Of all of Rudy Bond's performances, his role as the Captain (Capitagno) in "Illya Darling" is my favorite.

"Illya Darling" opened in 1967, and during it's pre-Broadway tour of Philadelphia, Toronto and Detroit it played for 9 weeks of near record-breaking box offices grosses. It previewed at the Mark Hellinger Theater in New York on March 22, 1967, and then opened on April 11, 1967. It closed on January 12 the following year, after 320 performances.

If you have seen the movie, "Never On Sunday", you know what this musical was about. Melina Mercouri reprised her movie role as Illya, a rather unique prostitute, and won a Tony award for it in 1968. (That's Melina dancing with Rudy in the picture, above. Forgive the quality; it is a photocopy of the original. Wish I owned the original.) I couldn't help but get a crush on her after seeing her onstage, especially when she was singing "Piraeus, My Love".

One of my favorite songs in the show was called "Medea Tango", where Illya tells her own version of the Medea story...where everyone lives happily ever after. As you know, in the Greek classic, Medea sends a poisoned present to Jason's new wife which kills the woman. Well, here is a Illya's version....the other two voices are Orson Bean (as Homer) and Rudy Bond (as Capitagno saying "Homer, you gave me your word!"). Warning...the wav takes a long time to load, it is about 1/2 meg! Click here ----->MEDEA TANGO

And I'll never forget the moment, after the show, when she had center stage, and talked about the horrible dictatorship that was then in power in Greece, and which had exiled her from her native land. It was truly an emotional speech! When democracy returned to Greece, Melina left show business and returned to her beloved country, being elected to parliament, and then serving as the Minister of Culture for ten years.

Here are a few sites dedicated to this lovely lady, all with photos:

Dedication: Melina Mercouri

Melina Mercouri bio

Life Magazine cover

And here are a couple of shots of her from the movie "Never On Sunday".

Orson Bean played an American searching for the glories of ancient Greece... and who tried to transform Illya into a cultured lady, surrounding her with her Greek heritage. (You've most likely seen him most recently as a regular in the television show, "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.")

Two of the other cast members you may have heard of included Hal Linden (probably best known for the television show, "Barney Miller"), and Titos Vandis, also reprising his role from "Never On Sunday". (You may have seen him on MASH, the A-Team, or countless other TV shows or movies.)

Other cast members included Joe E Marks, Despo, Harold Gary and Nikos Kourkoulos.

I was only 15 when I saw the show, but I remember some of the details quite vividly, like Rudy singing "The Birthday Song" along with several other cast members, and watching him dance in the dance numbers. (I had never seen Rudy dance before!) You can catch his singing voice if you can find a copy of the original Broadway cast LP, put out by United Artists.

If you want to know a little more about this show, I found this page on Illya Darling. There is also a good write-up on the Internet Broadway Database.

After the show closed at the Mark Hellinger Theater, it went on the road. Rudy stayed with the show, but some of the other cast went on to other things. Melina left, and Cyd Charisse became Illya.....and a fantastic Illya she was! She made the part her own. (Do you remember her in "Brigadoon"?) Orson Bean left, and the part of Homer was played quite excellently by Jon Cypher. (Perhaps you know Jon as Dr. Alex Keith on TV's "As the World Turns", or from his appearances in many other TV shows, movies or theatrical productions.) Illya Darling continued to entertain audiences throughout the Summer of 1968.

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keywords: Illya Darling, Never On Sunday, Melina Mercouri, Melina, Rudy Bond, Orson Bean, Hal Linden, Titos Vandis, Broadway, musicals, Joe E Marks, Despo, Harold Gary, Nikos Kourkoulos