A to Z

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “Z” is for ZORBA


 

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Zorba is a musical adapted from the 1952 novel Zorba the Greek (Nikos Kazantzakis). The subsequent film in 1964 was also titled Zorba the Greek, but the Broadway musical was simply called Zorba. It focuses on the friendship that evolves between Zorba and Nikos, a young American who has inherited an abandoned mine on the isle of Crete, and their romantic relationships with a local widow and a French woman, respectively.

The musical premiered on Broadway in 1968, directed by Harold Prince. The original production ran for 305 performances, but a 1983 Broadway revival ran for 362 performances with a cast starring Anthony Quinn.

While there were no clips available for the Broadway show, this is from the film Zorba the Greek, with Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates in the roles of Zorba and Nikos.

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “Y” is for YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN


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Young Frankenstein, officially known as The New Mel Brooks Musical: Young Frankenstein, is based on the 1974 film of the same name (written by Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder). It’s a parody of the horror film genre, especially the 1931 movie Frankenstein and its 1939 sequel, Son of Frankenstein.

The musical opened on Broadway in November 2007 and closed in January 2009 after 484 performances. The show featured Brian D’Arcy James, Sutton Foster, Megan Mullally, and Kristin Chenoweth (I know, she’s everywhere!).

Here is a clip from the Letterman Show, “Roll in the Hay”

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “X” is for XANADU


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Yes, there was only one “X.”

Xanadu is a musical based on the 1980 film of the same name. According to sources, the 1980 films was inspired by the 1947 Rita Hayworth film Down to Earth, which was a sequel to a 1941 movie titled Here Comes Mr. Jordan, which was an adaptation of the play Heaven Can Wait. (Do you follow?)

The show is set in 1980, in Venice Beach. Sonny Malone, a chalk artist, decides to open a roller disco. A Greek Muse (Clio, who changes her name to Kira), falls in love with Sonny. The musical opened on Broadway in July 2007 and ran for over 500 performances. The production included a considerable amount of roller-skating (there were injuries to cast members).

Here’s a clip from Xanadu:

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “W” is for WICKED


 

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Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz is a musical (music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz), based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire titled Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, an alternative telling of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of Oz, and tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (the Good Witch), who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard’s corrupt government and, ultimately, Elphaba’s public fall from grace. (source: Wikipedia)

The original production of Wicked premiered on Broadway in October 2003, starring Idina Menzel (Elphaba), Kristin Chenoweth (Glinda), and Joel Grey (the Wizard). The original Broadway production won three Tony Awards (including Menzel’s Best Actress award).

As of this writing (February 2017), Wicked is the 9th-longest running Broadway musical, and to date has had 5,552 performances. 

Here is a clip from the Tony Awards show, featuring Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth (introduced by Joel Grey):

 

BONUS!

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “V” is for VICTOR/ VICTORIA


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The musical that opened on Broadway in 1995 followed the film of the same name that was released 13 years earlier. And that was a remake of the German film comedy Viktor und Viktoria shot by Reinhold Schuenzel in 1933. The story is that of a penniless soprano, named Victoria, who disguises herself as a man named Victor, who plays a female impersonator named Victoria. Got that?!

The musical was not without controversy. Its star, Julie Andrews, received the only Tony Award nomination for the entire production, and she rejected the honor, stating, “I have searched my conscience and my heart and find that I cannot accept this nomination.” She was upset that the show hadn’t received any other nominations, and she declined to perform at the Tony Awards ceremony that year.

As the quality of performances in the Broadway show weren’t good enough, here is a clip from the movie version of Victor/Victoria:

 

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “U” is for THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN


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This 1960 musical, with music and lyrics by Meredith Willson (yes, of Music Man fame), was a fictionalized account of the life of Margaret (“Molly”) Brown, who survived the sinking of the Titanic. The original Broadway production opened in 1960 and ran for 532 performances. The opening cast included Tammy Grimes, who won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical. (Debbie Reynolds took on the role in the 1964 film version.)

Although the quality is not great, this is a clip, featured on The Ed Sullivan Show, of Tammy Grimes and Prince DeLong singing “Dolce Far Niente” (How Sweet to Do Nothing)

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “T” is for THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG


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They’re Playing Our Song is a 1979 musical with book by Neil Simon, lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, and music by Marvin Hamlisch.

Based on the real-life relationship of Hamlisch and Sager, the show portrays a wisecracking composer teamed up with a new, offbeat lyricist. The match isn’t a good one at first, but after the two overcome a number of hurdles they find true love by the final curtain.

They’re Playing Our Song opened on Broadway on February 11, 1979 where it ran for 1,082 performances. It starred Robert Klein and Lucie Arnaz (in her Broadway debut). It received four Tony Award nominations.

Here are Robert Klein and Lucie Arnaz performing at the 1979 Tony Awards (with an introduction by Henry Fonda!):

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “R” is for RENT


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Rent is what is known as a rock musical (think Hair or Grease). The music, lyrics, and book are all from Jonathan Larson, and Rent is loosely based on Puccini’s opera La Bohème (which is also about the lives of poor young artists).

Rent tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City’s East Village under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.

The musical, which began off-Broadway in 1993, won a Pulitzer Prize and moved to Broadway on April 29, 1996. It won the 1996 Tony Award for Best Musical, among other awards. The production closed on September 7, 1008 after a 12-year run and 5,123 performances. In 2005, it was adapted into a motion picture and featured many of the original cast members.

Here, one last time, is “Seasons of Love” from Rent:

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “Q” is for QUILTERS


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“Q” is always a challenge (as are X and Z, but I don’t choose a theme unless I know I can fill each letter!)

Quilters opened on Broadway on September 25, 1984 and closed on October 14, 1984 after  just 24 performances. Despite an unfavorable review from Frank Rich in the New York Times and its own very short run, the musical was nominated for six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Quilters has been performed by numerous college and community theater groups across the United States.

Here, Core Theatrics presents Quilters:

A to Z Musicals ~ ♬ “P” is for PIPPIN


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Directed and choreographed by the legendary Bob Fosse, Pippin premiered at the Imperial Theater on October 23, 1972 and ran for 1,944 performances before it closed on June 12, 1977. The original cast included John Rubenstein (Pippin), Ben Vereen (Leading Player), Jill Clayburgh (Catherine), and the inimitable Irene Ryan (yes, Granny Clampett) as Berthe (Ryan suffered a stroke in March 1973 and died six weeks later).

Pippin tells the story of a young prince on his search for meaning in and significance of life.

 

As much as I’d like to upload the entire show here, I was able to find a decent-quality clip of the opening number, “Magic to Do,” from the original production. Enjoy!