A news item twittered via our good friend Steve alerted me to the fact that the failed musical Glory Days will be recording an original cast album. The show, an export of the Signature Theatre in Virginia, opened and closed on the same night in May 2008. Out of town reviews were encouraging (if constructive) and a transfer to NY, especially without any revision was a wholly haphazard thing to do. The original cast will reunite in a recording studio next month to lay down the tracks. Incidentally, Glory Days was the first musical to fold after one performance since the 1985 Goodspeed revival of Take Me Along at the Martin Beck.
It got me thinking about what other one performance wonders (as I like to call these fast flops) have received an Original Broadway Cast Album…
This is what I found:
Here’s Where I Belong – opened and closed at the Billy Rose Theatre on March 3, 1968. Ambitious musical adaptation of John Steinbeck’s allegorical masterpiece East of Eden was penned by Terrence McNally (who requested his name be removed prior to opening), with music by Robert Waldman and lyrics by Alfred Uhry. There was considerable reticence on my part to include this one here as the cast album on Blue Pear LP appears to be a glorified bootleg, however, I since there is an LP with artwork that was available, here it is.
The Utter Glory of Morrissey Hall – opened and closed at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on May 13, 1979. You may recall that I brought this one up to Marilyn Caskey at Angus McIndoe’s after the closing performance of Gypsy this past January. Written by Clark Gesner of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown fame, the show had a well received engagement in San Francisco in 1976 starring Jill Tanner as a British headmistress driven to insanity by the pranks of her students. Three years later, the show was revamped for its new star Celeste Holm, who was dreadfully miscast and out of her element (which can be evidenced on the record). The show stayed a week at the Hellinger, though it managed to get out an album and is licensed by Samuel French (I have the libretto!)
Onward Victoria – opened and closed at the Martin Beck Theatre on December 14, 1980. Larger than life historical figures have often made for interesting musicals. 1776, Gypsy, Fiorello!, among others come immediately to mind. However, this musical about Victoria Woodhull, a millionaire stockbroker turned suffragette presidential nominee didn’t quite live up to the standard. Starring Jill Eikenberry as Victoria, the show had music by Keith Hermann and book & lyrics by Charlotte Anker and Irene Rosenberg. Woodhull had long been considered for musical theatre, with proposed shows starring Lisa Kirk, Carol Channing and an out of town failure Winner Take All starring the sublime Patricia Morison.
Cleavage – opened and closed at the Playhouse Theatre on June 23, 1982. The show was a bawdy camp piece written for the Sheffield Theatre Ensemble that had a brief tour in the South before transferring to NY for its brief tenure. The score was by comedy writer Buddy Sheffield and the book was co-written by Sheffield and David Sheffield. It appears to have played successfully in New Orleans and it transferred to NY cast intact for literally a week. It featured such memorable moments as Jay Rogers in drag singing “Boys Will Be Girls”… it was that sort of show.
Dance a Little Closer – opened and closed at the Minskoff on May 11, 1983 and was jokingly referred to as Close a Little Faster by its detractors. The musical was an adaptation of Robert Sherwood’s Idiot’s Delight starring Len Cariou, George Rose, Liz Robertson and Brent Barrett with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Jule Styne. The creators updated the antiwar play by putting the characters at the brink of nuclear annihilation. The show’s cast album was recorded two weeks after the closing but was left unreleased until 1987.
Two other shows would receive later recordings. Kelly (February 6, 1965), quite possibly the most notorious of all the one-night stands, received ample coverage in Lewis Lapham’s legendary Saturday Evening Post article (and reprinted in Steven Suskin’s Second Act Trouble) got a studio cast album in 1998 restoring the composer and lyricist’s deluded intentions for the utterly misguided, misdirected and misproduced effort. Heathen! (May 21, 1972) resurfaced in New Zealand in 1981 under a new title Aloha! and that cast took the show into the recording studio.