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Evening Primrose is a musical with a book by James Goldman and lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim.

Based on a John Collier short story published in the 1951 collection Fancies and Goodnights, it focuses on a poet who takes refuge from the world by hiding out in a department store after closing. Once there he finds a community of night people who live in the store, most notably a beautiful young girl named Ella. Unfortunately for the two young lovers, their relationship is forbidden by the leader of the group, and escape appears to be their only option. But they are caught trying to flee. The ending provides a Twilight Zone-like twist, with the store opening the next morning and two new mannequins appear--eerily resembling our young protagonists.

Written specifically for the television anthology series ABC Stage 67, it aired on November 16 1966. Directed by Paul Bogart, it starred Anthony Perkins (Charles), Charmian Carr (Ella), and Dorothy Stickney. The program was taped after regular business hours at the now-defunct Stern Brothers department store in Manhattanmarker.

An official soundtrack recording never was released commercially, but Sondheim did order a privately-pressed recording which he gave to friends and cast members.

An original television soundtrack recording of Evening Primrose was released commercially by Kritzerland, Inc. in 2008. The recording was issued in a limited release of 3,000 copies. article

Other productions and recordings

The four vocal selections were recorded by Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters for his 1990 Dress Casual album. ("If You Can Find Me, I'm Here" - Mandy Patinkin; "I Remember" - Bernadette Peters; "When" - Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters; "Take Me to the World" - Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin.) In 1997, Liz Callaway and Gary Beach recorded them for a Varèse Sarabande release entitled Sondheim at the Movies. A studio recording with Neil Patrick Harris as Charles and Theresa McCarthy as Ella was released by Nonesuch Records in 2001.

"I Remember" has also been recorded by Sarah Brightman, Judy Collins, John Pizzarelli, Cleo Laine, Maureen McGovern, Betty Buckley, Julia Migenes, Dianne Reeves and Barbra Streisand. On Dawn Upshaw's 1994 musical theatre album I Wish it So, the singer recorded "Take Me to the World".

The first professional theatrical staging was performed in London as part of the Lost Musicals series, opening at the Lilian Baylis Studio on July 3, 2005 and closing on July 24, 2005. Directed by Ian Marshall Fisher, it starred Betsy Blair (Mrs Monday), Michael Matus (Charles Snell), Jennifer Higham (Ella Harkins), James Vaughn (Store Doorman/Night Watchman), Gary Raymond (Roscoe), Sylvia Seymour and Andrew Beavis

The original telecast of Evening Primrose is available for viewing at the Museum of Television & Radio branches in New York Citymarker and Beverly Hillsmarker.

Musical score

  • If You Can Find Me I'm Here
  • Charles Meets Mrs. Monday (instrumental)
  • Charles And Ella (instrumental)
  • Check List (instrumental)
  • The Basement (instrumental)
  • I Remember
  • When
  • Take Me To The World
  • The Ball (instrumental)
  • Roscoe And The Guard (instrumental)
  • The Ball, Part 2 (instrumental)
  • Escape (instrumental)
  • Take Me To The World (Reprise)
  • Final Credits (instrumental)


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