A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “M” is for MAN OF LA MANCHA


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Man of La Mancha, the 1964 musical adapted from a non-musical teleplay (1959) Don Quixote, which was inspired by the 17th-century work Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, tells the story of knight Don Quixote, and is a play within a play, performed by Cervantes and his fellow prisoners as he awaits a hearing with the Spanish Inquisition. Joe Darion (lyrics), Mitch Leigh (music), and Dale Wasserman (book) conceived the 1964 musical. 

The show debuted on Broadway in 1965 and ran for 2,328 performances. It won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical has played in many other countries around the world, with productions in Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Irish, Japanese, Korean, Icelandic, Gujarati, Uzbek, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Serbian, Slovenian, Swahili, Finnish, Ukrainian and nine distinctly different dialects of the Spanish language.

Rex Harrison (of My Fair Lady fame) was to be the original star of Man of La Mancha, but the music was too demanding for him. Richard Kiley won a Tony Award for his performance as Cervantes/Quixote, and it is Kiley who sings “The Impossible Dream” here.

Bonus! In another musical by Stephen Sondheim, Merrily We Roll Along is based on a 1934 play by the same name. The show ran for only 16 performances but it was the starting point for a 20-year-old named Liz Callaway. Here’s Liz with her sister Ann Hampton Callaway, singing “Our Time.”

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “L” is for LES MISERABLES


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Les Misérables, also known as Les Mis, or Les Miz, is a musical based on the same-titled book by Victor Hugo (1862). It premiered in Paris in 1980, has run continuously in London since 1985, and first opened as a pre-Broadway tryout in December 1986, eventually premiering on Broadway in March 1987. After 6,680 performances, Les Misérables closed in May 2003.

The show is set in early 19th-century France, and tells the story of Jean Valjean, a peasant, who is sentenced to prison for stealing a loaf of bread in order to help feed his sister’s starving child. Valjean escapes and is relentlessly hunted by a police inspector, Javert. Valjean and others are swept up into the revolution, where a group of young idealists make their last stand.

Here is a clip from the 1987 Tony Awards program.

At the end of the day you’re another day older
And that’s all you can say for the life of the poor
It’s a struggle, it’s a war
And there’s nothing that anyone’s giving
One more day standing about, what is it for?
One day less to be living.

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “K” is for KISMET


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Kismet, set in Baghdad in the times of The Arabian Nights, is a musical with music and lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest and based on a 1911 play of the same name by Edward Knoblock. The story concerns a poet who talks his way out of trouble several times; meanwhile, his beautiful daughter meets and falls in love.

The musical was first produced on Broadway in 1953 and won the Tony Award for best musical in 1954. It ran for 583 performances. MGM released a film version in 1955.

Some of the more popular songs from Kismet included “Stranger in Paradise” and “Baubles, Bangles, and Beads.” Here, from a 1964 television program, Vic Damone and Judy Garland sing a medley of musical numbers from Kismet.

 

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “J” is for JERSEY BOYS


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Jersey Boys is a “jukebox musical” (defined as a musical that uses previously released popular songs as its score) that ran on Broadway from 2005 to 2017. Since its debut, it’s had two North American tours, productions in London, Las Vegas, Chicago, Toronto, Melbourne, Singapore, and South Africa. It won the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical.

The musical dramatized the formation, success, and break-up of The Four Seasons (also known as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons) in the 1960s and 1970s. The show features such memorable hits as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” and “My Eyes Adored You.”

Here is the official trailer for Jersey Boys

 

BONUS! This montage is dedicated to Peter, Jane, Kate, Joe, Danny, Wally, Peter, Judy, Lisa, Martina, John, Mary, Kassie, Carl. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s first musical to be performed publicly.

Joseph was first presented as a 15-minute pop cantata in London in 1968, and received stage productions after the success of Jesus Christ Superstar, but it didn’t open on Broadway until 1982 (two years after the famous Providence College production). 😉

 

 

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “I” is for INTO THE WOODS


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With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods that intertwines the plots of several fairy tales, including “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Rapunzel,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and “Cinderella.”

The musical premiered on Broadway in 1987, where it won several Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Musical for Joanna Gleason. A Disney film adaptation was released in 2014, starring Meryl Streep, Tracey Ullman, and Christine Baranski, among others.

Here is “It Takes Two” with Joanna Gleason and Chip Zien:

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “H” is for HAMILTON


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It really couldn’t be anything other than Hamilton. Eleven Tony Awards, come on! (The Producers holds the record with twelve). Hamilton won for Best Musical (and ten other awards), plus the 2016 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Its actual title is Hamilton: An American Musical. Lin-Manuel Miranda composed the music, lyrics, and book about the life of Alexander Hamilton, and his work was inspired by the 2004 book Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

Here’s a clip from the 2016 Tony Awards presentation:

(History has its eyes on you)

Sunday Bonus!


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As you know, there are no A to Z posts on Sunday. But I’m on a roll – and I do hope you’ve been enjoying the posts so far. Tomorrow, Monday, we’ll be back with ‘H,’ and yes, it’s a good one (although the ‘F’ post, with Jerry Orbach and Elaine Stritch, has to be my favorite). However, like a mother with her children, they’re all my favorites!

Today is a special day – not only is it Palm Sunday for Christians, it’s my husband’s birthday. And it’s one of those milestone birthdays. If you know me, you can probably figure it out. If you don’t know me well enough, the internet can probably tell you. So as a gift to my Jim today, and as a special gift to all of you, I offer a special presentation by BBC Proms – weren’t they so good last week with “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” from Hello, Dolly!? Here they are, celebrating Stephen Sondheim’s 80th birthday in 2010 with “Sunday” from Sunday in the Park with George. Such a beautiful song. Enjoy!

 

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “G” is for GODSPELL


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The Stephen Schwartz-composed musical Godspell opened off-Broadway in 1971 and has been playing in touring companies and revivals ever since, including a 2011 revival that played on Broadway for nearly a year. (This was such a big part of my teenage Catholic upbringing that I had to choose it for “G.”)

The musical is a series of parables, primarily based on the Gospel of Matthew. These parables, or allegories, are set to modern music. Godspell originally started as a college project performed by students at Carnegie Mellon University and eventually moved to a club in Greenwich Village.

Here is a montage of some of the performances, from the 2011 revival.

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “F” is for THE FANTASTICKS


“Without a hurt, the heart is hollow…”

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “E” is for EVITA


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Evita, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, is a musical based on the life of Eva Perón, the wife of Argentine president Juan Perón.

The musical had its first production in London in 1978 before premiering on Broadway a year later. Starring Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, and Bob Gunton, Evita captured the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1980.

Here is Patti Lupone singing “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” at the 1980 Grammy Awards.