Quite a few years back, I saw a community theater production of a musical called, Rags. It had been a flop musical back in the late '80s, but I'd always wanted see it, if only for its pedigree. The score had music by Charles Strouse, who wrote Bye Bye Birdie and the Tony-winning Applause, and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz whose varied career of flops and hits included Pippin, Godspell and Wicked (all of which he wrote both the music and lyrics for). And the book was by Joseph Stein, whose many credits included Fiddler on the Roof.
Alas, Rags only lasted four performances -- yet it still received five Tony nominations, including ones for Best Music and Best Original Score.
The story is a bit dark, concerning immigrant Jews at the turn of the century trying to make a life for themselves, but caught in the rag trade. The show, when I saw it, was mixed. Keeping in mind that it wasn't the greatest production, overall I liked it quite a lot. The first act, in fact, was tremendous. It weakened a bit in the second act (for reasons at this point I don't recall exactly), but I think it was because the serious turned in on itself a bit too much and impacted the score and scope of the show. But for the most part, I thought it was a good show.
This is the title song, presented on the 1987 Tony Awards, and I particularly like it because it features one of my faves, Judy Kuhn (who went on to create the role of 'Cosette,' in the Broadway production of Les Miserables -- and appears in the 10th anniversary all-star production -- though she's probably best recognized by a legion of kids as the singing voice is Disney's Pochahantas.). She received a Drama Desk nomination for Best Featured Actress in Rags. (The show's star, Teresa Stratas, got a Tony nomination for Best Lead Actress in a Musical, She later left Broadway and had a successful opera career.) Also in the video is Dick Latessa.
Here then is "Rags" from...Rags.
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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