Call Me Madam

Call Me Madam is a musical with a book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse and music and lyrics by Irving Berlin. It originally opened at the Shubert Theater in New Haven Connecticut on September 11, 1950. It moved to Broadway on October 12, 1950 at the Imperial Theater and ran for 644 performances.

A satire on politics and foreign affairs that spoofs America’s penchant for lending billions of dollars to needy countries, it centers on Sally Adams, a well-meaning but ill-informed socialite widow who is appointed United States Ambassador to the fictional European country of Lichtenburg. While there, she charms the local gentry, especially Cosmo Constantine, while her press attaché Kenneth Gibson falls in love with Princess Maria.

The lead character is based on Washington, D.C. hostess and Democratic Party fundraiser, Perle Mesta, who was appointed the Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1949. The Playbill distributed at each performance humorously noted that “neither the character of Mrs. Sally Adams nor Miss Ethel Merman resemble any person living or dead.”

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