Musicals Tonight!, the scrappy Off-Off-Broadway showcase series that revives "neglected" musicals in concert form, will offer the 1958 cult classic, Goldilocks, with a score by Leroy Anderson and lyrics by Joan Ford, Jean Kerr and Walter Kerr.
Show buffs coveted the original cast recording for its bright score and performances by Don Ameche and Elaine Stritch, but the show fell into obscurity over the years, despite its availability to stock and amateur groups. Musicals Tonight! will bring the show back June 13-25 at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan.
The score gained a wider audience and a new generation of followers in the late 1980s when Sony reissued the original cast recording on CD.
Set in the era of silent movies, the musical comedy concerns a stage actress (Stritch) and a movie director (Ameche) fighting and loving their way through work.
One of the reasons the show didn't catch on, it is thought, is because the title was misleading: What is a show called Goldilocks about, exactly? Pat Stanley and Russell Nype both won supporting performer Tony Awards. The score includes the memorably rueful, "I Never Know When to Say When."
Walter Kerr, of course, was a longtime theatre critic for The New York Herald, then The New York Times, and Jean Kerr was a novelist and playwright.
Casting has not been announced.
The nonprofit Musicals Tonight! operates under an Actors' Equity approved showcase contract. Artistic director Mel Miller, 57, told Playbill On-Line he is a one-man band with a passion for musical theatre and plays, although little background in producing. Armed with a degree in chemical engineering, Miller was a marketing consultant for years before plunging into the risky world of Off-Off-Broadway producing. He is the sole funder of each production, which, per Equity, has a budget limit of $15,000.
The mission of his troupe (for which he makes all the decisions, with the help of a lawyer, an accountant and a few friends he trusts) is to revive "neglected musicals," which, some have suggested to him, is euphemistic for "flops."
"'Neglected' is the eye of the beholder," said Miller, laughing. He admits his tastes may not be mainstream. Since starting in 1998 (presenting at the Lamb's, American Place Theatre and now the 14th Street Y), he's revived titles that are exactly chart-burners: Let It Ride (1961), So Long, 174th Street (1976), By the Beautiful Sea (1954), Dearest Enemy (1925) and King of Hearts (1978). The current staging is Look, Ma, I'm Dancin', through March 19.
But his followers -- a mostly gay and elderly crowd, he said -- devour the scores. "I'm not getting the Rent crowd, I'm not getting the Stomp crowd or the De La Guarda," he admitted.
Eventually, Miller hopes to hire a development person to seek out grants for the nonprofit company, and he wants his own permanent space. For now, it's four shows per year.
Performances are at The 14th Street Y, 344 E. 14th St. in Manhattan. For more information or reservations, call (212) 362-5620.
Other New York City musicals-in-concert series are Encores! at City Center and York Theatre Company's Musicals in Mufti.
-- By Kenneth Jones