Yesterday, I told a story about working with Robert Goulet and having him autograph my copy of the original cast album for The Happy Time, the Kander and Ebb musical for which he won the Tony Award as Best Actor. I thought it would be nice to show an 8-minute video of the show's presentation on the 1968 Tonys. It includes the very enjoyable title song and a charming sort of soft-shoe number, "A Ca that includes co-star David Wayne as his disapproving father and 16-year-old Mike Rupert as Goulet's impressionable nephew.
The show is based on a series of stories, which became a Broadway play in 1950 and then a movie a few years later that starred Louis Jordan, Charles Boyer (as the father), and Bobby Driscoll (from the film Treasure Island). The story is set in French Canada -- which, in fact, is Goulet's heritage, and where he moved when a young boy himself. It concerns memories of one's past, and a man, sort of the black sheep of the family who left home to become a photographer, who returns home for a visit, and how it affects those around him.
The Happy Time was Kander and Ebb's first musical after their breakthrough Cabaret. It didn't have the "bite" of much of their work, and wasn't successful, though it ran for 286 performances. It won two additional Tony awards, to Gower Champion for directing and choreography. While it was famous (or infamous) for its pioneering use of photographic projections (which weren't admired by all, some thinking it overwhelmed the action on the stage) and being the first musical to lose a million dollars, the score still has a bunch of very nice songs throughout.
The production went through a revision for a revival at the Goodspeed Opera House in 1980, notably in the second act, and added some songs that had been cut. Also, the use of photograph projections was dropped And then about 10 years ago, for a college production, Kander and Ebb reworked the show again, with some more cut songs returned, and when finished considered that the "definitive" version. A couple years ago, this was presented at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, and in the Washington Post review of this new production, they called it, among other things, "A little charmer... Effervescent." So, maybe The Happy Time had a happy ending...
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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