Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Yes it's true! There was once an off-Broadway musical written by Todd, that played in the Public Theater (down by where Tower Records used to be).

It was called Up Against It, and featured Tony-nominee Alison Fraser.

Up Against It is an unproduced script by Joe Orton, written in 1967 for The Beatles at the height of their fame.
Orton submitted the script to the Beatles's manager, Brian Epstein; after a long period without hearing from either Epstein or the Beatles on the subject, his screenplay was returned to him without comment.
Orton passed away shortly after, and the script sat for a decade until being published in 1979; the manuscript of this draft resides in the Joe Orton Collection at the University of Leicester.
Although the actual screenplay has never been staged or filmed, Joseph Papp produced a musical theatre adaptation that opened Off Broadway on 14 November 1989, with music by Todd Rundgren. Tony-nominee Alison Fraser appeared in it.

There were sixteen performances (I was lucky enough to see one), and while the story was on the silly side, Rundgren did a good job with the music. Reviews were not favorable, and the production ended after a two-week run.

Rundgren had begun performing some of the songs in concert as early as 1986 ("Parallel Lines", which is a recurring number in the show, was played on December 16, 1986 in Philadelphia, heard by a young DiscConnected for the first time). Rundgren recorded "Parallel Lines" for his Nearly Human album, and three other number for its follow-up, Second Wind. 

PARALLEL LINES (from Nearly Human)

IF I HAVE TO BE ALONE (from Second Wind)

A recording of Rundgren's song demos for the show was released in Japan in 1997. Several songs from the show also made their way into the orchestra set list, and it has been rumored that the next orchestra performance will be the music from the show.


So while Up Against It! did not fare well in NYC's theater district, Rundgren fans are still refusing to let the music die!


  1. Very fortunate you caught one of the showings since there were so few.

  2. A man of many talents. At least you got to see one of those 16 performances.

    Also, I do enjoy those live orchestra performances.