Monday, July 7, 2014

3 Classic Broadway Musicals that Need to Return to Broadway... Yesterday

As casting announcements of the spring '15 Broadway revival* of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I keep trickling in, I can't help but realize that 1. Kelli O'Hara is the Mary Martin of today (aka: go-to R&H actress), and 2. It's about time The King and I was revived on Broadway. The last time it was on Broadway was in 1998, when it closed after almost two years. Just to give you some perspective, in 1998, two of the boys who won the Tony Award for Best Actor for Billy Elliot were only 4 years old. The other Billy was just 3. Now that we all feel old... It turns out there are a few other classic shows that you have probably seen performed locally, but have been distinctly absent from the Great White Way for too long. Here are my top 3:

Original 1945 playbill
Image courtesy:
3. Carousel
Broadway debut: 1945
Most recent time it was on Broadway: 1995
Number of Broadway revivals: 4
This R&H classic opened before the Tony Awards were around, so the show's awards were few, but since then, it has had four revivals, three of which were before 1960. The first four Broadway installments only got three total awards across the board, and never ran for more than two years. The most recent revival (1994) finally seemed to get the awards recognition it deserved, with five Tony Awards/nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, and of course Best Featured Actress in a Musical for Audra McDonald. Lesson: Put Audra McDonald in your show, and you'll win all the things, even if you only run for 11 months. #AudraWinsEveryTime #ButForReal

Watch this clip of Shirley Verett and the cast of the 1994 revival of Carousel (including Audra... Can you spot her?) sing "You'll Never Walk Alone" at the 1994 Tony Awards.

Original 1956 playbill
Image courtesy:
2. My Fair Lady
Broadway debut: 1956
Most recent time it was on Broadway: 1994
Number of Broadway revivals: 3
Lerner and Loewe's first big multi-award-winning Broadway hit won six of the ten Tony Awards for which it was nominated, including Best Musical and Actor. Running for six years, the original production has been the most successful version of My Fair Lady to date. Unfortunately, the revivals had only three Tony Award nominations combined, and none ran for even as long as a year. So I think it's definitely time to put another hit version of this show on Broadway! Casting suggestions?

Check out this wonderful video of Julie Andrews and the original Broadway cast of My Fair Lady performing "Wouldn't it Be Loverly" on the Ed Sullivan Show... Not sure what year, but circa 1960 I imagine. She is completely perfect. Oh my goodness this clip is a gem!!

Second Oliver! playbill
Image courtesy:
1. Oliver!
Broadway debut: 1963
Most recent time it was on Broadway: 1984
Number of Broadway revivals: 2
The last time this show was on Broadway was before Phantom of the Opera or Les Miserables were thought of by anyone besides the creative teams. That's forever, y'all. Of course, I will give credit to the West End (ahem, Cameron Mackintosh) for reviving Oliver! in London back in 2009, starring the incredible Samantha Barks (now of Les Mis movie fame) as Nancy. But anyway, the original version of Lionel Bart's one-hit-wonder musical based on the Dickens novel, Oliver Twist, was a bit of a disappointment in terms of Tonys, garnering 10 nominations, but taking home only three. Then the only revival that received a nomination was in 1984. Despite the fact that Broadway legend Patti Lupone was playing Nancy (having already appeared in tons of Broadway shows, including her big break, Evita), it played 13 previews and a whopping 17 performances, receiving only one Tony nomination (not for Patti), which it lost. (Read an in-depth look at the Broadway productions of Oliver! here)

Watch this performance clip of Patti LuPone singing Nancy's showstopper, "As Long as He Needs Me," in 1984. She's just flawless, y'all!

So be looking out for headlines about these revivals, because I'm sure I'm not the only person who has noticed that these timeless hits need to be presented for the 21st century audiences. Though, I will say that I slightly shudder to think what changes might be made to these to make them suit the modern theatre-goer. We'll see.

Sally Henry // Twitter: // Facebook:

*a Broadway revival is a new production of a Broadway play or musical that has already been on Broadway in the past. This is as opposed to a Broadway production of a brand new show that has not been on Broadway before. Often, the point of revivals is to tweak a few things and give it a fresh look. Changes could include rearranging songs, changing lyrics, or in the case of West Side Story's most recent revival, changing some of the characterization and interpretation of the entire story.

Read More:
Oliver! on Broadway
My Fair Lady on Broadway
Carousel on Broadway

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