The Messiah Returns...
Speaking of lost songs, the timing is too good...Last week, I posted the song, "When Messiah Comes," which was supposed to come at the end of Fiddler on the Roof, but got cut. I have a slight update.
Since posting it and listening to the song again (and again), I've been envisioning how Zero Mostel must have performed it every night, and it became heart-breaking to know that no recording of him doing it exists. I decided to see what I could to find out if that was the case, so I went to the source and asked the show's lyricst Sheldon Harnick. (I have to admit, it's nice when you can do something like that...)
He wrote back that as far he knows, there "was never a recording of Zero" doing it. However, he added a reminder of a related bit of information from an earlier exchange. "As I think I mentioned, he loved the song and his were the loudest protests when we cut it!"
I can only imagine. In fact, that's what prompted my asking if any recording existed. Whether or not the song worked in the show, I suspect that Zero Mostel's performance of it was remarkable. Listen to the song again, but this time not with Sheldon Harnick singing, but put in the voice of Zero Mostel...
3/10/2013 08:50:40 pm
This sort of thing isn't unusual. Probably, in large part since my name is Paige, and I'm bastard descent from Hapsburgs, Camelot's King Arthur (yes... the incredible Richard Burton) wrote me about what happened to two songs in Camelot. They were considered too sophisticated and character complexl for the general American audience, even the general New York audience of the early '60's. They were, however, recorded -- one by Julie Andrews and the other by a chorus of Knights not including Bob Goulet. The two numbers were "Then You May Take Me To the Fair" and "Fie on Goodness" and it was thought that the fans of deeply romantic legend and whimsy wouldn't take to Julie Andrews in a pleasantly homicidal state and the Knights going completely bad. As we all know, Richard Burton never made the run of the show and the numbers were probably never re-instated anywhere. I forget whether or not they popped back up in the movie. I only saw the musical once on stage, with Burton, and it was largely silly to me, but that's because of his influence... an unspoken if difficult joy. :-}
3/11/2013 01:41:30 am
Absolutely, it's not remotely uncommon. There is a series of CDs, "Lost in Boston" about songs cut from shows during rehearsals. There's even a multi-disc collection of songs cut from Stephen Sondheim shows alone.
3/11/2013 11:52:07 pm
Both songs were on the original album that was recorded in New York too, as I guess you know, and was widely sold before the play opened. Both were left out of the original New York stage production that I attended and, amazingly, at the age of minus 10 and a half, I noticed that and wrote to Burton to wonder why. I got a long hand-typed letter back, with no secretary's initials, on his blue stationary. I believe that he was perfectly sober when he wrote it, but maybe not.
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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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