Posted on 4 Comments

Introducing the Blog!

Welcome to the Footlight blog!

This is a blog of the owner of Footlight Records, Bruce Yeko. I have been going to the theater for 58 years. I have two Guinness type records. I have seen every new musical that opened on Broadway for the past 50 years. I have produced 124 cast albums, which is more than any other individual. I will be discussing my theater-going experiences and would be happy to talk about any particular show you are interested in.
We will be offering special deals to people who read this blog.

Posted on 3 Comments

Musicals of 1979

But Never Jam Today was a musical with music by Bert Keyes and Bob Larimer, lyrics by Larimer, and a book by both Larimer and Vinnette Carroll. This was Vinnette Carrol’s new Broadway musical about Alice in Wonderland. Her previous one closed in Philadelphia so she turned to new writers and actors. However the results were not much better and it closed after a handful of performances with no recording.

Carmelina by Alan Jay Lerner and Burton Lane was my first chance to do a recording with theater legends. I saw this show at a general public performance before the show went out of town. I then went out of town to see the show in Wilmington, Delaware. The show came to New York a few weeks later and got disappointing reviews.
I got a phone call from Chapel Music asking if I’d be interested in recording the show. I indicated that I would if I could record it under my financial terms and was told that that would be possible. I was given the actors’ names and telephone numbers and called everyone to inform them of the proposed recording. When I called Cesare Siepi, I was given an agent’s number. I called the agent and he told me that Mr. Siepi had a contract with the show’s producers that he would get $10,000 if a recording would be made. I told him that if I was Columbia Records and this was My Fair Lady, $10,000 would be fine. I told them that I had an idea of the possible sales of such a show that has so few performances. even with well known writers. and it is not possible to pay $10,000. I asked whether I could talk to Mr. Siepi. and was told that Mr. Siepi does not talk about money. And that was the end of Mr. Siepi.
I sometimes wonder if I had directly gotten ahold of Mr. Siepi if he would have had a different opinion than the agent. Burton Lane suggested Paul Sorvino whom I had worked with on The Baker’s Wife and Paul was quick to agree.
Burton did not get along with the orchestrator Hershy Kay. Burton said that although they disagreed on the way the music was arranged, he felt sure that Hershy would be willing to have the show recorded for a reasonable amount of money. However when I called Mr. Kay and he asked me if Burton was involved (to which I said “yes”), he then said, “If Burton is involved I’m going to charge YOU every penny I can because I hate that man.” I told him that Mr. Lane wasn’t paying me a dime but Hershy Kay didn’t change his tune.
I then met with Burton at his wonderful Central Park apartment – in the San Remo apartments – and suggested that Michael Starobin who had done In Trousers for me, would be a good pick. However, even though Michael Starobin had subsequently orchestrated many important musicals, he had not done so in 1979. I gave Burton a copy of In Trousers and warned him that he would not enjoy the subject matter but hoped that he would listen to the orchestrations. When I came back a week later, Burton indicated that he could not just hear the orchestrations and asked if I didn’t know anybody else. I mentioned Phil Lang who had been very kind and friendly to me but of course this would involve a lot of work and cost ten times as much as Michael Starobin might have requested. Burton didn’t care and just assumed that I would get Phil Lang.
We had to change the keys for Paul Sorvino but in a new orchestration that was not a problem. Burton asked if we could get the orchestra to read through the new arrangements. I told him that there are no rehearsals for recordings and it would cost me expensive union rates to even play through the songs once. But I did tell him that if he let me use a non-union orchestra just to hear the music, I can provide that. He said that would be fine. And we played through the songs and he was very happy.
When I called Paul Sorvino close to the rehearsal, his wife indicated that he was in Italy making a movie. I asked if he would be back by the recording date but as it turned out, Burton gave him the wrong recording date and he would not. Burton told me not to worry and that he would sing the vocals in the studio so that the orchestra would be able to follow a singer and when Paul returned in a week or two he could add the vocals in place of Burton’s.
There had been two songs Burton had not heard an arrangement for because Phil Lang had yet to arrange them. When we came to the first of them he said after hearing the unheard arrangement that those were not his chords. I went to Phil Lang and Phil Lang said that he was under the presumption that he had the freedom to choose the chords that he did and that these chords could not be changed at this recording session so Burton looked angry but just walked away. We then completed most of the recording. We only had a reprise of one of the songs left and like 15 minutes left to record this 2 and a half minute song. The union representative told us not to let Burton stop us when he hears the music because we only if we played it three or four times all the way through we could get a good version for him.
Burton could not stop himself somehow, and we never completed a good take. So I told him that I could not afford the 30 minute minimum overtime fee for the reprise and that it was his fault. He did not feel that way and he threatened me that if I didn’t do the reprise, he would try to stop me from releasing the record. It might have been an empty threat but he had a lawyer and I had none and I had to pay thousands of dollars to record a reprise.
Burton was helpful in working with Paul Sorvino when he added his vocals. But kept saying I needed to bring back the orchestra which I ignored. Eventually he said it in a nasty way and I said the orchestra’s only going to come back if you pay for it. He told me, “I only know about writing music – I don’t know about making records”.
To which I replied, “It’s about writing a check. Which you, as the owner of an apartment in the San Remo, can do if you want to.”
He left the recording studio, the engineer and I finished a few numbers that had not been mixed, and the record came out. I never heard whst Burton thought of it but he asked for two boxes of it so I guess he enjoyed it. It has also become a record that many have thanked me for doing.

