Juno is a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Marc Blitzstein and book by Joseph Stein, based on the 1924 play Juno and the Paycock by Sean O'Casey. The original Broadway production opened at the Winter Garden Theatre, New York, on March 9, 1959.
Despite light moments the musical, like the play, is essentially a tragedy. Ths story chronicles the disintegration of an Irish family in Dublin in the early 1920s, during the Troubles between the Irish Republican Army and the British. Juno is the hardworking matriarch who struggles to hold the family together in the face of war, betrayal, and her worthless husband's drinking.
Many modern scholars of musical theatre consider Blitzstein and Stein's musicalization of the source material to be extremely well done, however initial reviews were mixed to very negative, mainly because critics and audiences felt the oringal play's story too dark to be a musical. The production closed after 16 performances. Fortunately, Blitzstein's score was preserved by Columbia Records, which released the original cast album in both mono and stereo editions. The Fynsworth Alley label rereleased the recording on compact disc in 2002.
Juno has since been attempted a few times with little success, with revisions and new material by Richard Maltby, Jr. and severely reduced orchestrations.
Cast and crew
Direction was originally to have been by Tony Richardson, who dropped out of the production during the early stages. Vincent J. Donehue replaced him but the rest of the creative team were not satisfied with his work. He was then replaced by José Ferrer. Orchestrations were by Blitzstein, with additional support from Russell Bennett and Hershy Kay. The show was conducted by Robert Emmett Dolan and choreographed by Agnes de Mille.
The production starred Shirley Booth (as Juno Boyle), Melvyn Douglas (as Captain Boyle), Jack MacGowran (as Joxer), and Tommy Rall (as Johnny Boyle), with a cast that also included Loren Driscoll, Monte Amundsen, Nancy Andrews, Jean Stapleton, and Sada Thompson.