Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month, I’m sharing a live audio of Hello, Sucker!, a never-made-it-to-Broadway flop based on the life of nightclubber Texas Guinan. After a brief world premiere in May 1969 at the Casa Mañana Theatre in Fort Worth, Texas starring Ruta Lee — who was engaged for a Broadway opening later that fall — Hello, Sucker! embarked on a three-month summer tour with Martha Raye stepping into the lead role. But disappointing critical feedback kept the show from ever reaching its final destination, and although plans for an upcoming Broadway debut were still discussed, the so-so Texas Guinan musical played its last performance at the end of August 1969.
Reviews mostly deemed Wilson Stone’s score mediocre, but every paper singled out a different selection of favorite tunes. One that seemed to get the most attention, though, was “Be My Guest,” sung by Martha Raye and heard below — from the live songs-only audio made during the production’s early July run at the Westbury Music Fair in Westbury, NY.
Having listened to this audio — which I’m happy to share with subscribers who comment below to alert me of their interest — I must say that I actually think, for whatever dramatic problems there likely were (in the book especially), the score is surprisingly decent. Nothing here would have set Broadway on figurative fire in late ’69, but a cast album of Hello, Sucker! would have probably still left behind a handful of affable tunes for us Forgotten Musical nerds to enjoy — like Raye’s rousing “Top Of The Climb.”
There are a lot of fun songs I wouldn’t mind sharing here, but I think we’ll wrap up this post with another of the most seemingly popular numbers, the big title tune.
Oh, heck, here’s one more for the road, the jaunty “We’re Off To Guinan’s.” Enjoy!
Come back next week for another Wildcard post! And stay tuned tomorrow for That ’70s Show!