Theater to Present Original Revue Based on Witty Music of Tom Lehrer

STRUTHERS, Ohio – Mary Ruth Lynn has long been a fan of Tom Lehrer’s hilarious and topical songs and often considered creating a show based on them.

She finally took up the task last year with her collaborators, Terry Shears and Anthony Ruggiero. The result is “The Irreverent Mr. Lehrer, A Revue,” which will premiere Thursday, May 9, at Selah Dessert Theater.

The 96-year-old Lehrer is a satirist, pianist and songwriter and mathematician. He toured the country in the 1950s and 1960s, playing his silly, often satirical songs at colleges and theaters.

Later in his career, he returned to his first love – teaching math and musical theater at Harvard and other universities.

“The Irreverent Mr. Lehrer” showcases his humorous musical commentary, which covers a broad range of social issues. Lehrer was at the forefront of concerns about nuclear proliferation, the environment, education and even sexually transmitted diseases. His songs include “So Long Mom,” “I Got It from Agnes” and “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.”

“The music is fun but has very relevant subjects and holds up even 60 years later,” said Lynn, who is directing the show. “These songs poke fun at everything. Nothing is sacred.”

The project got rolling last fall when Lynn approached Shears.

“I knew I needed someone to write a script if I was going to do a full production,” said Lynn, who already had Ruggiero on board as music director.

“Having worked with Terry many times over the past 15 years, I felt Lehrer’s satire and humor might appeal to him, and it did,” Lynn said. “We met several times through the fall, and he had a first draft ready in December and a final draft in February.”

The script ties together the songs Lynn selected for the show.

All of Lehrer’s music is now in the public domain, which meant Lynn did not have to go through the time and expense of acquiring the performance rights.

The show is a revue, with the songs loosely grouped by topic, but the audience will also learn about Lehrer. Baked into the script is information about Lehrer’s background and history, said Lynn, who is the executive director of Selah Dessert Theater.

Ruggiero provides live piano accompaniment and performs one of the songs.

The cast consists of Susan D’Amico, Michelle Jones, Tom O’Donnell and Vijay Welch-Young. 

Seating in the theater will be arranged cabaret-style for the show to create a club-like atmosphere.

“It’s something new for us,” Lynn said.

The inaugural run of “The Irreverent Mr. Lehrer, A Revue” will have seven performances at the theater, which is on the second floor at Selah restaurant, 130 S. Bridge St. They will be at 8 p.m. May 9-11, 17-18 and 24-25.

The two-act show has a running time of 1:45.

Tickets are $22.50, which includes dessert at intermission, and can be purchased at or Preshow dinner reservations can also be made online. Patrons can also preorder appetizers and wine.

The theater is accessible by stairs only.

Pictured at top: The cast of “The Irreverent Mr. Leher, A Revue” is Vijay Welch-Young, Michelle Jones, Susan D’Amico and Tom O’Donnell.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.