Broadway productionEdit

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1975 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Gene Curty, Nitra Scharfman and Chuck Strand Nominated
Best Original Score Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Eddie Mekka Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Music and Lyrics Gene Curty, Nitra Scharfman and Chuck Strand Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Musical Eddie Mekka Nominated
Outstanding Director of a Musical William Martin Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Dennis Dennehy Nominated


  1. ^ The Lieutenant Broadway Playbill (vault), accessed September 29, 2016
  2. ^ "Tony‐Award Nominee From Queens" The New York Times, April 6, 1975
  3. ^ "Obituary Joseph S. Kutrzeba" (from New York Times, February 3, 2013), accessed September 30, 2016
  4. ^ The Lieutenant
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Off Off Broadway Listing", New York Magazine, January 3, 1994, p. 80
  7. ^ The Lieutenant, retrieved February 9, 2017
  8. ^ "Tustin woman aims to revive Vietnam War-era Broadway musical in honor of her late dad, the lead guitarist" OC Register, June 14, 2017
  9. ^ a b Dietz, Dan (2015-09-03). The Complete Book of 1970s Broadway Musicals. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442251663.
  10. ^ Cast Recording
  11. ^ Barnes, Clive. "‘Lieutenant’, Musical With Something Worth Singing" The New York Times, March 10, 1975
  12. ^ The Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware) Tuesday, March 11, 1975 Page 2
  13. ^ Philadelphia Inquirer, September 3, 1974 page 22
  14. ^ Barnard Bulletin, March 3, 1975

External linksEdit