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Cover to the 2004 London Cast Recording Simply Heavenly

A musical folk comedy in 2 Acts, 17 scenes: Music by David Martin: Book and lyrics by Langston Hughes

Based on the novel Simple Takes A Wife and other Simple stories by Langston Hughes

First produced in New York Off-Broadway 21 May 1957 at the 85th Street Playhouse for 44 performances.
Playhouse Theatre
, New York - 20 August 1957 (62 perfs) After Broadway run opened Off-Broadway 8 November 1959 at the Renata Theatre, and closed 31 December 1957 after 63 additional performances. Total for all engagements: 169 performances.

Young Vic Theatre, London - 17 march - 19 April, 2003
Trafalgar Studios, London - 25 October, 2004 - 5 May, 2005


This story by Langston Hughes, based on his novels about Jesse B. Semple, a Joe Doakes Harlemite, seems to capture the colour and the humour and poetry of these neighbours-to-the-North as no outlaner could imitate. This is the story of the New York Negro written from the inside out; it is a happy and exciting evening. There is a mood and a temper about this show that is unique." The NY Post, describes the play: "It possesses such unhackneyed freshness and cheeriness of spirit, such humorous decency and regard for the human spirit, that, as offered last night at the 85th Street Playhouse, it was a real delight. Its great merit is that Mr. Hughes contemplates the people he is writing about with a respect that never becomes patronising or stuffy and always retains its sense of humour."

The setting is Paddy's bar, a refuge whose regulars are either hard working or out of work — both are gond enough reasons to drink and sing the blues away.
The hero is Jesse who is in love with Joyce but can't resist the advances of man-eater Artie. But never mind whether Jesse and Joyce do or don't. The luckless Citfiddle picks out the most heartrending blues on his guitar, while queen of the drinking hole is the big-busted, short-tempered MamieWhat's important is spending time in a bar where every emotion is a musical cue.

Musical Numbers:

New York

  1. ove Is Simply Heavenly - Joyce
  2. Let Me lake You for a Ride - Zarita, Simple
  3. Broken String Blues - Gitfiddle
  4. Did You Ever hear the Blues - Mamie, Melon Bar Characters
  5. I'm Gonna Be John Henry - Simple
  6. When I'm in a Quiet Mood - Mamie, Melon
  7. Look For the Morning Star - Zarita
  8. Lets Ball Awhile - Zarita, Ensemble
  9. The Men in My Life - Zarita


  1. Prologue - Company
  2. Simply Heavenly - Joyce and Simple
  3. Watermelons - Melon and Mamie
  4. Let Me Take You For a Ride - Zarita and Simple
  5. The Broken String Blues - Gitfiddle
  6. He's a Great Big Bundle of Joy - Mamie
  7. Did You Ever Hear the Blues? - Mamie & Melon
  8. Deep In Love With You - Simple
  9. John Henry - Simple
  10. Paddy's Bar - The Band
  11. When I'm In a Quiet Mood - Mamie & Melon
  12. I Want Someone to Come Home To - Joyce
  13. Let's Ball A While - Zarita & Company
  14. Hunter and the Hunted - Zarita
  15. Good Ol' Girl - Mamie, Arcie, Madam Butler
  16. Finale - Full Company

Scenes and Settings:

Act 1

Scene 1 -Simple's Room, Harlem, NewYork City. An early Spring evening.
Scene 2. Joyce's Room. Same evening.
Scene 3. Peddy's Bar. Just before midnight.
Scene 4: Haspital Room. Next day
Scene 5. Paddys Bar. Saturday night.
Scene 6 Joyce's Boom. Sunday Evening.
Scene 7: Simple's Room. A month later


Scene 1. Paddy's Bar. A week later. evening.
Scene 2. Joyce's Room Evening two weeks later.
Scene 3. Simple's Room. Evening, a week later
Scene 4. Paddy's Bar. Next morning
Scene 5. Lenox Avenue. That Evening
Scene 6. Joyce's Room. Same Evening
Scene 7. Simple's Room. Same evening.
Scene 8. Paddy's Bar - A winter evening
Scene 9. A Phone Booth. Christmas, Eve
Scene 10. Simple's Room - Same evening

PLAYHOUSE THEATRE, NEW YORK. Opened 20 August 1957 and closed I2 October 1957

Directed by Joshua Shelley.
Setting and lighting by Raymond Sovev.
Musical director, Sticks Evans.
(Produced by Vincent Gerow and Abel Enklewitz.)

YOUNG VIC - Presented in a co-production with The Royal National Theatre Studio
17 March- 19 April 2003

Director - Josette Bushell-Mingo
Decor - Rob Howell; Lighting - Paul Anderson; Sound - Nick Lidster
Choreography - Paul J Medford
Music Arrangements - Warren Wills
Musical Director - Kelvin Thomson
Assistant director - Rae McKen

Kennie Andrews - Bodiddly
Des Coleman - Ananias Boyd
Carlton Headley - Miles
Nicola Hughes - Zanta
Paul Kissaun - Hopkins
Melanie Marshall - Madam Butler
Jason Pennycooke - John Jasper
Clive Rowe - Melon
Cat Simmons - Joyce Lane
Rhashan Stone - Jesse B Semple
Dale Superville - Gitfiddle
Kelvin Thomson - Joseph
Ruby Turner - Miss Mamie
Angela Wynter - Arcie/Mrs Caddy

TRAFALGAR STUDIOS (Formerly the Whitehall Theatre) - 25 October 2004—5 May 2005

The Young Vic production presented by Ambassador Theatre Group. Broadway Partners and Incidental Colman

Director - Josette Bushell-Mingo
Decor - Rob Howell; Lighting - Paul Anderson; Sound - Nick Lidster for Autograph
Choreography - Paul J Medford
Musical Director - Jason Thompson
Musical Arrangements - Warren Wills
Assistant director - Simon James Green

Rhashan Stone - Jesse B Sample
Melanie Marshall - Madam Butler
C Gerod Harris - Ananias Boyd
Allyson Brown - Joyce Lane
William Byrd - Wilkins Hopkins
Ruby Turner - Miss Mamie
Kennie A Andrews - Bodiddly
Roger Davies-Roberts - John Jasper
Fraser Collins - Character
Clive Rowe - Melon
Nicola Hughes - Zarita
Dawn Hope -Arci
Dale Superville - Gitfiddle

Other parts played by members of the company


11 men, 8 women, a few bit parts can be doubled.