1776 on Broadway
Since I wrote about the Tony Award nominations earlier today, I figured it was as good a day as any to post this video. It's from the legendary 25th anniversary Tony broadcast in 1971, which remains perhaps the greatest single TV show I've ever seen.
What made it so remarkable? The broadcast not only had the normal production numbers from the five shows nominated for Best Musical, but -- it also included a number from EACH of the 25 previous Best Musical Tony winners...with the original stars re-creating their performances. And yes, it was as special as it sounds. A few years ago, I was able to get a DVD of the broadcast, and it was as tremendous and moving as my memory had recalled.
This selection below is from the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning 1776, which opened only two years earlier, in 1969. I have particularly fond memories of the show because it was the first musical actually on Broadway I'd ever seen. It was still early enough in the run so that most of the original cast was still in it, and the show was tremendous.
The number here that they brought back for that anniversary broadcast is "Yours, Yours, Yours" performed by the original stars William Daniels and Virginia Vestoff -- both of whom would later recreate their performances yet again when the feature film was made. But as good as they were in that, this version here is far more touching. The song is letters between the John and Abigail Adams who are far apart -- him in Philadelphia at Congress, and her back home in Massachusetts. In the film, they staged the number just fine, but being a movie the two characters are brought together in their imagination. In the theater,, as you'll see, its' staged to keep the two separate as much as possible, making the distance between them apparent and all the more touching..This here also includes a good deal of the dialogue that leads into the song.
The gentleman introducing the number is Anthony Quayle, who the year before starred in Broadway production of the great play Sleuth (in the role that Laurence Olivier played in the movie). For all I know, since it began its run in mid-November, only about seven months earlier, he may still have been in the play at the time of this broadcast.
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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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