Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Page: 1

2009-2010 Musical Revivals

bwayphreak234 Profile Photobwayphreak234 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#1
Posted: 9/8/20 at 7:00am

I was looking back at some old Tony categories, and one that caught my eye due to it seeming to be an embarrassment of riches was the 2009-2019 Best Revival of a Musical category. There were 6 musical revivals that season (** indicates the Tony nominated revivals)...

Bye, Bye Birdie

**Finian's Rainbow

**La Cage Aux Folles

**A Little Night Music

Promises, Promises


La Cage Aux Folles ended up taking home the grand prize that season. Out of these 6 productions, I only saw the La Cage Aux Folles revival on tour. I am very curious to hear the thoughts on these productions from those who saw them. Which revival was your favorite, and why? Do you think La Cage Aux Folles should have won?

"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
qolbinau Profile Photoqolbinau Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#2
Posted: 9/8/20 at 7:27am
I miss A Little Night Music dearly, which I saw with both casts. I’m sure there are a lot of threads back then but:

* The excitement of having CZJ and Lansbury was amazing. Lansbury was so funny and I thought CZJ was also very good with a warm, pleasing voice - much better than her unfortunate and awful Tony performance. It felt like a very glamorous evening. I loved how intimate the production was in that intimate theatre and found the design choices tasteful and simple. Of course many here will probably criticise the scaled-down nature, some of the supporting cast, small orchestra etc. but I loved it.

* The glamour wasn’t quite as high with Bernadette and Stritch, I thought Bernadette gave an incredible, incredible performance of “Send in the Clowns”. A real career highlight and it felt like the whole audience was enraptured by it. There is a good clip on YouTube proshot of the first half, although of course I think nothing beats the experience in person. Stritch to be frank was not in her best, dropping many lines, not singing, not attempting an accent. Of course it was nice to see her and she tried her best to be funny but I preferred Lansbury.

I think it’s a real shame we didn’t get an EP of Bernadette (for Dolly, too).

I saw La Cage with the original cast - it was a fun evening. I’m not sure why it won best revival - interesting it also was a chocolate factory production from the UK if I recall so had a similar sensibility in terms of being scaled down. But I think it’s hard to compete with the material and cast of Night Music.

"Rose in Gypsy was like going through therapy for me. Playing Rose helped me put a lot of emotions to bed. There was so much lacking in Rose and that's why she had to prove herself through her children. [interviewer]In ways that reminded you of your mom?[/interviewer]. Let's just say the role was very interesting for me. That one was the most interesting [I've ever played]" - Bernadette Peters (2018)
Chorus Member
Chorus Member
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#3
Posted: 9/8/20 at 8:50am

I thought I saw the Bye, Bye, Birdie revival in its Chicago tryout run.  But that was actually an earlier tour and with a different cast.  In that tour, I thought Tommy Tune and Anne Reinking would be enough to brighten the whole show.  No.  Boring.  Didn't see the revival on Broadway later, with a quite different cast.

Promises, Promises has a challenging book.  For example, after the female lead attempts suicide late in the second act, the upstairs neighbor, a doctor, is called in and sings, "A Young Pretty Girl Like You," a bad song but especially lousy for this moment.  The performers were pretty good.  I was surprised how good a singer Sean Hayes is.  Kristen Chenowith was of course in beautiful voice.  (And both the leads were short people.  They made a good couple.)  I guess for Chenowith, the director/producers interpolated two songs from the David-Bacharach catalog, both ballads, both stuck into the second act.  Ballads slow a show down so it can build again.  It was too late to build again.

Finian's Rainbow was a good revival of a show with a lame book.  Kate Baldwin, Cheyenne Jackson, and Jim Norton were great.  Christopher Fitzgerald was adequate as the leprechaun.  And I enjoyed seeing my acquaintance, the late David Schram, in the non-singing role of the mayor.

I love Ragtime and this revival that transferred from the Kennedy Center was a revelation.  Without stars, the book was better focused.  The drama worked for me this time.  Loved this revival; better in my mind than the original.

The A Little Night Music was a very good revival.  Catherine Zeta-Jones wasn't a strong singer but the part was written for Glynis Johns, so vocally Zeta-Jones was not a loss.  Stritch wasn't great casting for Madame Armfeldt, but she pulled it off, of course.  It was great to see her.  

