An avant-garde fable set on New Year's Eve, it focuses on four characters: Orphan, an idealistic and cheerfully optimistic young man, in possession of the stained-glass eye of God, who reminds Edgar Allen Rich, a wealthy but jaded old man, of his younger self; Angel, a sweet entertainer who longs to be "somebody"; and Potemkin, a Loki-like character who serves as narrator, commentator, and advisor. Surrounding them are a chorus known as the Revelers, who take on various roles throughout the action of the play, a group masked by the impersonal industrialism of their society, obediently following the rich man's demands but secretly aiding the boy who sees and respects them as individuals.
At the musical's core is the struggle between youth and old age, innocence and corruption, love and ambition, and poverty and wealth, as Angel tries to decide if she would be better served by her feelings for Orphan or Rich's willingness to fulfill her every dream.
With a set consisting of bare platforms, masks serving as the primary costumes, and a Brechtian-like score played by a nine-piece band instead of a full-fledged orchestra, the show was a major departure for Jones and Schmidt, whose previous work included the off-Broadway phenomenon The Fantasticks and the more-mainstream Broadway musicals 110 in the Shade and I Do! I Do!.
After thirteen previews, Celebration, directed by Jones and choreographed by Vernon Lusby, opened on January 22, 1969 at the Ambassador Theatre, where it ran for 109 performances. The cast included Ted Thurston, Michael Glenn-Smith, Susan Watson, and Keith Charles.
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