First is a musical with a book by critic Joel Siegel. The music was composed
by Robert Brush, and Martin Charnin wrote the lyrics. The show is based on the
life of Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman Jackie Robinson, the first
African-American to play major league baseball in the 20th century.
The musical premiered on Broadway at the Martin Beck Theatre on November 17,
1981 and closed on December 12, 1981 after 37 performances and 33 previews.
Directed by Martin Charnin and choreographed by Alan Johnson, the original cast
included David Alan Grier as Jackie Robinson, and Lonette McKee as his wife
The Golden Apple is a musical adaptation of both
the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, with music by Jerome Moross and lyrics by John
Treville Latouche. The show was one of the first musicals produced at
the Off-Broadway Phoenix Theatre (in March 1954) and moved up to Broadway on
April 20, 1954 at the Alvin Theater where the cerebral and through-sung musical
played for only 125 performances despite rave reviews. The original production
starred Kaye Ballard as Helen, and Stephen Douglass as Ulysses. The production
won the Best Musical award from the New York Drama Critics Circle, and the
lyrics are much praised.
The musical is entirely through-composed and exhibits features similar to more
operatic musicals like Porgy and Bess, Candide, and The Most Happy
Fella. Jerome Moross was a classical composer of concert music, ballets, as
well as a highly appreciated film score. The musical has developed
a cult following, even though the full score has never been commercially
recorded and the show has never been revived on Broadway. The play is remembered
in part for introducing the standard "Lazy Afternoon" sung by Ballard,
portraying a character based on Helen of Troy, and the fantastical, suggestive
settings by William and Jean Eckart.
The piece continues to receive occasional productions. For example, a 1990
production in New York featured Muriel Costa-Greenspon. The work was produced in
1995 by Light Opera Works in Chicago, Illinois and in 2006 by the 42nd Street
Moon Company in San Francisco, California. The Shaw Festival has also produced
it. The complete piano-vocal score was published for the first time in 2009,
by Alfred Music Publishing.
Recording of Kaye Ballard singing "Lazy Afternoon":
Boy is a musical with a book by Clifford Odets and William Gibson, lyrics
byLee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse.
Based on the 1937 play of the same name by Odets, it focuses on Joe Wellington,
a young man from Harlem who, despite his family's objections, turns
to prizefighting as a means of escaping his ghetto roots and finding fame and
fortune. He crosses paths with Mephistopheles-like promoter Eddie Satin and
eventually betrays his manager Tom Moody when he romantically becomes involved
with his girlfriend Lorna Moon.
Producer Hillard Elkins planned the project specifically for Sammy Davis,
Jr. and lured Odets out of semi-retirement to write the book. The original play
centered on Italian American Joe Bonaparte, the son of
poverty-stricken immigrants with a disapproving brother who works as a labor
organizer. Elkins envisioned an updated version that would reflect the struggles
of an ambitious young African American at the onset of the Civil Rights era and
include socially relevant references to the changing times.
In Odets' original book, Joe was a sensitive would-be surgeon fighting in order
to pay his way through college, but careful to protect his hands from serious
damage so he could achieve his goal of saving the lives of blacks ignored by
white doctors. In an ironic twist, the hands he hoped would heal kill a man in
After twenty-five previews, the Broadway production, directed by Arthur
Penn and choreographed by Donald McKayle, opened on October 20, 1964 at
the Majestic Theatre, where it ran for 568 performances. In addition to Davis,
the cast included Billy Daniels as Eddie Satin, Kenneth Tobey as Tom Moody, and
Paula Wayne as Lorna Moon, with Johnny Brown, Lola Falana, Louis Gossett,
Baayork Lee, and Theresa Merritt in supporting roles.
