Most people know of Preston as Harold Hill in The Music Man. And some may also know his work in another successful musical, I Do! I Do!, the two-person show he starred in with Mary Martin, written by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (who wrote The Fantasticks), that I've posted video of in the past. He also starred in the Jerry Herman musical, Mack & Mabel, opposite Bernadette Peters, about silent movie legends Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand. It was a flop of just 66 performances, though has had a life beyond that due to the credentials of all involved -- plus a fairly respectable score.
But Preston was in another much-less known Broadway musical, too, one that is far more lost to history. It was, Ben Franklin in Paris, which opened in 1964, with a score by Sidney Michaels and Mark Sandrich Jr. The show was about Franklin's efforts to raise financing for the upcoming American Revolution
The musical wasn't a disaster, despite its lack of recognition, running for 215 performances, most likely I'm guessing on the strength of Preston's star power. The score is okay, though not memorable. There are only two songs that I especially have liked, one of them a lovely number called "Look for Small Pleasures," and the other, a far-more rousing tune, "Half the Battle."
Not long ago, on a whim, I decided to look and see if I could find any video of the show online. And happily, I did find one. And most happily of all -- it's the song, "Half the Battle"!! There are also several minutes of the dialogue scene that leads into it. Most likely it's from an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
So, here then is Robert Preston and other members of the original Broadway cast.