Anyone who's ever met me knows that my biggest directing credit has been a production of Damn Yankees which starred Van Johnson and Bobby Van. (A sad footnote--it was Bobby Van's last stage appearance. Since then, no one famous will work with me. A superstitious lot, actors.)

Try though I did, I couldn't live on that credit forever. I had worked with Van Johnson once before in The Music Man and we enjoyed each other's company, although for the first half hour of the first rehearsal for Damn Yankees he called me "Lou" until the producer corrected him.

So, I figured if I ever wanted to work with Van again, I'd need to write a show he could star in. Since he had done Applegate (the devil in Damn Yankees) all over the country, it was logical that the new show would involve the same character.

Again, economy was on my mind, so I decided to have Applegate return to destroy Broadway. (Hey, if most of it is set on a stage or in a dance studio, the sets would be a snap ...)

Also--with the exception of Annie--the book musical at the time of this writing was all but dead in contemporary American theater and I ignorantly and arrogantly felt that I could single-handedly reverse that trend.

I ran the idea past Van and he really seemed to like it--but I don't know if he really was sincere or just saw the chance for more work.

"You Can't Keep a Bad Man Down" and "Panache" were written before Van left town. He liked the music, again I suspect for one of the two reasons listed above. After finishing the score, I couldn't locate Van anywhere, so I sent the script to Ray Walston, the original Applegate on Broadway and in the movie version. He liked it and wanted to do it.

Understandably, I was very excited about marketing the show. But even to this day, despite the fact that Ray Walston wanted to re-create his Tony-Award winning role, no one would even read the script, much less listen to the music. And, sadly, Ray passed away a few years ago.