Recording of the overture:
Rainbow is the title of a Broadway musical that opened in 1968. It
starred Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé for its entire run until it closed in
early 1969. The previews for Golden Rainbow began at the Forrest
Theatre in Philadelphia on November 28, 1967, moving to its new location in New
York City at the Shubert Theatreon Broadway on December 27, 1967. The musical
officially opened on February 4, 1968 at the Shubert, where it played until
November 17, 1968. On November 19, 1968, its run resumed at the George Abbott
Theatre on Broadway, where Golden Rainbow played until it closed on January 11,
The stars of Golden Rainbow, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, were already
well-known from their extensive work in music, film and television during the
1950s and 1960s. The musical is perhaps best remembered for the song "I've Gotta
Be Me", released as a single in the late 1960s by both Lawrence and Sammy Davis,
Jr. (Davis' version reached #11 on the pop chart and #1 on the easy listening
chart). The show details the lives of a group of people in and around Las
Vegas, Nevada. Author William Goldman wrote a gossipy and unflattering book that
detailed this musical, The Season, while it was still running on Broadway.
The music and lyrics for Golden Rainbow were by Walter Marks; the book
was by Ernest Kinoy; and the musical was based on the film adaptation (by
screenwriter Arnold Schulman) of the play A Hole in the Head. Although
the musical did not win any Tony Awards, actor Scott Jacoby was nominated
for Best Featured Actor in a Musical, and Robert Randolph was nominated for Best
a musical with a book by Jean and Walter Kerr, music by Leroy Anderson, and
lyrics by the Kerrs and Joan Ford. A parody of the silent film era when
directors made quickie one-reelers overnight, it focuses on Maggie Harris, a
musical comedy star retiring from show business in order to marry into high
society, until producer-director Max Grady arrives to remind her she has a
contract to star in his film Frontier Woman. The two battle
and slapstick situations ensue as the movie evolves into an epic about Ancient
Egypt and filming extends well beyond the amount of time Grady promised it would
take to make the movie.
Following tryouts in Boston and Philadelphia, the Broadway production, directed
by Walter Kerr and choreographed by Agnes de Mille, opened on October 11, 1958
at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where it ran for 161 performances, closing on
February 28, 1959. The cast included Elaine Stritch, Don Ameche, Russell Nype, Margaret
Hamilton, Pat Stanley, and Patricia Birch.
Jean Kerr later recounted the trials and tribulations of creating a new musical
in her books Please Don't Eat The Daisies, The Snake Has All the Lines,
and Penny Candy.
Tu Go Disco Broadway’s “first disco musical,” this one boasted two
directors, three writers, three choreographers, 11 composers, a cast of 36 and a
dance floor that filled with 3,000 gallons of water. So many creative types yet
no one revised the title. Cost $2-4 million. Opened June 25, 1979 for 8
performances. Read the New York Times
a musical with music by Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman and a
book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, based on the 1988 John
Waters film Hairspray. The songs include 1960s-style dance music and "downtown"
rhythm and blues. In 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, plump teenager Tracy Turnblad's
dream is to dance on The Corny Collins Show, a local TV dance program based on
the real-life Buddy Deane Show. When Tracy wins a role on the show, she becomes
a celebrity overnight. She then launches a campaign to integrate the show. Hairspray is
a social commentary on the injustices of parts of American society in the 1960s
The musical's original Broadway production opened on August 15, 2002 and won
eight Tony Awards out of thirteen nominations. It ran for over 2,500
performances and closed on January 4, 2009. Hairspray has also had U.S.
national tours, a London West End production and numerous foreign productions
and was adapted for a 2007 musical film. The London production was nominated for
a record-setting eleven Laurence Olivier Awards, winning for Best New Musical
and in three other categories.
According to interviews included as an extra feature on the 2007
film's DVD release, theatre producer Margo Lion first conceived of Hairspray as
a stage musical in 1998 after seeing a television broadcast of the original
film. She contacted John Waters, who gave her his blessing, then acquired the
rights from New Line Cinema. Lion contacted Marc Shaiman, who expressed interest
in the project only if his partner Scott Wittman could be included, and Lion
agreed. The two submitted three songs – one of which, "Good Morning Baltimore,"
eventually became the show's opening number. Based on their initial work, Lion
was confident that she had hired the right team.
