Guilty Pleasure Thursday - "Our Favorite Son" from The Will Rogers Follies
In a season that boasted such arresting musicals as The Secret Garden, Miss Saigon, and Once on this Island, we saw the Tony Award for "Best Musical" go to the bouncy, chirpy, twangy, and, at times, insipid The Will Rogers Follies. The impact, innovation, and depth of the previous three titles are underscored by the more traditional, vaudeville-pastiche of The Will Rogers Follies.Not to worry, though, as there are pleasures to be had in this often predictable Cy Coleman-Betty Comden-Adolph Green score.
My guilty pleasure for this week was a highlight of The Will Rogers Follies. The titular character, who decides to throw his hat into the ring for a presidential run, sings this tongue-twisting patter song with a bevy of showgirls about the ins and outs of politics. Titled "Our Favorite Son," the number is silly fun, but also exemplifies Comden and Green doing what they did best: tongue-in-cheek, totally conscious of itself wit applied to the Micky and Judy "Let's put on a show" kind of razzmatazz. Overly eager, a bit too much in your face, but totally joyous in spite of its overbearing forcefulness, the lyric-writing duo always manage to make you feel like you are hanging out in a penthouse, surrounding a piano, and enjoying a party with Comden and Green (see what I did there?).
Truthfully, the musical WAS cleverly staged by Tommy Tune and it WAS chock full of spirited, inventive choreography. It was also the happiest of the four musicals nominated for "Best Musical" in 1992, which may have given it an edge with family audiences. I think many theatre enthusiast would take issue with it winning "Best Score" over the other three titles. which. by all criteria are far superior. Still, there is something infectiously exuberant and charmingly sly about The Will Rogers Follies, particularly the dressing down of politics in "Our Favorite Son" that make it an excellent case as a "Guilty Pleasure." "Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!"