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Old American Classics

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Phantom of London
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Old American Classics#1
Posted: 11/18/08 at 6:36pm
I thought I start a thread, to liven this board up a bit and talk about musicals that have been overlooked on here, the Old American classics!

I am talking of course old shows form the 1930s to 1960, such as Showboat, Oklahoma, West Side Story, Carousel, The King and I, My Fair Lady, The South of Music and South Pacific, that they done so well they turned them into films. Have I missed any?

Was you lucky enough to see these shows when they first came out? Or to catch these on Broadway? Was it a reason you may of not seen these shows, is you simply could not afford it, so had to make do with going to the pictures?

I am not keen on the older musicals, as not to keen on dancing in a show, especially high kicking. I am more of a fan of a pure sang through musical, but I starting starting to get more into them now and gagging to see South Pacific. The old shows are starting to make a renaissance with shows such as The Sound of Music and West Side Story doing very good business and Carousel due to open on Thursday. Even in New York, South Pacific got well received by the critics and is now doing well and West Side Story due to open next year.

Tell me if you are a fan of the older shows or why you did not like them?

Also be interested to find out about what revivals have been done and if they were popular, which I mean how long they run? Who was in the show?
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songanddanceman2
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re: Old American Classics#2
Posted: 11/18/08 at 6:55pm
lol Mamma is old enough to have seen Broadway been built, never mind shows in the 30s etc lol

Im not a huge fan of a lot of the very old school musicals, there derivative and silly fluff, some times well produced and well written fluff but still a bit to wishy washy for me.I do however LOVE West Side Story, a truly brilliant piece of a theatre which still excites me every time i see it.The passion in the writing and conception of the show is evident in every second of its running time.
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MamasDoin'Fine
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re: Old American Classics#2
Posted: 11/19/08 at 6:35am
um? yes. OK then!
I'm kinda of with SADM2 here as I have never been a great lover of the older Broadway biggies. Shows such as 'Oklahoma!', South Pacific', 'The Sound Of Music' etc etc I've always found a bit long winded and over long. They are churned out decade after decade in productions that, yes, are sometimes trying to put a new spin on them but in the end they really are just the old fashioned timepieces they have become. The Nationals 'Oklahoama!' was a great production that looked stunning but it still often fell into the mode of a flashy production of an old show.
The Nationals 'Guys And Dolls' did it really well with a complete overhaul of the show for the first time in 30 years and is still remembered as being a major breakaway production whereas the recent 'South Pacific' just didn't cut it with modern critics and audiences. 'My Fair Lady's recent London production was only so and so despite Cameron and the National throwing a lot of money at it. These shows will always be with us and they will always bring in Joe Public by the millions every time. As one closes, 'The Sound Of Music, closes, anther steps in, 'Carousel' and so it will always be.
NOW, talking of old American musicals, currently in previews on Broadway is a stunning production Rogers and Harts 'Pal Joey' with Stockard Channing. This is a rarely performed gem of a show with some well known standards such as 'Bewitched Bothered and Bewilderd' and 'I could Write A Book'. I saw the 3rd preview of this show on Sunday night and its a fresh, new, lively production that with a new book seems ready to take on Broadway again. The movie starred Frank Sinatra and the original Broadway show starred an unknown Gene Kelly!
Basically, these old shows will work for some abut not for others , it's great that they get brought out now and again but I think in the future they will be pushed to one side more and more for the inevitable revivals of the newer shows currently on stage.
I recommend the Roundabouts production of 'Pal Joey' to lovers of all musicals.
The last London production was way back in 1980 so it would be great to see this back on stage in London soon- preferably this New York production- we sent them 'Sunday In The Park With George'!!!
This could be an interesting thread with contributions from young (LegallySam, SADM2, me) and old (Devonian and Alterego) alike!

