Sheldon Harnick Talks New Moliere Musical, Jerry Bock and Mayor Lindsay

PlayBlog   Sheldon Harnick Talks New Moliere Musical, Jerry Bock and Mayor Lindsay
 
Sheldon Harnick, the Tony Award-winning lyricist of Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me and many other classic musicals, has completed a new musical based on the Moliere comedy The Doctor in Spite of Himself.

"I'm sending it around now, and I think it's wonderful, so I hope it'll get produced," Harnick told Playbill.com at the Nov. 10 unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Mayor John V. Lindsay near the TKTS Booth in Duffy Square. "I don't know if it's for Broadway, but I hope that it gets produced somewhere."

Playbill.com previously reported that a reading of the musical was held at Northwestern University in August of 2009.

Harnick and his frequent composer colleague, Jerry Bock, first worked with Mayor Lindsay when they wrote a song for him to sing to the press at an Inner Circle dinner. The song was a joking response to bad comments the Mayor had received. They repeated their contribution a second time, and other Broadway songwriters, including the team of John Kander and Fred Ebb as well as Stephen Sondheim, later participated in a musical tradition that has continued.

Mayor Lindsay helped create the TKTS Booth -- one of his many contributions to the Broadway community -- while he was mayor of New York City in the 1970's.

Both of Harnick's fellow Fiddler creators, composer Bock and librettist Joseph Stein, have passed away within the past several weeks. Harnick thoughtfully remarked, "It hasn't even totally sunk in yet, but an [event] like this brings it home to me because Jerry Bock should be here and he's not. And, Fred Ebb should be here, too."

Harnick remembered the moment he and his colleagues first realized Fiddler was a hit. It was during its tryout in Washington, D.C., after a shaky first run in Detroit. In fact, even a Detroit newspaper strike could not keep the D.C. crowds from forming. "We thought, 'How on earth did they know about this?'" Harnick said. "There was [also] a blackout in Detroit; people must have called their friends. And then the same thing happened when we went to rehearsal in New York. We were just astonished. And we looked at each other and we thought, 'This may be the only time in our lives when we don't have to worry about the critics because there's something about this show which people like.'"

The plaque dedication at Duffy Square brought out other theatre luminaries, including director Hal Prince, who produced Fiddler and recommended Bock and Harnick to Lindsay as songwriters for the Inner Circle dinner. Joel Grey, whom Prince directed as the Emcee in Cabaret, serenaded the crowd with "Give My Regards to Broadway" after he and Prince shared their memories of Lindsay.

[caption id="attachment_11775" align="aligncenter" width="460" caption="New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin, Theater Development Fund Chair Earl Wiener, Joel Grey, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Kathy Lindsay Lake, New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Margaret Lindsay Picotte, John Lindsay Jr., Mary D. Lindsay, Robert Lindsay, Sheldon Harnick, former Lindsay Chief of Staff Jay Kriegel and Hal Prince"]New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin, Theater Development Fund Chair Earl Wiener, Joel  Grey, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Kathy Lindsay Lake, New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Margaret Lindsay Picotte, John Lindsay Jr., Mary D. Lindsay, Robert Lindsay, Sheldon Harnick, former Lindsay Chief of Staff Jay Kriegel and Hal Prince[/caption]
photo by Malcolm Pinckney

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