Irene (musical)

Edith Day as Irene.jpg
Sheet music cover showing Edith Day
MusicHarry Tierney
LyricsJoseph McCarthy
BookJames Montgomery
Joseph Stein
BasisJames Montgomery (play Irene O'Dare)
Productions1919 Broadway
1923 Broadway revival
1973 Broadway revival

Irene is a musical with a book by James Montgomery, lyrics by Joseph McCarthy, and music by Harry Tierney. Based on Montgomery's play Irene O'Dare, it is set in New York City's Upper West Side and focuses on immigrant shop assistant Irene O'Dare, who is introduced to Long Island's high society when she is hired by one of its leading grande dames to help redecorate her home.

The musical opened on Broadway in 1919 and ran for 675 performances, at the time the record for the longest-running musical in Broadway history, which it maintained for nearly two decades. It starred Edith Day in the title role, who repeated the role in the London production. It was revived on Broadway in 1923, filmed twice, and had a major Broadway revival in 1973, starring Debbie Reynolds, followed by a 1976 London run that lasted 974 performances.

Early productions

Edith Day in Irene (1919)

The original Broadway production, directed by Edward Royce, opened on November 18, 1919 at the Vanderbilt Theatre, where it ran for 675 performances, at the time the record for the longest-running show in Broadway history, one it maintained for nearly two decades. The cast included Edith Day as Irene, Walter Regan as tycoon Donald Marshall, Eva Puck as Helen Cheston, Gladys Miller as Jane Gilmour, and Bobby Watson as 'Madame Lucy', a flamboyant male dress designer. The show made a star of Day, who departed the cast after five months to recreate her role at London's Empire Theatre, where it ran for 399 performances. Day was replaced in the Broadway production by Helen Shipman.

Irene enjoyed a brief Broadway revival at Jolson's 59th Street Theatre in 1923 with Dale Winter as Irene, Jere Delaney as Madame Lucy, and Walter Regan reprising his role as Donald. Eventually there were 17 national touring companies, and it was filmed twice, first as a 1926 silent movie with Colleen Moore and again in 1940 with Anna Neagle.

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