Zenda (musical)

Zenda (Musical)

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Zenda (musical)

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Zenda is a musical with a book by Everett Freeman, lyrics by Lenny Adelson, Sid Kuller, and Martin Charnin, and music by Vernon Duke.

Based on the 1894 Anthony Hope novel The Prisoner of Zenda, it sets the action in contemporary times and transforms the protagonist into British song-and-dance man Richard Rassendyl, who is invited to perform at the wedding of Princess Flavia and King Rudolph of Zenda. Rassendyl unknowingly is related to the King due to his grandmother's romantic escapades years before, and when his royal highness is incapacitated by a general who wishes to seize power, look-alike Rassendyl is recruited to impersonate him. Complications ensue when the imposter finds himself attracted to the bride-to-be and the king's mistress Athena makes her presence known. Hope's original ending was changed to allow the two pairs of star-crossed lovers to live happily ever after.

Theatre producer Edwin Lester commissioned the project specifically for Alfred Drake, who had starred in his production of Kismet a decade earlier. Directed by George Schaefer and choreographed by Jack Cole, it began its pre-Broadway tryout on August 5, 1963 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, then continued to Los Angeles and Pasadena. In addition to Drake in the dual roles of Rassendyl and Rudolph, the cast included Anne Rogers as Flavia and Chita Rivera as Athena.

Reviews in all three cities ranged from mixed to positive, and the box office takes were promising. When Schaefer, who felt the show...
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