Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month, we’re celebrating another effort from composer Arthur Schwartz — a show that closed on Broadway 70 years ago this December. Yes, I’m referring to A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1951), George Abbott’s flawed musical adaptation of Betty Smith’s 1943 novel. I say “flawed adaptation” because Abbott’s decision to cast a star performer — Shirley Booth — in one of the book’s supporting roles necessitated the elevation of her stature, thereby misaligning the rest of the story’s drama, and essentially, its central premise. However, if this made the play weak, the score by Schwartz and Dorothy Fields was an absolute delight, filled with gem after gem. (Heck, it may be Schwartz’s finest hour!) And if you haven’t yet heard the Original Broadway Cast recording, I highly recommend it!
In the meantime, for subscribers who comment below to alert me of their interest, I’m offering access to the entire show in performance — a live audio from the 2005 Encores! production starring Jason Danieley, Sally Murphy, Emily Skinner, and Nancy Anderson. As an excerpt, here’s Danieley with the rousing “I’ll Buy You A Star.” Enjoy!
Come back next month for a new musical rarity! And stay tuned for more Family Ties!