Li’l Abner is a musical with a book by Norman Panama and Melvin Frank, music by Gene De Paul, and lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

Based on the comic strip Li’l Abner by Al Capp, the show is, on the surface, a broad spoof of hillbillies but is also a pointed satire taking on any number of topics, ranging from an incompetent United States federal government to standards of masculinity.

The hillbilly town of Dogpatch USA has been declared the “most unnecessary town” in the U.S. and is set to be turned into a nuclear testing site. At the same time, the baby tonic (Yokumberry Tonic) that Li’l Abner has been fed all his life by his mother, Mammy Yokum, is discovered to be a potion that makes men strong and handsome, but also utterly uninterested in romance. But that fact does not deter Daisy Mae, who is determined to win the handsome–but uninterested–Li’l Abner at the Sadie Hawkins Day race. Appassionata von Climax also has her sights set on Li’l Abner, but Daisy has hired the beautiful Stupefyin’ Jones to help her win the race, while von Climax brings in Evil Eye Fleagle to distract the men. The men, meanwhile, take part in an experiment that makes them all good-looking but not interested in women.

The town is ultimately saved when Pappy Yokum finds a plaque, declaring that its local hero and Town Founder, the Confederate General Jubilation T. Cornpone was, by virtue of his incompetence, so instrumental in the defeat of his own army as to be a hero of the Republic. The race commences, with surprising results. Although Earthquake McGoon captures Daisy Mae, she and Li’l Abner wind up getting married (by Marryin’ Sam).

The Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd and orchestrated by Philip J. Lang, opened on November 15, 1956 at the St. James Theatre where it ran for 693 performances. The original Broadway cast starred Peter Palmer in the title role and Edie Adams as Daisy Mae. The cast included Howard St. John as General Bullmoose, Stubby Kaye as Marryin’ Sam, Tina Louise as Appassionata von Climax, Julie Newmar as Stupefyin’ Jones, Charlotte Rae as Mammy Yokum, Joe E. Marks as Pappy Yokum, Carmen Alvarez as Moonbeam McSwine, Ted Thurston as Senator Jack S. Phogbound, Bern Hoffman as Earthquake McGoon, and Tony Mordente as Lonesome Polecat. Some of the original ensemble members, such as Jeanette Scovotti, went on to have successful careers in the performing arts.

Alvin Colt designed the costumes for which he received a Tony nomination for Best Costume Design. The wardrobe is on display at the Costume World Broadway Collection in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Goodspeed Musicals, East Haddam, Connecticut, presented the musical in April-May 2006. The “Reprise! Broadway’s Best” in Los Angeles production was in February 2008.

“It’s a Typical Day”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by entire cast

“If I Had My Druthers”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Peter Palmer and uncredited male cast

“Jubilation T. Cornpone”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Stubby Kaye and cast

“Rag Offen the Bush”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by entire cast

“Namely You”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Leslie Parrish (dubbed by Imogene Lynn) (uncredited) and Peter Palmer

“What’s Good for General Bullmoose”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Howard St. John, Stella Stevens, Ted Thurston and uncredited male cast

“The Country’s in the Very Best of Hands”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Peter Palmer and Stubby Kaye

“I’m Past My Prime”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Leslie Parrish (dubbed by Imogene Lynn) (uncredited) and Stubby Kaye

“Put ’em Back”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Carmen Álvarez and uncredited female cast

“Matrimonial Stomp”
Music by Gene de Paul
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Performed by Stubby Kaye

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2 responses »

  1. edmccray says:

    This link is dead. Can you please reupload it? Thanks!

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