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The Overcoat

Instrumentation: 3 actors, piano
Duration: 20:00 & 40:00 versions
Year Composed: 2001-02
Book & Lyrics: John Gregor
after the story by Nikolai Gogol

The Overcoat
Drawing by John Gregor

Audio Samples

How I Love to Copy
Akaky, Clerks

Clerks Tease Akaky
Akaky, Clerks

Friend, You Need a Coat
Akaky, Mr. and Mrs. Petrovich

The Mugging
Akaky, Thugs

Program Notes

A drab office in drab mid-19th-century Russia. At his desk, Akaky Akakievich silently copies documents...

The Overcoat is a moving and entertaining new musical based on Nikolai Gogolís tragicomic short story about a timid clerk, Akaky Akakievich, who seeks revenge after his prized possession is stolen. When his corpse begins to roam the streets of St. Petersburg, no oneís coat is safe. Bureaucracy and justice collide in this dark and haunting yet optimistic story. A show that embraces and breaks the conventions of traditional musical theatre storytelling, The Overcoat's dialogue is crisp and its characters colourful. The music is tuneful but with the edge and bite of a Prokofiev symphony and the occasional lapse into jazz and rap.


  • Aug 19-21, 2005—Barrington Stage Company (Great Barrington, MA, USA)
  • Jul 24, 2004—reading, 3rd Annual Lewes Festival of New Musicals (Lewes, Delaware)
  • Nov 2002—Bridewell Theatre (London, UK)
    dir. Carol Metcalfe, 13 performances
  • Aug 2002—NY International Fringe Festival
    dir. Nick Corley, 6 performances
  • Feb 2001—reading, New York University


"An airtight musical treatment that can't be faulted".
— curtainup.com (New York)
"The piece makes its point in a subtle and poignant way."
— What's On in London
"A lightly melodic score by Robert Rival is matched by John Gregor's clever lyrics in the clerk's pathetic paean to the letters of the alphabet he most likes writing and in a patter song for co-workers [...] betrays the influence of Sondheim, with musical echoes of Sweeney Todd."
— Gerald Berkowitz, Stage Newspaper (London)


To obtain a copy of the score, contact Robert Rival.