HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY BROADWAY FANS! We are only 13 days away till the 71st annual Tony Awards. We have more exciting spectacular performances coming your way leading up to Broadway’s biggest night on our TOP 30 TONY AWARDS countdown.
At # 13 is the ultimate and perfect musical to share in honor of Memorial Day and since this has been fleet week featuring Navy Sailors coming to explore the city and finding dates in just 24 hours. The year was 1944. This is Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green’s iconic HELLUVA classic On The Town – The Musical Comedy Classic. It also featured legendary staging by Jerome Robbins. The show was an updated version of Bernstein and Robbins’ ballet FANCY FREE.
From the 2015 telecast, the cast of the recently acclaimed Broadway revival perform a medley of the beautiful LONLEY TOWN and the show’s anthem NEW YORK, NEW YORK featuring the TIMES SQUARE BALLET (at the end of Act 1).
ON THE TOWN was originally conceived in 1944 as the acclaimed ballet FANCY FREE composed by Bernstein becoming an acclaimed hit for the American Ballet Theatre. Following the success of the ballet, Bernstein along with set designer Oliver Smith and his business party Paul Feigay thought that it can be updated as a full Broadway show. They later teamed up with Comden and Green on board to expand the ballet to now include a full books and lyrics. Plus it featured original direction by George Abbott. It only took a few months to write the book and lyrics.
The show officially arrived on Broadway in December 1944 at the no longer existing Adelphi Theatre running for 462 performances. The cast originally starred John Battles as “Gabey”, Cris Alexander as “Chip”, Adolph Green as “Ozzie”, Nancy Walker as “Hildy”, Sono Osato as “Ivy”, and Betty Comden as “Claire”. The original production was known for a having racial diversity and stereotypes. Along with acclaimed Japanese-American dancer Osato; the cast featured six African-Americans in the cast, that was treated as part of the citizenry; and nine months into the run. Later on, African American conductor Everett Lee took over at the podium. The show did not receive any Tonys that year because the Tonys didn’t first happen till 2 years later in 1946.
The show was later revived 3 times on Broadway. The first revival happened in 1971 at the Imperial Theatre running for only 73 performances. This cast featured Ron Husmann as “Gabey”, Jess Richards as “Chip”, Remak Ramsay as “Ozzie”, Bernadette Peters as “Hildy”, Donna McKechnie as “Ivy”, and Phyllis Newman as “Claire”. It only received 1 Tony Award that year for Best Performance By a Featured Actress in a Musical (being the first ever Tony nomination for Bernadette Peters) but lost the category.
The 2nd Broadway revival happened in 1998 following an acclaimed outdoor production produced by The Public Theater’s Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. It played Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre for 69 performances. This cast featured Perry Laylon Ojeda as “Gabey”, Jesse Tyler Ferguson as “Chip”, Robert Montano as “Ozzie”, Lea DeLaria as “Hildy”, Tai Jimenez as “Ivy”, and Sarah Knowlton as “Claire”. In addition, Mary Testa earned critical acclaim for her scene stealing performances as the “Little Old Lady”, “Madame Dilly”, and others. This revival only received 1 Tony Award that year also for Best Featured Actress in a Musical (for Testa) but lost the category.
The 3rd and recent Broadway revival of ON THE TOWN had a really long journey. Tony winning director of URINETOWN, John Rando originally staged production at New York City Center Encores in 2008 to commemorate the 90th Birthday of Leonard Bernstein. The cast featured Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck as “Gabey”, Justin Bohon as “Chip”, 2 time Tony winner (and nominee again this year) Christian Borle as “Ozzie”, Leslie Kritzer as “Hildy”, Jessica Lee Goldyn as “Ivy”, and Tony nominee Jennifer Laura Thompson as “Claire”. It did so well that 5 years later, Rando put together a full production that premiered Regionally in Barrington Stage Company that began a huge success and later transferring to Broadway’s Lyric Theatre that very next year for a total of 396 performances. For the 2013 Barrington production turned 2014 Broadway revival, the cast featured Tony Yazbeck reprising his acclaimed performance of “Gabey”, Jay Armstrong Johnson as “Chip”, Clyde Alves as “Ozzie”, Alysha Umphress as “Hildy”, New York City Ballet star Megan Fairchild (later NYCB’s Gina Pazcoguin and American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland) as “Ivy Smith”, and Elizabeth Stanley as “Claire”. The revival went on to receive 4 Tony Awards in 2015 including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Leading Actor in a Musical (for Yazbeck) but lost all categories.
ON THE TOWN also earned critical acclaimed as a classic musical film for MGM in 1949. The film only featured 3 songs from the stage musical (including NEW YORK, NEW YORK) but additional new songs written by Roger Edens and Lennie Hayton. The cast featured Gene Kelly (who also directed) as “Gabey”, Frank Sinatra as “Chip”, Jules Munshin as “Ozzie”, Betty Garrett as “Hildy”, Vera-Ellen as “Ivy”, and Ann Miller as “Claire”. The film went on to earn critical acclaim and winning an Oscar for Best Original Score.
How about those toe tapping sailors and a great way to celebrate Memorial Day?!!!
On The Town Performance Tony Awards 2015 Original: http://bit.ly/1OoWZ3H
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