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In 1966, Sondheim and James Goldman wrote this adaptation of John Collier's short story "Evening Primrose" for the television series ABC Stage 67. Stage 67 was the brainchild of producer Hubbel Robinson, and wass an ambitious series of original hourlong musicals and dramas for television. Sadly, the series never clicked with viewers who were much more at home with Bewitched, Green Acres, and The Beverly Hillbillies. The writers of the other musicals on Stage 67 included Bock and Harnick (The Centerville Ghost), Bacharach and David (On the Flip Side), Styne and Comden and Green (Getting Married) and Richard Adler (Olympus 70000). Still, despite all the talent, the only real critical successes of the show were "Primrose" and Sam Peckinpah's adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's "Noon Wine".

Evening Primrose is the story of Charles, a poet who has renounced the world and who has decided to live in a deprtment store and write poetry ("If You Can Find Me, I'm Here"). He soon discovers he is not alone, that there's a secret society which has lived in the store for years. Charles Mrs. Munday, the leader of the society; she decides he can stay after he convinces her that he really is a poet. Charles also meets Ella Harkins, Mrs. Munday's maid, with whom he is immediately taken. Ella is very unhappy, but afraid to leave because of the Dark Men. She explains to Charles that at Journey's End, a mortuary, there is another secret society. If someone in the society at the department store tries to return to the outside world and thus risk revealing the society's existence, the Dark Men come from the mortuary, that person is taken by them to the Surgical Supplies and when they are finished there's another mannequin in the clothing department.

Ella, who is 19, has lived in the store since she was six - she was there with her mother, got separated and fell asleep in Women's Hats. Mrs. Munday found her and kept her for her maid. Amazed, Charles says, "You haven't seen the sun for thirteen years." To which Ella replies, "Don't pity me - I have my memories," and sings "I Remember". Charles is falling in love with Ella. While he plays contract bridge Mrs. Munday and the others, he and Ella carry on an interior duet in the song "When". The song continues as they go about their seperate tasks - he, writing; she, cleaning. Finally, Ella expresses her desire to flee with Charles in "Take Me To The World". At first reluctant to leave his new life, he realizes that "I Love You more than poetry." Unfortunately, they are overheard by Mrs. Monday and the others, and the Dark Men are called. Ella and Charles try to escape from the Dark Men.

In the final shot of the show, a young couple stand in front of a display window outside the department store, admiring the handsome bride and groom mannequins - Charles and Ella.

- Bruce Kimmel

Show Data

Film Information:

Originally Broadcast November 16, 1966
Directed Paul Bogart
Written by John Collier
  James Goldman
Music Stephen Sondheim
Lyrics Stephen Sondheim
Production Design John Ward
Costume Design William McHone
Film Editing John Wells
Producers John Houseman
  Willard Levitas
Make-up Artist Inez Lopardo
Music Arranger Norman Paris
Sound Art Shine
Assistant Conductor David Shire
Lighting Walter Urban

Film Cast:

Charles Snell Anthony Perkins
Mrs. Monday Dorothy Stickney
Rosco Potts Larry Gates
Ella Harkins Charmian Carr
Store People Margaret Bannerman
  Margaret Barker
  Leonard Elliott
  Mike Meola
  Dorothy Sands
  Margaretta Warwick


  1. If You Can Find Me, I'm Here
  2. I Remember
  3. When
  4. Take Me to the World


  1. Sondheim at the Movies
    1997 (Varese Sarabande, VSD-5805)
  2. Studio Cast Recording
    2001 (Nonesuch, 79638-2)
  3. Mandy Patinkin's Dress Casual
    1990 (CBS, MK 45998)


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Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history. "Something Just Broke" is a major distraction and plays like an afterthought, shoe horned simply to appease. The song breaks the dramatic fluidity and obstructs the overall pacing and climactic arc which derails the very intent and momentum that makes this work so compelling...”
- Mark Bakalor

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“I found [the Sondheim Celebration's Company] to be completely delightful. Almost all of the numbers excited and energized me, and most of the scenes were about as pitch-perfect as you can get. I just sat there with a big smile on my face the whole show.

Which is not to say that it is perfect...”
- popcornonmyknees

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