Comin’ Uptown by lyricist Peter Udell and composer Garry Sherman, was a black Christmas Carol that took place in Harlem. It starred Gregory Hines who was certainly good in the part of Scrooge. When I met with the composer he wanted to be paid for his arrangements which I was not willing to do so this short run musical was never recorded.

Evita by Weber and Rice was of course a big hit in London and on Broadway with Patti Lupone and has been made into a Madonna movie and been revived many, many times.

Got tu Go Disco was a terrible disco musical. I called up the producer and asked for free tickets and he never got back to me. I felt I should not have to pay to see the show so I went to the theater and asked for the producer. When I saw him, he was holding a stack of tickets and he said “I don’t know who the hell you are but here are two tickets.” The show closed opening night.

Home Again, Home Again by Cy Coleman and Barbara Fried started out of town in Stratford, Connecticut (about 30 minutes away from me) so I saw the world premier. I then read that the show which had gone up to and was now closing in Toronto. So I took a plane and saw the closing performance in Toronto and even came back on the plane with the entire cast. No recording was made but we have a quite an entertaining demo sung mainly by Cy Coleman.

I Remember Mama by Richard Rodgers and Martin Charnin premiered at the Shubert in Philadelphia and I sat a few rows behind Richard Rodgers at the first performance. The show came to town and received bad reviews and appeared to not have any chance of being recorded. I called up the Rodgers and Hammerstein organization and said I would be willing to pay for half of the cost of the show recording and Mr Rodgers or the organization would put up the other $20,000. I was told that Mr. Rogers felt that the recording industry owed him this recording. I said if I had recorded all his hit shows I would feel the same way – but he would not give me a penny. A few months later, an Ohklahoma revival came to Broadway and was a big hit. I asked who was paying to record that show and Mr. Rodgers’ representative said “Oh Mr. Rodgers is.” I then asked why Mr. Rogers would pay for a revival of Oklahoma and not what was likely to be his last show and was told that Mr. Rogers could make money off this one. He died within the year. Luckily the show was recorded by John Yap in England with some of the leads and we now sell that recording.

Peter Allen’s Up in One was pretty much a one man show with a female singer to do duets with him. It was very entertaining and his energy made the evening a wonderful experience but for some reason no recording was ever made.

Peter Pan was a wonderful revival starring Sandy Duncan and ran much longer than the Mary Martin version but no record company seemed interested in recording a new Peter Pan at the time. There were several attempts to do an album but that never happened.

