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The Emperor's New Clothes (1967)

This original adaptation is tailor made by the creative genius of Jim Eiler and performed by his very talented company of actors, The Prince Street Players.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Graziella Able ...
Lady in Waiting (as Graziella)
Will B. Able ...
Emperor Maximillion the Most
Robert Dagny ...
Sinister the Prime Minister
Fred Grades ...
Chester the Jester
John Joy ...
Sir William of Wardrobe
Alan Kass ...
Mr. Stitch
Gene Kidwell ...
Page
James Laurence ...
Page
David Lile ...
Sir Ivan of Inventory
Victoria Mallory ...
Verite (as Vicki Morales)
John Marmon ...
Guard
Don Potter ...
Mr. Sew
Kay Salvatore ...
Lady in Waiting
Marcie Stringer ...
Emperess Carlotta the Least
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Storyline

Two con-men "play the palace" in this breezy adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's well-known satirical tale. Mr. Stitch and Mr. Sew wreak havoc at Wits Ends Palace when they present the Emperor with a special gift; an exquisitely beautiful "magic" suit of clothes, invisible to all but the wisest of men. A charming exploration of the dangers of vanity, with a host of hilarious characters that includes a brassy, tap-dancing, bugle-playing Empress. Written by David Lile

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Musical

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1967 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

 
Better than most Broadway shows!
11 August 2005 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

The Prince Street Players were a Manhattan children's-theatre troupe (of adult actors) staging musical versions of traditional European fairy tales, with scripts and songs written by Jim Eiler. Eiler's scripts tended to be straightforward retellings of the beloved classics, with very little modernisation or topical humour. (Unilike the panto versions that are popular in Britain, which insert modern references and comic business into the stories.) The troupe featured talented and personable performers, but the strongest asset of the Prince Street Players was the musical talent of Jim Eiler, who wrote catchy melodies and deft lyrics for each of his shows.

'The Emperor's New Clothes' is probably the best of the Prince Street Players' musicals; partly due to the fact that it's adapted from a story crafted by one author (Hans Christian Andersen) rather than a folktale that evolved gradually. But the appeal of this production is chiefly due to Eiler's songs. This show features Eiler's best and most ambitious score, ably performed by this talented cast.

The best song in the show is performed by Alan Kass and Don Potter as two swindlers who decide they'll go into business as tailors, under the aliases Stitch and Sew. ('We're Stitch and Sew, Sew and Stitch: who is who, and which is which?') This bouncy waltz-time duet becomes a counterpoint song as Stitch reprises the lyric while Sew simultaneously sings a completely new melody. ('Knit one, purl two; drop a stitch, then you're through. Knit two, purl one; drop a stitch, then you're done.') Elsewhere, there's a catchy chorus number: 'Hear ye, hear ye! A royal proclamation: The emperor needs new clothes! The emperor needs new clothes!' Eiler's score for this musical is well up to Broadway standards.

Andersen's original story is too slight to sustain much plot, but Eiler expands it cleverly, with several interesting characters. Robert Dagny is sly and cunning as Sinister the Prime Minister. (No points for guessing who's the villain in this piece.) There's a superficial romantic subplot between Verity (the beautiful Vicki Morales, with a crystalline singing voice) and Chester the Jester (Fred Grades, less impressive).

The lead role of Emperor Maximillion is played by Will B. Able, a very talented dancer who -- oddly -- is given no chance to dance here. (I once met Will B. Able; yes, that's his real name, and he kept a copy of his birth certificate handy in case anybody doubted him.) Able manages the difficult task of depicting the emperor as a blustering fool while still keeping the character sympathetic.

VERY SLIGHT SPOILER COMING. As we all know, the climax of the story requires the emperor to appear naked in public, wearing the 'magical' new clothes that don't really exist, tailored for him by Stitch and Sew. This being a children's production, Able plays his 'nude' scene wearing an ill-fitting crown and a suit of red long-johns, and wielding a sceptre. I'll rate this delightful production a full 10 out of 10. It's short on production values but long on ingenuity and talent.


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