This Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse musical opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway on 16 May 1965. It had toured England the previous year, opening at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham on 3 August with Norman Wisdom playing the part of Cockie and Elaine Paige making her musical debut in the chorus.
The tour went to Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester but did not make the West End. It was seen in Liverpool by the American producer David Merrick who had taken the Newley / Bricusse hit Stop the World I Want to Get Off to the States and he saw another hit in the making – but, not with Norman Wisdom, it had to be Anthony Newley who had now star status in the States.
The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, which followed rather closely the structure of Stop the World, was packed with hits: ‘Felling Good’, ‘Who can I turn to?’ and ‘The Joker’ (the latter two being recorded by Wisdom and released on a 7 inch 45rpm disc.
Click the play button to see Anthony Newley perform “Who Can I Turn To” in The Roar Of The Greasepaint…
The entire score was recorded by the American cast prior to its Broadway opening and ‘Who can I turn to’ was covered by Tony Bennett and a hit while the show toured before Broadway.
Directed by Newley it was choreographed on both sides of the Atlantic by Gillian Lynne. Cyril Ritchard played Sir and Sally Smith repeated her role as the Kid which she had created in England.
On Broadway the show ran for 232 performances – without Newley in the lead it could not have continued.
RSB Illustrations from the archive.