Androcles and the Lion
Music and Lyrics By: Richard Rogers
Book By: Peter Stone
Distributed by: Sony Music
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Based on the 1913 play by George Bernard Shaw, Androcles and the Lion is a musical that was televised on NBC on November 15, 1967. Receiving mixed reviews despite the music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers, Androcles and the Lion disappeared, never to be rebroadcast again. The LP recording of the cast disappeared as well, though some of the songs were later republished. The Original Cast Recording of Androcles and the Lion was recently released in limited CD and digital download by Sony Music.
The musical takes place during the Christian Movement in Rome, a time in which Julius Caesar put Christians to death fighting lions and other gladiators in the Roman Coliseum. A Christian tailor named Androcles, some time after removing a thorn from a lion's paw, finds himself amongst other Christians awaiting their fate in the arena. Luckily, he is pit against the very lion he aided and Androcles finds himself spared. In a side story, a Roman soldier falls in love with a Christian woman and is torn between his duty, his love and her faith.
Androcles and the Lion seems to be about more than Christianity and the problems endured by Christians at the hands of the Roman Empire. There are a bunch of messages in this musical hidden in the songs and verbal interactions between characters. There is a message of acceptance for things you don't understand. There is a play on the fable of the mouse and the lion, sending the message that even the meek can be seen as mighty through their deeds.
I, too, had mixed feelings about this musical and its soundtrack. I laughed at some of the tracks like Velvet Paws and Strength is My Weakness, but for the most part, I was bored with the album. I liked the messages sent by Androcles and the Lion, but couldn't be bothered listening to the album more than once. Perhaps this is the reason it disappeared so quickly after it was aired in 1967. Whatever the reason for its lack of success, after listening to the album, I couldn't actually recommend anyone spend their hard earned cash on its re-release.