Bruce Yeko is proud of the fact that he has seen every new musical on Broadway over the last 50 years. He has produced 124 cast albums, more than any other individual in the history of cast albums.
“I started to love music when I was about ten years old, in 1950. I inherited a 78 Victrola, which no one else in the family wanted. But we had no phonograph in the house so I took what I could get.
I inherited a collection of about 50 “78 records of which I took a like to the song “It’s a long, long way to Tipperary” and the “Basil Rathbone” Version of “Peter and the Wolf”. A few years later, after many chores, I saved enough money to buy my own phonograph that played 33 speed.
I bought Westside Story which seemed quite different from any music I had ever heard but ultimately I grew to love it. I also borrowed my best friend’s mother’s collection of perhaps 30 cast albums and a few soundtracks.
I played these so obsessively that to this day, 68 years later, I’m not particularly anxious to hear those particular recordings I played in 1958.
I did not go to theater or even know much about Broadway prior to 1948. I liked the popular songs of the day and did not realize how many of these came from Broadway and film. I then started to see movie musicals but had no way of seeing live theater. My mother, who had attended plays when she was a girl, had stopped going to the theater when she got married.
It was not until my junior year in college at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee that I was to attend Broadway shows on tour.
A fellow accounting student who I was helping tutor (in accounting) said he would like to repay me for the help I had given him and he offered me tickets to see Broadway shows at the Pabst Theater that he ushered.
No friends in school shared my interest, my love of Broadway, but I learned that there were many more shows and stars that went to do musicals in Chicago. Ethel Merman and Phil Silvers were never coming to Milwaukee so I went to Chicago, first by bus, then by car to see shows like “Gypsy” and “Do Re Mi”, and towards the end of my senior year I was so entranced with Broadway musicals that I decided I would go to New York and see every Broadway Musical.
I was hired by one of the big seven accounting firms, my only request was that they hired me for the New York office, not Milwaukee.
Only one was able to do this, but luckily there was one!
When they hired me, they said “You don’t need to come to NY until after labor day.”
I responded “But there are musicals that will close over the summer, I can’t wait until labor day!”
So on June 6th, 1962, I filled my car (a little VW sized car) with my LP’s, my clothing, and my baseball card collection.
I decided having just purchased “Subways are for Sleeping” that that would be my first show. It took me two and a half days to reach NY and during that time I decided if I was going to see every musical, I wanted to get a really good seat. I knew that I could see a matinee for $4.95.
Arriving in NY the morning of June 6, I went to the box office of the St. James theater and asked if you could get me a seat in the first ten rows of the center orchestra. I was told “no” but I could get that seat for that evening. I left the theater not knowing what I might see as my first show and across the street I saw the Schubert theater playing “I can get it for you wholesale” with Barbara Streisand and that was my introduction to NY.
For those of you who have read this blog. I would like to offer three titles that you may not have heard too much about at a very special price.
All three titles will be $8.95.
The titles are:
“Brownstone” starring Liz Callaway, Debbie Gravitte, and Brian d’Arcy James.
“A… My Name Will Always Be Alice”
“The Confidence Man” by Jim Steinman starring Norbert Leo Butz and a few other Broadway names. ”
– Bruce Yeko