Happy 50th Anniversary to WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN?

Mr. Nowack
Broadway Star
joined:2/2/14

50 years ago this Thursday the show opened on Broadway, running 540 performances.

Would anyone who saw the original production or the revival like to share their experiences? I love the cast album to death, but have never seen it myself.

I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
Updated On: 2/26/14 at 10:11 PM
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Saw it but just returned from Rocky. Will post more tomorrow.
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
daredevil
Stand-by
joined:8/17/05
Sammy had a lot of trouble on its out of town tryout---I think Abe Burroughs finally took over as director and straightened a lot of things out. I saw it two and a half (a second act) times---not a great musical but with some strong moments---Steve Laurence, Sally Ann Howes. Robert Alda and Berniece Massey in the leads were very strong, as was the ensemble of featured players. Did not shy away or sugar coat the ruthless ambition of the title character; I think the many if the songs (certainly the final one. some days everything goes wrong) illustrate Sammy's hunger for success. That song had the first stanza staged
with Sammy by himself, then he goes to his bedroom and discovers his new wife in bed with a stranger---then continues the song by himself. The musical followed Schulberg's book very closely, and there had been a non-musical television version (Larry Blyden played Sammy) a few years before. I think it represents the thinking of the era (post West Side Story though the middle sixties) that one could make a musical about a nasty character and that exposing him was valid. I Can Get it for You Wholesale, which opened two years before, was also about a cutthroat, ambitious Jew who was determined to make it to the top no matter who he destroyed. Such were the times---the assumption that musicals on these issues could attract an audience. The quality of Sammy is definitely as good as many of the musicals that are done at Encores or the smaller concert revival companies.
Why it isn't---maybe the rights are not available, maybe the artistic directors of these companies feel the subject matter would alienate its audience, I don't know. Drake's music is not great, but solid in its own way.
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
It was enjoyable and I actually got to see Lawrence in the part.

Due to time restrictions for cast albums than, 2 numbers not recorded "Paint A Rainbow" & "Monsoon". I like the score better than the last poster. This would be good on encores.

It was a musical typical of the period. This theater house Lawrence's first (Sammy) and last (Golden Rainbow)shows. The theater was demolished a few shows after that.
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
WOSQ
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/03
As alluded to, there were serious tryout troubles with Sammy. I think Arthur Storch started out as director but Burrows was called in during the Philly stand. The opening date was reset about 4 times and it opened 3 weeks later than originally announced.

The reviews were downbeat except for Steve Lawrence who got stellar notices and the show's one Tony nod. Bert Lahr won that year for a 10 week flop called Foxy, but Lawrence was recognized as a box office draw who kept Sammy going for 15 months even though it did close at a loss.

I don't think there was any kind of a tour, and the only stock production I know of was in Lambertville and starred Julius La Rosa.

In a small featured role making her debut was a Latin dancer named Graciela Danielle who went on to be, well, Graciela Danielle.
"If my life weren't funny, it would just be true. And that would be unacceptable." --Carrie Fisher
JayG 2
Understudy
joined:12/19/12
Mr. Roxy,nI believe Golden Rainbow played the Shubert for its entire run. Sammy was at the 54th Street Theater.
Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Nope it moved from the Shubert to the 54 th street near the end of its run. Just checked Wikipedia. It ended @ the Shubert 11/17/68 & resumed at the George Abbott(prev 54 th st) 11/19/68 where it resumed until the run ended 1/11/69
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
Updated On: 2/28/14 at 02:07 AM
jayinchelsea
Broadway Star
joined:4/9/09
Saw the original twice (some high school friends, new to theatre, wanted to go, so I thought this was a safe bet, and it had discount tickets by then, long before the days of "tkts"). Steve Lawrence was the main reason the show ran as long as it did, and he was very committed, regardless of all the backstage chatter I've since read, and very effective. Sally Ann sang beautifully in an underwritten part, and Bernice Massi absolutely sizzled as the evil gf (not at interesting as Sally Ann's replacement, but she sang well, her original role much more interesting). The songs? Middle grade 60s musical, and I never did replace my old vinyl copy with the CD, knew I would not be listening to it very much. A B+ show.
Demitri2
Broadway Star
joined:3/25/05
Be aware there are two releases of the score if you ever decide to purchase the CD. The first release was put out on Steve Lawrence's own GL Music label. Apparently he only had access to the monaural tapes however no where on the CD does it state it is in monaural. Fortunately in 2010 it was finally released in full stereo sound on the ArkivMusic label and is still available. It has a white border all around the original LP cover art work.

And thank you Mr. Nowack for starting this thread. And also to daredevil for explaining the staging of "Some Days Everything Goes Wrong". After years of listening to the score it's really great to hear details like this.
WOSQ
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/03
Bernice Massi wanted out of her contract because Bob Fosse and Frank Loesser wanted her for the lead in their new musical. The Sammy producers would not let Massi out of her contract, but as a consolation prize they moved her from her featured role to the female lead when Sally Ann Howes left the show.

The Fosse-Loesser show, Pleasures and Places, died in Detroit and Massi had another season's work.
"If my life weren't funny, it would just be true. And that would be unacceptable." --Carrie Fisher
Scarywarhol
Broadway Legend
joined:10/1/04
I found the LP in terrific shape at a junk shop a few years ago but have never given it a spin. Maybe I'll take this opportunity...
kooky
Broadway Legend
joined:7/12/05
I did see it with Steve and remember the little theatre on 54th street right off 7th ave. . also fell in love with the song "A ROOM WITHOUT WINDOWS" ..
daredevil
Stand-by
joined:8/17/05
another interesting moment in the staging: Sammy's opening song is "I've Got a New Pair of Shoes" which expresses his delight at buying his own shoes, not hand me downs from his older brother. It's in the very beginning of the musical, and he is a copy boy, who has just made a $5.00 tip for being quick. Fast forward to early in Act II, Sammy is an incredibly successful and vicious Hollywood producer. He is visited by his brother in his lavish apartment. The brother begs him some money for the family---the family that Sammy has walked away from. In the middle of the conversation, Sammy opens a floor to ceiling closet. In it are only one thing: about 100 pairs of shoes in all colors.

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