Libretti Writ Large



Curriculum Vitae
The Libretto
My Shows
Musical of the Month

Musical of the Month


Our Man Crichton (1964)


The Admirable Crichton by J. M. Barrie (1902)


Herbert Kretzmer, Librettist
David Lee, Composer


A butler (Crichton) who believes strongly in social Darwinism is marooned on a desert island along with his buffoonish betters, and leadership lines are neatly reversed until the castaways are rescued.  Crichton holds the fate of British gentility in his hands upon the company's return to London; he may choose to reveal his role as king-of-the-island or remain mute.  What is his choice?


Kretzmer's lyrics are delightfully Gilbertian (although not excessively pattery), and he takes great pains to maintain much of Barrie's original dry dialogue and clean mockery of standard island (both big and little "i" forms) stereotypes.  (Astute readers will also notice the librettist's casual conjurement of Wodehouse and Coward in the throwaway banter of the upper crust.)  The piece continues to have relevance as lines of class, though flexible, remain absurdly evident whether established by a privilege system of birth or wealth.  How well would any modernite fare if thrown onto a deserted island with his "inferiors"?  Poorly, I'd wager, and so much the better for him as he learns improvement and natural compassion from his fellows.  (See "Availability" if you would know why I've failed to comment upon music as well as verbiage.)


It is very difficult to enjoy this show in all of its glory.  It is seldom revived, and rare book services are required in order to purchase the libretto (Alibris has a few for purchase).  Sadly, the soundtrack exists only in record format, available with great effort through sellers in the United Kingdom or through Interlibrary Loan.  J. M. Barrie's original text, however, is available in inexpensive collected editions of his plays and should be investigated by those persons interested in the story.

Return to Top