Kwamina is a musical which originally debuted on Broadway on October 23, 1961 at the54th Street Theatre, and ran for 32 performances, ending on November 18, 1961. It starred Sally Ann Howes, Terry Carter, Robert Guillaume, and Brock Peters among others and was written by Richard Adler and choreographed by Agnes de Mille. The action takes place in 1960s West Africa in a British colony on the eve of it's independence. The people are torn between their traditional ways and the modern world. Kwamina, the chief’s son, returns after studying in London. He soon falls in love with the white lady doctor, Eve. Meanwhile, his father still wants him to marry the girl who had been betrothed to Kwamina sine birth, Naii.

The original cast album was recorded for Capitol Records on Monday, November 20, 1961 following the Saturday close two days earlier. A cast album had already been planned based on hopes that the show would be a hit, but Capitol Records, despite the extremely short run of the show, went ahead and made and released the album, and it has since reached a cult status. It is currently out of print. Read the New York Times review (PDF).

 

Leader of the Pack is a musical with liner notes by Anne Beatts and additional material by Jack Heifner, music by Ellie Greenwich, and lyrics by Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Phil Spector, George "Shadow" Morton, Jeff Kent, and Ellen Foley.

Based on an original concept by Melanie Mintzwith, this jukebox musical (created before the term was coined) celebrates the life and times of the Brooklyn-born Greenwich, whose doo-wop sounds skyrocketed to the top of the pop charts in the early to mid-1960s. Beatts' "liner notes" serve as the book that link the songs and provide a look into the songwriter's professional triumphs and personal misfortunes.
he initial presentation of Leader of the Pack: The Songs of Ellie Greenwich (as it originally was titled), with a cast of six, had a brief run at Greenwich Village's Bottom Line in the winter of 1984. After 53 previews, the much-expanded production, boasting a cast of nineteen (including Dinah Manoff, Patrick Cassidy, and Annie Golden, Darlene Love and Ellie Greenwich as themselves) directed and choreographed by Michael Peters, opened on April 8, 1985 at the Ambassador Theatre, where it ran for 120 performances. Frank Rich, reviewing the show in The New York Times, called it an "embarrassment" and later wrote that upon closing, the show's producers engaged each other in litigation that "entertained Broadway for far longer than their show had." The production was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical, but lost to Big River.

Leader of the Pack was unlike other shows on Broadway at the time. Though it ran in two acts, it was without an intermission and had a duration of 90 minutes. It is a popular choice for high school and amateur productions, which Ellie Greenwich frequent managed and oversaw until her death in August 2009.

Here is "Be My Baby" from the Off Broadway production:



Legally Blonde is a musical with music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe and Nell Benjamin and book by Heather Hach. The story is based on the novel Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown and the 2001 film of the same name. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a  sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner. She discovers how her knowledge of the law can help others, and successfully defends exercise queen Brooke Wyndham in a murder trial.

Legally Blonde premiered in pre-Broadway tryouts in San Francisco, California. In April 2007 the show moved to Broadway's Palace Theatre, opening to mostly positive reviews and grossed more than $1,000,000 a week on several occasions. Jerry Mitchell directed and choreographed. The original cast included Laura Bell Bundy as Elle Woods,Christian Borle as Emmett Forrest and Richard H. Blake as Warner. It received seven Tony nominations but failed to win any.

The musical was recorded in September 2007 and aired on MTV in October 2007. Following this, a reality TV program was aired showing the audition process for the next person to play Elle Woods on Broadway. The winner was Bailey Hanks, who played the role from July 23, 2008 until the production closed on October 19, 2008.

After a tryout at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theatre from February 6 to February 24, 2007, following previews from January 23,Legally Blonde opened on Broadway at the Palace Theatre on April 29, 2007, following previews from April 3. The production was directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, with set design by David Rockwell, costume design by Gregg Barnes, and lighting design by Kenneth Posner and Paul Miller. The original Broadway cast included Laura Bell Bundy in the lead role of Elle Woods and featured Christian Borle, Orfeh and Michael Rupert. The show received mostly positive reviews and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Leading Actress, but failed to win any.

