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Musicals of 1980

42nd Street was a big hit for David Merrick. The only sad part about the show was that director Gower Champion died just before the opening and David Merrick chose to announce this at the curtain call of opening night.

A Day In Hollywood, A Night In The Ukraine was by Frank Lazarus and Dick Vosburgh. The Day bit was a revue of new songs about Hollywood, including a few written just for New York by Jerry Herman. The Night was a parody of a Marx brothers movie with original songs. This was Tommy Tune’s first show to open on Broadway and it ran for a couple of years.

Barnum by Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart was about the famous P.T. Barnum and opened directly on Broadway and ran for a few years. It originally starred Jim Dale and then Mike Burstyn.

Brigadoon was the first revival of the 50’s musical. It only had a moderate run.

Camelot, another revival, ran for a reasonable amount of time.

Charlie and Algernon was the American title for “Flowers for Algernon” (based on a novel of the same name by Daniel Keyes) which we sell. There was no recording of this not-so-good New York production.

Happy New Year took old Cole Porter songs and tried to make them into a new musical that unfortunately closed the opening night.

It’s So Nice To Be Civilized by Micki Grant was a nice, small revue that was unfortunately placed in the very large Martin Beck Theatre. The show could not succeed partially because the theatre was too big for a small show.

Musical Chairs by Tom Savage is next. This was a show that we recorded primarily for the orchestral arrangements by Dick Lieb. It had some nice stars, the biggest one being Susan Stroman. This was a play about the audience at a musical. Throughout the play, someone is looking for Sally and finally finds her at the end and we meet Susan Stroman as this Sally. The good thing for her is that Scott Ellis was in the show in a bigger part and the two of them shortly thereafter started teaming as choreographer and co-director and that led to her career. The show only ran for a couple of weeks but it does have some nice songs.

One Night Stand by Jule Styne and Herb Gardener. Originally Jule Styne wanted to make Mr. Gardener’s wonderful comedy “A Thousand Clowns” into a musical. Herb said he didn’t see it as a musical but had written a musical and was just looking for the music for it. Unfortunately his musical had little of the same charm that A Thousand Clowns had as it was primarily about a man who is telling us, friends of his in the audience, why he’s about to kill himself. Of course, it’s a musical comedy so he does not at the end (spoiler alert!). Jule Styne wrote a lot of pretty, upbeat songs for a musical somewhat to do with death. After the first preview, which I attended, the producer said to Styne and Gardener that the audience hated the show. There was almost no response at curtain call. To whom Herb replied, “I’m not changing a word.” And so they announced that the show would be closed if it wouldn’t be changed that Saturday after 8 previews and no official opening. I believe it to be the only completed work by a major composer to never officially open anywhere.
Herb Gardener did not attend the cast recording but about 15 years later after Jule Styne had died, he called me in Connecticut and asked if I had 10 copies of One Night Stand on CD. I wondered why he did not introduce himself as Herb Gardener until I asked for his credit card information to complete the transaction and he started to spell his name out for me. When I asked him about the show, he seemed friendly and upbeat.
I told him about the time we had met to discuss recording details with Jule Styne. We had decided not to use the original showgirls (who were much more accomplished as models than singers) and we hired professional singers, not actresses to complete the recording. After this meeting, Herb was going to be married that very day. Jule Styne got up, shook his hand, and gave him a congratulatory spiel about having a wonderful life with his new bride… but as soon as Herb left the large office at Chapel, Jule jumped up, pointed at the door and shouted: “THAT WAS THE MAN THAT RUINED MY MUSICAL!”
When I told herb that story, he said that it was funny because he and Jule were good friends until Jule died. They even talked about doing another musical! But that, my friends, is show business.

The opening (and simultaneously, the closing) night of Onward Victoria by Keith Hermann, Charlotte Ankers, and Irene Rosenberg was a mess especially concerning the plot about Victoria Woodhall, the famous suffragette who wanted to be president of the United States. It was made into a tawdry romance with a preacher and despite what we found to be very attractive songs, it certainly deserved to close the opening night. You can buy it from us here.

Perfectly Frank was a revue about Frank Loesser that had Debbie Shapiro (later Debbie Gravitte). It was a pretty low budget revue of Frank Loesser’s career that just didn’t have any Broadway magic.

Reggae by Michael Butler, the producer of Hair, was sure that Broadway was ready and eager for a reggae musical. On opening night, which was also closing night, he found it was not.

The Music Man came to City Center for a Broadway run and despite Dick Van Dyke in a title role, it did not appeal to an 80’s audience and only ran a couple of months.

Tintypes was a revue put together by Jerry Zaks. It was a collection of period music from the early 1900s and it had a profitable run of 8 or 9 months.

West Side Story came back to the Minskoff and had a few months run but was not welcomed by the critics.

Your Arm’s Too Short To Box With God had a reasonable run.

And that boys and girls, is done.

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