Lion contacted Rob Marshall about directing the musical. At the time he was
involved in negotiations to direct the screen adaptation of Chicago, but
he agreed to become involved in the early development stages of Hairspray with
the stipulation he would drop out if assigned the film. Marshall
remembered Marissa Jaret Winokur from her brief appearance in the film American
Beauty and arranged a meeting with Shaiman and Wittman. The two immediately felt
she was right for the role of Tracy Turnblad but were hesitant to commit without
seeing any other auditions. They hired Winokur to work with them on the project
with the understanding she might be replaced later. One year later, Winokur was
diagnosed with cervical cancer. Certain she would lose the role if the creative
team learned about her condition, she underwent chemotherapy and
a hysterectomy without telling anyone but her immediate family. The treatment
and surgery were successful, and Winokur returned to the project. Meanwhile,
Marshall had started work on Chicago, and Jack O'Brienand Jerry Mitchell were
hired by Lion to direct and choreograph, respectively. Winokur was one of the
first to audition for the role of Tracy Turnblad and spent two years preparing
with voice and dance lessons. Tracy's mother had been portrayed by Divine in the
original film, and Shaiman liked the idea of maintaining the tradition of
casting a male as Edna Turnblad. Harvey Fierstein auditioned for the role with a
"half hour vocal audition" of "an entire concert". He thought they were
"pacifying" him, but he was told "they don't want anyone but you".
According to Shaiman, one song, "I Know Where I've Been", became controversial
during the genesis of the score:
“This was... inspired by a scene late in the  movie that takes place on
the black side of town. It never dawned on us that a torrent of protest would
follow us from almost everyone involved with the show. ‘It’s too sad.... It’s
too preachy.... It doesn’t belong.... Tracy should sing the eleven o’clock
number.’ We simply didn’t want our show to be yet another show-biz version of a
civil rights story where the black characters are just background. And what
could be more Tracy Turnblad-like than to give the ‘eleven o’clock number’ to
the black family at the heart of the struggle? Luckily... the audiences embraced
this moment, which enriches the happy ending to follow, and it is our proudest
achievement of the entire experience of writing Hairspray”.
After a tryout at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, Hairspray opened on
Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on August 15, 2002. The production was
directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, with set design
by David Rockwell, costume design by William Ivey Long, lighting design
by Kenneth Posner, sound design by Steve C. Kennedy, and the many distinctive
wigs in the show by Paul Huntley. The original Broadway cast included Marissa
Jaret Winokur and Harvey Fierstein in the lead roles of Tracy and Edna
respectively. The cast also featured Matthew Morrison, Laura Bell Bundy, Kerry
Butler, Linda Hart, Mary Bond Davis, Corey Reynolds, Clarke Thorell, Danelle
Eugenia Wilson, Jackie Hoffman, Joel Vig and Dick Latessa.
Hairspray received Tony Award nominations in 12 categories, winning
eight, including for Best Musical.
The production ran for more than six years and 2,642 performances, closing on
January 4, 2009. Original star Fierstein returned to the cast on November 11,
2008 and Winokur returned on December 9 for the final performances.
The Tony Award clip:
as Larry, a musical fantasy with music by Mischa Portnoff and Wesley
Portnoff and book by Donagh MacDonagh (based on his play). It starred Gene
Barry, Irwin Corey, and Burgess Meredith. It opened January 6, 1950 and ran for
Sweet Henry is a musical with a book by Nunnally Johnson and music
and lyrics by Bob Merrill. Based on the novel The World of Henry
Orient by Johnson's daughter Nora and the subsequent film of the
same name, the plot focuses on Valerie and Marian, two wealthy,
love-struck teenagers who stalk an avant-garde composer and aging
After twelve previews, the Broadway production, directed by George Roy
Hill and choreographed by Michael Bennett, opened on October 23, 1967 at
the Palace Theatre, where it ran for 80 performances. The cast
included Don Ameche, Neva Small, Robin Wilson, Carol Bruce, Louise
Lasser, Baayork Lee, Priscilla Lopez, Alice Playten, and Pia Zadora.
