All tagged Sheldon Harnick
The Broadway composing team of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick were behind some of Broadway’s most beloved musical scores, having crafted the character-driven showtunes for musicals such as The Apple Tree, She Loves Me, and the most well-known of their masterpieces, Fiddler on the Roof. Even when one of their shows had trouble catching on with audiences and the critics, the score was always a first-rate example of their craftmanship and their ability to capture humanity with melody and whimsical wordplay. This was the case with the 1960 Tenderloin, the follow-up to their Pulitzer Prize-winning Fiorello!, with which the musical is often compared due to many similarities in theme and style.
It’s been a big year for the composing team of Bock and Harnick, with Broadway revivals of their two beloved pieces Fiddler on the Roof and She Loves Me. The success of both of these revivals speaks to the durability of their work and to their place in the pantheon of musical theatre greats. At one point in time, there was a third Bock and Harnick musical that was as revered as the aforementioned titles, but that has faded somewhat into obscurity today. Fiorello!, which opened on Broadway in 1959, was a big hit, financially and critically. The story of the former NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia played to an audience who had memories of the reform politician who took on Tammany Hall in the early part of the 20th Century.
Lately, I have been bemoaning the absence of pure joy in musical theatre. In fact, it seems that most Broadway musicals have to be emotionally eviscerating or screaming, over-microphoned, power belting diva battles to succeed. If comedy is attempted, musical theatre has to be salacious, mean-spirited or vulgar. Sometimes it is nice to go to the theatre and just get absorbed in a delightful plot, a comedy of errors with characters who make you smile and songs that stick in your brain because they actually have a melody. Is it any wonder, then, that I find myself in a state of euphoria over The Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of the 1963 Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick, and Joe Masteroff musical She Loves Me.
She Loves Me is one of those musicals that has a special little following in the musical theatre community, beloved for its intimate structure, its lush and lovely Bock & Harnick score, and for its gentle little romantic/comedy of errors plot. It is considered a coup-de-theatre-going to see a production of this under-produced gem. Laura Benanti is one of those musical theatre stars who inspires her own special following thanks to her ability to transform herself so thoroughly and thoughtfully with each role she plays. She also has an audacious sense of humor, a sparkling wit, a touch of irreverence, and a most affecting singing voice. Her ability to balance humor with heart makes her the perfect choice to play the lovesick shop clerk Amalia Balash in She Loves Me. Fortunately, Roundabout Theatre had that same thought and cast Ms. Benanti (in the role that she was born to play) in their forthcoming revival that is now in previews at Studio 54.