Anyone Can Whistle

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{disease, patient, cell}
{town, population, incorporate}
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Anyone Can Whistle is a musical with a book by Arthur Laurents and music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The story concerns a corrupt mayoress, an idealistic nurse, a man who may be a doctor, and various officials, patients and townspeople, all fighting to save a bankrupt town. This musical was Angela Lansbury's first stage musical role.



Eager to work with both Laurents and Sondheim, Angela Lansbury accepted the lead role as Mayoress Cora Hoover Hooper, despite her strong misgivings about the script and her ability to handle the score. Also signed were Lee Remick as Nurse Fay Apple and Harry Guardino as Hapgood. Laurents had wanted Barbra Streisand for the role of Fay, but she turned it down to star in Funny Girl.[1] Following several weeks of rehearsal in New York City, the company moved to Philadelphia for a pre-Broadway tryout period. The reviews were brutal and the audiences hostile, talking back to the cast and walking out in droves. Director Laurents, ignoring criticism about the show's message being trite and its absurdist style difficult to comprehend, poured his energies into restaging rather than dealing with the crux of the problem. Also hampering the production was the fact that Lansbury was being overshadowed by actor Henry Lascoe (whose sudden death of a heart attack on stage, in California while taping a TV episode of "Day in Court", resolved that problem in an unexpected way).

After multiple revisions, the show opened on Broadway on April 4, 1964 at the Majestic Theatre, where it closed after 9 performances and 12 previews, unable to overcome the generally negative reviews it had received. Scenic design was by William and Jean Eckart, costume design by Theoni V. Aldredge, and lighting design by Jules Fisher.Choreographer Herbert Ross received the show's sole Tony Award nomination.

The show became a cult favorite, and a truncated original cast recording released by Columbia Records sold well among Sondheim fans and musical theatre buffs. "There Won't Be Trumpets," a song cut during previews, has become a favorite of cabaret performers.[2]

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