The other day, I posted a song I like from the musical Shenandoah, which opened in 1975 and was a big hit, running for 1,050 performances, which is about 2-1/2 years. I came across a fun video related to the show, which I thought I'd pass along.
As I mentioned at the time, Shenandoah was written by the same team that had written Purlie a few years before, -- music by Gary Geld, with lyrics by Peter Udell, -- and was an even bigger hit. It starred John Cullum, who won a Tony Award for his performance as Best Lead Actor in a Musical, though he's probably better despite all his stage work, for playing "Holling Vincoeur" on the TV series Northern Exposure.
(Three years later, Cullum won his second Best Lead Actor Tony for On the Twentieth Century. Early on at the start of his Broadway career, he had been in a small role in the original production of Camelot),
This is a series of three TV ads that they made for Shenandoah at the time, The first and last feature Cullum, while the middle ad is that song I posted the other day, "Freedom." Rather than set their ads on stage, the producers decided to give them more a sense of what the show is -- and a sense of its roots, as a classic film that had starred James Stewart. So, they filmed these all outdoors.
I suspect that because most people only know of John Cullum through his TV work, they have no idea that he has such an impressive Broadway musical career -- including the male lead in the big hit, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. And no idea what a glorious singing voice he has. (My friend Jeff Melvoin -- the aforementioned "First Father" of new L.A. School Board member Nick Melvoin who I wrote about earlier today -- was a writer and producer of Northern Exposure. He told me once that they all knew what a great singer Cullum was and dearly wanted to figure out ways to get him to sing in the show, but they insisted that they would never do it until there was an absolute necessity for it in the story. They refused to just toss in a passage for him to sing for the heck of it. The result was that Cullum didn't sing much in the series, but -- there were two episodes I recall where they wrote things such that singing was an absolute necessity. And they were great.
Anyway, for people who don't know John Cullum can sing -- here he is, about to knock your socks off. Plus that "Freedom" song again.
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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