MTI Shows in Literature: THE APPLE TREE

by EllaRC on April 28, 2011

in Shows in Literature,The Apple Tree

THE APPLE TREE with a score by lyricist Sheldon Harnick and Composer Jerry Bock (best known for shows like FIDDLER ON THE ROOF and SHE LOVES ME) and a book by Bock, Harnick and Jerome Coopersmith, THE APPLE TREE is a unique adaptation.Rather than drawing from a single set of source material, this musical finds a way to connect three different pieces and tie them together into one related show:

The first act is based on Mark Twain’s “Extracts from the Diary of Adam and Eve”, and features the famous couple and their journey out of Eden.

The second act is based on the Frank Stockton fable of “The Lady Or The Tiger”, in which a woman is forced to decide whether to let her lover wed another or be devoured by a tiger.

The last is “Pasionella” based on Jules Feiffer’s twist on the Cinderella story about a chimney sweep who wishes to be famous and her path to finding true love.

The success of the show comes from the writers’ ability to take these three separate and unrelated classic stories and find the common threads. Themes like the relationships between romantic couples, the sacrifices people make for what they want, and the blindness of love weave the three acts together to make a complete piece. This is a non-traditional approach to adapting classic literature – most adaptations focus on one story; but, it can be a very successful method for putting a new spin on familiar material. In this case, the initial material is pretty well-known, especially to American musical theater audiences; however, the score which features rock and roll elements, as well as components of a traditional musical theater sound, transforms the familiar into something exciting and different.

Kristin Chenoweth and Marc Kudisch in Roundabout's THE APPLE TREE

Kristin Chenoweth and Marc Kudisch in Roundabout's THE APPLE TREE

The recent success of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival featuring Kristen Chenoweth indicates the timelessness of THE APPLE TREE. Furthermore, it can be produced as both a large cast show if different actors are used to play the leads in all three acts, or as a smaller cast show if all three acts use the same leads. It also provides a lot of opportunities for musicians, because it features a large orchestra.

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