Musicals on Television will be presented as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, which runs Sept. 12-Oct. 2. The Museum's program kicks off Sept. 22 at 5:30 PM with "NBC Opera Theatre: Trouble in Tahiti." Taped in 1952, Leonard Bernstein's jazzy, satiric opera concerns the lives of an unhappily married suburban couple. Beverly Wolff and David Atkinson starred in the piece, which was conducted by Bernstein and directed by Kirk Browning. The running time is 45 minutes.
"Bell Telephone Hour: The Music of Harold Arlen" will also be screened on Sept. 22 at 6:30 PM. Performers in the 1965 program included Dinah Shore, Duke Ellington, Gordon MacRae, Leslie Uggams, Gretchen Wyler, Edward Villella and Patricia McBride. The finale of the 60-minute program features composer Arlen and the entire cast singing the "Wizard of Oz" anthem, "Over the Rainbow."
The first television production of "Once Upon a Mattress" — starring Carol Burnett as Princess Winnifred — will be screened Sept. 23 at 1 PM. The 1964 TV musical also featured Joseph Bova, Jane White, Jack Gilford, Bill Hayes, Shani Wallis and Elliott Gould. "Once Upon a Mattress" runs 90 minutes.
On Sept. 23 at 2:30 PM visitors to the Museum can view "Celebrating Sondheim at 75: Follies and More." The 180-minute program includes a mix of TV clips: Alexis Smith sings "The Story of Lucy and Jessie" on the 1975 Tony Awards; Yvonne DeCarlo belts out "I'm Still Here" in a 1978 special, "Hollywood's Diamond Jubilee"; the cast of the original Broadway production of Follies joins the creative team on "The David Frost Show" in 1971; and from 1985, "Great Performances: Follies in Concert," with Lee Remick, Barbara Cook, Mandy Patinkin, George Hearn, Carol Burnett and Elaine Stritch. There is also a 1973 featurette with Sondheim and Anthony Perkins on the making of the film "The Last of Sheila" and a 2003 "Chicago Tonight" segment on Bounce.
"Producers' Showcase: Our Town" will be available for viewing on Sept. 24 (through Oct. 30) at 1 PM. The musical version of Thornton Wilder's play boasts a score by James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn and a cast that includes Frank Sinatra, Eva Marie Saint and Paul Newman. The 80-minute program was directed by Delbert Mann. Song titles include "Love and Marriage" and "Look to Your Heart." A long-lost live television musical, Ruggles of Red Gap, will be presented Sept. 24 (through Oct. 30) at 2:30 PM. Featuring music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Leo Robin, the musical concerns a "perfect English butler who finds himself transported to a small American town in the early 1900's." The cast included Michael Redgrave (as Ruggles), Jane Powell, David Wayne, Imogene Coca and Peter Lawford. Charles Friedman staged the production, which was directed for TV by Clark Jones. The running time is 90 minutes. (Ruggles will also be available for screening at the Los Angeles branch of the Museum of Television & Radio.)
There will be an additional screening of Ruggles of Red Gap Sept. 29 at 6 PM. Following the screening, Rick McCay will interview Jane Powell onstage at the Museum.
The Museum of Television & Radio is located in New York at 25 West 52nd Street. For more information call (212) 621-6800 or visit www.mtr.org. Admission to Musicals on Television is priced $10 (adults), $8 (senior citizens and students) and $5 (children under 14); members are admitted free.