Opened at the Imperial Theater, New York on October 21, 1933. 90 performances. Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. Book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. Directed by George S. Kaufman. Dances staged by Von Grona and Ned McGurn. Produced by Sam H. Harris. Cast included William Gaxton, Lois Moran, Victor Moore, Dudley Clements, Philip Loeb, Edward H. Robins, Florenz Ames, and Richard Temple.
Two years after the Pulitzer Prize-winning OF THEE I SING, the Gershwins reunited with writers George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind to create this sequel, which catches up with President John P. Wintergreen at the end of his first term in office. Defeated for re-election, Wintergreen and his wife Mary go into the shirt business, where they eventually hit on a formula for success: guarantee “a revolution with every shirt.” This leads to a march on Washington and Wintergreen’s installation as an American dictator, but even he can’t avoid possible death by guillotine when the rabble-rouser Kruger gets the Army on his side.
A number of critics didn’t look kindly on LET ’EM EAT CAKE, and the dark tone of the show put off audiences who had laughed at the more gently-satirical OF THEE I SING. The continuing economic depression in the United States and looming political clouds in Europe — Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933 — may have also contributed to the poor response.
LET ’EM EAT CAKE is filled with wonderful Gershwin songs, from the romantic “Mine” to the harsh “Down With Everyone Who’s Up,” but it remains one of the Gershwins’ most neglected works.
To license LET ’EM EAT CAKE, please contact Music Theatre International.
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