Broadway musicals

 

 

 

 

The great era of Broadway musicals, in my humble opinion, was the 1940s and 50s. Today’s hits are poor successors.

This music is in my and my siblings’ blood. My father was involved in such shows and music as a conductor and orchestra member in summer stock and theatrical group productions. The music was constantly playing in our house on LPs and on the piano — by my parents, my older brother, and my father; and I attended rehearsals over which my father presided as musical director.

My older brother would sit down at the piano — I always liked the way he played, with feeling and taste — and play a piece such as “My Time of Day” from Guys and Dolls. And I would develop an appreciation for the song.

My father was amused by the character in Guys and Dolls Nicely-Nicely Johnson and by the opening “Whadaya Talk Whadaya Talk Whadaya Talk” sequence in The Music Man, which I saw performed at the Carousel Theatre in Framingham, Massachusetts with my father in the orchestra. My father found it amusing that in Camelot, which I also saw at the Carousel Theatre with my father performing, Merlin doesn’t age, he “youth-eths.” My mother loved the song “Come to Me, Bend Me” from Brigadoon.

My father said that he considered My Fair Lady to be a perfect work. He pointed out that the song “Good Night My Someone” from The Music Man was the same melody as “Seventy Six Trombones” with only the tempo changed.

I have posted a few of my all-time favorite songs here. Many of them, upon repeated hearings,  produce a lump in my throat. The good taste and musicality of the songs and the performances are notable. And the performers and their voices are marvelous.

My favorite songs (musical with songs)? It’s a tough call. I would say The King and I. Carousel a close second.

 

— Roger W. Smith

   April 2021

3 thoughts on “Broadway musicals

  1. Carol Hay

    Totally agree with all you say.

    I cannot watch songs from the King and I without tears forming in my eyes and getting very emotional about Dad. I swear I learned the whole score and lyrics to this song before I was in third grade. I used to play the album over and over and one day in grammar school, for Show and Tell, I brought the album to school and played ‘“Shall I tell you what I think of you?” for them. Needless to say, my fellow classmates understood not a word and had blank expressions. It went over like a wet balloon.

    I cannot listen to “More I cannot wish you” without thinking of Dad and Pete, who I know loves this song too.” Listening to “if I loved you” gives me shivers down my spine and also causes me to tear up and think of Mom. She loved this song so much. This happens every single time. And Guys and Dolls….the woman playing Adelaide (was it Edna McCourt who played both Anna and Adelaide in Joe Williams’ productions?) She used to come over to the house and practice with Dad and this reminds me of how hilarious Dad found this song to be. I watched her practice it a lot and found it to be so funny, as well. Dad used to love the opening song, written in fugue style — “Fugue for tinhorns” — “I got the horse right here, his name is Paul Revere,” etc. Dad loved playing “The March of the Siamese Children” too.

    So many great musical memories and Dad was a terrific cultural influence in this regard.

  2. Pete Smith

    Agree fully; nice memories. … Will have to think about the favorites; mine might have been My Fair Lady but Carousel and the King and I are clearly great. There are other good ones too: Oklahoma? South Pacific?

    Yes, “Good Night My Someone” is the same basic melody as “Seventy Six Trombones” but there are other differences besides tempo — for example, the opening phrase starts with two whole notes rather than four quarter notes. The change from cut time to waltz tempo is a marvelous switch and it’s amazing how the songs are so different emotionally.

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