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Authors: Tom Shea

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Broadway's Most Wanted

Broadway’s Most Wanted

Selected Titles in Brassey’s
Most Wanted
Series

Hollywood’s Most Wanted
by Floyd Conner
Rock and Roll’s Most Wanted
by Stuart Shea
Country Music’s Most Wanted
by Francesca Peppiatt
TV’s Most Wanted
by Douglas Tonks

Forthcoming in 2004

The 1950s’ Most Wanted
by Rob Rodriguez
The 1960s’ Most Wanted
by Stuart Shea
Business’s Most Wanted
by Jim Romeo
Chicago’s Most Wanted
by Laura Enright
Dogs’ Most Wanted
by Alexandra Allred
The World Series’ Most Wanted
by John Snyder

Broadway’s Most Wanted

The Top 10 Book of Dynamic Divas, Surefire Showstoppers, and Box Office Busts

Tom Shea

Copyright © 2004 by Potomac Books, Inc.

Published in the United States by Potomac Books, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Shea, Tom, 1966–

Broadway’s most wanted: the top 10 book of dynamic divas, surefire showstoppers, and box office busts / Tom Shea.—1st ed.

    p. cm.

Includes index.

ISBN             978-1 -57488-596-5 (paperback)

1. Musicals—History and criticism. 2. Musical theater—History and criticism. I. Title. ML2054.S44 2004

782.1’4—dc22                          2003028039

Printed in Canada on acid-free paper that meets the American National Standards Institute Z39-48 Standard.

Potomac Books, Inc.

22841 Quicksilver Drive
Dulles, Virginia 20166

First Edition

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface

Introduction

I’m the Greatest Individual

10 Notable Tony Winners

With Their Awful Clothes and Their Rock-and-Roll

10 Musicals Written by Famous Rock Artists

I Can’t Do the Sum

10 Numerical Broadway Musicals

Next Stop, Neverland

10 Musicals Set in Imaginary Locations

I Think It’s Funny

10 Musicals Based on the Comics

Show Me

Behind the Scenes

It’s a Hell of a Town

10 Fun City Musicals

We Shout, “Look Out, Yale!”

10 Musicals about Sports

Again, from the Top

10 Prominent “Revisais”

Duelling Musicals!

Musicals that Share the Same Source Material

The Wages of Sin

TV Shows Featuring Broadway Stars

Fill the World with Ships and Shoes

10 Musicals about Big Business

That Was a Flop?

10 Misleadingly Great Broadway Cast Albums

Cinema Theatricalo

Movies about the Creation of Musical Theater

Food, Glorious Food!

10 Broadway Musicals You Could Eat

Cold and Dead

10 Musicals About Killers

Every Movie’s a Circus

10 Legendary Broadway Performers Who Lost Their Roles in the Movie Version

I Think I Can Play This Part

10 Broadway Performers Who Did the Movie Version

All Hail the Political Honeymoon

10 Musicals about Politics and Politicians

Don’t Fence Me In

10 Rootin’ Tootin’ Western Musicals

Bring the House Down

Pop Stars Who Crossed Over to Broadway

Come Back to Me

10 Hollywood Stars Who Crossed Over to Broadway

It’s a Hit, It’s a Palpable Hit

Hit Songs You Never Knew Came from Musicals

I Love a Film Cliché

Movie Musicals that Made It to the Stage

We Sail the Seas

10 Musicals Set on the Water

I’m a Bad, Bad Man

10 Great Musical Villains

Blow, Gabriel, Blow

Depictions of Faith in Broadway Musicals

It’s Better with a Bard

10 Musicals Based on Shakespeare

You’re Responsible! You’re the One to Blame! It’s Your Fault!

10 Musicals to Scratch Your Head Over

Wig in a Box

10 Musicals Featuring Characters in Drag

Bigger Isn’t Better

10 “Small” Shows

It’s an Art

10 Musicals about Other Art Forms

Children Will Listen

Parents and Children in the Musical Theater

Keep it Gay

10 Musicals With, Um, Happy Bachelor Characters

Where Did We Go Right?

10 Surprise Hit Musicals

Am I My Resumé?

Musical Actors Who Write

I Saw Stars

Recent TV Shows With Tony Winners and Nominees

All We’ll Do Is Just Dance

10 Dance Musicals

Hard to Be a Diva

10 Outrageous Offstage Moments

All Things Bright and Beautiful

10 Musicals about the Animal Kingdom

Let’s Do It

10 Musicals About S-E-X

Oh, I Say!

10 Broadway Musicals Whose Titles Are Complete Sentences

Monorail!

