We conclude this week of 1950’s Tony Winners for Best Musical.
The Music Man is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, based on a story by Willson and Franklin Lacey. The plot concerns con man Harold Hill, who poses as a boys’ band organizer and leader and sells band instruments and uniforms to the naive Iowa townsfolk, promising to train the members of the new band. But Harold is no musician and plans to skip town without giving any music lessons. Prim librarian and piano teacher Marian sees through him, but when Harold helps her younger brother overcome his lisp and social awkwardness, Marian begins to fall in love. Harold risks being caught to win her.
In 1957, the show became a hit on Broadway, winning five Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and running for 1,375 performances. The cast album won the first Grammy Award for “Best Original Cast Album” and spent 245 weeks on the Billboard charts. The show’s success led to revivals and a popular 1962 film adaptation and a 2003 television remake. It is frequently produced by both professional and amateur theater companies.
Redhead is a musical with music composed by Albert Hague and lyrics by Dorothy Fields, who with her brother, Herbert, along with Sidney Sheldon and David Shaw wrote the book/libretto. Set in London in the 1880s, around the time of Jack the Ripper, the musical is a murder mystery in the setting of a wax museum.
Productions and background
Herbert and Dorothy Fields wrote the musical, then titled The Works for Beatrice Lillie. When Sidney Sheldon joined the writing team, it was rewritten for Gwen Verdon, who just had two smash hits on Broadway (Damn Yankees and New Girl in Town). Verdon took the lead on the condition that Bob Fosse would be the director as well as choreographer, making this his debut as a director.
Redhead opened on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre (now the Richard Rodgers Theatre) on February 5, 1959, and closed on March 19, 1960, after 452 performances. Bob Fosse directed and choreographed. Production design was by Rouben Ter-Arutunian and lighting design was by Jean Rosenthal. The cast starred Verdon and Richard Kiley. The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical.