Theatrical Gems presents

Wildcat opened on Broadway in 1960, starring a 48-year-old Lucille Ball in her only Broadway show.

N. Richard Nash had envisioned the main character of Wildy as a woman in her late twenties, and was forced to rewrite the role when Lucille Ball expressed interest not only in playing it but financing the project as well. Desilu, the company owned by her and soon-to-be ex-husband Desi Arnaz, ultimately invested $360,000 in the show in exchange for 36% of the net profits, the rights to the original cast recording (ultimately released by RCA Victor), and television rights for musical numbers to be included in a special entitled Lucy Goes to Broadway, a project that eventually was abandoned.

The Philadelphia tryout opened on October 29, 1960 to a glowing review from Variety, although local critics were less enthusiastic. The scheduled Broadway opening had to be postponed when trucks hauling the sets and costumes to New York City were stranded on the New Jersey Turnpike for several days by a major blizzard. After two previews, the show, directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd, opened on December 16, 1960 at the Alvin Theatre. The cast also included Paula Stewart and Swen Swenson, with Valerie Harper (Rhoda) among the chorus members.

Audiences adored Ball and flocked to see her in person. Unfortunately, when Ball started to become ill and miss performances, the producers could not afford to keep the show open without her.

Wildcat closed on June 3, 1961 after two hiatuses and 171 performances. Theatrical Gems produces the first New York revival of the show.

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