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One Touch of Venus
One Touch of Venus.jpg
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 The Barbican
1995 BBC Radio
1997 Light Opera Works
2000 The Royal Opera House
2001 The King's Head Theatre
Operas by Kurt Weill

Der Protagonist (1926)
Mahagonny-Songspiel (1927)
Der Zar lässt sich
The Threepenny Opera (1928)
Happy End (1929)
Der Lindberghflug (1929)
Rise and Fall of the
City of Mahagonny
Der Jasager (1930)
Die Bürgschaft (1932)
Der Silbersee (1933)
The Seven Deadly Sins (1933)
Der Kuhhandel (1935)
Johnny Johnson (1936)
The Eternal Road (1937)
Knickerbocker Holiday (1938)
Lady in the Dark (1940)
One Touch of Venus (1943)
The Firebrand of Florence (1945)
Street Scene (1946)
Down in the Valley (1948)
Love Life (1948)
Lost in the Stars (1949)

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 ten 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]

The original Broadway production opened at the Imperial Theatre on October 7, 1943 and closed on February 10, 1945 after 567 performances. The original production was directed by Elia Kazan and featured choreography by Agnes de Mille. It starred Mary Martin, Kenny Baker and Paula Laurence. Marlene Dietrich 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.[2]

The musical was made into a 1948 film, directed by William A. Seiter and starring Ava Gardner and Robert Walker. The movie version omits much of the Broadway score and received poor reviews.

As a child, Philip Margo fell in love with the film when shown on New York's television show Picture For a Sunday Afternoon and eventually wrote a 1988 made for TV movie based on The Tinted Venus called The Goddess of Love with Vanna White as Venus.[3]


Other productions

In 1987, the piece played at the Goodspeed Opera House.[2] Ian Marshall Fisher's Discovering Lost Musicals Charitable Trust has presented the work twice, first in 1992 at The Barbican, and then in 2000 at 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]

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, 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 Leeds Grand Theatre, 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]

2010 - Shaw Festival Theatre - Niagara on the Lake - Ontario - Canada -Royal George Theatre - MAy 16 to October 10 [2]


A long-lost, priceless statue of the goddess Venus is found and placed on display in an art museum in New York. A shy barber, Rodney Hatch, looking through the museum, puts a ring on the finger of the statue. The sculpture comes to life, and the two fall in love, although Rodney is already engaged. Farcical complications ensue, and Rodney and the newly animated beauty are eventually thrown in jail for stealing the statue.

Venus dreams that her life will become boring in suburban Ozone Heights if she stays with the barber, so she decides that it will be better to return to her marble state. The barber is dismayed, but he soon meets a young woman who is an exact double of the statue and also loves life in Ozone Heights.

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

  • Whitelaw Savory, a wealthy art collector (baritone)
  • Molly Grant, Mr. Savory's secretary (mezzo-soprano)
  • Rodney Hatch, a barber (tenor)
  • Venus (mezzo-soprano)
  • Gloria Kramer, Rodney's fiancée (mezzo-soprano)
  • Mrs. Kramer, Gloria's mother (mezzo-soprano)
  • Taxi Black and Stanley, two thugs
  • Police Lieutenant
  • Dr. Rook, a psychiatrist
  • Zuvetli, a 'thoroughly unreconstructed' Anatolian



External links



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