The stage musical was never filmed: however,
during its brief Broadway run, Alice Playten and the chorus performed
one song from the score -- "Poor Little Person" -- on The Ed Sullivan
Show; this video recording survives.
The show is one of those tracked by William Goldman in his 1968 book The
Season, which describes the ins and outs of a season on Broadway. He
contends that Henry, Sweet Henry was well-received by audience members
(getting "every bit as good a reaction as Mame gets", referring to a
smash hit of the time) but couldn't survive a bad review from Clive
Barnes in the New York Times, who was then on a crusade to bring pop
music into Broadway scores. Goldman also describes how the show was
intended as a vehicle to propel its young lead Robin Wilson to stardom,
but instead accidentally allowed second lead Alice Playten to steal the
show. Link to the
New York Times review
Here is the song "Here I Am":
Where I Belong is a musical with a book by Alex Gordon and Terrence
McNally, lyrics by Alfred Uhry, and music by Robert Waldman.
Based on John Steinbeck's classic novel East of Eden,
the allegorical tale centers on the Trasks and the Hamiltons, two
families drawn to the rich farmlands of Salinas, California in the early
20th Century. While Steinbeck traced the two clans through three
generations, the musical limits the action to the period between 1915
and 1917 and focuses primarily on the Cain and Abel aspects of the work.
McNally asked that his name be removed from the credits prior to opening
After twenty previews, the Broadway production, directed by Michael
Kahn and choreographed by Tony Mordente, opened on March 3, 1968 at the
Billy Rose Theatre, where it closed after one performance. The cast
included James Coco, Graciela Daniele, and Ken Kercheval.
Hit the Trail, a musical. Book by Frank
O'Neill; Lyrics by Elizabeth Miele; Music by Frederico Valerio.
Setting: Virginia City, Nevada, during the late 19th Century.
Opening: Dec 2, 1954 Closing: Dec 4, 1954 Total Performances: 4
of Flowers is a musical by Harold Arlen (music and lyrics)
and Truman Capote (lyrics and book), based on his own short story, first
published in Breakfast at Tiffany's as one of three extra pieces
besides the titular novella. This was Capote's only musical, and is the
first theatrical production outside of Trinidad and Tobago to feature
the new Caribbean instrument - the steel pan.
After a Philadelphia tryout, the show opened on Broadway on December 30,
1954 at the Alvin Theatre and played for 165 performances. The director
was Peter Brook. The cast included Pearl Bailey, Diahann
Carroll, Juanita Hall, Ray Walston, and Geoffrey Holder. Although the
show received generally poor reviews, the dance-rhythm infused score has
been praised for its mix of blues and calypso. Most of the original
orchestral score by Ted Royal has been lost, but the piano score
survives. Oliver Messel won the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design, the
show's only nomination.
The story concerns two neighboring bordellos that battle for business in
an idealized West Indies setting. One of the prostitutes, Ottilie, turns
down a rich lord to marry a poor mountain boy named Royal. Her madam
plots to keep her by having Royal sealed in a barrel and tossed into the
ocean. Royal escapes the watery death by taking refuge on the back of a
turtle. The lovers are eventually married and live happily ever after.
There was an unsuccessful Off-Broadway revival in 1968 at Theater de
Lys. In 2003, there was an Encores! production, starring Tonya Pinkins and Armelia
McQueen as the battling bordello madams and Maurice Hines as Captain
Jonas, the smuggler. The virginal Ottilie was played by Nikki M. James,
and the mountain boy, Royal, was played by Brandon Victor Dixon. Roscoe
Lee Browne played the voodoo priest, Houngan.
