This page has been carefully plagerized from the Souvenir Lyric Book for the musical Tom Foolery by Tom Lehrer. I hope you enjoy this obscure peice of Tom Lehrer History. Spelling errors and typos have been added for your pleasure.


Tom Lehrer and Cameron Mackintosh

The material in TOMFOOLERY, such as it is, is drawn entirely from the works of Tom Lehrer, whose recordings of certain peculiar songs of his own devising won him a certain notoriety in the '50s and '60s.

In 1953 Tom Lehrer, an otherwise inoffensive graduate student and part-time teacher of mathematics at Harvard University, had the effrontery to issue on his own an LP entitled Songs by Tom Lehrer, the inexplicable success of which led to several years of nightclub and concert appearances in the U.S., U.K., and various other Lehrer-speaking countries, as well as two further recorded collections, An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer and That Was the Year that Was. To date these LPs have sold over a million and a half copies, God knows to whom.

A sparkling cast of four versatile and impenitent performers has not been assembled to inflict Mr. Lehrer's songs and prose upon theatre audiences in a lighthearted and heavy-handed (or is this the other way round?) review called TOMFOOLERY.

Mr. Lehrer's childish delight at the advent of this show is sin sharp contrast to his otherwise jaundiced view of everything. He as actively participated in the compilation of TOMFOOLERY and made a general nuisance of himself at rehearsals, at the same time expressing considerable relief that his participation does not extend to the other side of the footlights.

I first came across the works of Tom Lehrer at the age of ten whilst scavenging in my aunt's record cabinet. Even in my unblemished youth I found instant appeal in Tom's songs, though, hopefully, some of the deeper meanings passed me by. Even though my kindly aunt snatched back the record with a proprietary vehemence that has unsettled me to this day, I have never forgotten those jolly tunes with their cheerful, unbiased sentiments.

Years later, shortly after I produced "Side By Side By Sondheim". I was rummaging through my own record cabinet, when I came across my own, my very own, personal, never-to-be-lent copy of one of Tom's LPs, and I suddenly got the idea of putting his material together as a stage show. At this point I might add that I still believed in the rumor that he was dead, which conjured up two marvelous possibilities: one, that he couldn't interfere with rehearsals; and two, that he might join the Immortal Bard, and Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, and be out of copyright, so that I wouldn't have to pay him any royalties. But no. Life is not that simple, and after a little research early in 1978 I traced Tom to his academic retreat in Santa Cruz, California. Luckily, or unluckily, depending on your viewpoint, Tom liked the idea, and further cheered me by volunteering to stay out of the way entirely if it suited me better.

During "Side By Side By Sondheim", I had the never to be forgotten experience of working with Robin Ray, a man of whom it is impossible to say too much due to the libel laws in this country. However, our exquisite, not to say salacious, sense of humor soon bound us together spiritually, and in preparing the script for the show, we both agreed wholeheartedly to follow Tom's on dictum, and:

"Plagiarize, plagiarize,
Let no-one else's work
Evade our eyes."

The end result was exactly that. We totally plagiarized the script from Tom's own writings and introductions. Tom , swept up in the enthusiasm engendered in creating this great musical spectacle, graciously volunteered to break his time honored code of only working when absolutely necessary, by polishing up the script and lyrics so that they gleam as squalidly today as when he first wrote them.

The choice of the Production Team, lead by Gillian Lynne, was never in doubt as we have all worked together for years, and thoroughly enjoyed a relationship of back-biting, intrigue, and slander. Having handed Miss Lynne our polished thoughts and witticisms, she promptly ignore most of our ideas, and egged on by our light finger musical maestro, Chris Walker, came up with her own highly individual interpretation. Against all odds, we've had a lot of fun putting "tomfoolery" together and I hope you will enjoy Tom's work as much as we do.