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Stage Door Chicago: Jerry Herman Discusses His Life & Shows

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Jerry Herman pulls the stops out in this in-depth and heartfelt conversation about his incredible career.  You have seen the PBS documentary, ("Words and Music by Jerry Herman") now hear Jerry in his own words enlighten us on his remarkable life and music.

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One of the greatest composers and lyricists in theatre history, Jerry Herman made his Broadway debut with the score for Milk and Honey (1961), a musical romance set in Israel. He then wrote Hello Dolly! (1964) which was a musicalization of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker which was produced by  David Merrick. With a book by Michael Stewart and stellar performance by Carol Channing in the title role, Dolly won Tonys for Best Score and Best Musical. With a succession of stars, including Mary Martin, Ethel Merman and Pearl Baily, it became the longest running Broadway musical up to that time with 2844 performances. 

Herman scored a second mega-hit with his score for Mame (1966), which won a Tony for actress Angela Lansbury and made her a top-rank musical star. It also racked up 1508 performances on Broadway, and became a staple in the world's musical stage repertory.  Film versions of Dolly and Mame followed, with Barbra Streisand and Lucille Ball respectively in the title roles.

Herman's next three shows had shorter runs, Dear World (1969) with Lansbury, Mack and Mabel (1974) with Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters, which Jerry considers his personal favorite and The Grand Tour (1979) with Joel Grey. Herman also contributed songs to the popular Broadway revue A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (1980).

The internationally acclaimed hit La Cage Aux Folles (1983) starring George Hearn brought Herman every major award, including a second set of Tonys for Best Score and Best Musical  -- and yet another show that would be produced incessantly worldwide. Herman wrote the songs for (and made a cameo appearance in) the CBS television musical Mrs. Santa Claus (1996) starring Angela Lansbury. 

Showtune, (also the title of his autobiography)  a new revue of his life's work, is playing in regional theatres throughout the country.


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