Original Broadway Production (1966)
Iva Withers and Bob Carroll were hired as standbys for Mary Martin and Robert Preston, but they were dismissed shortly before performances began on Broadway. It had been decided instead to obtain insurance to indemnify the management in case either Martin or Preston could not go on. (Source: Sam Zolotow's theatre column in the New York Times, November 25, 1966.)
Unstated but implied is that if either star was unable to go on, the performance would be canceled, and that is what did happen in those circumstances.
When Martin and Preston left the show, standbys were hired for replacements Carol Lawrence and Gordon MacRae. Those standbys were Stephen Douglass and Dran Hamilton (who was better known under the name she had used earlier in her career, Dran Seitz).
When the production opened, it played seven performances a week. The seven performances were Monday through Saturday evenings and a Saturday matinee. On Thursday, May 11, 1967, Sam Zolotow reported in his New York Times theatre column that performances had been suspended since Monday to give Mary Martin time to recover from a streptococcus infection. A small item in the Times on Monday, May 15, announced that performances would resume that night. On May 29, 1967, Zolotow's column reported that Martin had been advised by her doctor to play no more than one performance a day and six performances a week. So the Saturday matinee was dropped from the schedule and only evening performances were given.
Matinees returned to the performance schedule in October 1967 when Carol Lawrence and Gordon MacRae started playing Wednesday and Saturday matinees in preparation for taking the roles over full time. It was originally announced that Lawrence and MacRae would start playing matinees on Wednesday, October 11, 1967. This was delayed a week to October 18, but their first performance was delayed three more days to Saturday, October 21. According to a report in the New York Times, this was to allow MacRae the time to recover from a sprained ligament in his left leg. On December 4, Lawrence and MacRae took over for all performances. Original stars Mary Martin and Robert Preston closed their run by playing a Sunday performance on December 3, 1967, as a benefit for the Actors Fund.
At least once — on November 27, 1967 — Lawrence and MacRae substituted for Martin and Preston when Martin was unable to perform because of illness.
The production closed during the 1968 Actors Equity strike that affected Broadway shows. The strike probably hastened the closing at least by a bit. Prior to the closing, there had been no announcement of an imminent closing nor any advertisements that the show was in its final weeks, although the fact that seats were readily available at all prices had been mentioned in ads.
The song "When the Kids Get Married," featuring a section in which stars Mary Martin and Robert Preston played musical instruments — violin for Martin, saxophone for Preston — was added during the pre-Broadway tryout. It was first performed on October 10, 1966, during the run at the Colonial Theatre in Boston.
According to press reports at the time, the impetus for adding the number came from discussions between the stars in which Martin recalled that when she was young she hoped to become a professional violinist (her mother was a violin teacher), while Preston related that he hoped to have his own band and to play the sax.
The production had been scheduled to open on Broadway on November 15, 1966, but during the pre-Broadway tryout, it was decided to add a third tryout run (in Cincinnati) to allow time for addtional changes to be made to the show. The opening was rescheduled for December 5.
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