The stage version moves the story forward from the 50's into the swinging 70's, making good use of the music-style from the period. APPLAUSE opened on Broadway starring Lauren Bacall (in her musical debut) as Margo Channing, and Penny Fuller as Eve Harrington. The cast also included Len Cariou (A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC), Bonnie Franklin, Lee Roy Reams (42ND STREET), Ann Williams and Robert Mandan.
The songs, written by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, are uniformably excellent, with standouts including "But Alive", "The Best Night of My Life", "Applause", "Who's That Girl?"; the canny "Welcome to the Theatre"; and Eve's semi-breakdown in "One Hallowe'en" which dissolves into a frenzied and frightening reprise of "But Alive".
Later in the run when Bacall completed her contract, producers scored a huge coo by convincing Anne Baxter (Eve in the movie) to replace Bacall as Margo. A fantastic, must-own cast-album.
In her Broadway debut, the legendary Lauren Bacall shines as Margo Channing, an aging Broadway star still at the top of the heap when a stagestruck young fan, Eve Harrington (Penny Fuller), enters her life. At first charmed by the charming young woman, Margo soon feels uneasy and finally paranoic about her protegee... and with good reason. Eve soon cozies up to MArgo's director boyfriend, Bill Sampson (Len Cariou), and best friends Buzz and Karen Richards (Brandon Maggart and Ann Williams). The manipulative Eve manages to wheedle her way to become Margo's understudy, and becomes a sensation when Margo is intentionally sidetracked from performing her show one night, and it is finally realized that Eve was up to no good from the start. Has Eve seized Margo's happiness away for good... or will Margo have the last laugh?
The Charles Strouse-Lee Adams score is just perfect, based on the book by the legendary team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Though no Ethel Merman, Lauren Bacall nevertheless pounds out song after song in an owlish, whiskey-and-cigarettes voice that is just perfect for her character, and makes her singing a veritable thrill on its own: in her best number, "But Alive", the tired but stimulated Bacall declares, "I feel groggy and weary and tragic... punchy and bleary and fresh out of magic, but alive.. but alive!... but ali-i-i-ive!" to perfection. in another number Bacall as Margo makes fun of her nineteen-year-old self in the amusingly satiric "Who's That Girl?". She sings a poignant, bittersweet ballad, "Hurry Back", and shines with the ironic "Welcome to the Theater"...Other sparkling songs include a familiar-sounding "Fasten Your Seatbelts", (in which Bacall does a brief but hilarious drunken spiel) "One Hallowe'en" (sung by a malicious Eve), Bill and Margo's duets "One of A Kind" and "Something Greater" and the brilliant title song, "Applause" are pure gems in this wonderful show.
A four-time 1970 Tony winner, including Best Musical, Best Director, Best Choreography, and Best Actress for Lauren Bacall, "Applause" is as immortal as its 1950 predecessor, and is great fun for fans of "All About Eve"."Welcome to the Theater" to a night of great entertainment!