One Touch of Venus

For the film adaptation, see One Touch of Venus (film).
One Touch of Venus

Sheet Music Cover
Music Kurt Weill
Lyrics Ogden Nash
Book Ogden Nash
S. J. Perelman
Basis Thomas Anstey Guthrie's novella The Tinted Venus
Productions 1943 Broadway
1948 Film
1992 Barbican Centre
1995 BBC Radio
1997 Light Opera Works
2000 Royal Opera House
2001 King's Head Theatre

One Touch of Venus is a musical with music written by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ogden Nash, and book by S. J. Perelman and Nash, based on the novella The Tinted Venus by Thomas Anstey Guthrie, and very loosely spoofing the Pygmalion myth. The show satirizes contemporary American suburban values, artistic fads and romantic and sexual mores. Weill had been in America for eight years by the time he wrote this musical, and his music, though retaining his early haunting power, had evolved into a very different Broadway style.[1]

Original production

The original Broadway production opened at the Imperial Theatre on October 7, 1943 and closed on February 10, 1945 after 567 performances. It was directed by Elia Kazan, featured choreography by Agnes de Mille, and was co-produced by John Wildberg and Cheryl Crawford. It starred Mary Martin, Kenny Baker and Paula Laurence.[2] Marlene Dietrich reportedly backed out of the title role during rehearsals, calling it "too sexy and profane", which gave Martin the opportunity to establish herself as a Broadway star.[3]

Film version

The musical was made into a 1948 film, directed by William A. Seiter and starring Ava Gardner and Robert Walker. Actress Eve Arden co-starred. The movie version changed Hatch's first name from Rodney to Eddie and omitted much of the Broadway score; it received poor reviews.

Other productions

In 1987, the piece played at the Goodspeed Opera House.[3] Ian Marshall Fisher's Discovering Lost Musicals Charitable Trust has presented the work twice, first in 1992 at the Barbican Centre, and then in 2000 the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio Theatre. Louise Gold played the title role on both occasions. Both productions also found Myra Sands playing Mrs Kramer; while Dick Vosburgh put in an appearance in the 2000 production.[4]

Its premiered in Germany on June 17, 1994, at the Meiningen Court Theatre in Meiningen, Thuringia.

In 1995, BBC Radio broadcast the piece with Paige O'Hara in the title role. Other cast members included Kim Criswell, Peter Gale, Myra Sands (as Mrs. Kramer) and Dick Vosburgh.

In 1996, New York City Center's Encores! series presented the piece, directed by Leonard Foglia with Melissa Errico in the title role. In 1997, Light Opera Works in Illinois produced the work.[5]

In 2001, London's first major theatrical run opened at the King's Head Theatre in Islington. With a new adaptation by director Tim Childs it starred Peter Land as Whitelaw Savory, Michael Gyngell, and newcomer Kim Medcalf as Venus. It opened to glowing reviews but failed to transfer to the West End, probably because Childs, with an eye to opening the same production on Broadway, workshopped it with Land reprising his role and Sara Ramirez as Venus in New York two weeks after September 11, 2001. Not surprisingly, New York Producers did not want to commit to producing the piece at that time.[1]

Opera North produced the piece in 2004 at the Grand Theatre, Leeds, directed by Tim Albery.[6]

42nd Street Moon produced the musical in 2007 at Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, directed by Greg MacKellan,[7] with musical direction & accompaniment by Dave Dobrusky, choreography by Tom Segal, lighting by Ellen Brooks, scenic decoration by Mike Figueira, and costume design by Louise Jarmilowicz. The cast included: Nina Josephs as Venus, Anil Margsahayam as Rodney Hatch, Peter Budinger as Whitelaw Savory, Amy Louise Cole as Molly Grant, Tom Orr as Julius E. "Taxi" Black, Juliet Heller as Gloria Kramer, Chris Macomber as Mrs. Florabelle Kramer, Tyler Kent as Stanley/Zuvetli/Dr. Rook, Jarrod Quon as Sam and Elise Youssef as Rose.

Metal Monkey Theatre Company produced a revival of the musical for the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland, directed by Michael Hall,[8] with musical direction & accompaniment by Duncan White. The cast included: Chrissy Quinn as Venus, Michael Trakas as Rodney Hatch, John Kirkman as Whitelaw Savory, Emily Grogan as Molly Grant, Alex Murphy as Julius E. "Taxi" Black, Jo Britton as Gloria Kramer, Morven Rae Mrs. Florabelle Kramer, David Sanders as Stanley/Dr. Rook, Simon Motz as Zuvetli, Christopher Rorke as Sam, Sarah Block as Mrs Moats and Claire Kennard as Rose. They performed the show at Augustine's (Venue 152) in August 2009[9] and received a 5-star review from[10]

On May 13, 2014, Jay Records released a two-CD production billed as the "First Complete Recording" of "One Touch of Venus" with Melissa Errico in the title role. John Owen Edwards and James Holmes conducted the National Symphony (U.K.). The recording was thirteen years in the making (2000-2013) and involved studios in both London and New York City. Co-starred were Ron Raines (Whitelaw Savory), Victoria Clark (Molly Grant) and Brent Barrett (Rodney Hatch).


Television adaptation

In 1955, Janet Blair starred as Venus in a live production of One Touch of Venus on NBC-TV.[12]


A long-lost, priceless statue of the goddess Venus is placed on display in an art museum in New York. A barber, Rodney Hatch, places the engagement ring he plans to give his fiance onto the statue's finger. The sculpture comes to life and falls in love with the hapless Rodney. Farcical complications ensue.

Musical numbers

Act I

  • Overture – Orchestra
  • "New Art Is True Art" – Whitelaw Savory and Chorus
  • "One Touch of Venus" – Molly Grant and Girls
  • "How Much I Love You" – Rodney Hatch
  • "I'm A Stranger Here Myself" – Venus
  • "Forty Minutes for Lunch" – (ballet)
  • "West Wind" – Savory and Chorus
  • "Way Out West in Jersey" – Mrs. Kramer, Gloria Kramer, and Rodney
  • "That's How I Am Sick of Love" – Rodney
  • "Foolish Heart" – Venus
  • The Trouble With Women – Rodney, Savory, Taxi Black, and Stanley
  • "Speak Low" – Venus and Rodney
  • "Artist's Ball" – Orchestra
  • "Doctor Crippen" – Savory and Dancers

Act II

  • Entr'acte – Orchestra
  • "Very, Very, Very" – Molly
  • "Speak Low" (Reprise) – Rodney and Venus
  • "Catch Hatch" – Savory, Molly, Stanley, Taxi Black, Mrs. Kramer, 3 Anatolians, and Chorus
  • "That's Him" – Venus
  • "Wooden Wedding" – Rodney
  • "Venus in Ozone Heights" – (ballet)
  • "Speak Low" (Reprise) – Rodney

Principal roles



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