Hallelujah, Baby!, one of those rare Best Musical Tony Award winners that has fallen into a kind of obscurity, gets a concert revival in the York Theatre Company's Musicals in Mufti series, Oct. 27-29.
The 1967 tuner by Arthur Laurents (book), Betty Comden and Adolph Green (lyrics) and Jule Styne (composer) follows African-American characters through the first 67 years of the 20th century, though they do not age. The conceptual musical earned Leslie Uggams a Tony that year. The show had closed by Tony Award time, but nabbed the Best Musical prize.
The musical charts personal, social cultural and entertainment changes over the decades, and did spawn an original cast album that has been reissued on CD. Over the years, parts of the score have surfaced in cabaret shows; "Being Good," "Not Mine," "My Own Morning" and "Talking to Yourself" are standout numbers.
The script-in-hand concert — the first New York presentation of the show in 33 years — features Thursday Farrar (Heather Headley's Aida understudy) in the Leslie Uggams role of Georgina. Carol Woods, from the upcoming Follies revival, will play the role originated by Lillian Hayman (who also took home a Tony). Hope Clarke, of the original Hallelujah, Baby! cast, directs. The company includes Mark Aldrich, Shavonne Conroy, Kena Dorsey, Darryl Reuben Hall, Leslie Kritzer, Aaron Lazar, Janice Lorraine, Frank Stancati, Dathan Williams.
The original production, staged in the decade of the most significant Civil Rights outcry in the U.S., came long before the term "African American" was popularly used. The show's authors are not black. Burt Shevelove directed, Kevin Carlisle choreographed. Robert Hooks and Allen Case also starred. The show ran 293 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre. Hallelujah, Baby! plays the Theatre at St. Peters, located in the Citicorp Center, 619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street. For tickets, call (212) 935-5820.
— By Kenneth Jones