I mentioned that Jerry Orbach was not only a huge Broadway musical star before he began his role as Det. Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order, but that he held the record for most performances. I believe that needs a slight correction -- it's most performances by a leading actor in Broadway history.
He truly had a remarkable career. Just consider the shows he starred in.
In the original off-Broadway production of The Three-Penny Opera, he played Mack the Knife.
In the original off-Broadway production of The Fantasticks, he created the role of El Gallo, who introduced the song "Try to Remember" -- before that show went on to play for 42 years.
He starred in the classic musical, Carnival. He starred in 42nd Street, and was nominated for a Tony as Best Actor. He won the Tony Award for starring in Promises, Promises -- where he co-introduced the song, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again." In a revival of Guys & Dolls, he won the Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Musical, playing Sky Masterson. He starred in several hit plays, Scuba Duba and 6 Rms Riv Vu.
And on top of all that, he was in the original production of Chicago, where he played the sleezy lawyer Billy Flynn. I was lucky enough to see him in that when the show toured to Los Angeles, where it also played with the original stars Gwen Verdon and Chit Rivera. Orbach was not only wonderful, but he also introduced what -- of all the great Kander & Ebb songs -- is my personal favorite. "Razzle Dazzle." I absolutely love the involving infectiousness of the music, and the incredible rhymes and social insight of the lyrics. And Orbach's performance was a cynical gem.
And happily, there's footage of it!
On the old Mike Douglas Show, he did a tribute to Chicago when the original production was a hit on Broadway, and had Gwen Verdon and Chita Rivera on as guests. And thankfully, he also had Jerry Orbach, as well. But most thankfully, he sang "Razzle Dazzle."
Here's what I meant about how great he was. This is how the song is done.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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