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Ubu Rock

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Title: Ubu Rock  
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Subject: Theatre of the Absurd
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Ubu Rock

Ubu Rock is an American musical by composer/lyricist Rusty Magee, with a book by Andrei Belgrader, and Shelley Berc, based on Alfred Jarry's controversial 1896 French play Ubu Roi. It had its world premiere on June 2, 1995[1] at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. It ran through July 16, 1995[2] and then again from March 13 to March 23, 1996.[3]


  • Plot and Production 1
  • Musical numbers 2
  • Roles 3
  • Subsequent productions 4
  • References 5

Plot and Production

At the urging of Ma Ubu, Pa Ubu seizes power by deposing the royal family of Poland. When the Polish population revolts against the Ubus' kakistocracy, Ma and Pa must flee to America.

The show, in honor of Ubu Roi's controversial first word ("merdre"), the show began with an uptempo vocal jazz song, sung by the chorus, with just one lyric: "Shit." [4]

During a war scene, the show featured a lengthy "Button Song," in which General Lasky, head of the Polish Infantry, insisted that his troops sing a military cadence involving an increasingly large number of buttons on his jacket.[5] During the American Repertory Theater production run, audience members routinely threw prograns, bottles of water, food, and other items at the actors during this scene (angering Lasky and leading him to restart at one button).[6]

Musical numbers


Role Premiere cast
June 2, 1995
Pa Ubu Charles Levin (actor)
Ma Ubu Francine Torres
Captain Trash/General Lasky Thomas Derrah
King's Messenger/Ladislas/Dregadier McShovit Kevin Waldron
King Wenceslas/Dregadier McGreedy Will LeBow
Queen Rosamond Adrianne Krstansky
Bouggerslas Ajay Naidu
Ballseslas/Dregadier McBalls/Lord de Konigsburg/Stanislas Leczinski/Tsar Scott Ripley
Florenslas Kerri Aldrich
Ralpheslas/Trash's Messenger/Tax Collector J.C. Murad
Maria Leczinski Marni Ratner
Eva Leczinski Monique Wegele
Tax Collector/Jan Sobieski John-Andrew Morrison

Subsequent productions

Ubu Rock was performed in 2006 at John Jay College[8] and, in 2008, as an "interactive theater" production by Empty Set Productions[9] in San Francisco.[10]


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