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The Slow Drag

Cover to Original London Cast Recording

A jazz musical by Carson Kreitzer

Freedom Theatre, London 14 February, 1997. Transferred to the Whitehall Theatre, London 5 November, 1997


The Slow Drag is the unique story of Johnny Christmas, a jazz musician, his wife June Wedding, a sultry and sexy torch singer and their best friend Chester Kent, a singer, dancer and pianist.

Johnny harbours a dark secret. He had been born a woman and in order to play the music he loves, Johnny has to pass himself off as a man. This is a charade he keeps up for the duration of his life and shares with no one but June, not even to his and June's three sons. It's a charade that ultimately kills Johnny, who dies of a bleeding ulcer. Because of JOhnny's deception, he is unable to seek medical attention.

When Johnny sees June singing one night, he knows that she is the woman for him. He courts her, asks her to marry him, and finally reveals his secret to her. Johnny desperately loves June, but June also serves to deflect attention from Johnny's masquerade. June becomes pregnant from men she picks up in bars and bears three sons for Johnny. However, Johnny's deception has its limits and the pressure on himself and June finally takes its toll, Johnny cracks, destroying himself and his marriage to June.

Meanwhile, Chester, like Johnny, is also leading a double life. As a half-caste, he has found that many doors are shut to him - no one wants to be reminded that the white race is not quite so pure. If Chester denies his heritage and passes himself off as a playboy with a deep tan, he can play music in "White Only" establishments. If not, he's out of work.

Inspired by the real-life story of jazz musician Billy Tiptonm who upon his death in 1989 was discovered to have been a woman, unbeknownst to his wives and three adopted sons. The Slow Drag is a fascinating story of three individuals who lived and lied for their music.


Musical Numbers:

  1. C Jam Blues (Ellington) - Band
  2. Everybody Loves My Baby (Williams/Palmer) - Johnny
  3. More Than YOu KNow (Youmans/Rose/Eliscu) - June
  4. Why Don't You Do Right? (McCoy) - June
  5. Sweet Melinda (Pearson/Colquhoun/Kreitzer) - Chester
  6. Blame It On My Youth (Levant/Heyman) - June
  7. Black and Blue (Waller) - Chester
  8. The Way You Look Tonight (Kern/Fields) - Johnny
  9. Blues In the Night (Arlen/Mercer) - June
  10. Honeysuckle Rose (Waller/Razaf) - Christopher
  11. Too Late Now (Lane/Lerner) June, Johnny
  12. But Beautiful (Van Heusen/Burke) - June


Original London Cast Recording with Kim Criswell, Liza Sadovy and Christopher Colquhoun
CDTER 1249