Saravá by Mitch Leigh (Man of La Mancha) and N. Richard Nash starred Tovah Feldshuh. It was a musical based on a Brazilian movie and the only recording that was made was a disco version of the title song. The show closed within a few weeks.

Sugar Babies was a Harry Rigby salute to old time burlesque with old burlesque sketches and Mickey Rooney and Anne Miller. It had a very successful run but was never made into a record until Robert Sher and I recorded the show after the show went on tour.

I saw the world premier of Sweeney Todd by Sondheim at the Uris Theatre. I took my daughter, who was about seven at the time, even though I knew it was probably not going to be something terribly appropriate. I did not know how many people would be killed or how the violence would be portrayed. My daughter at that age fell asleep after about 20 minutes (like in almost every show I took her to) but in this show, whenever there was a murder, a loud whistle shrieked and woke up my daughter. At the intermission we went into the lobby to get a candy for her to eat. I looked around and I did not see any other children. So I said to her, “You may not appreciate this today, but someday you can say that you were the only child who saw the world premier of Sweeny Todd.” My daughter survived and Mr. Sondheim had a big hit which has been revived and made into a movie.

The Grand Tour by Jerry Herman starred Joel Gray and was about a jew and a nazi who, over a period of time, learned to appreciate each other as human beings. This story did not please the critics or the audience and it only ran a few months but the songs on their own are quite nice.

The Most Happy Fella by Frank Loesser was a revival that did not have a really good run, despite a very good performance by Meg Bussart. It had a short run. The producer had made a video of the show when it was in Detroit and we now have that on a DVD.

The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall by Clark Gessner closed opening night. With the financial assistance of Clark, we made a somewhat popular recording of the cast. It is really an old fashioned operetta done tongue-in-cheek and it stars Celeste Holm. We have now also released the tryout from a college in California on DVD.

They’re Playing Our Song we believe that this has already been talked about in our 1978 blog.

Tricks was a musical from Louisville, Kentucky where it had a brief tryout and should never have come to Broadway. It of course closed opening night.

Whoopee! by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson tried out in the Goodspeed Opera House which led to a successful run at the Booth Theatre in New york.

Posted on Leave a comment

Musicals of 1978

Ain’t Misbehavin’ was a very successful musical that transferred to the Manhattan Theatre Club and has been revived numerous times since. The music is by Fats Waller.

Angel was an unsuccessful musical based on the popular book, play, and movie Look Homeward, Angel. It was not a good sign that rather than appear in a standard tryout theatre in Philadelphia or Boston, it tried out in North Port Long Island, home of Patti Lupone. The score was certainly above average, written by the team who had done Shenandoah very successfully, Gary Geld and Peter Udell. It starred Fred Gwynne from the Munsters, Francis Sternhagan, and Don Scardino (who also appeared in our recording of the King of Hearts). The show just did not catch on and only lasted a few weeks. It was however recorded by the producer Phil Rose, and we have made this LP into a CDR which is available for purchase.
Click here to see our listing for Angel.

The Ballroom, directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett, was a followup to his Chorus Line. Written by the Bergmans and Billy Goldenberg, it starred Dorothy Loudon and was a tribute to ballroom dancing and older people who frequented dance halls in the 50s and 60s. It tried out in Stratford, Connecticut which is very near to where I live so I saw the first performance. It had been done successfully on television but the Broadway version was too much to me standard dancing and did not appeal to all generations.

The Bar Mitsvah Boy opened in London and was based on a popular tv straight play. It debuted in London and was written by Jule Styne and Don Black. Don Black, as usual, did not add anything appealing to this musical and even Jule did not show any great inspiration. So the show played a very brief occasion and did not come to New York as I’m sure Jule hoped it would.

Barbary Coast, was a musical that started in California and did not get sufficient reviews to arrive in New York as was originally scheduled.

The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, by Carol Hall, started off-off-Broadway and within months opened on Broadway. The musical was really made successful by Tommy Tune in his first major directing role. It ran for several years and was made into a Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds movie.