I didn't see La Cage...  I'm not a fan of the show although it certainly has some good songs and scenes.


Mark Waltz Profile PhotoMark Waltz Profile Photo
Mark Waltz
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#4
Posted: 9/8/20 at 9:38am

I was fortunate to have seen them all since I believe that most of them had lotteries (in-person) or general rush. I got TKTS for "A Little Night Music" right at the last moment before the show started, and my seats were phenomenal. 

Birdie suffered from a Rose that couldn't dance so there was no Shriner's Ballet. It was serviceable, but even with Stamos, Gershon, Irwin, Hoty & Houdyshell, it seemed like a community theater production. No real magic. They changed the line for Mae Peterson from "Now we know what Margo looked like when she left Shangri-La" to "Now we know what happened to Baby Jane", and that didn't come out until two years after when the show was set. A minor gripe, but for some reason, it has stuck with me. I expected far more energy than what was actually presented on stage.

"Finian's Rainbow" is, as others have stated, very dated with a troublesome book. But Kate Baldwin was phenomenal as Sharon, and I'm glad that she got nominated. I also loved the set which really made you feel like they were dancing over hills. Terri White stood out to me among the featured cast. Between this and "Follies" a few years later, she became one of my favorite character performers. 

I'm not sure why "Ragtime" didn't last long other than the obvious (low box office returns). It seemed scaled down from the original production, but that made the intimacy really stand out, particularly in the tragic moments. I think it is a musical like "Side Show" that gives the public an uncomfortable place to go to, but the audience really responds to it. No one can ever compare to Stokes & Audra (they sizzled!), but the cast (particularly Christianne Noll as Mother) were great. I think Noll got to sing a bit of "Back to Before" on the Tony's, but Kate Baldwin didn't get to perform. 

Having seen the 2005 revival of "La Cage" twice (because of cast changes), I was reluctant to re-visit it so soon, but I went anyway, and enjoyed it although I preferred the lavishness of the earlier production over this. Better seats for the 2005 revival most likely helped. I wasn't as crazy about Douglas Hodge as everybody else though. When I saw Gary Beach, he was truly on fire. Friends saw the tour in L.A. and were disappointed by the lack of glitz. I would have gone back to see it again with Harvey Fierstein, but with so many other options chose not to.

I think "Promise, Promises" is fun for its cast recording and very late 60's typical Bacharach score, but I didn't like it as a show on stage as much as I did with the "How to Succeed" revival. There's a sense of ickiness to it that outside of all those great songs made it a chore to fully enjoy when I began to reflect on it afterwards. Sean & Kristen didn't seem to have much sparkle together, and Kristen seems like someone who would have knee'd her married boyfriend in the no-nads rather than become suicidal. 

One of my all time theatrical regrets came with "A Little Night Music", having not gone back to see Peters & Stritch, having seen CZJ and Angela right before the announcement was made about the replacements. But overall, I loved this production, and felt that it deserved to win over "La Cage" (with "Ragtime" as my close second), and learned a major lesson about replacements in shows I love. Never ever miss the opportunity to see someone you like when they take over a major part on Broadway. I did that with "Dolly" after seeing Bette, enjoying it equally as much with Donna & Bernadette, and just having shivers down my spine every time that overture started. I still get chills with the opening of "A Little Night Music" of how the melody goes into directions I never would have dreamed of, manipulating the ear with complete delight. 


One Grecian Ern
BroadwayNYC2 Profile PhotoBroadwayNYC2 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#5
Posted: 9/8/20 at 9:49am
One thing that sticks out for me is I remember Finian’s and Promises Promises were overshadowed by their venues. Too small of productions to fill those theatres. It lost some spark as a result.
Featured Actor
Featured Actor
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#6
Posted: 9/8/20 at 4:50pm

There were a lot of musical revivals that season, but they all had their individual strengths and weaknesses. From what I remember, the Tony that year was competitive because the consensus was that the two closed revivals (Ragtime and Finian's Rainbow) were much stronger than the two nominees still running (Night Music and La Cage).

