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My First Year in New York

I now would like to have come to New York two years earlier to see two years of musicals that I didn’t get to see. I’m just going to list shows that I could have seen:

  • The Conquering Hero, January 1961, directed by Bob Fosse and Moose Charlop,
  • 13 Daughters by Eaton Magoon, March 1961, (we now sell the Hawaiian cast with the original Robert Russel Bennett Broadway orchestrations on our site).
  • The Happiest Girl in the World, March 1961. Lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Offenbach.
  • The Smiling Boy Fell Dead, April, 1961 by Sheldon Harnick (private cast album available on our site).
  • Donnybrook, May, 1961. by Johnny Burke and the wonderful Susan Johnson.
  • Sail Away, October, 1961, Noel Howard and Elaine Stritch.
  • Let it Ride, October, 1961, Livingston and Evans, starring George Gobel.
  • Another Evening with Harry Stoones, October, 1961.
  • The Introduction of Barbara Streisand, off-Broadway that closed opening night, a very big miss.
  • Kwamina, October 1961, Richard Adler
  • Kean, November, 1961, Wright and Forrest, Alfred Drake, yet again, a must hear score.
  • All in Love, November, 1961, off-broadway, another great score by Jacques Urbont.
  • The Gay Life, November, 1961, Deitz and Schwartz, Barbara Cook.
  • Madame Aphrodite, December, 1961, Jerry Herrman’s very first book musical, available on our site.
  • Family Affair, January, 1962, John Kandor’s first musical and Hal Prince’s first directing. (Demo available on Footlight)
  • All American, March, 1962, Strouse and Adams, Ray Bulger, Closed just a few weeks before I arrived.

New Musicals I did see in the first year:

  • Mr. President,  October, 1962, Irving Berlin – I waited in line for three hours only to be told that they could not give me my first ten rows of the orchestra until the end of the year. I reluctantly bought that ticket and took an early preview so I could see it twice. The show was so disappointing that I never used my good seat ticket.
  • Nowhere to Go But Up November 1962 James Lipton, Saul Berkowitz, another huge disappointment despite Dorothy Loudon. Only the title song seemed really good. The story, directed by Cindy Lumet, was not funny or interesting.
  • Little Me, November 1962, Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh, Sid Caesar starred. Great songs. But to me, not my cup of tea.
  • Riverwind, December 1962 – My first off-Broadway musical, by John Jennings (CD available at Footlight).
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My First Day in New York

After seeing “I can get it for you wholesale” I went to other theaters to purchase tickets for the upcoming days and in the evening I saw “Subways Are For Sleeping” which is good but not great. I then went to find my car and found that I had lost my parking receipt with the address. I realized I did not know where the car was!
So there was a slight chance that I would not find my car with all my worldly possessions. I walked up and down looking for a familiar site and after 30 or 40 minutes, I found a garage that looked like the one where I had parked my car.
I said, “I think you have my car, filled with LP’s and baseball cars from Wisconsin” and they said “Yes we do.”
I then proceeded to drive to the 63’rd street Y and asked for a room with air conditioning and television (as I planned to spend quite a few of my waking hours in the hotel room).
The hotel clerk said “You want AC and television, huh?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said “I’ll tell you where to go. Waldorf Astoria.”
I knew this was not a sincere attempt to help me.
“You mean the Y does not have AC and television? The Y in Chicago does!”
I suddenly thought that maybe New York is not as good as Chicago… which is not a pleasant thought.
But I had no other choice at 11:30 at night so I checked into the room he had available. The next morning, I walked onto Broadway around the corner from the Y and saw a flashing neon sign that said “Air Conditioning and Television” above a nearby hotel. This of course was what I wanted. I found the cost of the new hotel was the same as the cost had been at the Y so I immediately checked in. The hotel was not first class, but it had my air conditioning and television. I expected to only stay in the hotel for a few days, or even a week, but found that I could not find an affordable hotel and it wasn’t until November, five months later, that I found my eventual place on East 78th street.
I saw some shows over the summer “Camelot”, “Bravo Giovanni”, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, and “How to Succeed in Business”.
The first show I saw in the fall, after I started work, was Irving Berlin’s “Mr. President”. I went to the box office of the St. Jame’s theater where I had seen “Subways are for Sleeping” and waited in line for over 2 hours. When I asked for my first ten rows of the orchestra, I was told that there were no seats in the first 10 rows of the orchestra for sale, that I could use mail order. But I wanted to see the show! So I broke my rule and took a seat in the balcony or the mezz.
I did mail in for a ticket in my first ten rows but after I used the balcony seat I decided that I didn’t want to see the show again so I never used my good seat for “Mr. President”.

For those of you who are looking for a good show at a good price and a good CD, we offer
One Night Stand by Jule Styne for $9.95

There will be more stories to follow and anyone who would like to discuss musicals, particularly unsuccessful ones, please feel free to call and talk to me at 203 544 8288.

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The Beginnings of Bruce Yeko

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

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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.