Original Broadway Production (1959)

Trivia & History

Shirley Booth (Juno) was cast in May 1958 (Eileen Herlie had been under consideration). Melvyn Douglas (Captain Boyle) was cast shortly thereafter (Max Adrian and film actor Steve Forrest had both been considered). Jack MacGowran, (Joxer Daly) was cast in June 1958. MacGowran’s casting was at the suggestion of Sean O’Casey (who wrote the play on which Juno is based). Nancy Andrews was cast in October.

Originally scheduled to premiere on December 25, 1958 in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia leg of the tryout was cancelled prior to rehearsals beginning. The tryout was finally scheduled for Washington DC and Boston.

Began rehearsals on Wednesday, December 17, 1958. Just prior to rehearsals, director Tony Richardson was replaced by Vincent J. Donehue. Rehearsals were originally to begin on November 15 but were delayed by a month. The delay forced Richardson to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts and Donehue was hired.

West Side Story was moved out of the Winter Garden Theatre to accomodate Juno.

The March 18 performance was to have benefitted the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House.

Juno was originally to be produced by Roger L. Stevens, who was involved in late 1957.

A dancers’ audition was held on December 1, 1958 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

The simplified title Juno was announced on December 31, 1958.

Originally there were two Furniture Removal Men played by George Ritner and Robert Rue. There were also two I.R.A. Men played by Tom Clancy and Jack Murray. When the show opened on Broadway there were three each.

Premiered on January 17, 1959 at the National Theatre in Washington, DC. The preview the night before was cancelled, however, as Shirley Booth was confined to her hotel room with strep throat.

Vincent J. Donehue withdrew as director on February 6, 1959. José Ferrer arrived the next day to see the show and discuss taking over as director. Donehue said, “I had made a number of suggestions for changes on the book and music but none were forthcoming.” He said that he was forced to withdraw because he was at a stalemate with the authors.

José Ferrer started work as director on February 8, 1959. The following week, he had incorporated four new songs and a new ballet.

On February 17, 1959, a new first act was tested in Boston.

Frank Loesser was reportedly one of the show doctors called in to work on Juno.

The Broadway opening was pushed back several times. Originally, the production was to open in New York on February 26.  The Boston run was extended by a week due to heavy mail order sales prior to Juno even moving there. That pushed the opening from March 5. Then, on February 17, 1959, The Playwrights’ Company announced that the show would open on March 9 to allow for replacement director José Ferrer to make additional changes. The original press book that was distributed prior to rehearsals said that opening would be on February 26.

On March 16, it was announced that business was bad. The show was in trouble of closing and that West Side Story was eyeing moving in. West Side Story had transferred to the Broadway Theatre on March 2 to allow Juno to take the Winter Garden. West Side Story eventually moved back in May to allow Gypsy to take the Broadway Theatre.

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