In 2003, Columbia Masterworks reissued the original cast recording. In
addition to such tunes as “A Sleepin’ Bee” and “Don’t Like Goodbyes,”
the CD also included bonus tracks of “Mardis Gras Waltz” (Percy
Faith and His Orchestra), “Two Ladies in the Shade” (Enid Mosier),
“Ottilie and the Bee” (Truman Capote) and “A Sleepin’ Bee” (a demo
recording by Harold Arlen).
Recording of the original production:
September is based on the 1953
play Picnic by William Inge. The play premiered at the Music Box
Theatre, Broadway on 19 February 1953 in a production by the Theatre
Guild, directed by Joshua Logan and ran for 477 performances.
The original cast featured Ralph Meeker, Eileen Heckart, Arthur
O'Connell, Janice Rule, Reta Shaw, Kim Stanley and Paul Newman. Inge won
the 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for the work, and Logan received
a Tony Award for Best Director. The play also won the New York Drama
Critics' Circle Award for Best Play of the season. Picnic was Paul
Newman's Broadway debut.
Paul Osborne was chosen to turn Picnic into a musical in the
1960’s. It was called Hot
September and instead of going to the Alvin Theatre on Broadway in
October of 1965, the musical premiered in Boston and closed within a few
Harry, a musical with book by Jeremiah Morris, Lee Kalcheim and Susan
Perkis; music by Bill Weeden; lyrics by David Finkle. It opened October
12, 1972 and ran 2 performances.
I Love My Wife is a musical with a
book and lyrics by Michael Stewart and music by Cy Coleman, based on a
play by Luis Rego.
A satire of the sexual revolution of the 1970s, the musical takes place
on Christmas Eve in suburban Trenton, New Jersey, where two married
couples who have been close friends since high school find themselves
contemplating a ménage-à-quatre.
The pre-Broadway tryout opened at the Forrest Theatre in Philadelphia on
March 21, 1977. The Broadway production opened at the Ethel Barrymore
Theatre on April 17, 1977 and closed on May 20, 1979, after 857
performances and seven previews. Directed by Gene
Saks and choreographed by Onna White, the cast included James Naughton as
Wally, Joanna Gleason as Monica, Lenny Baker, as Alvin, Ilene Graff as
Cleo, Michael Mark (Guitar) as Stanley, Joseph Saulter (Drummer) as
Quenton, John Miller (bass) as Harvey, and Ken Bichel (Piano) as Norman.
During the show's run, cast replacements include Tom and Dick
Smothers, Tom Wopat, Janie Sell and, in an African
American version, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and Hattie Winston. The show
won Tony Awards for direction and featured actor in a musical (Baker).
Original director and choreographer Joe Layton was replaced due to
injuries sustained in a fall.
The West End production opened on October 6, 1977 at the Prince of Wales
Theatre, where it ran for 401 performances. It was nominated for
the Laurence Olivier Award for Musical of the Year. The show
originally starred Porridge and Rising Damp star Richard Beckinsale, who
was replaced as the lead mid-run by Confessions of a Window
Cleaner actor Robin Askwith.
The band consisted of four on-stage musicians who were among the friends
and acted in the opening scene. The show was filled with their
shenanigans in the background during the songs. They sang along with
some of the numbers and sometimes one of them took a solo and sang
Clive Barnes, reviewing for The New York Times wrote that the musical is
"bright, inventive, amusing and breezy." He noted that what Coleman and
Stewart did regarding the band "is breathtakingly simple, but none...has
ever done it before. They have taken the band and put it up on
stage...The musicians are welded into the play, as a kind of Greek
chorus." He especially noted that "It is a gorgeous cast-just right."
Finally, he called the musical "mildly sexy, vastly diverting and highly