All tagged Bob Merrill

Broadway Blip: The Prince of Grand Street

The final installment in my series on composer-lyricist Bob Merrill is about his short-lived musical The Prince of Grand Street. Despite having many delightful moments, it was a musical that suffered from many issues despite a solid premise that, if executed differently, may have enjoyed a better reception. Instead, it was plagued with challenges, including the wrong star playing the lead, and the show shuttered out-of-town, never opening on Broadway.

Broadway Blip: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Probably the Bob Merrill musical that was most eagerly anticipated and ultimately the biggest letdown was Breakfast at Tiffany's. Based on the popular Truman Capote novel and the hit Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film of the same name, it was an idea that was arguably doomed from start. Beloved films do not necessarily translate easily to stage, and the incandescent and indelible performance of Audrey Hepburn as the troubled Holly Golightly was hard one to erase from people’s minds and no actress could be expected to recreate in that shadow. Television and film actress Mary Tyler Moore was the unfortunate heir to this role. A talented actress in her own right who would go on to create her own brand of luminescence on the TV shows The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, she certainly had the chops and that something extra to shine, if it had not been for her predecessor’s iconic turn in the role. 

Broadway Blip: The Red Shoes

Bob Merrill’s final foray into the world of the Broadway musical was for the ill-fated stage adaptation of the classic film The Red Shoes. Jule Styne was working on the project with book writer and lyricist Marsha Norman who had scored quite the artistic success a year earlier with The Secret Garden. When Styne found himself in need of some additional and revised lyrics for the project, he reached out to his old collaborator (and show doctor) Bob Merrill and brought him in to help salvage The Red Shoes. He agreed to do so under the pseudonym Paul Stryker.

Broadway Blip: Sugar

The 1959 Billy Wilder film Some Like it Hot is regarded by many to be one of the greatest film comedies of all time. Certainly the ingredients were in place for that to be so: a hilarious, comedy of errors screenplay, Wilder’s always spot-on, direction with carefully chosen tempoes, and a cast that featured Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis. There was also a lot of cross-dressing and that, coupled with the film’s final moment, made Some Like It Hot about as risqué and saucy as a film could be in 1959 and still get away with it. The idea of turning Some Like It Hot into a musical, on paper, certainly makes sense. You have larger-than-life characters who play in a band, an exotic locale (a Floridian resort hotel), and a situation that is guaranteed to make audiences laugh. It makes sense that Bob Merrill would come together with Jule Styne, as well as librettist Peter Stone, to try to make this property sing for the musical stage.