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‘Broadway Jukebox’ Celebrates Forgotten Songs From Flop Musicals

July 21, 1990

NEW YORK (AP) _ Even flop Broadway musicals have some good songs to sing.

The proof is on stage at the John Houseman Theater where ″Broadway Jukebox″ celebrates forgotten music and lyrics from shows that died out of town or expired quickly after reaching New York.

Broadway has produced a lot of bombs. For every ″Fiddler″ or ″Phantom,″ there are 10 shows such as ″Carrie,″ ″Angel,″ ″Goldilocks,″ ″Juno,″ ″Jennie,″ ″Illya Darling,″ ″Henry, Sweet Henry″ and even ″Lolita, My Love.″

And Ed Linderman thinks it’s a shame that few people know songs from these lost musicals. Linderman, the creator and musical director for ″Broadway Jukebox,″ is a fan, a true believer in musical theater.

He came up with this off-Broadway revue’s unusual format. The audience is given a list of 90 songs when they enter the theater. They help choose the 30 numbers that will be sung each night.

Linderman’s selection sheet should soothe the eardrums of the most dedicated Broadway buff. Among the more obscure items sung at a recent performance were the bawdy ″Butler’s Song″ from ″So Long, 174th Street,″ the buoyant ″Show Me Where the Good Times Are″ from ″Hot September,″ the wistful ″My True Heart″ from ″Juno″ and the mocking ″Unrequited Love″ from ″Promenade.″ They make you wonder why these shows went belly up in the first place.

Linderman, who acts as the evening’s unofficial host, has an awkward charm, and he makes up in enthusiasm what he lacks in style. The six singers are competent and in the case of Robert Michael Baker, who finds all the humor in ″Unrequited Love″ and several other comic numbers, more than that.

Unfortunately, director and choreographer Bill Guske turns the evening into a Las Vegas-style revue. Busy dancing, forced smiles and dumb commentary by Linderman dampen the fun. The evening is at its best when the singers are allowed to just stand there and sing. These songs are good enough that they can sell themselves.

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