Now I have painted myself into a corner since it will be very difficult to choose just one Broadway musical out of the many I dearly love. And, like any other beloved list, I could choose several musicals just for one very important memory, song, or production.
For example, I could say that Carousel was my favorite musical because it was the first one I ever heard. I was visiting my older sister in Rhode Island when I was five-years-old, and she had a phonograph record of the film cast, including Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae. Shirley Jones, for you younger sprouts, was the mom on the Partridge Family. MacRae was also in the film version of Oklahoma! (The exclamation point is part of the title, just so you know.)
But can I really have as my favorite musical a story of a wife-abuser who commits suicide in Act II? I think not.
So what about A Chorus Line with its beautiful music and dancing the likes of which had not been seen on Broadway for a long time. Michael Bennett, choreographer, designed a musical with no scenery, no costume changes, and no intermission, that brought Broadway back to life. Shubert Organization Chairman Gerald Schoenfeld said it totally changed the musical theater.
“It was a catalyst for the improvement of this area, and of course this area is now the most desirable area in New York.”
But I can’t make myself pick A Chorus Line for my best musical in the world, even though it gave the all of us this beautiful song, written by Marvin Hamlisch:
So, my favorite musical in the world is, drum roll, please, The Fantasticks. Most already know that this was a small off-Broadway show, that never made it to the Great White Way. The New Yorker, in its monthly rundown of shows playing at the time, along with how the editors felt about them, finally got to the point. After about 15-years of explaining The Fantasticks, they just went with a simple phrase that was something like this “…all that whimsy.”
In the end it had a 42 year run, making it the world’s longest-running musical. But it’s not “Try to Remember” that makes this show the best in my book, nor is it the musical’s obvious connection to audiences. It was performed in the round, so connecting was easy. No, it was this song, written by Tom Jones (not that Tom Jones) and Harvey Schmidt, as was the entire score:
And although the movie, directed by Michael Ritchie, was a flop, this song, sung by Jean Louisa Kelly and Joey McIntyre in the film, is really beautifully done and worth a watch.
Hope you enjoy the music!