The production closed on October 19, 2008 after playing 30 previews and 595 regular performances.

The musical received mixed reviews but was praised for being a fun and upbeat production. Ben Brantley, reviewing the musical in The New York Times, wrote that the show was a "high-energy, empty-calories, and expensive-looking hymn to the glories of girlishness"; he praised Laura Bell Bundy saying, "she sings and dances flawlessly, and she delivers silly lines as if she meant them." Clive Barnes, in his New York Post review, wrote that he loved the "effervescent and radiant Bundy" as well as others in the cast, and that the "dances certainly have a slick snap, crackle, and pop". Elysa Gardner in the USA Today wrote that the musical was an "ingratiating trifle", and the "game cast ensure that the proceedings, however patronizing, aren't irritating." Jeremy McCarter in New York Magazine wrote that the musical unfortunately "doesn’t summon memories of Tracy Flick, the steely student-council campaigner that Reese Witherspoon played in Election before starring in Legally Blonde.

Broadway clip:


Les Misérables, colloquially known as Les Mis or Les Miz, is a musical composed in 1980 by French composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, with a French-language libretto by Alain Boublil.

The English-language adaptation, with libretto by Herbert Kretzmer, opened at London's Barbican Centre on 8 October 1985. It is the world’s longest-running musical, now in its twenty-sixth year, and the third longest-running show in Broadway history. In January 2010 it played its ten-thousandth performance in London's West End. The production continues at London's Queen's Theatre.

On 3 October 2010, the show became the first musical in history to have three productions running in the same city, with the original show running in London's West End, a Twenty-Fifth Anniversary touring production running at the original home of the show, London's Barbican Centre, and a special concert version at London's O2 Arena.
Based on Victor Hugo's 1862 novel of the same name, set in early nineteenth-century France, the plot follows the stories of the characters as they struggle for redemption and revolution. An ensemble that includes prostitutes, student revolutionaries, factory workers, and others joins the lead characters.

Originally released as a French-language concept album, the first musical stage adaptation of Les Misérables was presented at a Paris sports arena in 1980. However, the first production closed three months later when the booking contract expired.

In 1982, about six months after he had opened Cats in London, producer Cameron Mackintosh received a copy of the French concept album by director Peter Farago. Farago had been impressed by the work and asked Mackintosh to produce an English version of the show. Initially reluctant, Mackintosh eventually agreed.

Mackintosh assembled a production team to adapt the French musical for a British audience. After two years in development, the English language version opened in London on 8 October 1985, at the Barbican Arts Centre. Critical reviews were negative, and literary scholars condemned the show for converting classical French literature to a musical. Public opinion differed from the press, with the box office receiving record ticket orders. The limited three-month Barbican engagement eventually sold-out and reviews improved.

The Broadway production opened on March 12, 1987, and ran until May 18, 2003, closing after 6,680 performances. It is the third longest-running Broadway show in history. A fully re-orchestrated Broadway revival opened on November 9, 2006 at the Broadhurst Theatre.

The show was nominated for twelve Tony Awards, winning eight, including Best Musical and Best Original Score.

Lestat is a Broadway musical inspired by Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles. The score is by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, book by Linda Woolverton and directed byRobert Jess Roth with musical staging by Matt West. The show was directed by Robert Jess Roth. The title role of Lestat was played by Hugh Panaro, and starred Carolee Carmello as Gabrielle, Drew Sarich as Armand, Jim Stanekas Louis, Roderick Hill as Nicolas, Michael Genet as Marius, and Allison Fischer as Claudia. Scenic design by Derek McLane, costume design by Susan Hilferty, lighting design byKenneth Posner, sound design by Jonathan Deans, visual concept design by Dave McKean, and hair design by Tom Watson.