Bye Bye Birdie opened first and was pretty universally disliked. Gershon and Stamos were considered awkward and miscast by most, and none of the kids really jumped out. There was much excitement before the show, but that quickly dissipated once previews actually began.

Ragtime and Finian's Rainbow were both very well liked on here--and by the critics--but they failed to find audiences. Both were physically stripped-down productions but featured large casts and full orchestras, which did feature the performances and the scores beautifully, but they were intimate shows with no stars and huge overheads. Whoopi Goldberg lauded Ragtime on The View, but that wasn't enough. It's worth noting that once Ragtime announced its closing notice, ticket sales skyrocketed and within a day or two, a week-long extension was announced. Had these shows not opened at the depths of a recession, they might have been hits (or at least sustained longer runs) based on their glowing reviews.

A Little Night Music and La Cage were both more controversial here--these were chamber-sized productions of big glamorous shows, with tiny orchestras to boot. La Cage was pretty well-liked, but many who had seen the original production missed the grandeur and felt that the smaller production looked tackier, but it was led by a great performance from Douglas Hodge. Night Music was loved by some but not all. The five-piece orchestration would have been fine in the 200-seat theatre where the production originated, but at the Walter Kerr it felt empty (believe it or not, the cast recording slightly augmented the orchestra, and yet it still sounds embarrassing). This production was described by many (including the creatives and cast) as "Chekhovian" which, to me, seems misguided. It's a comedy of manors, but they added so many pauses and it felt a little languid. Not without merit, but certainly misguided in some respects.

And Promises, Promises closed out the season of revivals mirroring the season's first show--Bye Bye Birdie--as another '60s musical with severely miscast leads. I remember that even though I was entirely unfamiliar with the Bacharach catalogue (I was 13 at the time!) I could instantly tell which two hits were shoehorned in for this revival. Rob Ashford made a series of missteps he would immediately repeat for How to Succeed the next season (although with a much better-cast leading performance) in his busy, backbreaking choreography that didn't so much serve the story as make you bad for the exhausted dancers. Both Promises, Promises and the forthcoming How to Succeed pulled inspiration from the hit drama of the day, Mad Men, in its take on workplace sexism of the 1960's--lean into it fully to present it satirically and highly stylized. But the main problem with this revival was that Rob Ashford is not a very good director. This production ran on the draw of its stars, but it didn't have very much buzz behind it. Katie Finneran, at least, gave a lively performance that everyone agreed was a highlight of the evening.

Lining them up side-by-side, you can see that the themes of the season were "minimalism" and "stars"--it was the middle of a recession, after all! La Cage was a solid enough production, but it won the Tony not because it was so outstanding, but because it had the fewest detractors.

Perhaps this recession season will give us a hint of what's to come when Broadway does finally reopen in a risky, unknown climate--big stars in stripped-down productions.

Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#7
Posted: 9/8/20 at 5:31pm

-- Bye, Bye Birdie.  I saw a production in college that was more professional than this one.  It is one of the few shows ever in which I felt embarrassed for some of the cast members.  I will focus on John Stamos, an actor who has worked often on TV because of his likability.  I actually thought he would be perfect for the role of Albert.  Fairly early in the show, I remember actually feeling sorry for him as he performed 'Put On a Happy Face' because he was just so out of his league, clearly incapable of meeting its demands, particularly in the dancing department.  I know he performed the role of the Emcee in Cabaret, so this was not his first Broadway musical.  I doubt we will ever see him in a musical (at least on Broadway) again.  D

**Finian's Rainbow -- This was not opened long enough for an out-of-towner to see, unless s/he got the timing of visits right.

