The First (musical)

The First
Broadway Playbill cover
Music Robert Brush
Lyrics Martin Charnin
Book Joel Siegel
Basis Life of Jackie Robinson
Productions 1981 Broadway

The First is a musical with a book by critic Joel Siegel. The music was composed by Robert Brush, and Martin Charnin wrote the lyrics. The show is based on the life of Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play major league baseball in the 20th century.

The musical premiered on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on November 17, 1981 and closed on December 12, 1981 after 37 performances and 33 previews. Charnin has said that despite "stellar reviews," the musical failed to secure one: that of Frank Rich of the New York Times, "which at the time meant everything."[1] Directed by Charnin and choreographed by Alan Johnson, the original cast included David Alan Grier as Jackie Robinson, and Lonette McKee as his wife Rachel.


Awards and nominations

Original Broadway production

Year Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
1982 Tony Award Best Book of a Musical Martin Charnin and Joel Siegel Nominated
Best Featured Actor in a Musical David Alan Grier Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Martin Charnin Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Lonette McKee Nominated
Outstanding Set Design David Chapman Nominated
Theatre World Award David Alan Grier Won


  1. Bill Rudman, "Martin Charnin, Pt 3," On the Aisle, on On Broadway on SiriusXM, 5 Dec 2014.

The First at the Internet Broadway Database

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