The pre-Broadway version of the Lestat musical was extremely different from the New York version of the Lestat musical. Even though it was the highest-earning pre-Broadway play in San Francisco history (beating out Wicked and Cats) the company drastically revised the play. The San Francisco version, performed at the city's historic Curran Theater during the final months of 2005 and early 2006, had far more elaborate stage effects and production values and included projected images illustrating the main character, Lestat's, story.

The Broadway version of Lestat was more interpretive, and used fewer projections. It also cut quite a few plot elements from San Francisco. The song "Right Before My Eyes" was inserted, "In Paris", a duet sung by Nicolas and Lestat was cut, and "In Paris" was expanded to when Lestat first arrives in Paris and sees Nicolas' work at the theater, the number was called "In Paris Sequence". Gabrielle's solo "Nothing Here" was changed to "Beautiful Boy"; and the play-within-a-play in the Vampire theater, was changed from the number "Origin of the Species", which explained the legend of King Enkil and Queen Akasha, to "Morality Play", which was about Armand and Marius' relationship, and completely scrapped any references to Queen of the Damned, including, later in previews, cutting Queen Akasha and King Enkil from the show completely. This version was played in mid-2006 at the Palace Theater.

Clip from the Broadway production:


The Lion King is a musical based on the 1994 Disney animated film of the same name with music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice along with the musical score created by Hans Zimmer with choral arrangements by Lebo M. Directed by Julie Taymor, the musical features actors in animal costumes as well as giant, hollow puppets. The show is produced by Disney Theatrical.

The musical debuted July 8, 1997, in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Orpheum Theatre, and was an instant success before premiering on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater on October 15, 1997 in previews with the official opening on November 13, 1997. On June 13, 2006, the Broadway production moved to the Minskoff Theatre to make way for the musical version of Mary Poppins, where it is still running after more than 5,350 performances. It is now Broadway's eighth longest-running show in history.

Many of the animals portrayed in the production are actors in costume using extra tools to move their costumes. For example, the giraffes are portrayed by actors carefully walking on stilts. For principal characters such as Mufasa and Scar, the costumes feature mechanical headpieces that can be raised and lowered to foster the illusion of a cat "lunging" at another. Other characters, such as the hyenas, Zazu, Timon, and Pumbaa, are portrayed by actors in life-sized puppets or costumes. The Timon character is described by Taymor as one of the hardest roles to master because the movement of the puppet's head and arms puts a strain on the actor's arms, back, and neck.
Composer Lebo M led the original Broadway chorus. The chorus members are usually visible in the production, rather than being hidden in the shadows as seen in some other musical shows.

A new section of the production, the Lioness Hunt, features a particularly complicated dance sequence for the actresses, and the dance is made even more difficult by the large headpieces worn during the scene.
During the show's run in China, Chinese elements were included in the musical. One of the songs was adapted to a well-known Chinese pop song, "Laoshu ai dami" or "Mice Love Rice". The cast even cracked jokes and attempted conversations with the audience in Chinese.

As of June 27, 2010, nine minutes of the Broadway version were cut, among them, the entire "Morning Report" musical number.

From the Tony Awards:



The Little Mermaid is a stage musical produced by Disney Theatrical, based on the animated 1989 Disney film of the same name and the classic story of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The musical's book is by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by the late Howard Ashman (written for the film) and new lyrics by Glenn Slater.

The musical had a pre-Broadway tryout in Denver, Colorado in July through early September 2007, with Broadway previews beginning in November 2007 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, previously the home of Disney Theatrical's Beauty and the Beast, which closed in July 2007 to make way for the new production. With Disney set to open the show at the time, it was believed that having two Disney icons on Broadway at the same time would divide audiences and cause competition between the two shows. The Little Mermaid officially opened on January 10, 2008 and closed on August 30, 2009 after 685 performances and 50 previews.