Billy Bishop Goes To War had a little success in its Canadian production but again was not successful on Broadway.

A Broadway Musical, by Strouse and Adams, started inauspiciously. This musical did not have enough money or interest to open out of town, so they tried to do a downsized version at Riverside Church. It at least enabled them to raise money to do it at the Lunt-Fontanne and to get a new director, Gower Champion… but the material was not that worthwhile and the show closed opening night.

Dancin’ was a Bob Fosse musical of very appealing dance numbers and had a long and successful run.

Eubie started at AMAS. It was a musical tribute to Eubie Blake and starred Gregory Hines. It ran for one season.

Evita by Rice and Webber started as a concept album following Jesus Christ Superstar. It debuted in England and starred Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin. It was very excitingly directed by Hal Prince and choreographed by Larry Fuller. It was an instant success and the start of Patti Lupone’s historic career. It was made into a not-so-great Madonna movie.

King of Hearts tried out in Westport, Connecticut, 20 minutes away from me, and starred Robbie Benson who did many teenage movie musicals and years later played the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. It was about a 19 year old boy who goes off to France and gets involved in the war against Germany. It had music by Peter Link and lyrics by Jacob Brackman, who wrote many pop songs including some of Carly Simon’s hits. Westport County Playhouse is probably a 400 seat theatre so they felt that Robbie Benson would not have a big enough voice to play Minskoff Theatre, which probably has 1800 seats.
Since everybody on a Broadway stage is mic’d, this to me did not seem the best decision. He was replaced by Don Scardino, which did a good job with the part but he should not have played a 19 year old boy. I loved the music enough to approach Peter Link and he said we could record the album in his apartment. Intrigued, asked how. He told me that it wouldn’t be all at one time. We could record the instruments a few at a time and even bring the singers in different groups. This actually worked out nicely and I’m very proud of the final result. I highly recommend this for purchase.

On the Twentieth Century by Cy Coleman and Comden and Green, starred John Collum and Madeline Kahn. It tried out in Boston and on my way from CT to Boston there was unfortunately a big, sudden snow storm and I was in an accident. I had stopped my car and a grocery store delivery truck barreled into me. My wife Doris was somewhat injured and I was never able to complete the trip to Boston. But I did see the final production in NY. I thought the first part of the show was brilliant where they gave the impression that you were on a real train. But the music turned into a not-so-good operetta. Imogene Coca as a crazed evangelist was not my taste or at all amusing. The show did have a decent run and was even revived by Kristin Chenoweth.

My One and Only was a revival with changes in the book of an early Gershwin show. It was directed by Tommy Tune. It was in danger of closing after not getting great reviews in Boston but Tommy, Peter Stone, and Maury Yeston made major changes in the Gershwin songs and dance numbers, and when it opened in NY with Twiggy as Tommy’s costar it proved to be most delightful and had a successful two year run.

Platinum Starring Alexis Smith

Platinum, by Gary William Friedman and Will Holt, started originally in Buffalo, and at that time was titled Sunset and directed by Tommy Tune. To get it to Broadway, they got involved with Paramount pictures and got Joe Layton as the director. Alexis Smith was really great as a former movie star trying to fit in with the 60’s pop scene but her rock-n-roll younger boyfriend was not at all appealing and I find it hard to believe that the real Alexis Smith would have had anything to do with him. Despite some very catchy songs, it had a short run in New York.

Runaways by Liz Swados, about young children who runaway from home, started at the Papp Theatre downtown. It probably should not have moved to Broadway where it had a very brief run.

They’re Playing Our Song, by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, was a musical written about the songwriters’ relationship. This had a very funny book by Neil Simon and starred Lucie Arnaz and Robert Klein. The only other people in the show were backup singers. It ran for a couple years.

Timbuktu was a reworking of Kisbet by Wright and Forrest, making it into a black musical starring Eartha Kitt. The original book to Kisbet is not terribly strong but the songs and the original performers made it into a hit. Somehow the reworking lost quite a bit of its appeal and it ran at the Mark Hellinger for only about a month.