10 Musical Theater Spoofs

Historical News Is Being Made

10 Innovative Musicals

Sunrise, Sunset

10 of New York’s Longest-Running Musicals

Index

About the Author

Illustrations

Playbill for
The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Playbill for
Into the Woods

Playbill for
Too Many Girls

Backstage at
The Pirates of Penzance

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

Harry Connick, Jr.

Playbill for
City of Angels

Lara Teeter and Christine Andreas,
On Your Toes

Cast of
Honk!

Playbill for
Company

Preface

This is my first book, and trust me, it’s no day at the beach writing one, even when it’s a subject as close to the heart as musicals are to my heart. (For the record, I do live near the beach, but sand gets in your computer, so I don’t recommend writing there.) No one who creates does so alone, and there are many people I have to acknowledge for their direct and indirect assistance in the creation of
Broadway’s Most Wanted.

First of all, my editor, Don Jacobs, at Brassey’s. Thanks for the opportunity and all your help. Don McKeon at Brassey’s was also of great help to me. My brother, Stuart Shea, was my road grader and not only gave me the idea for writing this book; his assistance in its assembly has been invaluable and much appreciated. I urge you all to pick up his book in this series,
Rock and Roll’s Most Wanted.
Thanks, Stu. You’ll never know what it’s meant. My friends and colleagues Lara Teeter, Neda Spears, Francesca Peppiatt, Meghan Falica, Emir Yonzon, and Diane van Lente provided materials invaluable to the production of this book as well, and for that, they have my best thanks.

Personally, I would like to acknowledge the talented tap dance team of Mandelbaum, Mordden, Filichia, Gottfried, Green, Guernsey, and Suskin for their inspiration. The folks at Chicago’s Navy Pier, Light Opera Works in Evanston, Illinois, and the folks at Porchlight Music Theater, Bailiwick Repertory, and City Lit Theater in Chicago kept me sane (and working) during the writing of this book. If you live in or around Chicago, see something at each of these theaters right now. To my friends Jeanne Arrigo, Gretchen Wilhelm, Michael Kotze, David Hoth, Rebecka Reeve, Julie Boesch, Shaun O’Keefe, Henry Odum, Kara Chandler, James Pelton, Don Shell, Page Hearn, Doug MacKechnie, David Breslow, Denise McGowan, Mary Lou Doherty, George Light, and Cecilia Garibay, my love and thanks. To my sweet Macheath, who couldn’t be less like his namesake, I love you. To Richard P. Hoffman, Michael and Candace Pufall, Sandi Phillips, Sandra Franck, Philip Kraus, and Hub Owen, for auld lang syne. To absent friends, I can only send you my love and everlasting thoughts. My family has always been behind me, Stu, Ceci, John, and especially Mom and Dad.
Saecula Saeculorum.

Finally, to those who make the musical theater, the writers, actors, choreographers, scenic artists, tech folk, stage managers, producers, and audiences: You make my world better with your efforts, and this book is for you.

I only hope it’s worthy.

Introduction

I guess it was Gilbert and Sullivan that started it all. My parents both appreciated the genius of the English duo, whose deceptively lighthearted comic operas set the tone for everything that was to follow in the musical theater. That appreciation rubbed off on my brothers and me very, very early, and soon enough, cast albums of
West Side Story, Oklahoma!,
and even
Sweeney Todd
came home from the library. Pretty soon, my whole family was indulging the habit, buying not only
Finian’s Rainbow,
but
Greenwillow, Candide,
and
Follies in Concert
as well. I was hooked.

Okay, if any or all of the above makes no sense to you, Toothsome Reader, fret not. It’s just my way of saying I love the musical theater and have for a long time. It’s a unique art form, which, like all great art forms, has evolved (some would say devolved, given the current state of the art) over time, changing as the times have demanded.

Broadway’s Most Wanted
is a book to honor the creators, performers, and audiences who have made
the musical theater what it is today: the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly. When a show is a hit, the world is a wonderful place. But most show freaks will tell you that a bomb of a show, and I mean a real turkey, is as precious and enjoyable, in its own perverse way, as a hit. So you’ll find lists of The Bad and The Ugly as well as lists of The Good. It’s all so much fun, anyway.

Let’s get this out of the way right off: Broadway. For the purposes of this book, we use the term “Broadway” loosely, and not literally (i.e., the legitimate New York playhouses located between the low Forties and low Sixties on Manhattan Island in New York City). Think of it as the catchall to define all of musical theater. Broadway is obviously much more than musicals, and vice versa, but there you go. To limit the scope of this book to only those shows that have played Broadway would be to exclude, which is something as a writer (and, indeed, as a performer) I can’t abide. So you’ll find references to off-Broadway (like the all-time long-running champ,
The Fantasticks)
, regional theaters across the country (like
Casper, the Musical
and
Sylvia’s Real Good Advice),
and musicals from abroad (like
Chess
and
The Beautiful Game).

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