All in Theatre Time Machine
With Sweet Charity returning to the New York Stage this fall in a production starring Tony-winner Sutton Foster, this week I will explore the history and makeup of this imperfect musical that somehow manages to delight theatre folk, particularly dancers. What is it about this dated, meandering musical that continues to intrigue directors, choreographers and performers enough to keep returning to it
The prospect of musical version of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn had to have been, at one point, ridiculous to imagine. Thinking about it, one might have expected lessons in history and literature, high school tedium brought to life onstage. Also, a story that is largely locked to a space the size of a raft isn’t exactly going to lend itself to the song and dance treatment. Indeed, when such a musical arrived on Broadway in 1985, people balked at the idea and critics weren't exactly enthusiastic. Interestingly enough, Big River turned out to be the hit of the season, running 1,005 performances and winning the Tony Award for Best Musical
One of the most-popular musicals of the 1950s and one that was subsequently performed by almost every high school and community theatre, and that featured a popular Richard Adler and Jerry Ross score, is The Pajama Game. The story of labor at a Midwestern pajama factory on the verge of union strike (in an effort to get a 7 ½ cent raise) spoke to the average working American. Complicating matters, of course, is a romance that breaks out between the factory’s new superintendent and the head of union grievance committee. In the end, everyone gets what they want.
Country music and Broadway rarely make a successful mix. The fans of Broadway musicals don't typically gravitate to the styles of country, turned off by its twang. There have, however, been successful Broadway musicals that incorporate country music in their scores, none more so than The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. With a score by Carol Hall, a book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson, ingenious direction by Masterson and Tommy Tune, and unforgettable choreography by Tune and Thommie Walsh, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was the surprise hit of 1978