Working was written by Stephen Schwartz, James Taylor, Craig Carnelia, Micki Grant, and Mary Rodgers. Stephen decided to take the Studs Terkel book where he interviewed people in the common, every day, blue-collar, occupations. These stories were made into songs that were not necessarily the actual stories that Studs Terkel told in the book. To me while some of the songs are very appealing, some of the stories are not as equally appealing. In recent times it has been revised and a few new songs have been written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and that makes people seem to be happier about remaking the show. It was redone recently in England and is usually done in high schools.

Posted on Leave a comment

Musicals of 1977

Party with Comden and Green  was a slightly different version from “The Comden and Green Evening” from the 60’s. It still had lots of charm.

Annie by Strouse and Charnin went from Goodspeed to Kennedy Center to Broadway where it ran for seven years. This cast is still the best one, unlike many revivals.

Hair was revived this year and this cast had some good performers but none to match the magic of the original cast. It only had a moderate run.

Happy End by Brecht and Weill  came to Broadway with Meryl Streep and had a moderate run but didn’t have nearly the success that the Threepenny Opera had. 

I Love My Wife by Michael Stewart and Cy Coleman – I saw this show in Philadelphia and it was obviously a winner and had a healthy run on Broadway even with the Smothers Brothers eventually taking over.

Ipi Tombi was an African show from I believe South Africa and London and was certainly full of exciting dancing and singing.

Jesus Christ Superstar by Rice and Webber started as a concept album. Although I wanted to see every musical I was somewhat dubious about actually going to see this one. But when it was during the end of its run I thought I had to see it. I was pleasantly surprised as it was very theatrical and I could see why it had been a hit.

Man of LaMancha was also revived in 1977. I missed Richard Kiley in the original production (as he did not do matinees) and I did not return to see this production. I probably should have. We have the complete English recording that has all the dialogue and music.

Nefertiti by David Spangler and Christopher Gore was originally at Lamama with a different title and I was very impressed with the show there. David Spangler played piano on the album of the Baker’s Wife and when Nefertiti played the Blackstone theatre in Chicago I got a phone call from David asking me to come to Chicago. Sherwin Goldman, the producer, planned to close the show. David hoped I could convince Sherwin to keep the show open. I very much doubted that my opinion would change his mind but I was anxious to see the show in its revised form and so I drove to Chicago. I wound up loving the music even more with a full orchestra, which was orchestrated by Robert Freeman. The show did close in Chicago and David Spangler said that Sherwin wanted to pay for a recording of the Chicago cast with Andrea Marcovechi, Michael Nouri, and Robert Lupone (Patti’s brother). Sherwin had been told that I was going to pay for the recording but since we both wanted to do it, we agreed to split the cost. Sherwin said “I only want to do it if everyone contributes their services”. Unfortunately Andrea, who originally said she’d be thrilled to sing for the recording, signed a contract with Barry Manilow’s record label as a pop singer and they did not want her to record this album. We then tried to replace her with a new singer, Mary Clair Nelson, who had just arrived in town. We recorded all the music first and had her come in and spend over three hours recording one song and since she had no theatre experience, she could not put in any theatricality into the songs. They were just sung as words. We then had her sing the song, one line at a time, telling her what each line meant. But when all these individual lines were put together it did not sound the way we wanted. The next time we recorded other singers, we recorded it in Radio City, where Orsen Wells had recorded War of the Worlds. I went into a darkened lobby and Andrea got off the elevator. She did not know who I was (she had never met me), but looked right at me and said, “Everything was going to work out”. She was coming to record Nefertiti with us. And she did. Beautifully. This is still a favored recording and we recommend the cast album plus a live recording from Chicago. 

Side by Side was a revue of songs from various Sondheim shows that had been a hit in London, came over here, and had a very healthy run. 

