A Night In The Kremlin — Book by Bernard Besserglik, Music & Lyrics by Bob Barton

Musical Comedy/ Multiple characters, playable by 10 Men, 2 Women/ Full Length, Two Acts

Synopsis (from newyorktheatre.com): “A Night in the Kremlin is a wonderfully imaginative look at what happens when Harpo Marx travels to Moscow in 1933 amidst the building of the Soviet Union’s ‘Utopia.’ Once Harpo arrives he receives an interpreter, Valentina, and he befriends the Foreign Diplomat’s English wife, Ivy. After the two women take him to an audition at the Chekhov Theater (a hilarious moment), Valentina breaks down with unbearable grief. She shares with Harpo and Ivy that her boyfriend, Igor, is going to have to stand before the Party Committee to be judged and that it is likely he may be sent away. After getting all the details Harpo and Ivy both decide that Igor is being treated unfairly and that they will do whatever it takes to ensure that Valentina and Igor can live together without corrupt politics. So they go to Stalin!

“Stalin is deeply concerned with maintaining the Soviet Union and ensuring that it is for the working people. It is as he receives the good news that the US is recognizing the USSR that he encounters Harpo and Ivy. Unaware of the duo’s mission to challenge the Party Committee’s decision, Stalin starts to fall in love with Ivy. In turn, Ivy, uses her feminine ways to try to sway Stalin to reverse the committee’s eventual decision to send Igor away. Meanwhile Harpo attempts to use his comedic antics to trick and confuse Stalin into signing official papers to release Igor.”

Harpo met Stalin? Well, actually no. But he did visit Moscow in November 1933 as a kind of goodwill ambassador following the opening of US-Soviet diplomatic relations. We can imagine the rest.

Although Harpo is clearly the main character, Stalin runs him a close second. A set-piece scene at the close of the first act plays on Stalin’s (approximate) physical resemblance to Groucho Marx and the fact that Stalin was known to have a wicked sense of humour — of the dark variety, obviously.

Though the play’s humour is often farcical, the story structure is firmly based on historical reality and many of the events portrayed — for example, Stalin kissing ambassador Bullitt full on the lips — actually happened. Though enjoyment is the ultimate goal, the show aims also to cast a shaft of light on one of the great tragedies of the 20th century.

“A wonderfully imaginative look at what happens when Harpo Marx travels to Moscow in 1933 amidst the building of the Soviet Union’s “Utopia” . . . Although it would be very easy to assume that a musical about the Soviet Union might be dark, the musical numbers are primarily light and fun . . . Then there are sweet love songs . . . Overall a great time. I had a wonderful night at the Kremlin!”
– Michael Lockley, nytheatre.com

Bernard Besserglik interviewed about A Night in the Kremlin

Read it Now
Performance rights must be secured before production
Contact information:
Amateur and Professional Rights:
Bernard Besserglik
E-mail: besserglik@wanadoo.fr
Production website: www.a-night-in-the-kremlin.com
Address: 21 rue Eugène et ML Cornet
93500 France

About the Playwright: Bernard Besserglik was born in London and lives in Paris. A former foreign correspondent (and still a regular film critic), he spent four years in Moscow and is interested in all things Russian. For the past 10 years he has written screenplays, mostly in French but also some in English. He has a short film currently in production and several other projects under option. He is currently writing I Spied for Stalin, a love-story set in wartime Moscow, for Lark Productions (UK). He first collaborated with Bob Barton on the musicalLash Me to the Mast, Adrian Mitchell’s take on the Odyssey.

About the Composer/Lyricist: Bob Barton studied musical theory when young and has played jazz as a solo artist and with bands since his teens, touring the US extensively. He has written original scores and lyrics and arranged existing music ranging stylistically from pop to classical for publicity and educational films and videos. He is adept in all styles, ranging from blues and boogie to pop and rock. His influences come from the great tradition of jazz piano players: Fats Waller, Earl Hines, Bud Powell, Oscar Peterson, etc., but he has developed his own unmistakeable personal style.

A Night In The Kremlin premiered at the Midtown International Theatre Festival, New York in August, 2009.

Sample songs: