I Want To Get Off, Rich Paschall
Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley scored big with their 1961 musical Stop the World – I Want to Get Off . They opened “out of town” in Manchester but quickly moved to London’s West End where the show was a hit. Newley directed and starred in the show. In October of 1962, the production moved to Broadway for a long run. Again Newley starred as Littlechap, with the play moving through the years of the main character’s life. When things were not going his way, Littlechap would shout “Stop the world.” He was a selfish being, who sought success for himself and cared little for others. Does Littlechap ever learn his lessons of life and love as you follow him from birth on to the end? (Spoiler alert: If you watch the Davis video to the end you will see the conclusion of the play.)
Anna Quayle starred as the women in Littlechap’s life and won a Tony award for her work. Newley was nominated but lost out to Zero Mostel in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. Bricusse and Newley picked up three other Tony Award nominations.
There was a film adaptation in 1966. A short Broadway revival starring Sammy Davis, Jr. ran in 1978. The revival begat a television special starring Davis and Marian Mercer. In 1996 there was a television movie starring Peter Scolari. The Newley and Davis productions, as well as the 1966 movie version, have cast albums available on Amazon.
What kind of fool am I
Who never fell in love
It seems that I’m the only one
That I have been thinking of
“What Kind of Fool Am I?” closes the second act of the play as Littlechap reflects back on his life. The Newley recording of the song received a Grammy for Song of the Year at the 5th Annual Grammy Awards for the songwriters, Bricusse and Newley. Sammy Davis also had a hit with his version of the song released in 1962. Davis’s love of the show and its songs brought him to star in it years later.
What kind of man is this
An empty shell
A lonely cell in which
An empty heart must dwell
So who sang it better? The composer and stage performer Anthony Newley or the dynamic consummate performer Sammy Davis, Jr? You be the judge. Feel free to file your review below.
What kind of lips are these
That lied with every kiss
That whispered empty words of love
That left me alone like this
Why can’t I fall in love
Like any other man
And maybe then I’ll know
What kind of fool I am
YouTube will also treat you to nightclub performances of the song by both artists. Just for fun, we offer this little vintage piece starring our favorite frog on the Ed Sullivan Show. That’s right, I said the frog. You may recognize the other performer in this piece as well.
Sources include various Wikipedia articles including:
“Stop The World – I Want To Get Off,” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org.