Raggedy Ann (partially found script and footage of Broadway musical; 1985-1986)
Raggedy Ann (also known as Rag Dolly), was a Broadway production written by William Gibson, with music and lyrics composed by Joe Raposo, and directed by Patricia Birch. The musical is loosely based off the animated film Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977), and the Raggedy Ann and Andy books (1918-1977), but with a dark twist.
After the movie's initial release, Joe Raposo was approached by Patricia Snyder to adapt the film into a stage musical, bringing in playwright William Gibson to work alongside them. William wasn't interested in rehashing the animated movie and took inspiration from the real-life story of Raggedy Ann author Johnny Gruelle's daughter Marcella, who contracted diphtheria from an unsanitary smallpox vaccination and died at the age of 14.
The musical centered around Marcella, a little girl dying of a mysterious disease her doctors have trouble diagnosing. She can't eat, can't sleep, and has issues breathing, and her death is imminent.
Her father is a depressed alcoholic, trying his best to keep his daughter happy, despite her fatal illness. It is told that Marcella's pet dog Red Fang died after trying (and succeeding) to eat her pet canary Yellow Yum Yum and that her mother abandoned both her and her father for a man in a Rolls Royce.
The father gives Marcella a chest full of rag dolls and tells her that if she sleeps, all her toys come alive and play in the nursery together, but if she doesn't fall asleep the dolls just stay in their box. Marcella eventually manages to fall asleep, and through a movie-length dream sequence, her, Raggedy Ann, Andy, and the rest of the toybox toys go on a vast journey from New York to L.A. to find the Doll Doctor, in hopes that he can save Marcella from an early death.
All the while, they are being hunted down by General D and his two henchmen, The Wolf (Red Fang) and The Bat (Yellow Yum Yum), and only have until 6 AM to get to the Doll Hospital. If they don't make it by then, Marcella will die, subsequently causing the dolls deaths as well.
The Gibson/Raposo version of the production was released on December 7th 1984 under the title Rag Dolly.
However, almost immediately after its initial release, controversy arose after Ellen Allen, from Albany, New York, took her children to see the show. Appalled by the musical's dark subject matter, she went to the local news, concluding that the play depicted "portrayals of gruesome characters, a mother deserting her child, death, and even suicide.” This isn't that far from the truth since it has been said that the play had dark and even sexual themes, with Marcella having nightmares about her mother committing suicide, slaughterhouses and a forest of corpses (allegedly).
After the news of the unexpectedly dark play went popular, several public schools' reservations were also cancelled due to this uproar. One of the educational directors said that “the themes of alcoholism, suicide, and murder were not appropriate for children.” William Gibson later replied, simply stating "The style is for children, the content is for me."
In 1985, the play was retooled to be more "appropriate" for young audiences, renamed Raggedy Ann, and the controversy died down.
Despite the bad reviews and controversy, the show got in Albany, the reviews were absolutely positive when it performed in Moscow, as seen in the 30-minute documentary Rag Dolly in the USSR.
However, due to the few performances in Moscow, and the mere 5 performances in the United States, the show never made it into historical popularity along with other shows at the time.
The musical itself has almost vanished into obscurity, for around 30 years its been almost completely forgot about, save for a video on YouTube that had a low-quality recording of the demo soundtrack and the 30 minute documentary about the performance of the show in Russia. However, at the beginning of 2018, a few things involving the show have been found.
An audio bootleg, recorded in 1986 during one of the Broadway performances, has been making its way through the internet and has been posted on YouTube in its full length. The one who found it is Vinnie Rattolle. It's low quality, but the bootleg has a new set of songs added to the soundtrack, preexisting songs have been changed, and the song Mexico has been cut. Only recently has the script been found, residing in New York Public Library's archives, and a digital copy is able to be purchased. The script is different than the bootleg, a possible earlier copy since it contains all the original demo versions of the songs and a few scenes that are missing from the audio bootleg.
What is still missing is the possibility of extra B-Roll footage from the documentary Rag Dolly in the USSR, which is possibly nonexistent, and the updated script that goes along with the 1986 bootleg. What has been found, is the audio bootleg, one version of the script, and the documentary.
Lost Media Wiki user Babydaisylover got in touch with Ivy Austin who has plans about reviving the show. She said this to her in an email.
