I Love My Wife
MusicCy Coleman
LyricsMichael Stewart
BookMichael Stewart
Productions1977 Broadway
1977 West End
1977 Madrid
1979 Buenos Aires

I Love My Wife is a musical with a book and lyrics by Michael Stewart and music by Cy Coleman, based on a play by Luis Rego.[1]

A satire of the sexual revolution of the 1970s, the musical takes place on Christmas Eve in suburban Trenton, New Jersey, where two married couples who have been close friends since high school find themselves contemplating a ménage-à-quatre.


In Trenton, New Jersey, old high school buddies Wally (now an executive in public relations) and Alvin (a furniture mover) discuss the possibility of adding some spice to their lives by having a foursome. Alvin suggests to his wife Cleo that they share their bed with Monica, Wally's wife. Cleo thinks that she would enjoy Wally. They agree that whoever enters first becomes the evening's partner, but the couple walks in together. After Monica leaves, the three discuss the situation and decide on a foursome on Christmas Eve.

Alvin and Cleo arrive for dinner on Christmas Eve, and while Monica is initially unhappy with the arrangement, she ultimately agrees. Too excited to eat: they undress, get into bed, and have some pot to relax. As Wally suggests ideas from a sex manual, the group discards all the options.

Song list


The pre-Broadway tryout opened at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia on March 21, 1977.[2] The Broadway production opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on April 17, 1977, and closed on May 20, 1979, after 857 performances and seven previews. Directed by Gene Saks and choreographed by Onna White, the cast included James Naughton as Wally, Joanna Gleason as Monica, Lenny Baker, as Alvin, Ilene Graff as Cleo, Michael Mark (guitar) as Stanley, Joseph Saulter (drums) as Quenton, John Miller (bass) as Harvey, and Ken Bichel (piano) as Norman. During the show's run, cast replacements included Tom and Dick Smothers, Tom Wopat, Janie Sell and, in an African American version, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Hattie Winston, and Barbara Sharma. Original director and choreographer Joe Layton was replaced due to injuries sustained in a fall.[2]

The West End production opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre on October 6, 1977, where it ran for 401 performances.[3] It was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Musical of the Year.[4] The show originally starred Porridge and Rising Damp star Richard Beckinsale, who was replaced as the lead mid-run by Confessions of a Window Cleaner actor Robin Askwith.[5]

The band consisted of four on-stage musicians who were among the friends and acted in the opening scene. The show was filled with their shenanigans in the background during the songs. They sang along with some of the numbers and sometimes one of them took a solo and sang alone.

The Helen Hayes Theatre in Nyack, New York, presented the musical in April 2004.[6]

A production was staged by the Reprise Theatre Company, Brentwood Theatre, Brentwood, California, in December 2008. This starred Jason Alexander (Alvin), Vicki Lewis (Cleo), Patrick Cassidy (Wally), and Lea Thompson (Monica).[7]


Critical reviews

Clive Barnes, reviewing for The New York Times, wrote that the musical is "bright, inventive, amusing and breezy." He noted that what Coleman and Stewart did regarding the band "is breathtakingly simple, but none...has ever done it before. They have taken the band and put it up on stage...The musicians are welded into the play, as a kind of Greek chorus." He especially noted that "It is a gorgeous cast-just right." Finally, he called the musical "mildly sexy, vastly diverting and highly amusing."[8]

Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1977 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Michael Stewart Nominated
Best Original Score Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart Nominated
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Lenny Baker Won
Best Direction of a Musical Gene Saks Won
Best Choreography Onna White Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Musical Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Musical Lenny Baker Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Ken Bichel Won
Michael Mark
John Miller
Joseph Saulter
Outstanding Director of a Musical Gene Saks Nominated
Outstanding Music Cy Coleman Won
Theatre World Award Joanna Gleason Won

Original London production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1977 Laurence Olivier Award Best New Musical Nominated

Watch and listen


  1. ^ Cy Coleman, Cy; Stewart, Michael (1980). I Love My Wife. Samuel French, Inc. ISBN 0-573-68110-4, p. 3
  2. ^ a b Corry, John (March 4, 1977). "Broadway". The New York Times. p. 48. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  3. ^ Kenrick, John (2002). "Stage Musical Chronology: 1970s". Musicals101.com.
  4. ^ "Olivier Winners 1977". Official London Theatre. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  5. ^ "Richard Beckinsale". britishsites.co.uk. Archived from the original on September 11, 2011.
  6. ^ Rendell, Bob. "Hey There, Good Times, Cy Coleman is Here". broadwaytalk.com. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  7. ^ Hodgins, Paul (December 4, 2008). "'I Love My Wife' pokes fun at swinging '70s". The Orange County Register. Retrieved March 15, 2022.
  8. ^ Barnes, Clive (April 18, 1977). "Stage: Tuneful 'I Love My Wife'". The New York Times. p. 38. Retrieved March 15, 2022.