Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope
The all-singing, all-dancing show focuses on the African-American experience with songs on such topics as tenements, slumlords, ghetto life, student protests, Black power, and feminism. The music is a mixture of gospel, jazz, funk, soul, calypso, and soft rock.
The restaged Broadway production, directed by Vinnette Carroll and choreographed by George Faison, opened to acclaim on April 19, 1972, at the Playhouse Theatre, where it ran for two months before transferring to the Edison. It had a total run of 1065 performances. In his The New York Times review of the opening night, Clive Barnes described it as “a mixture of a block party and a revival meeting” and wrote: “It is the unexpected that is the most delightful. Last night at the Playhouse Theater a new musical came clapping, stomping and stamping in. It is fresh, fun and Black. …Black heroes such as Flip Wilson and Godfrey Cambridge, and even Bella Abzug and Ralph Nader are mentioned and the show makes a wry mockery of the changing times and celebrates the rise of Black aspiration and achievements. …the show is full of talent working together with a cohesion rarely encountered outside the dance world.” Time Magazine theatre critic T. E. Kalem also praised the show, writing: ” …all heaven breaks loose on stage. This is the kind of show at which you want to blow kisses.”
The cast included Grant, Alex Bradford, Hope Clarke, and Arnold Wilkerson. With Vinnette Carroll as director, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope became the first Broadway play to be directed by an African-American woman, and Micki Grant was the first woman to write both the music and lyrics to a Broadway musical.
The 1972 Los Angeles production featured Paula Kelly.
In 2016 the York Theatre Company staged a limited engagement of Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope with 10 performances between February 27 and March 6.
Highlights From Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope at New York City Center
Savion Glover’s production of the Micki Grant-Vinnette Carroll musical – Encores! Off-Center season.