The Apple Tree is a series of three musical playlets with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and a book by Bock and Harnick with contributions from Jerome Coopersmith. Each act has its own storyline, but all three are tied together by common musical themes and references, such as references to the color brown.
The first act is based on Mark Twain's The Diary of Adam and Eve; the second act is based on Frank R. Stockton's The Lady or the Tiger? (and has the same ambiguous ending). The third act, based on Jules Feiffer's Passionella, arguably has the most entertaining songs, notably “Oh, to Be a Movie Star.”
The musical opened on October 18, 1966, at the Shubert Theatre in New York, and ran for 463 performances, closing on November 25, 1967. It was produced by Stuart Ostrow, directed by Mike Nichols, and starred Barbara Harris, Alan Alda, and Larry Blyden. Harris won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
The Apple Tree also received several other major Tony nominations: Alda for Best Actor in a Musical, Bock and Harnick for Best Composer and Lyricist, Nichols for Best Direction of a Musical, Lee Theodore for Best Choreography, and the show itself for Best Musical.
The Roundabout Theatre Company, one of New York’s largest not-for-profit theatre companies, mounted a revival in December 2006 with Kristin Chenoweth, Brian D'Arcy James in Alda's roles and Marc Kudisch in Blyden's. The consensus of reviews was that the playlets themselves are all creaky with age, the music interesting but not inspired, and Chenoweth's performance a marvel and the evening's only important attraction (but a huge one).
The Diary of Adam and Eve
The Lady or the Tiger?