They're Playing Our Song is an original Broadway musical comedy with a book by Neil Simon, music by Marvin Hamlisch, and lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager.
In a story based on the real-life relationship of Hamlisch and Sager, They're Playing Our Song essentially is an intimate two-hander play with music. The two main characters are accompanied by an all-singing, all-dancing Greek chorus style group, who act as their inner voices. There are no major production numbers.
The play opens in the Central Park West apartment of Vernon Gersch, winner of three Emmy Awards and one Academy Award for his music compositions. He is looking for a new collaborator and, on the suggestion of his agent, agrees to meet Sonia Walsk, who has had some success writing pop song lyrics.
At first sight, they don't appear to be a suitable working couple. He is focused and professional and unattached. She is totally disorganised, neurotic and attached to Leon, if not trying to break up.
When they first meet, Vernon has already written music to one of Sonia's lyrics (Fallin'). After some discussion, the two agree to give the working partnership a go. One week later, doubts are already setting in. Sonia is one day late and having on-going problems breaking up with Leon. They start on their next song (Workin' It Out). (This is the first appearance of the "Voices", who will represent the couple's inner thoughts throughout the play.)
Sonia suggests they go to dinner. While Vernon makes a booking, Sonia considers If He Really Knew Me. When she leaves, Vernon also wonders If She Really Knew Me. Dinner proves to be a disaster. Sonia is late - more problems with Leon. They argue and to calm down, dance. Returning to their seats, Vernon recognises the tune the band is playing as his first major hit (They're Playing My Song (His)). As they continuing talking, Sonia takes up the song (They're Playing My Song (Hers)). Seeing an opening, Vernon suggests going back to Sonia's. She agrees as long as she can go ahead and get rid of Leon.
Finally arriving at Sonia's, Vernon finds no Leon and an upset Sonia. Listening to her problems, Vernon considers If She Really Knew Me. Listening to his problems, Sonia considers If He Really Knew Me. Keeping the romance going, Vernon suggests a weekend at a Long Island beach house his friend owns. When he goes to pack, Sonia reviews their relationship (Right).
Of course, like every other meeting of these two opposing partners, the weekend lurches from one disaster to another. The car won't start. Sonia keeps thinking of Leon and they both keep calling each other. Sonia and Vernon find themselves in the wrong house. Throughout, arguments continue. Finally, Sonia realises what she is missing (Just For Tonight).
A week later and Vernon can't sleep. Sonia arrives to tell him that Leon is back and, after some clever work on her part, Vernon asks if she would like to move in (When You're In My Arms). Three weeks later and love is still blossoming (When You're In My Arms (Reprise)). Suddenly, the phone rings. It's Leon. Sonia takes the call and rushes out. The next day, the recording session doesn't go well and eventually the two decide to break up. Vernon leaves and Sonia records their last song - I Still Believe In Love.
Some months later, Vernon is in a Los Angeles hospital with a broken leg - the result of a car accident. For the first time since they broke up, Sonia visits and gives him a toy piano as a present. After she leaves, Vernon takes a pause (Fill In The Words).
Time passes and both separately come to the realisation that despite their differences, they are better together and resolve to give it another go (They're Playing Our Song (The Bows)).
The original production had its world premiere at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre Music Center Los Angeles in 1978.
After eleven previews, the production - directed by Robert Moore (director), choreographed by Patricia Birch, and starring Robert Klein and Lucie Arnaz - opened on February 11, 1979 at the Imperial Theatre, where it ran for 1082 performances. Ann Roth designed the costumes and lighting was by Tharon Musser.
Notable replacements during its original Broadway run included Tony Roberts
The original London production opened on October 1, 1980 at the Shaftesbury Theatre and closed on May 8, 1982. It starred Tom Conti and Gemma Craven. Among the "Inner Voices" was Deena Payne.
Notable replacements during its original London run included Martin Shaw
The original Australian production opened on August 23, 1980 at the Theatre Royal, Sydney. It starred John Waters (actor) and Jacki Weaver. Among the "Inner Voices" was Rhonda Burchmore.
Awards and nominations