If i were King


If i were King
   Irish politician and writer Justin Huntly McCarthy's play, which opened on 14 October 1901 for 56 performances in a Daniel Frohman production, starred E. H. Sothern as François Villon, a wandering poet who claims that he could be a better king than the one on France's throne. When King Louis IX, in disguise, hears this boast, he forces Villon to spend a week in his place, after which the poet will be executed for his arrogance. While on the throne, Villon defeats an invading army and falls in love with a noblewoman. The King chooses not to carry out the death sentence. The play made Sothern a major star. He toured it and returned to New York in revivals (1908, 1909, 1913, 1916). If I Were King is most remembered as the source material for the perennially popular Rudolf Friml operetta, The Vagabond King (1925), with a script adapted by Brian Hooker, who also wrote the lyrics. William Farnum played Villon in a 1925 silent motion picture version, and Ronald Colman assayed the role in a popular 1938 film version adapted from McCarthy's play by Preston Sturges. The Friml operetta was filmed twice (1930, 1956).

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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