Seven years after West Side Story, just two seasons post-Forum (his first solo effort), and six years before his golden age began with Company, this show looked great on paper - Sondheim was fresh off a hit show, the book and direction were by the legendary Arthur Laurents, and the design team had William and Jean Eckart (sets), Theoni V. Aldredge (costumes) and Jules Fisher (lighting), all masters in their fields. The amazing orchestrations are by one of the greatest of all time, Don Walker. (Look up his credits - you will be in awe!) On the other hand, the three leads, Harry Guardino, Lee Remick and Angela Lansbury, were already established Broadway actors, but all three were making their musical debuts with this show. History, of course, shows that all three went on to big careers on stage and screen. But in 1964, it was a fair gamble to have their names above the title.
|Angela Lansbury as Cora Hoover Hooper|
|Harry Guardino as J. Bowden Hapgood|
Lee Remick as Nurse Fay Apple
Revisiting the CD for this column has put Anyone Can Whistle back in my show tunes rotation. Sometimes, I also play the more complete concert version. Both are terrific, but there is something to be said about the original. Here's hoping a good show doctor and/or director can put this tale of fake news, hypocritical religion, corrupt government, and mass insanity on the stage. Sounds remarkably relevant to me.
A FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT ANYONE CAN WHISTLE...
- It is Sondheim's shortest running Broadway shows with just 12 previews and 9 performances.
- Aside from special presentations, it is the shortest running musical to ever play the Majestic Theatre.
- The show opened April 4, 1964 and closed April 11, 1964.
- The show did receive 1 Tony Award nomination - for Herbert Ross' choreography.
- The show was performed in three acts.
- The cast included some of Broadway's greatest ensemblists, including Harvey Evans, Arnold Soboloff, Peg Murray, Barbara Lang and Patricia "Pat" Kelly. Collectively, they have appeared in just about every golden age musical.
More pictures from the 1964 production: