Wednesday, May 10, 2017

They're The Top?

The 1950s was perhaps the biggest decade for great Broadway musicals, in that the era of the modern integrated musical began in 1943 with Oklahoma! and started dying (as the place that made America's music) when rock took over in the 1960s.  So the 1950s was the only complete decade where the musical was in full flower.

Recently reading Steven Suskin, who's worked on Broadway and written several books about musicals, I came across a statement where he noted there are six shows from the 1950s that are undeniably classics: Guys And Dolls (1950), The King And I (1951), My Fair Lady (1956), West Side Story (1957), The Music Man (1957) and Gypsy (1959).

I guess he's right. But it got me thinking.  What are the other great shows from that era? Certainly I could pick a top ten from the decade of pretty good shows that don't make the list above.

Here are some of the choices:

1950:  Call Me Madam
1951:  Paint Your Wagon, Top Banana, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
1952:  Wish You Were Here, New Faces Of 1952 (revue)
1953:  Can-Can, Kismet, Wonderful Town, Me And Juliet
1954:  Fanny, The Pajama Game, The Boy Friend (import), Peter Pan, The Golden Apple
1955:  Damn Yankees, Plain and Fancy, Silk Stockings, Pipe Dream, The Vamp
1956*: Bells Are Ringing, Candide, The Most Happy Fella, Li'l Abner, Mr. Wonderful
1957:  Jamaica, New Girl in Town
1958:  Flower Drum Song, The Body Beautiful, Say Darling (semi-musical)
1959:  Fiorello!, Once Upon A Mattress, Destry Rides Again, The Sound Of Music, Redhead, Take Me Along, Little Mary Sunshine (off-Broadway)

So my top ten (in chronological order) under the classic six:

Call Me Madam

Wonderful Town

The Pajama Game

Damn Yankees

Bells Are Ringing


The Most Happy Fella

Li'l Abner


Once Upon A Mattress

*Throw in My Fair Lady and 1956 was a pretty amazing year.


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