Allegro is a 1947 theatre musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein and their fourth collaboration together. It is the first musical whose director (in this case, Agnes de Mille), was also the choreographer.
The plot follows the life of "Everyman" protagonist Joseph Taylor, Jr. in a series of vignettes from birth to age thirty-five. Taylor, a doctor, grows up, marries a local woman, Jennie Brinkler, and his wife's infidelity eventually drive him to move back home with nurse Emily West to serve the sick and needy. Themes in the musical include the corruption of large institutions.
Allegro opened at the Majestic Theater on October 10, starring John Battles as Joseph Taylor, Jr., Annamary Dickey as Majorie Taylor, William Ching as Dr. Joseph Taylor, Roberta Jonny as Jennie Brinkler, Lisa Kirk as Emily West and John Conte as Charlie Townsend. It received mixed reactions from critics. However, the musical did win three Donaldson Awards including Best Book, Lyrics and Score.
According to Stephen Sondheim (who was a production assistant for the original Broadway production), in his introductory remarks prior to the 1993 City Center Encores concert reading of the show, Allegro may have suffered the most disasterous opening night in theatre history. In addition to a falling wall, during a dance number in Act One one of the actors caught his tap shoe in a track on the stage and tore every ligament in his leg, and had to be carried- screaming- from the stage. In Act Two, Lisa Kirk, who was making her professional stage debut, caught a heel in another track and fell headlong into the orchestra. Mr. Sondheim confesses his memory may be faulty, but he recalls that she was back up on the stage without missing a note.
Throughout his life, Oscar Hammerstein claimed he wished he could go back and rewrite the second act of Allegro; he felt audiences didn't get the show properly, leaving the show thinking it was a simple story of an Everyman returning to his roots. Hammerstein claimed the show was his most autobiographical work, and that Joseph Taylor, Jr.'s life was a mirror of some of his own experiences.
Green, Stanley. The Broadway Fake Book