04 October 2007
The Party's Over
Over the months, you have all become aware how much I love musical theater. Recently, I wrote about the revival of A Chorus Line. Unfortunately, there are musicals that it would be almost impossible to bring back without major changes unless it is darn fast simply because the audience wouldn't understand the premise of the story.
How long has it been since you have seen a phone answering service advertised? For the younger readers, in this age of cell phones and voice mail, do you even know exactly what they are/were or how one works? We are not so far removed that younger readers might not have seen the 1960 movie version on one of their parent's DVD's, but the last professional production of Bells Are Ringing was a less than successful broadway revival in 2001. At the time of it's original 1956 production, it was a collaboration of Broadway legends: Jule Styne, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Jerome Robbins, and Bob Fosse, and starred the brilliant, luminous and lost too soon, Judy Holliday. Now I have a real soft spot for this musical since my first job out of high school while going to college was as a telephone operator.
If an answering service weren't enough, there is a subplot about police pursuing illegal bookies. Now "Off Track betting" may still be illegal in some states, but your access is fairly simple via your home computer, but the comic lyrics of "A Simple Little System" sung the bookies mentions some race tracks that no longer exist. What makes this dating of material unfortunate is that songs get lost. A few of the songs from Bells Are Ringing have become standards and will show up when good singers are looking for material such as the duet below with Tony Bennett and Michael Buble singing Just In Time, but can you hum "Long Before I Knew You" or "The Party's Over"?
Do you have a favorite musical that you would like to see brought back in revival? Are there ones that you think would require major rewrites or have production problems because their premise is so dated?