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Emerson Colonial Theatre Official Blog

Sail Away 

Posted on August 10, 2023

This week in 1961, Noël Coward’s musical comedy Sail Away began its pre-Broadway tryout at the Colonial. Coward wrote the book, music, and lyrics, and also served as the director (this was the last of his works that he directed).

Among the famous names who turned out to see this world premiere production on opening night were First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy (who sat fourth row center and later visited the cast backstage) and actress Judy Garland (who sat in the second row).

The production originally starred Elaine Stritch and Jean Fenn and was considerably revamped following its time in Boston. By the time it moved to Broadway a few months later, Stritch found her character, the tart Mimi Paragon, made the central role and the part played by opera singer Fenn was eliminated. Sail Away ended up garnering two Tony nominations, including Best Actress in a Musical for Stritch.

Photo 1: Poster for the pre-Broadway tryout of Noël Coward’s SAIL AWAY at the Colonial in 1961.
Photo 2: First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy walking through the Colonial during the opening night performance of SAIL AWAY.
Photo 3: Hollywood actress Judy Garland after the opening night of SAIL AWAY, taking a sip of champagne from Coward, while Elaine Stritch observes them.