Coming on Broadway in the fall: ON THE TOWN

Posted by: Jon

Coming on Broadway in the fall: ON THE TOWN - 07/15/14 10:17 AM

Probably most of us long-time theatergoers know the 1943 musical (Bernstein-Comden-Green) On the Town, about 3 sailors on 24-hour shore leave, determined to see everything. A new revival is opening in September, and it looks like it's doing it right with a big chorus and big orchestra of the type we don't usually see any more. I already have tickets for October 4. Anyway, they made a promotional video of the opening song, with the 3 male stars of the revival, made all around NYC. I've been enjoying it a lot and I hope you do too.

ON THE TOWN video
Posted by: Christopher

Re: Coming on Broadway in the fall: ON THE TOWN - 07/15/14 07:12 PM

I don't know this show at all. I couldn't whistle a single tune from it.
Posted by: Barbara

Re: Coming on Broadway in the fall: ON THE TOWN - 07/15/14 11:05 PM

Unfortunately, that's pretty much true for me as well. The number in the video has been given some play outside the show, but nothing else that I know of. I saw the movie, but most of Bernstein's tunes were cut and new ones by someone else substituted for them.
Posted by: Pete

Re: Coming on Broadway in the fall: ON THE TOWN - 07/16/14 09:24 AM

The selection of songs for a show and, it appears, for a movie based on the show, are based on different criteria. There have been a few Broadway shows based on a movie (The Lion King comes to mind), but I don't know what commonly happens in that case.
Posted by: Lorna

Re: Coming on Broadway in the fall: ON THE TOWN - 07/16/14 07:28 PM

Chiming in to say the show is unfamiliar to me too.
Posted by: Jon

Re: Coming on Broadway in the fall: ON THE TOWN - 07/17/14 12:07 PM

There are now a great number of stage musicals based on musical films (often the Disney ones, but by no means always). Generally more songs have to be added for a stage version, as a half dozen songs can sometimes be enough for a film (especially if it's a relatively short one aimed at the family market) but a stage audience expects a full song score -- a dozen at least, plus some variety in the form of ensembles and finales.

However, On the Town is a different matter entirely. It's certainly not usual for a stage score to be thrown out and replaced by new songs! But at that time Leonard Bernstein was seen as an uncommercial proposition in movies, and his music was too "modern" (ironic, because in addition to this title song, the other Bernstein music MGM kept was the ballets, which are the most modern music in the show -- they've been turned into concert pieces). His next musical, Wonderful Town, inspired a musical film too, but in that case they bypassed the stage show completely and commissioned another team to do a completely different musical of the source material, My Sister Eileen (which is what they called the movie).

Only with West Side Story, filmed largely intact, was that "common wisdom" disproved: with all the promotion it received, the songs became widely known and liked, and the movie itself a huge hit. Anyway, there's nothing scary about On the Town: it's just uncomplicated fun. This production deserves to do well, and as I said, I already have my tickets in hand.