Direction was by Francesca Zambello, making her Broadway debut, with choreography by Stephen Mear. Scenic design was byGeorge Tsypin, costume design by Tatiana Noginova and lighting design by Natasha Katz. The original cast featured Sierra Boggessin the title role of Ariel, Sean Palmer as Prince Eric, Brian D'Addario and Trevor Braun alternate as Flounder, Norm Lewis as King Triton, Sherie Rene Scott as Ursula, Tituss Burgess as Sebastian, Tyler Maynard as Flotsam, Derrick Baskin as Jetsam, Jonathan Freeman as Grimsby, and John Treacy Egan as Chef Louis.

To assist the performers in achieving the effect of underwater movement on stage, the actors wear wheel-heeled footwear.

Madame Carlotta (portrayed by Heidi Blickenstaff) - Human - Carlotta is seemingly the castle's primary maid and housekeeper. Despite the remarks of her fellow maids and servants, she is exceptionally kind to Ariel and does her best to make her feel comfortable.

Two clips (1) "Part of Your World" and (2) recording of Heidi Blickenstaff singing "Poor Unfortunate Souls":







Mamma Mia! is written by British playwright Catherine Johnson, based on the songs of ABBA, composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, former members of the band. Although the title of the musical is taken from the group's 1975 chart-topper "Mamma Mia", the plot is fictional, not biographical. Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, who composed the original music for ABBA, were involved in the development of the show from the beginning. Anni-Frid Lyngstad has been involved financially in the production and she has also been present at many of the premieres around the world. The musical includes such hits as "Super Trouper", "Lay All Your Love On Me", "Dancing Queen", "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "Take A Chance On Me", "Thank You for the Music", "Money, Money, Money", "The Winner Takes It All", "Voulez Vous" and "SOS". Over 42 million people have now seen the show which has grossed $2 billion dollars worldwide. A film adaptation, Mamma Mia! The Movie, starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters was released in July 2008.

Mamma Mia! is based on the songs of ABBA. ABBA was a Swedish pop/dance group active from 1972–1982 and was one of the most internationally popular pop groups of all time, topping the charts again and again in Europe, North America and Australia. Following the premiere of the musical in London in 1999,ABBA Gold topped the charts in the United Kingdom again. This musical was the brain child of producer Judy Craymer. She met songwriters Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson in 1983 when they were working with Tim Rice on Chess. It was the song "The Winner Takes It All" that suggested to her the theatrical potential of their pop songs. The songwriters were not enthusiastic, but they were not completely opposed to the idea.

In 1997, Craymer commissioned Catherine Johnson to write the book for the musical. In 1998, Phyllida Lloyd became the director for the show. It is unusual for three women to form the collaboration behind a commercial success in musical theatre.

The musical opened in the West End at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999 and transferred to the Prince of Wales Theatre on 9 June 2004, where it is playing as of 6 February 2010. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Anthony Van Laast, the original cast featured Shiobhan McCarthy, Lisa Stokke, and Hilton McRae.

Prior to the musical's Broadway engagement, it made its US debut in San Francisco, California at the Orpheum Theatre from 17 November 2000 to 17 February 2001, moving next to Los Angeles, California at the Shubert Theatre from 26 February 2001 to 12 May 2001, and finally to Chicago, Illinois at the Cadillac Palace from 13 May 2001 to 12 August 2001. The musical opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on 18 October 2001 and is currently running, as of June 19, 2010. The director is Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Anthony Van Laast.

On any given day, there are at least seven performances of Mamma Mia! being performed around the globe. On May 15, 2005, Mamma Mia! surpassed the original Broadway runs of The Sound of Music, The King and I, and Damn Yankees with 1,500 performances. As of August 19, 2009, it is the 11th longest running Broadway musical of all time with 3,560 performances.  As of January 2008 "Mamma Mia!" became the longest daily running show in the history of Russian theatre.

