With all the excitement over so many new musicals on Broadway this season, let's not forget the many revivals and "revisals" Broadway has enjoyed. Even the most straight-forward revival will sometimes make changes to contemporize the material or gladden the hearts of music theatre buffs.
Here are some current Broadway revivals and ways in which their scores differ from those of previous stagings:
ANNIE: A new song in the first act: the comically ironic "You Make Me Happy," sung by Nell Carter with Colleen Dunn, as Miss Hannigan and Grace Farrell, respectively. It's Miss Hannigan's sarcastic reaction to the news that Annie, the thorn in her side, is going to be adopted by billionaire Daddy Warbucks.
CANDIDE: Stephen Sondheim added lyrics for at least one song in the show. Charlie Harmon, music editor for the estate of Leonard Bernstein, laughed when asked how this Candide will differ from other productions: "A fellow just wrote a 300 page, PhD thesis written about that -- in German! The last major production in NY was City Opera in 1982, and this production is based on that, certainly."
Asked for a few specific changes, Harmon said, "There are two new bits, currently labeled `The Old Lady's False Entrance I and II' with 8-bars of new lyrics by Sondheim. They're to the music of `Life Is Happiness Indeed.' (I can't give those lyrics out till after the show has opened; they're not written in stone yet.) Those parts don't necessarily stand out, but If people have seen Candide before, they might say, `I don't remember the old lady coming in this soon...'"
Another major difference between the NYCO and current version has to do with orchestration. Said Harmon, "This is the first time since 1956 that the full orchestration has been used in a Broadway theatre. That's of major importance, because the current trend is to cut down orchestrations or revamp them or add synthesizers. This has no synthesizer. It's really quite glorious."
The auto da fe scene is shorter," Harmon continued, "which is good. Also, since Mr. Bernstein looked at Candide in 1989 for the Deutsche Grammophone recording, he put his final intentions on the work and took care of all the details. The material here reflects those final intentions, where they were applicable. For instance, at the very end of `Glitter And Be Gay,' Bernstein changed the rhythm of the ending chords. In 1989 he had just conducted Tchaikovsky's 4th Symphony, and mentioned to me, `You know, Tchaikovsky really knew how to end things.' He felt helped by that. Ironically, at that point in the song, people are already up on their feet clapping and screaming, so they don't hear it. Still, that sort of revision is true pretty much throughout the piece. The older wiser conductor making improvements."
CHICAGO: Nothing was dropped or added to the current revival, now at the Shubert, though a cut song from the show, "Ten Percent," was recorded and released on Varese Sarabande's "Lost in Boston III" CD. A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM: "Love, I Hear" has been brought back. Also, lines were changed in "Free" to accommodate female Whoopi Goldberg in the male role of Pseudolus, such as the new couplet in the verse about the baths: "It's so steamy / who could see me?" Also, the song, "Pretty Little Picture" is not in this production.
GREASE!: Nothing was dropped or added to the current revival at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre -- except the exclamation point in the title.
THE KING AND I: There's newly-arranged dance music for "The Royal Dance Before The King" and the rarely-done "Procession Of The White Elephant" created for this revival's choreography by Lar Lubovich's. A reprise of "Puzzlement" was cut. "Western People Funny" was in the first preview of this revival but was then cut. Says Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization CEO Ted Chapin, "When a show's as well constructed as this one, there's no need to put songs back in."
ONCE UPON A MATTRESS: Added: "Goodnight Sweet Princess" (sung by Prince Dauntless and Winifred). Same song. "Happily Ever After" is now a low-down blues number, Burnett sang it more campily. With a new verse. Some dance music is also different, such as a disco bit in the "Spanish Panic."
--By David Lefkowitz