The Tavern

The Tavern

By George M. Cohan

Department of Theatre & Drama
February 7-10, 2002 • Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre

Premiering on Broadway in 1920, The Tavern is about a vagabond who takes shelter from a howling storm only to become a suspect in a mystery that eventually unfolds to involve all of the hotel’s guests and staff. The show is “whimsical and silly,” says director Philip Kerr, “written by a showman who never let his audiences forget that the theatre is supposed to be entertaining.”

This is, in fact, a rare non-musical from the “man who owned Broadway.” It’s likely that many people are unaware that Cohan also wrote plays. But the career of the acclaimed composer of such songs as “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” “Yankee Doodle Boy,” and the World War I Anthem “Over There” spanned all aspects of theatre. He wrote 40 shows himself, collaborated on another 40, and shared in the production of still another 150. He made over 1000 appearances as an actor and wrote more than 500 songs.

The Tavern owes a part of its unique history to U-M. In 1962, a playwright in residence at U-M unearthed the show and brought it to the attention of Ellis Rabb, the director of the University-sponsored Association of Producing Artists. Their production sparked a renewed interest in the play that led to its being produced in theatres across the country.

Artistic Staff

Director: Philip Kerr
Assistant Director: Sarah Jane Gwillim
Scenic Designer: Arthur Ridley
Costume Designer: Jessica Hahn
Lighting Designer: Rebecca A. Hibbs
Sound Designer/Engineer: Jim Lillie
Stage Manager: Blair Preiser


Zach, the Tavern Keeper’s son: David Jones
Sally, the hired girl: Christina Reynolds
Freeman, the Tavern Keeper: Aaron Micahel Sherry
Willum, the hired man: Steve Best
The Vagabond: Joshua Lefkowitz
Violet, the woman: Leigh Feldpausch
Lamson, the Governor: Dan Granke
Mrs. Lamson, the Governor’s wife: Elizabeth Hoyt
Virginia, the Governor’s daughter: Lauren Spodarek
Tom Allen, the fiance: Joseph A. Hendrix
The Sheriff: Alex Mendiola
Ezra, the Sheriff ’s man: Aubrey Levy
Joshua, the Sheriff ’s other man: Zachary Dorff
Tony, the Sheriff ’s third man: Brian Luskey
Stevens, the attendant: Brad Fraizer
Ethel: Kelly Leaman
Nellie: Jennifer Alexander
Josie: Anathea Alberda
George, the piano player: Robert Weiner


The School of Music acknowledges the generosity of McKinley Associates, Inc. whose support has helped make this production possible.


[accordion title=”From the Playwright”]

From my earliest days I was profoundly impressed with the fact that I had been born under the Stars and Stripes, and that has had a great deal to do with everything I have written. If it had not been for the glorious symbol of Independence, I might have fallen onto the habit of writing problem plays, or romantic drama, or questionable farce. Yes, the American flag is in my heart, and it has done everything for me. — George M. Cohan

Whatever you do, kid – always serve it with a little dressing. — George M. Cohan to Spencer Tracy






Posted on

March 19, 2019