Medley from the Broadway production:


Marilyn, An American Fable is a musical about Marilyn Monroe with a libretto by Patricia Michaels, music by Jeanne Napoli, Doug Frank, Gary Portnoy, Beth Lawrence and Norman Thalheimer and lyrics by Jeanne Napoli, Doug Frank, Gary Portnoy, Beth Lawrence and Norman Thalheimer. It opened November 20, 1983 and ran for 17 performances. Here is The New York Times review:

STAGE: 'MARILYN,' MUSICAL ABOUT MONROE'S MAGIC
By Frank Rich

IF you read all the fine print in the Playbill for ''Marilyn: An American Fable,'' you'll discover that the new musical at the Minskoff has 16 producers and 10 songwriters. If you mistakenly look up from the Playbill to watch the show itself, you may wonder whether those 26 persons were ever in the same rehearsal room - or even the same city - at the same time. On top of its many other failings, ''Marilyn'' is incoherent to the point of being loony. I defy anyone to explain - just for starters - why 10 chorus boys dressed in pink plumbers' costumes sing a song about bubble baths at the climax of Act II.

The woman who summons the plumbers is supposed to be Marilyn Monroe, and it can be said without fear of contradiction that ''Marilyn'' is meant to be the story of the ill- starred actress's life. But even this fact is occasionally in doubt. Patricia Michaels's libretto makes only scant mention of Monroe's movies (no mention at all of ''Some Like It Hot'' or ''The Misfits'') and vastly abridges the story of the actress's tempestuous personal life. If ''Marilyn'' is to be believed, Monroe's biggest problem was insomnia - an ailment soon rectified when she takes to tap dancing through the streets of New York with fellow classmates from the Actors Studio.

We do, however, hear about Marilyn's various husbands. Husband No. 1, Jim Dougherty, pops up in a high- school jitterbug number, then pops up again in a World War II soldiers' number, then disappears without a trace. Husband No. 2, Joe DiMaggio, is a moony juvenile who is first seen carrying a baseball bat and later discovered daintily clutching a red rose. He and Marilyn break up when she refuses to eat every meal at his restaurant on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. Husband No. 3 is Arthur Miller, who lives in a New York penthouse and always speaks with a pipe in his mouth. Marilyn leaves him shortly after delivering the line, ''But you're Arthur Miller - how can you be so boring?''

Still, most of ''Marilyn'' is not about Marilyn or her famous husbands. This show has more symbolic figures and narrators than it does characters with recognizable proper names. A fey trio of singers known collectively as Destiny forever weaves in and out of the action, tossing glittery stardust on one and all. Two of Marilyn's fans periodically wander on to declare their devotion with lyrics like, ''My knees are weak/And I can't even speak.'' A pair of chorus girls campily outfitted as ''Hedda'' and ''Louella'' are dragged in at intervals to dish the ''gossip'' about Monroe - but their gossip is so bowdlerized that they might as well be describing the private life of Shirley Temple.

Alyson Reed, the professional and hard-working performer cast in the title role, has precious little to do under the circumstances. In Act I, she must deliver most of her characterization with her chest and derri ere. Monroe she's not, but, when she's stuffed into the famous costumes, you can squint your eyes and accept her as a Madame Tussaud's replica. Miss Reed also mimics Monroe's voice effectively - until she takes to delivering her Act II songs in a standard Broadway belt.

The production surrounding the star looks as if it suffered a bombing raid during previews. Tom H. John's gloomy scenery, built around a sound-stage motif, is a gutted retread of Robin Wagner's design for Jerry Herman's Hollywood musical, ''Mack and Mabel.'' Joseph G. Aulisi's costumes, Marilyn's excepted, look as if they were picked up at a fire sale. The dance numbers are often thinly populated, and the pit band sounds decimated. The disposable songs, some of them joltingly out of period, also seem to have been radically cut: A few mercifully give up the ghost in less than a minute.

The amateur direction and choreography are attributed to Kenny Ortega; the Playbill also thanks another director, Thommie Walsh. Perhaps someday one of these men or their several dozen collaborators will reveal what they had in mind. ''Marilyn: An American Fable'' is so confused that it never gets around to its heroine's death. If nothing else, it must be the first exploitation of the Monroe legend that even denies necrophiliacs a good time.






Mary Poppins is a Walt Disney Theatrical musical based on the similarly-titled series of children's books by P. L. Travers and the Disney 1964 film. The West End production opened in December 2004 and received two Olivier Awards, one for Best Actress in a Musical and the other for Best Theatre Choreography. The musical features the film's music and lyrics by the Academy Award winning Sherman Brothers, along with additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The book was written by Julian Fellowes. The musical was directed by Richard Eyre and co-directed byMatthew Bourne, who also acted as co-choreographer with Stephen Mear. A Broadway production with a near-identical creative team opened in November 2006, with only minor changes from the West End version. It received seven Tony Award nominations, includingBest Musical, winning for Tony Award for Best Scenic Design.

The stage musical is a fusion of various elements from the film and the books. Some elements from the Mary Poppins series of children's books that had been omitted from the film were restored, such as the walking statue and the ladders rising to the stars. Others were removed, such as the scene in which Uncle Albert gets caught on the ceiling, laughing.

In 1993, theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh met Pamela Travers and acquired the rights to develop a stage play adaptation of her Mary Poppins books. In 2001, Mackintosh and the head of Disney Theatrical Thomas Schumacher opened talks on a possible collaboration, so that the stage play would be able to use the songs from the Disney film. With both sides committed, a preliminary outline of the show was written in 2002.

Around this time songwriters George Stiles and Anthony Drewe heard about the project, and independently wrote a demo version of a new introductory song for the character of Mary, titled "Practically Perfect". They submitted the song to Mackintosh, and due to his positive response, were officially brought on to the creative team. Julian Fellowes was brought on to write the show's script because of his "clear understanding of the social niceties of the English class system that prevailed in the Edwardian era".

A workshop of the show was held at the end of 2003 at the rehearsal room at London's Old Vic Theatre, using the cast of My Fair Lady, which had just closed in the West End. After four weeks of rehearsals at Sadler's Wells, the production moved to Bristol, where an out-of-town tryout opened at the Bristol Hippodrome on September 15, 2004.

Cameron Mackintosh's stage adaptation of Mary Poppins had its world premiere at the Bristol Hippodrome starting with previews from September 15, 2004, before officially opening on September 18 for a limited engagement until November 6. The production then moved to the Prince Edward Theatre on December 15, 2004. The role of Mary was played by Laura Michelle Kelly, who subsequently won the 2005 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for the role, and the role of Bert was played by Gavin Lee. Notable replacements have included Scarlett Strallen and Lisa O'Hare as Mary Poppins and Gavin Creel as Bert.

The show sparked mild controversy not long after its debut when producers Cameron MacKintosh and Thomas Schumacher banned children below 3 years old from entering the theatre, deeming the show too scary for young children. The ban remained throughout the show's entire run, during which the theatre staff were to prevent patrons with children below 3 to enter. The show was officially tagged as being "for children seven years and up".
On March 17, 2005, Julie Andrews, who played Mary Poppins in the film, visited the show as a guest. She appeared onstage during the curtain calls, where she gave a speech recalling her own memories from making the film and praising the cast for their new interpretation. The production closed on January 12, 2008, after a run of more than three years.

Following the success of the West End production, a Broadway production debuted on November 16, 2006 at the New Amsterdam Theatre after previews from October 14. Broadway performer Ashley Brown was brought on board to play the title role, and Gavin Lee, who had originated the role of Bert in the West End production, reprised his role in the Broadway production. The rest of the original cast included Daniel H. Jenkins as George Banks, Rebecca Luker as Winifred Banks, Katherine Doherty, Kathryn Fraughnan, and Delaney Moro as Jane Banks, and Matthew Gumley, Alexander Scheitinger, and Henry Hodges as Michael Banks. Starting on 9 October 2008, the role of Mary was played by Scarlett Strallen and Bert was played by Adam Fiorentino. Laura Michelle Kelly, who originated the role of Mary in London, officially took over the role on Broadway on October 12, 2009. Tony Award nominee Christian Borle joined the cast the same day as Bert. Nicolas Dromard replaced Borle on July 16, 2010, on a limited engagement through August 22, 2010. Gavin Lee returned the role of Bert on August 24, 2010 and was reunited with former London co-star Laura Michelle Kelly.

