Tony Winners, 1968, Hallelujah Baby

28 Mar

hallelujah baby

After all the great musicals of the huge, thoughtful musicals of the mid-sixties, Hallelujah, Baby is a little bit of a disappointment.   It starts out as an evisceration of race relations in America, and then it flinches, turning into a melodrama.  Even the soundtrack seems split in two–the first half, serious about being held down and trying to get ahead, and the second part being these big show tunes that could be in almost any musical.   While the songs are all very nice, very few of them have very much character.    Also, when about half the songs sound contemporary, and half sound like they could be from Hello Dolly.     Originally Lena Horne was supposed to be in this show, and that makes sense, because she has character to spare that you want songs that don’t distract from that.   Leslie Uggams might arguably be a better singer, however she doesn’t have the charisma to back it up.

I can’t say there’s anything else that year that was any better.  The odd tonal shifts to this piece end up hurting it in the end.  It’s actually a perfect piece for that year, Broadway struggling to keep the old tradition while awkwardly bringing in new styles.  This trend would only amplify in the coming years.

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