S.suonando JPG

In the late 70’s Neil Simon teamed up with Marvin Hamlisch to make a musical out of his play “The Gingerbread Lady”. But more than work on their project, each time they met, Hamlisch spent hours relating Simon about his on-again, off-again romance with lyricist Carol Bayer Sager.

Inspired by this tumultuous relationship, Simon put aside the project about “The Gingerbread Lady” and wrote a play about a composer and a songwriter, who begin a professional collaboration that soon evolves into a complex romantic one.

‘They’re Playing Our Song’ opened on Broadway on February 11, 1977 with Robert Klein and Lucie Arnaz playing the leading roles. The occasion marked Neil Simon’s first musical in 10 years; Marvin Hamlisch’s first Broadway score since ‘A Chorus Line’ and a return to the theatre for Carole Bayer Sager after years of success in the pop field. It was a smash hit.

This Broadway hit opened in London on October 1, 1980 with Tom Conti (it was his first musical) and Gemma Craven, also a smash hit.

They’re Playing Our Song is the story of the stormy relationship between a successful composer and a virtually unknown songwriter. The show gets rolling when the successful popular songwriter Gersch meets with a new collaborator, lyricist Walsk, in his Central Park West apartment. A bit reserved himself, Gersch is quickly knocked for a loop by the human dynamo that is Walsk, as she simultaneously manifests hero worship for him, while seriously eroding his self-confidence with off-handed criticism of his work. It’s sort of fair though, for Gersch has already declared his appreciation of her lyrics — which she has submitted to him in abundant quantities — but adds that he is really only in love with one of her titles . Both admit to a high level of neurosis. While their neuroses seem to feed their creativity, their interpersonal communication is riddled with contradictions, as they simultaneously send positive and negative messages, generating lots of anxiety in a relationship that might otherwise develop into solid love. Besides Sonia and Vernon, the play has one additional central character: Sonia’s ex-boyfriend Leon, whom we never see but who is ever-present. He keeps popping up on the telephone at the most inconvenient moments, becoming soon one of the major obstacles to Vernon’s relationship with Sonia, as she is always running off to rescue him. A trio of alter egos accompanies Vernon and Sonia; dressed identically, they are supposed to represent Sonia and Vernon’s personalities

 

“STANNO SUONANDO LA NOSTRA CANZONE” (Italian title for “They’re playing our song”) was first staged in Italy in 1981. Loretta Goggi played Sonia Walsk and Gigi Proietti, who was also the director, played Vernon Gersch. In 1999 Proietti decided to stage again “Stanno suonando la nostra canzone“, with Maria Laura Baccarini playing the wacky, adventurous, and idealistic Sonia, and Gianluca Guidi as the conservative, cynical, and neurotic Vernon.