Rebecca Denniston of Taking Up Room is hosting The Second Annual Broadway Bound blogathon from June 1st to the 3rd. The blogathon looks at the close ties between the entertainment titans of both coasts. Day One Day Two Day Three
The 1958 Tony Awards found Peter Ustinov with two nominations, one for Outstanding Play as the author of Romanoff and Juliet, and one for Distinguished Dramatic Actor as The General in this political satire. The play was produced by David Merrick and staged by George S. Kaufman.
Peter Ustinov, Elizabeth Allen, Michael Tolan
Romanoff and Juliet began its run of 389 performances in 1957. The General is the head of an almost non-existent military in the tiny, middle-of-nowhere country of Concordia. Circumstances bring the heretofore unknown entity under the undesired attention of both the Americans and the Soviets. Romantic entanglements may prove to be the solution to Concordia's political plight.
Fred Clark, Natalie Schafer, William Greene
The Broadway production featured familiar faces to classic movie and television fans. The American Ambassador and his wife were played by Fred Clark (The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show) and Natalie Schafer (Gilligan's Island). Tom Poston (The Steve Allen Show, Newhart) replaced Peter Ustinov during the show's long run.
The 1961 film of Romanoff and Juliet released by Universal found Peter Ustinov again receiving two award nominations, one from the Directors Guild of America, plus a Golden Berlin Bear nomination at the Berlin Film Festival.
The tiny country of Concordia is an afterthought at the United Nations where it is listed as "P.S. Concordia." Nonetheless, in one of those twists of Fate that Fate loves so much, Concordia holds the deciding vote on a matter of vital importance. Presented with this rare opportunity, the President of Concordia, played by Peter Ustinov, abstains.
"In view of the fact that in our opinion, the amendment to the amendment of the amendment of the draft resolution is incomprehensible, my delegation regretfully abstains."
The President realizes he has put his little country in a most perilous position, but he could not in good conscious vote any other way.
"To the airport as quickly as possible. We've got to get out of here before the Americans have time to offer us aid."
Sandra Dee, John Gavin
The night of the Independence Day of Concordia celebrations finds Juliet, the daughter of the American Ambassador alone in the President's garden pining for her fiance Freddie, back in New York. That same night Igor Romanoff, the son of the Soviet Ambassador is in another part of the garden quietly criticizing himself as his father made Igor aware that he laughed excessively at the President's jokes. The soft-hearted President directs Igor to criticize himself in the section of the garden where he cannot help but come upon Juliet. Of course, the moody Russian and the romantic American cannot help but fall in love. It is not until the dawn that they discover - horror of horrors! - of the backgrounds that may keep them apart.
Meanwhile, the Americans and the Soviets are in a race to see who will make the first Good Will strike toward Concordia and its precious U.N. vote. It is as was feared by the President and by Otto, Concordia's switchboard operator and the Minister of Everything. The Concordians decide to use the paranoia of the superpowers, and possibly something else against them.
"Our weapon will be laughter; and our cause, love."
The role of Otto (the Minister of Everything), amusingly played by Peter Jones was new to the screenplay. Ustinov certainly knew Jones' value as they were collaborators on the BBC radio program In All Directions.
Tamara Shayne, John Gavin, Peter Ustinov, Akim Tamiroff
Romanoff and Juliet with its Cold War and political humour is not simply a time capsule of an era. The more things change, the more they stay the same and the machinations of politicians are perpetually ripe for parody and too familiar to audiences of today.
Peter Ustinov, Suzanne Cloutier
Juliet's cast-off fiance Freddie played by Eric Von Nutter becomes infatuated with Igor's cast-off arranged-by-his-parents fiancee who is played by charming Canadian actress Suzanne Cloutier. Cloutier and Ustinov were married from 1954-1971 and had a family of three children. It seems love was in the air for this Cold War spoof inspired by a romantic play by William Shakespeare.