About Emperor Norton the Musical
The California state slogan, “Find Yourself Here”, beckons with the promise of reinvention.
Joshua Norton, the failed businessman who famously went on to become the (self-appointed) Emperor of the United States, is arguably the ultimate symbol of self-transformation. It is surely no accident that San Francisco, which has rebuilt itself from ruin time and again, not only tolerated Joshua Norton’s eccentric reinvention but celebrated it. Just like his adopted City by the Bay, Norton transformed himself and in doing so, captured the heart and the imagination of all San Francisco.
Norton was very much a man of his time and the post-Gold Rush Barbary Coast was as colorful as he was. Most of the characters in Emperor Norton the Musical, including the dogs, existed; all the performers named in the musical were either famous (or infamous!) in their day.
The certainty and conviction of Emperor Norton’s pronouncements still astonish, and the brilliance and breadth of his vision still captures the imagination. Even today, Emperor Norton inspires us to dream big, to live life grandly . As “Phoenix by the Bay” so aptly puts it, if Norton can be emperor…so can you.
San Francisco, California
January 1, 2007
Norton's Cabaret: An Evening of Fun and Frolic at the Bella Union Melodeon
Read about "Norton's Caberet", the fundraiser for Emperor Norton, the Musical, in the SF Chronicle
was first presented
at The Dark Room
December 2, 2005 through February 13, 2006
See reviews below
Bay Area Guardian
SF Bay Times
Bay Area Reporter
by Phil Frank
SPECIAL THANKS TO
have been other Emperors in the history of this world of ours
who have been out of their minds--their reigns were marked by
violence and atrocity...But ours was as none of these. CHARITY
TOWARDS ALL AND LOVING KINDNESS WERE IN HIS HEART."
Ernest A. Wiltsee
President, The Emperor Norton Memorial Association
June 30, 1934