About this project
MAN WITH A LOAD OF MISCHIEF
The Acclaimed Gloriously Melodic and Romantic Musical
Let’s Bring it Back!
A Musical-Theater Gem: How it All Began
Man with a Load of Mischief first appeared on New York's off-Broadway stage at about the same time that musicals like Hair and Cabaret were debuting on Broadway. It was also a golden age of Off-Broadway innovation. Wonderful, small-scale shows like The Fantasticks, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Ernest in Love were in full flower.
In the midst of this remarkable era, John Clifton and Ben Tarver created one of the most beloved shows in American musical-theater history.
It was a period piece, set in romantic old England. Something completely unique — a chamber-music kind of musical. Not trendy, yet contemporary and timeless. Imagine! Waltzes and polonaises and minuets! Add to the mixture an intriguing plot involving six unique characters singing melodic, sophisticated songs.
Have a "Rewarding" Experience!
We're offering some pretty neat rewards, from a CD Cast Recording (available nowhere else...and only 25 dollars!), to exclusive tee-shirts (His and Hers--check these out in the column to the right!), to beautiful autographed show posters, to a VIP "Pink Champagne Reception." Even a fancy dinner with the composer! And much, much more!
The Critics Rave
The reviews were great for this show . . . and the word-of-mouth was fantastic. Man with a Load of Mischief became the surprise hit of the season. Here’s a sampling of the critics’ reactions:
- “Instant delight! Few Broadway composers could equal this score!” — Cue Magazine
- “Perfectly charming!” — The New York Times
- “Rewarding and stimulating entertainment!” — Associated Press
- “Remarkably appealing” —The New York Post
- “An Off-Broadway hit!” — Walter Winchell
Praise through the decades: Since its original production, Man with a Load of Mischief has been revived in New York five times, in non-commercial, limited-run productions. Every one received positive, enthusiastic reviews in the New York media.
The plan for a major revival: Although Mischief is a timeless classic of American musical theater, it has become largely unknown to many theatergoers and even to theatrical professionals. Ardent fans have been clamoring for a major revival in New York. The creators, John Clifton and Ben Tarver, are convinced that the time is now! This project is designed to attract commercial producers and investors via a series of live, fully staged performances.
An intriguing story of twists and turns…
Man with a Load of Mischief is a tale of romance and intrigue set in a country inn in the England of the early nineteenth century.
A sudden accident to a coach, followed by a gallant rescue, brings to this out-of-the-way setting four adventurous people: a lovely Lady, her Maid, a dashing Lord, and his Man. Their horses now lame, they are temporarily stranded. The Lady is the mistress of a Prince, fleeing his unwanted attentions.
The Lord and Lady seem perfectly matched. But the Lady suspects that he intends to send her back to the Prince as payment of a gambling debt. The couple duel verbally, sparring with caustic and witty repartee. Soon the banter turns heated, and the Lady trumps the Lord with a stinging insult. Furious, the Lord plots to see her humbled, and commands the Man to seduce her — by making love to a servant, she will be humiliated. To add to the complications, the Lord then propositions the Maid.
The servant, the enigmatic Man, is the most fascinating character in this remarkable tale. He sees the true woman behind the Lady’s facade of a royal mistress. An assignation is arranged: They will meet that night in the garden. Meanwhile, the social-climbing Maid agrees to meet the Lord in his chambers. All of these romantic goings-on even have an effect on the normally un-romantic Innkeeper and his Wife.
We’ll discreetly draw the curtain here on what occurs during the night! But the next morning, unexpected revelations come to light, which add further twists. More schemes and stratagems ensue, as the plot tumbles and re-tumbles—right up to the surprise ending.
The audience leaves the theater amazed and delighted — and, of course, humming the catchy songs!
The Melodic and Memorable Songs
You might never have heard a musical-theater score quite like this one! The songs, combining period flavor with contemporary style, are abundant.
The score of Man with a Load of Mischief has enjoyed wide acclaim and critical praise — a reaction that has endured through the decades. The Original Cast Album, now a vinyl rarity, is prized by fans and collectors. A Studio Cast version was more recently released on CD.
Emory Lewis, a popular critic who reviewed both the original 1966 production and a 1974 New York revival, wrote: “Few Broadway composers could equal this delightful score. John Clifton has composed some of the freshest and most melodious tunes I’ve heard in quite a spell. The duets, trios, and quintets follow one another in banquet profusion.”
Lewis’ sentiments have been enthusiastically echoed by critics of subsequent productions.
From the jaunty “Once You’ve Had a Little Taste” to the waltz rhythms of “Romance!” to the rich folk harmonies of “Hulla-Baloo-Balay” to the two haunting ballads “Come to the Masquerade” and “Make Way for My Lady!” the songs continue to captivate new listeners. Then add a few stylish instrumentals, “Entrance Polonaise” and “The Dinner Minuet,” and you have a unique musical experience, at once crowd-pleasing and sophisticated.
With a winning formula like this, Man with a Load of Mischief is something rare indeed in today’s musical-theater world!
Listen to 3 1/2 minutes of "Mischief" music:
It’s Time to Bring Back this Legendary Musical!
Realizing a dream—the first step: We have budgeted a minimum of $30,500 to cover the costs of a series of fully produced performances of Man with a Load of Mischief in the spring of 2012. This figure covers rental of a small theater, rehearsal space, six actors, a director and music director, three musicians, a stage manager, lighting, sound, set, and costumes. And, of course, behind-the-scenes expenses such as marketing and media. We will invite New York’s top theater producers and prospective backers in order to motivate interest in a major New York revival.
Musical theater needs a recharge: Today’s musical-theater scene is dominated by jukebox musicals, movie-based adaptations, and flashy spectacles. While these are varied and colorful, Broadway and Off Broadway sadly lack shows that can boast intriguing stories, standout songs, and real characters that audiences can care about. Man with a Load of Mischief will add something fresh, something completely and wonderfully different, to our current theatrical climate. Isn’t it about time?
Be a part of this great adventure! But to make it all happen, we need your help. Join us in this important project and be a part of it! By helping to bring this American treasure back to the stage, you’ll play a role in musical-theater history! And we’ll thank you with the great rewards listed in the column to the right.
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