Happy New Year, and thank you so much for getting in touch with me about Raggedy Ann. I have been getting a lot of email lately from people like yourself who would like to know more about our show....and I am absolutely delighted! First, I must tell you that, although I wish I could, I cannot offer you a script. What I can tell you, is that there has been so much renewed interest in the piece, that I am trying to get a company interested in doing a licensing agreement after all these years, so that people can have a chance to experience this wonderful little show. But that may take a while :) For the record, there were many more public performances than you think. It took almost three years to develop the show, at a theatre in Albany, called The Egg (ESIPA), where we performed several versions of the show over the years. In the winter of 1986, we were invited to Moscow on a cultural exchange, where we performed to standing ovations for two weeks. In the summer of 1986, the show ran at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC for (I think) six weeks, where it was also a huge hit. If you go to my website, you will find a link to the lovely documentary filmed about Raggedy Ann in Moscow. On Broadway, we had ten previews, and four regular performances. On Facebook, a great page comes up if you search for Raggedy Ann on Broadway. That may lead you to some of the music....there are some rare recordings on YouTube. Unfortunately, both composer Joe Raposo and playwright William Gibson are gone, but most of the cast members, including director Patricia Birch, are alive and well, and we have remained friends. Lately, I have been in touch with another fan named McKenah—here’s the link to her blog:  So please don’t give up hope Babydaisylover! I am doing everything I can to put the pieces back together, and maybe someday, somewhere, people will get to do a production of our beloved show."
The ESIPA production had a slightly different soundtrack, which included the songs "Mexico," which was cut from the Broadway run. Various other songs from the original ESIPA production have been altered for the Broadway performance, including "You Never Get Away", which is now called "You'll Love It" and it is sung by The Bat. Other songs were lightly modified with no notable changes.
- Act I
- "Overture" – Orchestra
- "Gingham and Yarn" – Company
- "Carry On" – Poppa
- "Diagnosis" – Doctors
- "The Light" – Marcella and Dolls
- "Make Believe" – Raggedy Ann & General D.
- "Blue" – The Camel & Raggedy Ann
- "Make Believe (Reprise 1)" – Raggedy Ann, Marcella, Dolls & Company
- "Make Believe (Reprise 2)" – Raggedy Ann & Marcella
- "Something in the Air" – Company
- "Delighted" – Clouds
- "So Beautiful" – Raggedy Ann, Marcella & Clouds
- "A Heavenly Chorus" – Yellow Yum-Yum
- "The Shooting Star" – Mommy, Poppa, and The Rat in the Rolls Royce
- "The Wedding" – Company
- "Rag Dolly" – Raggedy Ann
- Act II
- "Gingham and Yarn (reprise)" – Company
- "You'll Love It" – Bat, Raggedy Andy & the Batettes
- "A Little Music" – Marcella, Raggedy Ann, and Dolls
- "Gone" – Dolls & Company
- "Why Not?" – Mommy
- "What Did I Lose?" – Mommy
- "Somewhere" – Raggedy Ann
- "Welcome to L.A." – Nurses
- "Diagnosis (reprise)" – Doctors
- "I Come Riding" – General D.
- "Gingham and Yarn (reprise)" – Company
- "Rag Dolly (Finale)" – Cast
|Character||ESIPA/Moscow||The Kennedy Center/Broadway|
|Doctor||Joe Barrett||Joe Barrett|
|Doctor||Neal Ben-Ari||Dick DeCareau|
|Doctor||Gary O. Aldrich||Richard Ryder|
|Poppa/The Doll Doctor||Gibby Brand||Bob Morrisey|
|Marcella||Tricia Brooks||Lisa Rieffel|
|Raggedy Ann||Ivy Austin||Ivy Austin|
|Raggedy Andy||Scott Schafer||Scott Schafer|
|Baby Doll||Carolyn Marble Valentis||Carolyn Marble Valentis|
|Panda||Jeanne Vigliante||Michelan Sisti|
|General D.||David Schramm||Leo Burmester|
|Bat/Yellow Yum Yum||Pamela Sousa||Gail Benedict|
|Wolf/Red Fang||Tom Pleto||Gordon Weiss|
|Camel with the Wrinkled Knees||Joe Aroeste||Joe Aroeste|
|Mommy/Witch||Elizabeth Austin||Elizabeth Austin|
|Company||Michaela Hughes||Micharla Hughes|
|Company||Helena Binder||Melinda Buckley|
|Company||Nina Hennessey||Anny Degange Holgate|
|Company||Laura Carusone||Susann Fletcher|
|Company||Scott Evans||Steve Owsley|
|Company||John Thomas Maguire III||Gregory Butler|
|Company||Betsy Normile||Andrea Wright|