Updated On: 11/19/08 at 06:35 AM
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re: Old American Classics#3
Posted: 11/19/08 at 7:24am
Mamma im glad you enjoyed Pal Joey but everyone else seems to be less than impressed, mainly with its leading man

Guys and Dolls is another one which sits well with me, its a very energized show with plenty of interesting characters
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re: Old American Classics#4
Posted: 11/19/08 at 1:26pm
Yea he isn't the most inspired casting but he oozes charisma and dances up a treat its just that the piece isn't suited to his voice- or vice versa! Its early days, what your reading on 'that' board is based on the viewing of just the first 3 previews. This i realize but also that this show previewed cold on Friday without an out of town try out etc. The show was pretty sturdy considering that one fact- but of course those on 'that' board just don't see that and just want to gloat over the prospect of a bomb before them.
Ms Channing looks FaNtAsTiC. While singing the wondrous 'Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered' i just saw this older woman sing a very similar song to 'There Are worse Things I Could Do' and to me that was a great buzz.
Her comic timing and expressions are just perfect.
Mr Hoff is a dream boat but you also have to remember that the part isn't a heart stealer for the audience-Joey is a rough diamond in an even rougher underworld of a long forgotten Chicago. Its such a shame he can't handle the numbers as is expected. I listened to Denis Lawson on my IPod on the flight home from the 1980 West End production and he hits every note ,perfect


!
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re: Old American Classics#5
Posted: 11/19/08 at 3:13pm
I do like the R&H portfolio when they are re-interpreted for a new generation. I think they were probably always intended to be bold pieces but sank into sugar-coatedness through decades of national tours trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Even Pal Joey was a bold piece for it's time: aging nymphomaniac and on-the-make toy boy, and also having its lyrics censored.
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re: Old American Classics#6
Posted: 11/19/08 at 4:16pm
I have a tendency to dislike the R&H shows. They really don't excite me, they just seem overly drawn out, obvious and predictable. However move on a few years/or decades and Mr Fosse starts to spread his genius thoughts about, i start to get very excited. This is quite biased because im a dancer but that whole style is amazing, the cocked wrists, the hands, the lines..ahh slightly orgasmic :)
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re: Old American Classics#7
Posted: 11/19/08 at 4:45pm
"Move on a few years/or decades and Mr Fosse starts to spread his genius thoughts about, i start to get very excited."

Ditto! :)

I'm not a fan of the 'family' oldies, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Annie, Oliver...(the bad ones basically!) I like a more vintage oldie, Gypsy, Sweet Charity, West Side Story, Cabaret...(the good ones basically!) All those manage to have the classic sound and feel to them, without becoming vomitable. Had my first encounter with South Pacific in July, would've hung myself had it not been for the saviour of the show Miss Helena Blackman. I do however quite like The King & I for R&H.
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re: Old American Classics#8
Posted: 11/21/08 at 5:44pm
Think I was a bit false led with the old musicals by mum, who tells me how great they were and even better on the silver screen. I have always adored West Side story, enjoy Sound of Music too, but very indifferent for the others, want to get more into them and give them a fair chance, I think it would be great to see Oh what a beautiful morning from Oklahoma being sung, I missed the most recent production of Oklahoma and believe Hugh Jackman was it this? Also did this production go to New York and flopped. Also I think New York had a revival of The Sound of Music, which I believe was also a flop?
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re: Old American Classics#9
Posted: 11/21/08 at 6:01pm
I saw Hugh Jackman in Oklahoma and can't say that it was one of the greatest performances I've seen. John Diedrich was much better in the previous London revival in the 80s but he never became an international film star.

When it comes to the oldies try to see something done by a modern director who can bring out contemporary resonances and tone down the sentimental aspects. Avoid UK Productions national tours like the plague - I went to see their Carousel thinking it would be like the National Theatre version and came out thinking I'd seen an episode of Brookside.
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re: Old American Classics#10
Posted: 11/21/08 at 6:29pm
The Nationals 'Oklahoma!' went to Broadway but without Jackman and Lipman. It plodded along to play just under a year at the Gershwin, now home to 'Wicked'.
The last revival of 'The Sound Of Music' played just 13 months and wasnt the best of productions of that show. The production was also seen in Australia.
'My Fair Lady' faired even worse in its last revival lasting just 6 months!
...but still they put on these shows and still they barely run and surely lose a ton of money.
Others recently include
'Flower Drum Song'
'State Fair' etc

Its funny that whenever any of these shows get staged in the West End they are always far, far more successful than the Broadway revivals, running for 2 or 3 years.
Updated On: 11/22/08 at 06:29 PM
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re: Old American Classics#11
Posted: 11/22/08 at 2:22pm
I could not put your last paragraph any better! In New York they do not seem to like revivals of old shows. Did all the shows you mention lose money?