The Beautiful People (1941)
Original Production - Lyceum Theatre, New York, April 21, 1941 - August 2, 1941 (120 performances)
Producer - William Saroyan
Director - William Saroyan
Scenic Design - Samual Leve
Original Cast -
Owen Webster - Eugene Loring
Harmony Blueblossom - Fredrica Siemons
Agnes Webster - Betsy Blair
Jonah Webster - Curtis Cooksey
William Prim - F. J. Ballantine
Dan Hillboy - Farrell Pelly
Father Hogan - Edward Nannary
Harold Webster - Don Freeman
Homeless Young Man - Peter Xantho
Reviewed by Burns Mantle for The New York Daily News ("There is only one way to accept William Saroyan as a playwright, and that is on his own terms.")
The Lyceum gave away 850 free tickets to a dress rehearsal of the show as a test audience to fine-tune the final form of the play.
Legendary columnist Walter Winchell called the play "Tender and beautiful."
In an effort to stimulate sales, in the New York Times, July 2nd, 1941, Saroyan made a money-back guarantee to anyone who did not enjoy the show. He cancelled the offer on July 18th, having given back more than $300 to partrons.
The Nation reviewed The Beautiful People - "One might instructively compare "The Beautiful People" with "You Can't Take It with You." In a sense the themes are the same, and each is quite good in its way. But there is between them all the difference between sophistication playing a trick and sincerity genuinely delighted with the sentiment it is feeling, between gags deliberately concocted and humor which springs from real gaiety. I hope Mr. Saroyan will not be imitated by anyone less talented than himself or with less faith in his own romantic and sentimental ideas. But for Mr. Saroyan himself I am profoundly grateful."
Significant productions tooks place in St. Louis at The Little Theatre in 1943, The Hillbarn Theater in San Mateo, California in 1943, The Golden Bough Playhouse in Carmel, California in 1954, The Hedgerow Playhouse in 1975, and as the opening night event for the 7th annual William Saroyan Festival in Fresno, California, in 1991. A version performed at the Pittsburgh Playhouse was broadcast on Esso Repertory Theater in 1965.