The Broadway production differed from the London production in that the "Jolly Holiday" sequence was staged in full technicolour instead of the gray tones of the London show, and in "Anything Can Happen" the stairs to the heavens were replaced by a large version of Mary Poppins' umbrella entering from the stage floor. These changes were later transferred back to the West End production. Most recently, a new song has been added to the score, entitled "Playing the Game". This replaces the already new "Temper, Temper" in the first act. This change has been added to all current and future productions of the show.

The Broadway version received mixed reviews ranging from enthusiastic to mediocre. Many critics praised the show for its technical merits. Despite the mixed reviews, the show has been regularly performing well at the box office since its opening. After running for 52 weeks, the show recouped all its original investment.

A clip from Broadway:


Merrily We Roll Along is a musical with a book by George Furth and lyrics and music by Stephen Sondheim. It is based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart.

Furth and Sondheim retained the basic structure and overall theme of the play but updated it to encompass the period from 1957 to 1976. The story revolves around Franklin Shepard who, having once been a talented composer of Broadway musicals, has now abandoned his friends and his songwriting career to become a producer of Hollywood flicks. Like the play, the musical begins at the height of his Hollywood fame and moves backwards in time, showing snapshots of the most important moments in Frank's life that shaped the man that he is today. Like Sweeney Todd, the show utilizes a chorus that sings reprises of the title song to transition the scenes.
The musical closed on Broadway after 52 previews and only 16 performances in 1981 and marked the end of the Harold Prince-Sondheim collaborations until Bounce in 2003.

Prince's wife, Judy, had been "nagging" him to do a musical about teenagers, when he recalled the play Merrily We Roll Along. Sondheim said that since the play was about friendships, he wrote the songs to be interconnected. The original choreographer, Ron Field, wanted to work with Prince. The decision was made to cast teenagers, and to have tryouts in New York rather than out-of-town. The tryouts, beginning on October 8, 1981, had a poor reception, with audiences walking out. On October 21, the New York Times reported that the leading man had been replaced by Jim Walton and the Broadway opening had been postponed. Field was replaced with choreographer Larry Fuller.

After an unusual 52 previews, the Broadway production, directed by Prince and choreographed by Fuller, opened on November 16, 1981 at the Alvin Theatre. The show opened to mostly negative reviews. While the score was widely praised, critics and audiences alike felt that the book was problematic and the themes left a sour taste in their mouths. Hampered by the several critical reviews published prior to its official opening, as well as more negative ones published afterwards, it ran for only 16 performances. In his New York Times review on November 17, 1981, Frank Rich said of the production, "As we all should probably have learned by now, to be a Stephen Sondheim fan is to have one's heart broken at regular intervals." Clive Barnes wrote, "Whatever you may have heard about it – go and see it for yourselves. It is far too good a musical to be judged by those twin kangaroo courts of word of mouth and critical consensus."

The cast included Jim Walton as Franklin Shepard, Lonny Price as Charley, Ann Morrison as Mary, Terry Finn as Gussie, Jason Alexander as Joe, Sally Klein as Beth and Liz Callaway, Tonya Pinkins and Giancarlo Esposito in supporting roles. Rosie O'Donnell auditioned; she was 18 years old.

The musical won the Olivier Award for Best Musical in 2001. Sondheim was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Original Score and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music, and won the Drama Desk prize for his lyrics. Ann Morrison won the 1982 Theatre World Award for her performance.

Recording of "Merrily We Roll Along" with photo clips of the original production:


Mother Earth, Book by Ron Thronson; Lyrics by Ron Thronson; Music by Toni Shearer.
Preview: Oct 13, 1972  Total Previews: 6 Opening: Oct 19, 1972  Closing: Oct 28, 1972 Total Performances: 12.

