Was 1964 Broadway's Greatest Year for Musicals? Dolly, Fiddler, Funny Girl and Other Groundbreakers

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15 May 2014

Barbra Streisand in <i>Funny Girl</i>
Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl
Photo by Henry Grossman

From Fiddler on the Roof to Funny Girl, Anyone Can Whistle and Hello, Dolly!, Playbill.com looks back at the landmark productions that debuted on Broadway 50 years ago this season.

There are a few golden years in Broadway history just packed with great musical hits and stars. How many theatre fans wish they could go back in time to, say 1947, with Finian’s Rainbow and Brigadoon; or 1949 with South Pacific and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; or 1956 with My Fair Lady, The Most Happy Fella and Bells Are Ringing; or 2005 with Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and The Light in the Piazza?

But not many wall calendars could compete with 1964, now a half-century gone, for a pure concentration of red-letter days.

The year 1964 saw Carol Channing triumph in Hello, Dolly!, Zero Mostel break and win hearts in Fiddler on the Roof and Barbra Streisand cement her stardom with Funny Girl.

And that was just the top drawer. Golden Boy, High Spirits, Ben Franklin in Paris and Oh! What a Lovely War had a proud place in the next drawer down.

Even the flops of 1964 have their fans. Stephen Sondheim’s cult favorite Anyone Can Whistle ran barely two weeks, and Bert Lahr’s Foxy earned him the Tony Award despite a run of just a few months.

The year 1964 was a time when Broadway musicals were still powerhouses of American mass culture. So let’s pause for a moment and go month by month, show by show and remember why musical theatre fans with access to a time machine might consider setting the dial for that special year.

Click through to explore the landmark theatrical season of 1964.


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