The Act by Kander and Ebb was originally tried out in San Francisco as Shine it On. It played a couple other theaters and came to New York and it was really a musical for Liza Minnelli as all the songs are about her. Mary Nelson, who was her romantic interest, never sang a note. It was just an odd idea of a musical, to only have one person out of the whole cast sing, but Liza certainly did shine. 

The King and I was another revival. Yul Brynner came back as the King which was now the more important role compared to Anna. It was a tough ticket but when he went on vacation and they replaced him with Michael Kermoyan, with Anna played by Angela Lansbury, the tickets were much more easy to obtain. I loved Angela Lansbury in the role of Anna. 

Together on Broadway with Ethel Merman and Mary Martin  was the first time the two ladies sang together on the same stage. After they did their individual hits, they did indeed sing together. If there was a winner of the sort of competitive nature they had, Ethel Merman came across more than Mary Martin did. It was recorded live and sold as an LP for $100 to benefit the museum of the city of New York. We now have that same album on CD at a much more reasonable price.

Posted on Leave a comment

Musicals of 1975

Chicago by Kander and Ebb. After seeing the show at the world premier in Philadelphia, we saw it a second time and it was even better. 

Chorus Line by Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban. We saw this off-Broadway at the public theatre. It moved to the Shubert and became one of the biggest hits of all time. 

The Night That Made America Famous – A revue of Harry Chapin songs. Not exactly Broadway type material and although he had a following, it was not enough to ensure much of a run.

Philemon by Harvey Shmidt and Tom Jones was  a stirring, religious musical which has just been commercially released on CD for the first time. 

The Robber Bridegroom by Robert Waldman and Alfred Uhry. We recorded a version of four songs with Jerry Orbach and Virginia Vespa singing and in the early days of CD’s we made a deal to record the Broadway version starring Barry Boswick. This CD version has additional dialogue and small song samples and it was the concept to do it as a story cd plus all the original songs from the Broadway LP. 

The Wiz by Charlie Smalls.  I was sure this did not have much chance of success. I was afraid that everybody would think it was a bad idea to do a new version instead of the traditional movie version by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. The reviews were fairly good but I went to see it again and there were many empty seats in the orchestra. They turned the show around by getting black church groups to bus in to see the show and eventually it became a very successful musical that was made into a movie and revived everywhere. 

A Gala Tribute to Joshua Logan was a Sunday evening gala with stars from Mary Martin to Ethel Merman and everyone in between. We have made this into a two CD set. 

Rodgers and Hart was a revue but more like a summer stock show with moderately talented singers. It only ran a couple months despite some good songs.

Shenandoah by Gary Geld and Peter Udell was a wonderful civil war musical about a father whose sons go off to war. It starred the always talented John Collum. I saw this at the Goodspeed Opera House and was happy that it went to New York. It had at least a three year wonderful run.

The Lieutenant was a rock musical about the My Lai massacre. Well intentioned but did not belong on Broadway. 

Truckload by Louis St. Louis and Wes Harris. The book was written by Hugh Wheeler, the wonderful writer of A Little Night Music. This was not a wonderful musical however as it was just about people going around in trucks. It was intended to be something like Hair but did not have the music for it and closed without ever opening.

Very Good Eddie. This was a vintage Jerome Kern musical that started at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut and had a nice run at the Booth Theatre. It makes for a very listenable CD. 

Posted on 1 Comment

Musicals of 1976

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – this Leonard Bernstein and Alan Jay Lerner musical made to celebrate the centennial was a good idea but never really came together. There were many problems in telling the story of being backstairs at the White House with the president and first ladies. It changed songs, directors, and even story lines… eventually limping into the Mark Hellinger Theatre and only lasting 7 performances. We have a demo of a few of the songs. 

The Baker’s Wife was a Stephen Schwartz and Joseph Stein show. A part was originally offered to Zero Mostel, who said he would only do it if he owned a part of the show. Producer David Merrick was the last person who would give an actor ownership of his show so Chaim Topol, from the movie Fiddler on the Roof, was chosen. Topol did not want to keep the story true to the original Baker’s Wife plot because he felt no woman would ever leave him for a younger man. Carol Demas was replaced by Patti LuPone and six months later Paul Sorvino replaced Topol. I very much liked the Paul Sorvino version and made it into my first Broadway cast album which I am very proud of. 