**La Cage Aux Folles -- I enjoyed this production more than the original, which is probably a sacrilege.  I thought that both Douglas Hodge and George Hearn were excellent in the roles of Albin, but I thought Kelsey Grammar was better than Gene Barry, surprising since I have never been a fan.  I also like the smallness of the production -- it was more intimate and more like the original movie that started it all.  B+

**A Little Night Music -- I saw this production twice.  I loved both Angela Lansbury and Elaine Stritch in their roles as Madame Armfeldt, but I thought that Lansbury brought far more regality to the role.   With Stritch, it was probably knowing that this was likely to be the last time I saw her perform (and it was). I loved BP as Desiree and thought that CZJ was fine, if not memorable.  The biggest single issue I had with the show was that the scaled down production made for an anemic A Week-end in the Country, which is one of my 'Top 5' production numbers in all Sondheim musicals (at least if I leave out Follies), actually it still is, per the original production.  Well, in this production, it was positively dreadful, with the cast sorta walking in two circles, I guess to convey movement.  I still enjoyed it, but having your single favorite number in the show really disappoint made it a bit of a letdown. B

Promises, Promises -- I saw the original production three times.  I loved it.  For me, this production showed how a musical can become dated very quickly.  You can still see the movie, The Apartment, and thoroughly admire it.  Not true with the musical version, PP, at least if this production was any indication.  I never thought the show had a great score, although it was enjoyable; with the revival, I felt that a lot of Bert Bacharach's music has not held up...maybe it was of its time, and its time has passed.  Chenoweth received some pretty harsh reviews, but I thought that she and Sean Hayes were fine.  Katie Finneran won the Tony as Marge, in a scene-stealing cameo, but I didn't warm to her performance, probably because I thought she paled in comparison to the original Marge, Marian Mercer, who actually gave a (much) less over the top performance.  Mercer, as funny as she was, conveyed desperation in the comedy; Finneran was just going for broke.  I think there were two key problems...the book is just dated, no ifs, ands, or buts.  And the number that was sung pretty much twice in the revival (Where Can You Take a Girl) just struck me as totally tasteless and seriously cringeworthy.  I was still thinking how much I hated that number 15 minutes later, both times.  A lot has changed since 1970, but even ten years ago, this could have created its own Me Too movement.  Another show that I doubt will ever be revived on Broadway again.  D-

**Ragtime.  I saw the original productions three times and manage to see this twice, only because I saw it once in DC before Broadway, as the Broadway run was cut short.  I thought this production was outstanding, if not as grand as the original production, which was so lavish that it was probably never going to return its investment.  Re the performances, some were better than the original cast (Bobby Steggert, for one), some were just as good (for me, Christiane Noll (sic) was as good as Marin Mazzie...they were both perfect), some were not as good (who is going to fare well in a comparison with Audra MacDonald or Brian Stokes Mitchell), but they were still excellent.  This was more cut-rate re production values, but that did not matter, because the material was so strong and the performances were so strong.  This show faced two separate issues that resulted in its abbreviated run: global recession and a revival that was timed too soon after the original production.  But it was great.  A

Updated On: 9/8/20 at 05:31 PM
bwayphreak234 Profile Photobwayphreak234 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#8
Posted: 9/10/20 at 9:46am
Thank you everyone for your thorough thoughts! I love all of the cast recordings for these revivals (for the 4 out of the 6 that released them). It's so interesting to read such detailed comparisons!
"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "
Mister Matt Profile PhotoMister Matt Profile Photo
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
Broadway Legend
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#9
Posted: 9/10/20 at 6:04pm

The only one I got to see was La Cage and I preferred this revival over the original staging, which always left me cold in its wildly lavish and unrealistic grandeur.  Yes, the original was visually stunning, but the millions spent on the designs, costumes and cast felt completely out of place to me in the story's setting.  I was really scratching my head wondering about a drag club in the 80s that had that kind of crazy budget, but the particular cast I saw didn't help as they were overplaying everything to the point of turning it into a Vaudeville cartoon of itself.  This revival made much more sense to me and I felt more connected to the story and its characters (Look Over There had me in tears).  It was actually the first time I truly fell in love with the show itself.

"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
Tennis Fan
2009-2010 Musical Revivals#10
Posted: 9/18/20 at 8:11am

I'm shocked at the negativity directed towards the 2010 Promises, Promises revival.  I thought it was everything & more...with just the right, light touch needed for the show. 

I first saw the Best Choreography number danced on The Tonys.  It inspired me to purchase the cast recording, which I played & played & played.  Finally, I saw the production.  Loved it!

I believe I recall reading somewhere it made over $1 million dollars a week. 

It brought to life all I thought a Broadway show would be as I fantasized about The Great White Way as a first-grader in my home in Bergen County, NJ in 1969.