Friday, May 29, 2015

The Musicals of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick

 Jerry Bock from Queens (music) and Sheldon Harnick from Chicago (lyrics)
formed an alliance in 1957, and their first musical, 
The Body Beautiful,
though short-lived, brought them to the attention of 
Producer Hal Prince and Director George Abbott.
Those VIPs of theatre invited the newly formed team 
to help create Fiorello!

 Fiorello! won not only the Tony for Best Musical of 1959,
but the Pulitzer Prize.
It starred Tom Bosley, Howard DaSilva, Nathaniel Frey, 
and a ton of wonderful character actors.

 That was followed by Tenderloin in 1960...
with a book by George Abbott (who wrote Fiorello!)
and Jerome Weidman.
Both William and James Goldman were asked to come in 
to doctor the ailing script during previews.
The patient lived...

She Loves Me, produced in 1963,
was based on "The Little Shop Around The Corner",
and is considered by many to be the team's best score.
It starred Daniel Massey, Barbara Cook, Jack Cassidy, 
Barbara Baxley and Nathaniel Frey.
Above is a photo from a recent revival of the show.

 In 1964, Bock and Harnick had their biggest hit,
Fiddler on the Roof, starring Zero Mostel, 
surrounded here by his on-stage family.
Fiddler was the first Broadway musical to surpass 3,000 performances,
and it held that record for 10 years 
(until Grease passed it in the fast lane!).

 The Apple Tree, a show in 3 parts 
(Mark Twain's Adam and Eve,
Jules Feiffer's Passionella, and Frank R. Stockton's The Lady or the Tiger?)
was produced in 1966,
and starred Larry Blyden, Alan Alda, and Barbara Harris.

 The Rothschilds, 1970...with Leila Martin and Hal Linden...
had 500 performances.
The other side of the Fiddler coin...Tevye as the "Rich Man" he wanted to be.
Bock and Harnick's last collaboration.

Sheldon (at left), Joseph Stein (who wrote the book), Jerry at the keyboard,
and Jerome Robbins (director/choreographer)
at work on Fiddler.
Sheldon is alive and well at age 91, but Jerry passed away in 2010.

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