Hello, Suckers…

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!

27 thoughts on “Hello, Suckers…

  1. Oh my gosh! Never imagined I’d hear this one. Sort of like “I Dreamt I Dwelt In Bloongdales” of the same era- not much survives from it. Would love to have the audio for “Hello, Sucker!”

  2. I like this score. It’s not great, but it’s definitely good. I know there was never a cast album recorded, but if there were I would buy it.

  3. Interesting hearing Martha Raye in a musical, and not bad. I liked a couple of these songs and would appreciate hearing more. Thanks so much for digging up more history.

  4. Hi Jackson. Please send a link for the Martha Raye recordings of Westbury’s “Hello Sucker”

  5. I was a dresser for Martha Raye at the smithville music fair in 1968 She was outrageous. Really funny and sweet and talked like a sailor. Thanks for posting the music.

    • Hi, Sherry! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      How nice to know that Raye was privately just like she appeared publicly!

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