November 2, 2008

Rare Theater Poster For The Stage Version Of "Alfie," With Terence Stamp In The Starring Role

Opening at the Morosco Theatre on Broadway on December 16, 1964, Alfie was a bona fide flop onstage.  It ran for only 21 performances, closing in mid-January 1965.

The experience left a terrible taste in Terence Stamp's mouth.  Having originated the role of the cockney ladies' man on the London stage to great acclaim by both critics and audiences alike, he was eager to go "across the pond" to recreate on The Great White Way what he hoped would become his signature role .  

It was not to be.  New York audiences never warmed to the play, perhaps put off by its cockney dialogue that had not been modified for American ears, the way that it had for My Fair Lady ten years earlier.  Catholic theatergoers were also disgusted by the depiction of a back-alley abortion in the story, and denounced the play to national news outlets.

When it was decided that a film version of Alfie would be shot in London and the surrounding towns in the spring of 1965, director Lewis Gilbert approached Stamp about reprising his role in the film.  Stamp was so disenchanted with his New York experience, he decided he wanted nothing more to do with "Alfie Elkins."

However, Stamp said, his best friend and flatmate was a terrific actor, loved the Alfie script, and, frankly, needed the work.  His name: Michael Caine.


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