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1970

Applause by Strouse and Adams is the first musical of 1970. This Bacall musical, based on the movie “All About Eve” was a triumph for all concerned and ran for a few years.

Billy Noname by Johnny Brandon
This off-Broadway cast musical had a successful run by the veteran English song writer Johnny Brandon. He was a good friend of mine and a talented songwriter.

Click here if you’d like to check out the original cast album we have of Billy Noname.

Company by Stephen Sondheim and George Firth was another musical triumph for director Harold Prince and all involved. Elaine Stritch became famous for her cast album recording of The Ladies Who Lunch and was featured in the famous documentary of the making of the album. The Jonathon Tunick orchestrations were perfect for this vehicle and Dean Jones was wonderful in the lead role. A new gender-bending version starring Patti Lupone is sure to come to Broadway after a recent success in London.

"Cry For Us All" by Mitch Leigh

Cry for Us All by Mitch Leigh was a show that I saw at the world premier in new haven. There was a snow storm at the time but I managed to survive the hour and fifteen minute trip through the blizzard to find a show that had some rousing tunes, yes, but was more like an opera than a musical comedy. It had Joan Diener break her neck and still sing a long aria. This happens in opera but not in musicals. I was asked to review Cry For Us All by a friend of mine who had a local radio show talking about Connecticut musicals. She was not able to get to New Haven so I told her my review over the phone. The show only ran a handful of performances but fortunately was recorded and we have a few copies by Kritzerland left.
Click here to see our listing for Cry For Us All.

Gantry by Stanley Lebowsky and Fred Tobias premiered in Boston and had the movie star Robert Shaw play the famous evangelist, Elmer Gantry. Rita Moreno also performed in the musical. Despite quite a few good tunes it closed opening night in New York.
We include a demo version of Gantry with demo versions of Something More and Pleasures and Palaces on our site. Click here if you’d like to see the listing that includes Gantry.

The Last Sweet Days of Isaac by Cryer and Ford, starring Austin Pendleton, had a lengthy run off Broadway. The show was revived in the 90’s by the York Theatre along with another show by Cryer and Ford called Shelter and recorded by us on Original Cast Records.

Look to the Lilies by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn starred Shirley Booth and was based on the very successful movie Lillies of the Field which starred Sidney Poitier. The musical never went out of town (which usually a bad sign). The title song was very appealing. There were some other very good songs, but there were also a handful of songs that just felt like they didn’t really belong in a top flight Broadway show. The show was scheduled to be recorded by Warner Brothers who had never done a top flight cast album, and it stayed that way as they did not record this.

Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen by Stan Freeman and Franklin Underwood, produced by Herman Levin, had two hits: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and My Fair Lady. Herman Levin had an unsuccessful musical, The Girl Who Came To Supper, and this show was also unsuccessful and never had a cast album until Robert Sher and I. We attempted to record the show about twenty years ago in Los Angeles. The Original lead, Kenneth Nelson (who had been the boy in The Fantasticks) was criticized for playing an Asian role. This was based on the play and movie The Teahouse of the August Moon and the roles had been played by Caucasian actors, particularly Marlon Brando in the movie. By 1970, this was no longer acceptable. There were pickets that said there rats in the theater.
For the recording we chose B.D. Wong but Robert Promised Mickey Rooney who had a small part star billing in the album credits and B.D. Wong declined to do the recording. We then chose the Philippines born actor Lou Diamond Phillips, but there were still problems. One problem after another ensued and it appears that this recording will unfortunately never be issued. The original orchestrations by Phil Lang were blamed as being one of the problems and the score was completely reorchestrated by Irwin Kostal. It is a shame that this will never be released as I felt the first twenty minutes of this show were my favorite twenty minutes in any show ever.

The Me Nobody Knows by Gary William Friedman and Will Holt was a big hit off-Broadway. It played for several years at the Orpheum Theatre and there are still talks of reviving it in the near future.

Minnie’s Boys by Hal Hackady and Larry Grossman was a musical about the Marx brothers. It featured the unlikely lead Shelly Winters as the mother of the story. The main reason for this seems to have been that Groucho said she looked like his mother. It deserved a better fate as the boys who played the Marx brothers were perfect and such songs as Mama, A Rainbow and Where Was I When They Passed Out The Luck? were among my all time favorites. The show only ran a few months.

Purlie by Gary Geld and Peter Udell was a surprise hit and ran for a couple years on Broadway. As usual I went to the theater to see the first preview only to be told that they were not giving an official performance. I expressed disappointment as I had driven 55 miles each way and the box office man said that I could just go sit in and watch the dress rehearsal. This was not a problem for me whatsoever as they seemed to get through the entire show without any problem and I saved ticket money. Melba Moore singing I Got Love was a thrilling experience and all the gospel-type songs were extremely well done. It was shown on television after the show closed and we feature a DVDR of that.
Purlie is the special sale we’re offering to readers over the next few months for a special price of $12.95.
Purlie the TV cast is available by clicking here.

The Rothschilds by Bock and Harnick ran for two years and won a Tony Award for Hal Linden who played Meyer, his big song was “In my Own Lifetime) was the centerpiece of the show. It unfortunately was the last show that Bock and Harnick were to write together.

Scarlett by Harold Rome started in Tokyo as a sort of Japanese Gone With the Wind and was intended to come to Broadway eventually. When it was first done in Japan, it was done in two parts. Each part was four hours long, and each ran for six months respectively. I remember talking to Lehman Engel, the musical director at the time, about how I could get a hold of the two LP set and he provided me with a very long and complicated address but I was able to get 10 LPs in 1970. Years later it was reissued on CD by DRG records and we have a few copies of this interesting score. In my opinion, it actually sounds much better in Japanese than in the English recording.

Two By Two, available here.

Two by Two by Martin Charnin and Richard Rodgers was based on Noah and the Ark. It starred the huge movie star Danny Kaye who had not been in a full Broadway production in almost 30 years. The world premier was in New Haven and after I got there I decided to eat at the fanciest restaurant down the street. I was surprised that Danny Kaye and his wife, Sylvia Fine, were also eating at the restaurant. I never had dinner at the same place as a star prior to seeing him in the show. The show was quite enjoyable in New Haven but shortly after it opened in New York, Danny broke his leg and decided to continue performing but in a wheelchair where he did many things that were very unlike Noah. It annoyed many people who saw the show to see him make jokes out of character. Still, the score is well worth hearing or purchasing

1 thought on “1970

  1. Another fascinating post. Thanks so much for sharing these stories. Why don’t you write a book about them too? I’d buy it. What happened during the first 20 minutes of Lovely Ladies, Kind Gentlemen that made it so special for you?

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