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Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Stage Addiction: 10 Musicals Most In Need Of Reviving...

With Sunday in the Park With George, Godspell, and South Pacific soon to re-appear on Broadway (Pacific for the first time in 50 years!), the scientists here at ModFab Labs started thinking: what OTHER musicals are long overdue for a return to the boards? We quickly came up with quite a list -- over 60 shows! -- but narrowed it down to the most egregious absences. What do you think should be on the list (and on 42nd Street)?

HONORABLE MENTION: Ain't Misbehavin'
Arguably the greatest music revue ever to hit Broadway, this musical journey through the tunes of Fats Waller originally ran four years and won two Tonys. Imagine Lillias White, Audra McDonald, Billy Porter, Norm Lewis and Brian Stokes Mitchell in an all-new production, perhaps playing instruments a la director John Doyle...heaven!

10. Carnival!/Barnum
Yeah, I know, it's probably cheating to group these two circus-themed shows together. But both have surprisingly solid scores (by Bob Merrill and Cy Coleman, respectively) and lots of great character opportunities. Barnum's original stars, in fact, are still around -- Jim Dale and Glenn Close. And to sell it a bit more, both held up pretty well in recent benefit concert presentations.

9. Camelot
In this case, the more appropriate question might be...why hasn't there been a recent revival of this Lerner and Loewe classic? Part of the answer lies in earlier bad attempts to bring it back (notably with Robert Goulet in the early 90's). But listen to that score, man...how perfect for Raul Esparza (Company) and Kelli O'Hara (The Light in the Piazza). It's just too good to let it disappear.

8. Passion
Is it too early to revisit Stephen Sondheim's often-criticized 1994 Tony winner? I don't think so. As anyone who saw the magnificent Kennedy Center production (starring Michael Cerveris) or the 2003 Ravinia Festival performance (with Audra McDonald and Patti LuPone), this show is a still-unrealized gem on Broadway (where it suffered poor direction). The piece is absolutely sublime; some of the master's greatest songs are in the score, too.

7. City of Angels
The always underestimated Cy Coleman crafted his most entertaining musical as a witty Hollywood whodunit, a dual-reality affair that it tailor-made to win Best Supporting Tony Awards. Think how great Mary Testa (Xanadu) might be in the role originated by Randy Graff, or David Hyde Pierce (Curtains) as the nebbish screenwriter. And it's sooooo audience-friendly. Stellar!

6. Dreamgirls
The movie made a fortune AND won Oscars. The Actor's Fund concert in 2001 was the best the series ever had. (Don't believe me? See for yourself.) And Jennifer Hudson is probably available. Why oh why isn't some smart Broadway producer seeing the gold mine here? (Look at how long Chicago has lasted, five years after the movie's Oscar-winning success.)

5. Funny Girl
Look, I'll be blunt: it made Barbra Streisand an unstoppable global star. It would do the same for Sutton Foster (Thoroughly Modern Millie), even if she doesn't have the right nose for it. And with a score that includes indisputable classics -- "People", "Second Hand Rose" (from the movie), "I'm The Greatest Star" and "Don't Rain On My Parade", this is as close to a can't-miss as Broadway gets.

4. Evita
Despite a successful initial run on Broadway and the award-winning movie in the mid-90's, this musical -- undoubtedly Andrew Lloyd-Webber's most accomplished score -- hasn't been seen on Broadway in almost 25 years. The story is affecting, the music occasionally transcendant, and the market for it is ripe...serious-but-accessible entertainments have become rare on Broadway. As for casting, well, I don't know if they'd be perfect...but I'd love to see Eden Espinosa (Brooklyn) or Sara Ramirez (Grey's Anatomy, Spamalot) give Eva Peron a try.

3. Mame
If Evita is Lloyd-Webber's best score, then this glittering story of Mame Dennis Burnside is the same for Jerry Herman. Note to producers: this is a smart musical comedy, emotionally affecting and side-splittingly funny...it practically sells itself! The title role is also a rich part, and especially attractive for an older actress. Victoria Clark? Tyne Daly? LuPone? Even Bernadette Peters, maybe? Don't laugh...if Peters can follow Merman in Gypsy, she can follow Lansbury in Mame!

