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One-Hit Wonders

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Shows from songwriters who made it big on Broadway only once.

PLAYLIST
Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
Twenty Fans The Best Little Whorehosue in Texas (OC 1978) Company Based on a 1974 Playboy article of the same title by Larry L. King (no relation to the TV talk-show host). the book of this long-running (1, 703 performances) show (by King and Peter Masterson) tells the mostly true story of a long-established brothel in rural Texas that was closed down due to the efforts of a publicity-hungry TV "newsman", the show took satirical pot-shots at American sexual hypocrisy and featured something relatively rare on Broadway - an unhappy ending. Texas composer Carol L. Hall tried to repeat the show's success (in collaboration with King and Masterson) in 1994 with The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, but the sequel died after 15 performances. The New Line Theatre production of Best Little Whorehouse runs through June 28, 2003 and features Stage Left host Chuck Lavazzi as Senator J.T. Wingwoah. Visit their web site for tons of background information on the show.
The Egg 1776 (Revival Cast 1998) Brent Spiner, Pat Hingle, Paul Michael Valley While book author Peter Stone would go on to author other hits (such as Sugar and The Will Rogers Follies), composer Sherman Edwards' reign on Broadway began and ended with this 1969 hit (1,217 performances and many local and touring productions across the country, plus a faithful film version in 1972). Edwards spent seven years researching this project and then took two and one-half years to write the songs and a book which was eventually replaced by Stone's. Edwards died in 1981. 1776 was revived with great success in 1998, and it's that recording that I used on the show. The Stages St. Louis production of 1776 runs through June 29, 2003.
Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote) Man of La Mancha (Revival Cast 2002) Brian Stokes Mitchell, Ernie Sabella Based on Cervantes' Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha was a huge hit in 1965 (2.328 performances, making it the third longest-running musical of the 1960s) and is a perennial favorite of theatre groups large and small. Composer Mitch Leigh and lyricist Joe Darion never had another hit, either together or separately. This recording is from the 2002 revival cast, with Brian Stokes Mitchell as Cervantes/Don Quixote, Ernie Sabella as Sancho and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Aldonza.
Ya Got Trouble! Tip of the Freberg (1999) Stan Freberg, Jud Conlon Singers, Billy May Orchestra A favorite of singing character actors (including Stan Freberg, in this 1958 recording) for decades, this is (of course) from The Music Man (1957), the only hit by Iowa native Meredith Willson (music, lyrics and book). It took him eight years to write it, it ran 1,375 performances and is probably one of the most frequently-produced musicals in the USA. The show was revived on Broadway in 1980 (with Dick Van Dyke and Meg Bussert as Harold Hill and Marion Paroo) and again in 2000 (wth Craig Bierko and Rebecca Luker) with new choreography by Susan Stroman. It was filmed twice: in 1962 (Robert Preston and Shirley Jones) and 2003 (Matthew Broderick and Kristin Chenoweth in an oddly pallid version).
She Likes Basketball Haines His Way (2001) Guy Haines, orchestra conducted by Todd Ellison Burt Bacharach (music) and Hal David (lyrics) might not be one-hit wonders anywhere else, but the show this song comes from - Promises, Promises (1968) - was their only attempt at a Broadway musical. It ran 1,281 performance and is still revived now and then. The book (by Neil Simon) is based on the 1960 Billy Wilder comedy The Apartment, about a young man (Jack Lemmon in the film, Jerry Orbach in the musical) who finds that he can get ahead in business merely by lending his apartment to executives cheating on their wives - until he falls in love with the paramour of one of those executives.
Normandy Once Upon a Mattress (Revival Cast 1998) Jane Krakowski, David Hibbard, Lawrence Clayton, Heath Lamberts A favorite of community and student theatre groups, Once Upon a Mattress (1959) was a minor hit (490 performances) for Richard Rogers' daughter Mary Rogers, and her only one; Marshall Barer wrote the lyrics. The show is now remembered largely for the previously obscure performer who made her Broadway debut in it, in the lead role of Princess Winnifred the Woebegone - Carol Burnett. Sarah Jessica Parker played the role in the 1998 revival. It produced some wonderful songs, however, including this one.
Alone at the Drive-In My Broadway (1999) Sean McDermott, National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Martin Yates The imitation-1950s musical Grease was a massive hit both in 1972 (3,388 performances - the longest-running show until A Chorus Line surpassed it with 6,137) and again in 1994. The 1978 movie was equally successful. Personally, I have never understood the appeal of this show; its songs have always struck me as glossy imitations (in some cases, drifting periously close to outright plagiarism) of the originals and the satire of 1950s culture is mild at best. This performance of "Alone at the Drive-In", however, is pretty funny.


Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.


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