Bubbling Brown Sugar was a black revue originating from Rosetta LeNoire at her Harlem based amas repertory. It moved to Broadway and had a healthy run and was even done in London after that. 

Going Up by Louis Hirsch originally had a moderate run in 1919. It was revised and remounted at the Goodspeed Opera House in 1976 but only played four performances then transferred to New York. We sell the studio cast of the full original score.

Home Sweet Homer by Mitch Leigh originally had lyrics by Eric Siegel and was called Odyssey (both titles, of course, alluding to Homer’s Odyssey). It had a long tour because of Yul Brynner’s popularity but in California the show took a terrible wrong turn and was made into a farce… an unfunny farce. The revised lyrics were written by Charles Burr and Forman Brown. It closed opening night on Broadway but the version we have was of an early part of the tour and is quite interesting! 

Music Is, by Richard Adler, directed by George Abbot, started in Seattle and then played the Kennedy Center but closed quickly when it arrived in New York City. There are a few nice songs but it was not Broadway worthy.

Pacific Overtures by Sondheim tried out at the Colonial in Boston and came into New York. While it was liked by many, it was not a typical Broadway musical as it was about the Americans’ Admiral Perry going to Japan. There are fascinating songs in this and it is highly recommended.

Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart was originally offered to Alan Jay Lerner who unfortunately was not healthy enough to participate. The show with Michael Crawford who suddenly had gotten a much bigger voice than he had in the film Hello, Dolly! was a huge hit and arrived in New York and is still there. 

Side by Side by Sondheim was the first Sondheim revue and featured his best known songs with a small cast of well known actors. It has been done in other places very successfully. 

Rex by Richard Rodgers and Sheldon Harnick starred Nicole Williamson was about Henry the VIII. I saw the world premier in Wilmington, Deleware and then the New York production. I was sad to see that the critics did not like it well enough to let the show run. 

Rockabye Hamlet by Cliff Jones started in Charlottetown Canada where it was called Kronberg: 1582 and was done originally in a very classical way. Gower Champion took over the show and decided to turn it into a rock musical that featured an entirely different cast except for Beverly D’Angelo who had originated Ophelia during the Canadian tour. The rest of the cast included Larry Marshall as Hamlet, Alan Weeks as Claudius, Leata Galloway as Gertrude, Kim Milford as Laertes, Rory Dodd as Horatio, Meat Loaf as the Priest, and Christopher Chadman and Winston DeWitt Hemsley as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. I really enjoyed both versions but the critics were appalled that the show had been turned into a rock musical. 

So Long, 174th Street by Stan Daniels was based on Stein’s play Enter Laughing, based on the Carl Reiner book of the same name. It had such appealing songs and great Luther Henderson orchestrations that I eventually made the cast album. Robert Morse was just too old to play a teenager (He was in his 40’s!) and the show closed within a week. They keep trying to get the show going again and it was recently done at the York Theatre for the third time but it would not succeed on Broadway in today’s world.

Something’s Afoot was an Agatha Christie type movie-murder/whodunnit. Where the majority of the cast is killed one by one. It starred Tesse O’shea who was great in the title role but the show only managed to run a couple months. John Yap has, after all these years, made a New English recording with well known English singers and it is scheduled to be available around Christmas-time. 

Your Arm’s Too Short To Box With God was a black revue that had a brief run and has not been revived since. 

Hellzapoppin’ was an attempt to bring Jerry Lewis to Broadway in a contemporary version of the movie Ole Olson and Chic Johnson had starred in in the 40’s. The score was mostly by Hank Beebe and Bill Heyer and unfortunately was somewhat lacking in Broadway appeal. The shows that I saw, the opening in Wilmington and the closing in Boston, would simply not have succeeded on Broadway.