2. A Little Night Music
Every major Sondheim musical has received a revival in the last decade...except this one, due to legal wrangling over its star and director. (They're waiting, theoretically, for Glenn Close to become available.) I hope they get their act together soon, because it's the crowd-pleaser in the composer's canon. Charming, sophisticated, complex and mature, it's the musical equivalent of ambrosia...food of the gods. And need I remind you of the score's powerhouses: "Every Day A Little Death", "Liaisons", "The Miller's Son", and "Send in the Clowns." No better night awaits us on Broadway. Except perhaps...

1. West Side Story
Not just a great musical...arguably, the greatest of all time. And yet inexpicably, it hasn't been seen in New York in almost 30 years. What's the holdup? Two words: Arthur Laurents, the show's aged book writer who has held tightly on the reins for years. Entire generations have now missed out on this astonishing piece of theatre...one that, it should be noted, has much to say to our increasingly violent world. It's imperative that Laurents do the right thing and let this piece once again shine on the Great White Way. It shouldn't be lost in the mists of history.

And also....

Musicals That Are Theoretically About To Be Revived, And Should Be: The Wiz, Godspell, Porgy and Bess, Sunday in the Park With George

Musicals That Had Small Revivals That Should Get Big Ones: Finian's Rainbow

Fifteen Other Musicals We'd Like Revived Soon: Anyone Can Whistle, Anything Goes, Applause, Baby, Brigadoon, Fiorello!, Hair, Hello Dolly, Kismet, Mack and Mabel, Oliver, Pal Joey, Pippin, The Robber Bridegroom, Working

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Blogger Paul said...

oh i'd love to see Mame revived and maybe The Rink too - starring Liza in the mother role and maybe Deborah Gibson in the daughter role.

11/6/07, 12:59 AM  
Blogger DBK said...

Just bought my tickets to see Die, Momma, Die on 11/17 for my anniversary with Mrs DBK. On your recommendation, I might add. And also because the director of the theater group my friend belongs to said that we "have to see Charles Busch if you can". Well, we can. So we will.

11/6/07, 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Billy said...

I agree 100% on Evita--why it hasn't been revived is a mystery to me. It most definitely is ALW's most accomplished score, some of his most (shockingly) mature and poetic lyrics, and a really fun rock musical. I guess the sad ending really does kill it. But it would be such a great vehicle for an unknown performer as well. The stories practically write themselves: "Unknown actress tackles monster role with aplomb," or "LuPone: 'Don't cry for me, cry for Unknown Star X!'"

Oh, and can someone tell Glenn Close to take a break from Damages and head up a little night music for a little bit? There would at least be a Tony nom in there for her.

11/6/07, 10:08 AM  
Blogger JB said...

Oh, I just got so excited. I would move to new York to see all of these on Broadway again. Excellent list.

11/6/07, 10:20 AM  
Anonymous Jim from Chicago said...

Interesting list! I think the Goodman in Chicago is doing a small-scale revival of Ain't Misbehavin' this year, and Gary Griffin has got Passion at the Chicago Shakespeare theater (which I saw, and I respectfully disagree that it's worth revisiting...) He did an incredible Little Night Music a few years ago.

11/6/07, 10:26 AM  
Blogger Vance said...

OOh. I would love to see Little Night Music or Passion. Never seen them on stage before. Or City of Angels and Barnum. But Camelot? Really? Never seen it but seems very fuddy duddy to me everytime I hear it. i'd really like to see Merilly We Roll Along (or whatever that Sondheim musical was).

So what were your other 29 picks?

11/6/07, 1:19 PM  
Blogger David S. said...

I feel like this list is fantastic. It has never even occurred to me that it's been eons since West Side Story has been on Broadway because I've seen so many high school/college productions of it (I even played pit for it once).

I really hope all if this comes true. That would be fantastic.

11/7/07, 5:39 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

I'm far from Broadway, so this is especially theoretical in my case, but how about a revival of "Promises, Promises"? I think it's about (turkey lurkey) time.

11/7/07, 6:23 PM  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

You forgot A Year with Frog and Toad.

No, seriously: we're going to try to see that Passion at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. I've never seen the show. I did see the Little Night Music at the New York City Opera a few years ago with Juliet Stevenson and Jeremy Irons, and even though they aren't singers, precisely, the evening was enchanting.

11/8/07, 11:23 PM  

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