THE HIT 1968 ROCK MUSICAL
YOUR OWN THING
Suggested by TWELFTH NIGHT
By HAL HESTER and DANNY APOLINAR
Book by DONALD DRIVER
Music and Lyrics by
HAL HESTER and DANNY APOLINAR
Originally produced in New York by
ZEV BUFMAN and DOROTHY LOVE
Directed by GABRIEL BARRE
DECEMBER 12, 2022
2537 Broadway at 95th Street | NY, NY
Featuring a star-studded cast led by
and more, plus
Special Appearances by
JAY O. SANDERS
JOHN DOUGLAS THOMPSON
and more to be announced.^
A storm shipwrecks an up-and-coming music duo, twins Viola and Sebastian. The pair end up in the land of Illyria, which looks very much like New York City, circa 1968. And the rest is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night–well, kind of.
With its frisky light-rock score, anything-goes philosophy, and outrageous visuals, Your Own Thing captured the zanier aspects of the rebellious energy and experimentation of the Sixties–but there was nothing in it to scare Grandma. While Hair played uptown, Your Own Thing ran Off-Broadway for 937 performances and toured the country.
We’re delighted to rediscover this gem and give the first New York presentation in decades. Will there ever will be another chance to see this show? Who knows. Don’t miss the fun and do Your Own Thing.
This concert event is an important fundraiser for Red Bull Theater. Proceeds help to make all our programs possible.
Made possible in part by the
YOUR OWN THING: Then and Now
By Robert Sandla
“If music be the food of love, play on ...” runs the famous first line of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a sensual invitation to the delights of wine, women, and song—and to the sexy romances, comic complications, and mistaken identities that make up the show’s hyperkinetic plot. In the late 1960s, songwriters Danny Apolinar and Hal Hester took Shakespeare at his word and created Your Own Thing, a totally now, totally wow musical based on Twelfth Night that updated Shakespeare’s injunction to, in essence, “If pop-rock music be the food of love, play on.” And play on it did: Your Own Thing opened at the Orpheum Theater in Manhattan’s East Village, then a hotbed of hippiedom, on January 13, 1968, and racked up an impressive 933 performances.
Your Own Thing was a mini pop-culture phenom. The show’s very name, based on “What You Will,” Shakespeare’s subtitle to Twelfth Night, echoed a current catchphrase, expressing the atmosphere of acceptance of the 1960s. With its frisky light-rock musical score, anything-goes philosophy, groovy graphics, fast pace, and outrageous Sonny-and-Cher-style costumes, Your Own Thing captured the zanier aspects of the rebellious energy and febrile experimentation of the Sixties. The show spoke for what it was pleased to call “the Now Generation,” but there was nothing in it to scare Grandma.
Your Own Thing was as completely a creation of its time as Hair, the “American tribal love-rock musical” that premiered nearby at the Public Theater a few months before Your Own Thing opened. There were even reports of moving Your Own Thing to Broadway, as Hair had done, but it stayed downtown. Unlike Hair, Your Own Thing never had a hit tune or achieved enduring appeal, but in its day the show was hot. In a first for off-Broadway that annoyed the hell out of Broadway producers, Your Own Thing won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical of 1968. The other shows the Critics Circle considered that year were the patriotic George M!, Hair, Kander and Ebb’s Canadian-nostalgic The Happy Time, and In Circles, downtown composer Al Carmines’ setting of Gertrude Stein’s text. (The winner for Best Play was another Shakespeare spin-off, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, based on Hamlet.)
While Your Own Thing continued to pack ’em in at the Orpheum, multiple touring companies crisscrossed the country simultaneously. The London production was a hit. RCA bought the rights to the cast album for an advance that was reportedly the highest price ever paid for an off-Broadway show, and brought in arranger Peter Matz to beef up the orchestrations a bit. In an effort to capitalize on the show’s success, RCA also released an LP called “Hal Hester Does His Own Thing” and a 45 of Danny Apolinar crooning two ballads from the show, “Flowers” and “The Middle Years.” A 1973 revival of Your Own Thing was sent to an arts festival in Monaco as an example of trendy American musical theater. Even Hollywood was interested in Your Own Thing: the movie rights were sold for an astonishing $500,000, with legendary film director Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain) slated to bring the project to the screen. Your Own Thing was, in the parlance of the time, where it’s at. KEEP READING
YOUR OWN THING is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Tams-Witmark LLC.
^Casting is subject to change