Show History



Colette Collage, with book and lyrics by Tom Jones and music by Harvey Schmidt, is a musicalized biography of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, the French author of Gigi and the Claudine series.  Simultaneously a journalist, beauty shop operator, music-hall performer, and nude dancer, Colette was one of the more prolific female writers of her time, and her novel Gigi was turned into a musical by Lerner and Loewe.

The idea of a musical version of Colette's life had been kicking around the heads of Jones and Schmidt since the 1950's.  In the 1970's, Jones' wife wrote an off-Broadway play about Colette, and the duo wrote three songs for it, along with the incidental music.  This gig gave them the vigor to bring their own story of Colette to the stage, a process that would take almost five years before the try-out production in Seattle began.


Colette Collage (named simply Colette at the time) opened in Seattle in 1982, starring Diana Rigg in the title role.  It was an extremely big production, which some claim was inappropriate for the delicate material in the show.  After a myriad of difficulties on a try-out in Denver, the creative team decided it was not ready for a Broadway engagement.

The musical was down for the count, but not out.  It still had plenty of fans, and the creators were ready to rework the material.  Within a year, the show was renamed Colette Collage and opened in the much more intimate and appropriate space at the York Theatre in New York City.  The currently licensed version of the musical is the version written for a 1991 production at Music Theatre Works starring Betsy Joslyn.  Most recently, a production ran at the York Theatre once more in April 2012 as part of the Musicals in Mufti festival, which honored the work of bookwriter and lyricist Tom Jones.

The currently licensed version of Colette Collage is significantly different from what the creators began the process with.  They developed two different versions of the same story and, not completely satisfied with either, decided to combine them into two one-act musicals.  The first act, "Willy," covers Colette's first 30 years of her life, while the second act, "Maurice," depicts the remaining years.


  • The original cast recording of Colette Collage includes work from such noteworthy artists as Judy Kaye, Judy Blazer, Jason Graae, and Jonathan Freeman.