Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Miles from the Mainstream
D. R. ZUKERMAN, proprietor
A Person and a Part

March 5, 2022 --

Recently, LPR read John le Carre's "Smiley's People," the third novel in the "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy trilogy."

The BBC produced a television series of the original novel with Alec Guinness as Smiley, Bernard Hepton as Toby Esterhase, Michael Jayston as Peter Guillam, and Anthony Bate, as Sir Oliver Lacon.   These characters appeared in "Smiley's People," and as LPR read the novel, he couldn't help seeing Guinness, Hepton, Jayston and Bate in the roles they portrayed in the tv series of "Tinker, Tailor."   (Via a Google search, I learned that Guinness, Hepton and Bate also portrayed Smiley, Esterhase and Lacon in the tv version of "Smiley's People" -- which LPR has not seen.  Had LPR  seen "Smiley's People" he  likely would have been disappointed that  another actor, not Michael Jayston, was Peter Guillam in "Smiley's People.

The other day, LPR learned that "Funny Girl" was getting its first Broadway revival, with previews later this month, and the opening to occur in April.  An article on the revival, in The New York Times, February 27, noted that this was the first revival on "Funny Girl," suggesting that it had not been previously produced because Barbra Streisand was too identified with the title role -- the singer/comic Fanny Brice, of the first half of the 20th century.  The musical, melodies by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill, opened in 1964 -- and after 58 years, someone not known previously to LPR, 28-year old  Beanie Feldstein, will play Fanny Brice. (The book, incidentally, is being tweaked by Harvey Fierstein.)   The Times story noted that revivals of "Gypsy" have appeared at  regular intervals on Broadway, notwithstanding the power of the original stage mother Rose, played by Ethel Merman.  Consider, too, the many revivals of "My Fair Lady," despite the prominence of Rex Harrison, the original Prof. Henry Higgins.

Think also of Robert Preston, as Prof. Harold Hill in "The Music Man."   On February 27, LPR had the good fortune to be taken by dear friends to the current revival of the Meredith Willson musical starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. 

LPR was wowed some twenty years ago by Jackman playing the role of Peter Allen in "The Boy From Oz."  (L{R has not seen any of Jackman's popular movies that have made zillions of dollars, apparently.).  Comparing the Preston/Hill with the Jackman/Hill, LPR decided that Preston was more the actor in the part; Jackman more the entertainer.  Jackman did lots of dancing in this production; as LPR recalls from the Preston production -- and also from his movie role -- Preston was more a prancer, than dancer.  And -- perhaps this is just nostalgia on LPR's part, the romance between Hill and Marian was more believable between Preston and Barbra Cook in the original Broadway production, than between Jackman and Foster.  For those who have no recollection of Robert Preston in "The Music Man" -- or, for that matter, Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice, there is no reason -- apart from the very high ticket prices -- not to see these revivals this season.

But this leads logically to a subject that has appeared on this website several times:  Shouldn't we have a Broadway Musical Theatre Repertory Company that will, eventually, be for Broadway musicals what the Metropolitan Opera Company is for opera?

LPR has a hunch that if there had been a Broadway musical rep company, "Funny Girl" would have played on the Broadway boards well before the passage of nearly six decades.