On This Gay Day: The musical ‘Victor/Victoria’ opened on Broadway

Victor / Victoria opened on Broadway in 1995

The musical Victor / Victoria from director Blake Edwards, starring his wife Julie Andrews, began life as a film in 1982. 

Its the story of a down and out singer, who has run out of money, finds friendship with a recently fired gay nightclub host. Together they come up with an elaborate act that puts them on the top of Parisian nightlife. 

The cabaret world is introduced to female impersonator Victor, who performs as Victoria, the joke being the performer is actually a woman. It kicks off a comedy of confusion as the characters embark on a journey exploring gender and sexuality. 

Victor / Victoria is based on a 1932 German film from Director  Reinhold Schünzel. He made two versions of his film, one with a German cast, and another in French with a different cast.

The story was also recreated in English in 1935 as Just a Girl, and another German version was created in the late 1950s.  

Following the success of the 1982 film, Edwards and Andrew worked to develop the work for the Broadway stage. 

Andrews was the only cast member from the film to return, co-star Robert Preston did not believe the project would be a success on Broadway. 

The stage version used music and songs created for the film by Henry Mancini and lyricist Leslie Bricusse, additional music was created by Frank Wildhorn who was brought in following Mancini’s death prior to the show opening. 

The production played for 734 performances and 25 previews closing on July 27, 1997. 

Andrews rejected a Tony nomination for her role in the musical, saying it was outrageous that the rest of the cast and crew were overlooked. 

“I have searched my conscience and my heart and find that I cannot accept this nomination.” Andrews said, adding she would “stand instead with the egregiously overlooked” cast and crew. 

The controversy generated a surge in ticket sales for the show. 

Liza Minelli took over the lead role for four weeks while Andrews took a break, and Raquel Welsh replaced Andrews when she developed vocal problems. 

Andrews subsequently had surgery on her vocal chords, and a botched operation left her unable to sing again. She settled a lawsuit with her surgeon for $20million. 

Victor / Victoria would be the last time audiences got to hear Julie Andrews sing live on stage. 


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