EARL OF RUSTON

Earl of Ruston was written by C. C. Courtney, Ragan Courtney, and Peter Link. They had all been students under Sanford Meisner at the same time. CC and Ragan were cousins who had grown up together, living at times in Ruston, Louisiana. CC and Link had already had a hit with Salvation.

Earl of Ruston was about Earl D. Woods, CC's uncle who was considered "the town crazy" of Ruston. The show sprang from a letter that CC's grandmother wrote to Ragan.

This show had a phenomenal run around the country. Then Rolling Stone's critic raved about it and the Broadway producers showed up. CC, Ragan and Peter finally accepted an offer and off they went to Broadway. The show was country rock, a genre that was brand new. It was the Eagles before the Eagles, definitely not the music of the Broadway audience.

Even at that, most of the reviews were positive. The Burns Mantle Theater Yearbook called it "an imaginative, stimulating musical", adding that "those who saw it can congratulate themselves on having witnessed these gifted young musical authors."

Sanford Meisner said it was by far the best thing he had seen on Broadway since the 1950s.

Here are a couple of songs from an album of the show's music that CC, Ragan and Peter produced. The person speaking is CC's grandmother, Leecy. As director of the show, CC had put her in the show and she was stunning.

 At 75 years of age and a 5th grade education, she had never been out of the state of Louisiana. Yet here she was bringing audiences to their feet---from Austin, TX to Broadway. She appeared on the Tonight Show where she was a sensation.

You can tell from listening to her that she loved her son Earl. She did not think he was crazy at all. And a lot of others thought he was a lot smarter than he let on. He really knew how to milk that "crazy" routine---he didn't have to work, he was excused for whatever he did, etc.

(click to hear any or all of these songs)

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