Drood (originally The Mystery of Edwin Drood) is a musical based on the unfinished Charles Dickens novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It is written by Rupert Holmes, and was the first Broadway musical with multiple endings (determined by audience vote). Holmes received Tony Awards for Best Book and Best Original Score. The musical won five Tony Awards out of eleven nominations, including Best Musical.

The musical first debuted as part of the New York Shakespeare Festival in August 1985, and, following revision, transferred to Broadway, where it ran until May 1987. Two national tours and a production in London's West End followed. Though the show has yet to have a Broadway revival, it continues to be popular with regional, amateur, and student theater companies and has seen numerous foreign productions.

The musical Drood is derived from three major inspirations: Charles Dickens's final (and unfinished) novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and the British pantomime and music hall traditions that reached the height of their popularity in the years following Dickens's death.

Dickens's Mystery began publication in 1870. The book, which had been written and published in episodic installments (as had most of Dickens's other novels) was left unfinished upon Dickens's sudden death from a stroke that year. The lack of resolution to the mystery (and the absence of notes that would indicate Dickens's intentions) have made The Mystery of Edwin Drood a literary curiosity. Almost immediately after the publication of Dickens's last episode, various authors and playwrights (including Dickens's own son) attempted to resolve the story with their own endings: by the time of the Drood musical's production, there had been several "collaborations" between the late Dickens and other novelists, numerous theatrical extrapolations of the material, and three film adaptations of the story.

Contemporaneous with Dickens's writing, British pantomime styles — distinguished by the importance of audience participation and conventions like the principal boy — reached their height of popularity, just as music hall performance with its attributes of raucous, risque comedy and a distinctive style of music began to achieve prominence.

Rupert Holmes, who would go on to be the major creative contributor to the musical Drood, spent his early childhood in England. At age three, he would experience theater for the first time when he was taken to a modern "panto", complete with cross-dressing lead boy and audience sing-alongs. Some years later, as an 11-year-old boy fascinated by mystery books, Holmes first discovered the unfinished Dickens novel. Both of those seminal experiences would go on to have a major impact on Holmes when he was first approached to write a new musical by impresario Joseph Papp.

After Rupert Holmes wrote an initial draft that lasted three-and-a-half hours, and performed it, solo, for Joseph Papp, Gail Merrifield, and Wilford Leach, (the New York Shakespeare Festival's artistic director), Papp offered to produce the show as part of the Festival (also known as "Shakespeare in the Park"), and told Holmes that it would be immediately transferred to Broadway if it was deemed a success. The original production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood premiered in New York City's Central Park at the Delacorte Theatre on August 21, 1985 after only three weeks of rehearsals. Notably, Holmes conceived most of the orchestrations himself, a rarity for a Broadway composer.

After the final Festival performance on September 1, preparations for the Broadway transfer (retaining the original cast) immediately got underway. Following a great deal of editing (the Delacorte version contained 32 original songs and was nearly three hours long) The Mystery of Edwin Drood opened on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on December 2, 1985. Roughly halfway through the run, the title of the musical was officially shortened to Drood (the name it continues to be licensed under). The show ran for 608 performances (not including 24 previews), and closed on May 16, 1987. The Broadway production was produced by Papp and directed by Leach, with choreography by Graciela Daniele.

The opening night cast of the Broadway production starred George Rose, Cleo Laine, John Herrera, Howard McGillin, Patti Cohenour, and Jana Schneider, who were all nominated for 1986 Tony Awards for their performances, as well as Betty Buckley in the title role. Donna Murphy, Judy Kuhn, and Rob Marshall were also members of the ensemble. (Marshall, who would later become best known as a choreographer and theater/film director, also received an early choreography credit as assistant to Daniele.) Before the show ended its run, Murphy, who was understudy to Cleo Laine and Jana Schneider, took over the title role. Other notable replacements during the show's run included Alison Fraser (taking over for Jana Schneider), Paige O'Hara (taking over for Donna Murphy as Drood), as well as Loretta Swit and later Karen Morrow, who stepped into Laine's roles.

Clip from the 1986 Tony Awards: