How did a smash hit on Broadway turn into a train wreck on the road? When Jackie Gleason embarked on the national tour of Sly Fox, it marked his return to the theatre after an absence of almost twenty years. With a script by Larry Gelbart (M*A*S*H), direction by Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde), and Jackie Gleason’s name on the marquee, Sly Fox looked like a potential box office bonanza. The show, which co-starred Cleavon Little and Irwin Corey, was headed for a return engagement on Broadway, but the production was doomed from the start with Gleason at the helm. The Great One hated two things about the theatre: rehearsals and long runs. Now he faced a ten-month, eight-city tour. Nothing could have prepared the cast and producers for what was to come. The author, a member of the Sly Fox company, offers a backstage look at the production and delves into the life of the show’s strange and complicated star—the legendary Jackie Gleason.
Larry Rosler grew up in Newark, New Jersey, where Jackie Gleason launched his career. He provided the lyrics for the musicals Xmas in Las Vegas and Sundown, both MainStreet Musicals Directors’ Choice Award winners.
Larry Rosler wrote the lyrics for the musical SUNDOWN, with book by Joe Bravaco and music by two-time Tony nominee Peter Link. SUNDOWN has been presented at Barter Theatre, Abingdon, VA; Adobe Theatre, Albuquerque, NM; and Lyric Stage, Irving, TX, where it received a Dallas Theatre League nomination. The musical, which was developed in the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop and at the York Theatre Company, was also presented in concert at Uptown Theatre, Grand Prairie, Texas, and Temple University as part of the MainStreet Musicals Festival (Gregory Mosher Season) and received a MainStreet Musicals Directors’ Choice Award. With Joe Bravaco, Larry co-wrote the book for the musical ISLAND, with a score by Peter Link, presented by Portland Stage, Portland, ME; Virginia Stage, Norfolk, VA; and 12 Miles West Theatre, Montclair, NJ. Bravaco and Rosler are also the authors of THE ALMOST TRUE AND TRULY REMARKABLE ADVENTURES OF ISRAEL POTTER, AMERICAN PATRIOT, presented by The Winnipesaukee Playhouse, Meredith, NH, and represented in the 2015 New Play Showcase at Pittsburgh’s Throughline Theatre. Larry provided the lyrics for XMAS IN LAS VEGAS, a musical based on the play by Jack Richardson, with book by Joe Bravaco and music by Emmy Award-winner Tony Finno. The musical is winner of a Directors’ Choice Award from MainStreet Musicals Festival (Mark Brokaw Season) and semi-finalist in the Neil Simon Festival New Play Contest. Larry is also author the comedy SUNBURNED, presented by the Shawnee Playhouse, Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA, where it won best script in the theatre's original play festival. Two of Larry’s plays have been presented as staged readings by Aloha Theatre, Kona, Hawaii, as part of Original Play Festival XXIII: FINAL APPEARANCE and SUNBURNED, which won best play. Larry is also a freelance children’s book editor with an interest in cultural diversity. Books he’s edited include THE ALWAYS PRAYER SHAWL by Sheldon Oberman (National Jewish Book Award); BECOMING BILLIE HOLIDAY by Carole Boston Weatherford (Coretta Scott King Award, Honor); and TIME TO PRAY by Maha Addasi (Arab American Book Award, Honor). Other books include A SPLENDID FRIEND, INDEED by Suzanne Bloom (Theodor Geisel Award Honor Book); RAGGIN’ JAZZIN’ ROCKIN’ by Susan VanHecke (YALSA-ALA Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction Award Nominee), and many others. He also edited three books chosen for the Pennsylvania One Book, Every Young Child Reading Initiative.