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The Dress Circle: No Broadway Transfers - Part 1

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Last year, we looked at some British musicals that played in the West End but never made the transfer to Broadway. On this week’s Dress Circle (7/24 7:00 p.m.), we’re presenting the first of two more programs that will be looking at eight more musicals.

Our first musical was based on the film with music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. “Doctor Dolittle” ran for nearly a year after opening in London in 1998, and it did make it to the States in two national tours in 2005 & 2006, but it never appeared on Broadway. The original cast recording features Philip Schofield as the Doctor and the voice of Polynesia the Parrot who teaches him to “Talk to the Animals” was supplied by Julie Andrews.

Although not based on a film, our second musical was based on a hit song by Barry Manilow with lyrics by Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman. “Copacabana” started life in Atlantic City where it ran for about nine months as a one-hour musical. After four years, it showed up in London’s West End as a full-length musical after premiering in Plymouth. It ran for over two years at the Prince of Wales Theatre, but didn’t come back to the States until 2000 in a production that played in Pittsburgh before heading off on a national tour.

Sandy Wilson is best known in the United States for his hit “The Boy Friend” which brought Julie Andrews to Broadway. Our third musical of the evening, however, didn’t ever seem to make the transfer to a professional theatre in the States. “Valmouth” might just be too “British” a show. Based on the novel of the same name by Ronald Firbank, Valmouth is a mythical seaside resort that is visited by some fantastical and bizarre people which is somehow disappears by the end of the musical. It began life in Hammersmith, a London suburb, before moving to the Saville Theatre which was raised, and is now a cinema. We have selections from two cast recordings: the original West End cast which featured Cleo Laine, and a Chichester Festival revival cast that features the shows original lead from Hammersmith, Bertice Reading.

Our final show of the evening is another based on a film. This one is the non-musical “The Witches of Eastwick” which features an excellent score by John Dempsey who also penned shows such as “Zombie Prom” and “The Fix.” The London production opened at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in July of 2000 before transferring to the Prince of Wales to continue its run of 17 months. Ian McShane was “Darryl,” and he was joined by Lucie Arnaz, Maria Friedman, and Joanna Riding. The show is fun, sarcastic, bawdy, and often rude, and we really enjoyed it. After productions in Australia, Russia, and the Czech Republic, it did have a production at Arlington, Virginia’s Signature Theatre in 2007, but never made it northward to New York.

If you don’t know these shows, it’s a chance to see if you like them, but we think that you will.

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Ted Otten is co-host of The Dress Circle
Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.
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