BWW Exclusive: Lost Broadway Treasures - COME SUMMER
What exactly is a flop? Technically, a flop refers to a show that doesn't recoup its initial investment before it is forced to close. However, many people define flops differently, and in the Broadway community a lot of fantastic shows are sadly labeled "flops" due to circumstances beyond their control that forced early closures. Unlike a movie or television flop (which are forever preserved by nature of their medium) when a Broadway show "flops" it often happens so quietly that the average theatre goer will probably never even know it existed. This is a real shame, because many times it means that fantastic books and scores never get the chance to be experienced by an audience any wider than the few who attended the show before it closed.
Toronto based Actor Michael Lazarovitch is excited to be cast in a project that is attempting to resurrect and preserve Broadway flops so that they have a chance to be experienced by a wider audience. He just finished work as the lead role of Eddie on the new studio Broadway Cast Recording of COME SUMMER, a production which originally opened on Broadway on March 18th, 1969 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and closed after only seven performances. The production was directed by legendary director Agnes De Mille and featured Broadway veterans Ray Bolger, David Cryer and Barbara Sharma (among others). The show was plagued with problems and was De Mille's final Broadway production, but the score was never considered to be one of the reasons the show wasn't a success.
The new studio Broadway Cast Recording is being produced by Los Angeles based theatre-veteran Robert McGarity Both Robert and Michael took some time to talk to BWW about this unique new endeavour:
Could you tell us a bit about COME SUMMER and what you are trying to accomplish with these recordings?
In the early 1990's I started a label for the express purpose of recording Broadway musical failures from the 1950s and 1960s. Musicals can fail for a lot of reasons, but frequently their early demise results in taking down a score that deserves to be heard. My label's first project was HER FIRST ROMAN which reunited Richard Kiley and Leslie Uggums to preserve their Broadway performances in Ervin Drake's wonderful score.
The second big project for the label was Will Holt and David Baker's score to COME SUMMER This was Ray Bolger's last Broadway musical and the score was definitely not one of the many things that plagued the show on its journey to Broadway. So we wanted a chance to preserve the score and let a new generation hear the beautiful music.
Other projects sprung up which put it on the back burner, and then in 2009 I resurrected the COME SUMMER New Studio Broadway Cast recording. It is a piece of Broadway history that needs to be finished. We had already recorded Award Winning broadway veterans David Cryer and Barbara Sharma from the original cast and it didn't seem right to just let those performances disappear. So we got back into the studio and now the recording is well on its way to completion.
Could you tell us about how Michael became involved?
One of the great things about preserving Broadway failures is the chance to find performers that can take on the roles of performers who are no longer available to record. There is a lead role in COME SUMMER for a young boy, Eddie, who should be between 9 and 12 years old. The character is involved in most of the songs sung by the main characters, so I needed to find someone who would understand the journey of this character, but could also hold their own against the main participants.
I was looking for someone young, but not 9 to 12 years old, who would be able to portray Eddie's youth and bring a professional performance to the table. Michael Lazarovitch was the perfect casting for this part. He was able to bring an eager youthfulness to the early songs in the score and also able to convey Eddie's transformation to young adult by the end of the show.
What was it like getting to be a part of something where you are singing with Broadway legends?
When I heard about the show and was offered the part, I was so excited to get to sing alongside Broadway veterans David Cryer and Barbara Sharma! These were people who I had been listening to on cast recordings growing up! You don't often get an amazing and unique opportunity like that.
What is your favourite part about COME SUMMER?
Eddie gets really fantastic things to say in this show - he gets to be the young optimist and it's a truly fascinating experience playing a character meant to be so young. It is fun to be the character who gets to stop the show and ask a question about the definition of a word, or clarify a life lesson. Also, I get to end the show with a beautiful and haunting melody that is heard throughout the piece. Let me just say, if anyone tells you that they haven't dreamed about being the person who gets to sing the last line of a show - they are lying to you!
Who do you think this show will appeal to?
COME SUMMER is one of those shows that is so musically interesting that it is something you can listen to over and over again, and switch your focus to different parts and sections. It really is like finding a hidden gem. The show was doomed during its initial run because of so many different factors, but the music and the book were not part of why this show was unable to become a classic. The new studio Broadway Cast Recording will serve as a way to get the music and the story out to the general public, almost like a second chance for people to hear and realize just how much this show has to offer.
Unlike plays, films and literature, musical theatre can have a tendency to disappear. In so many cases the score and the script aren't even published, and even when they are, most of us won't just sit down and read a score and be able to really "hear" it in our heads the way it is meant to be heard. A recording like this means that this brilliant piece of musical theatre gets to be preserved in history, and hopefully it will find its way to people who loved the show initially and also to a whole new audience. It has great performances to bring to life, and I'm so pleased to be a part of such a fantastic project.