About "Popeye: The Musical"

by Brenda Priddy

"Popeye: The Musical" is a musical retelling of the classic Popeye story. While the original version of the musical was released as a video, there have been many stage productions of the story since the first version in 1980. The storyline and music are simple and catchy, which keeps "Popeye: The Musical" a favorite even many years after the original distribution of the musical movie.


"Popeye: the Musical" centers around the main characters that have always been a part of the Popeye story: Popeye, Olive Oyl, Wimpy, Bluto and Swee' Pea. In this version, Popeye travels to the town of Sweet Haven, where he falls in love with the beautiful Olive Oyl, makes a rival of Bluto and adopts baby Swee' Pea. Throughout the movie Popeye has several hilarious adventures and antics as he tries to be a lover, parent and rival.


The movie contains several songs to illustrate main plot points. The songs were written by Harry Nilsson and produced by Boardwalk Records, Inc. The 13 songs are dispersed throughout the musical and are sung by different characters. Some of the most famous songs from the musical include "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man"and "I Yam What I Yam."

Original Cast

The original cast of the musical movie included several actors who became famous in the 1980s and 1990s. The cast included Robin Williams as Popeye, Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl, Paul L. Smith as Bluto and Paul Dooley as Wimpy. Since there was not a stage production of the musical before it was made into a movie, these actors were the original cast. Most of the actors sang their own songs in the movie.


The musical movie was written by Jules Feiffer and E.C. Segar, directed by Robert Altman and produced by Paramount and Disney. The movie premiered in 1980 and was released to home video a year or two later. The first DVD version of the movie became available in 2004. The movie was filmed entirely on the island of Malta in the town of Anchor Bay. A wooden town was built on the island to represent Sweet Haven, which is a tourist attraction on the island as of 2011.