Broadway Bound

Oct 24, 2020 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM

With Garrett Stack

Survivor: Broadway in the '80s


New York City was a mess in the 1980's. Broadway attendance plummeted. Some predicted the end of the American Musical. In spite of all that, a few blockbuster musicals emerged during that decade and saved the Great White Way just in time to make its historic turnaround in the 1990's.

Broadway Bound #264 -- Survivor: Broadway in the '80s

With Broadway attendance figures and revenues constantly setting records in the 21st century, it's hard to imagine that just 30 years ago we almost witnessed the end of this American art form. New York City's most important tourist destination is the Broadway Theater District, the blocks surrounding Times Square that house 40 Broadway Theaters and many more smaller venues. But in the 1980's parts of the city were riddled by crime, filth, and decadence. The Times Square area was among the worst.

42nd Street was home to pimps, prostitutes, panhandlers, peep shows and hustlers. Garbage tossed on the street, urine puddles on sidewalks, derelicts living in boxes and street crime was part of the vibe. Tourism to Broadway dropped. Families would not come. It seemed only the stalwart theater aficionados ventured to shows. Get in, see a show, get out. As a result producers were not funding new works to the degree they had. New shows, especially the more expensive musicals, were disappearing. Some predicted that the American Musical Theater had taken its last gasp.

Fortunately, that was not the case. In spite of all the obstacles many of Broadway's most enduring new musicals opened during the '80s. There were also the revivals. However, there were many musicals most people have never heard of that were nominated for Tony Awards. There simply were so few to choose from that the Tony Committee had to find something to fill the slots. Musicals with titles like Tintypes, Grind, Merlin, Quilters, Starmites, Romance/Romance and Big Deal were all Best Musical nominations during the decade.

But there were also brand new musicals that proved creativity in musical theater was alive and well. Here's a sampling of the best: 42nd Street, Nine, Cats, La Cage aux Folles, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Sunday in the Park With George, Into the Woods, My One and Only, Big River and Dreamgirls. Audiences supported these shows and kept the lights burning.

On this edition of Broadwaty Bound we salute the '80s musicals that held down the fort for more than a decade providing reason for the Broadway Renaissance of the 1990's that continues to this day.

Broadway Bound
4:03 PM
Danny Carroll Overture / Audition Harry Warren
42nd Street (Original Broadway Cast Recording) Masterworks Broadway USBC18000262
4:09 PM
Lauren Bacall The Grass is Always Greener John Kander
Woman of the Year (Original Broadway Cast Recording) Sony Music USBC11500085
4:14 PM
Debra Monk The Best Man Debra Monk, J. WANN, Cass Morgan, Mark Hardwick, John Foley, John Schimmel
Pump Boys and Dinettes (Original Broadway Cast Recording) Masterworks Broadway USSM10207225
4:17 PM
Various Artists Cadillac Car Henry Krieger
Dreamgirls: Original Broadway Cast Album Universal Music Ireland Ltd. USGF18200703
4:21 PM
Karen Akers Be on Your Own Maury Yeston
The Party's Over: Broadway Sings the Blues Masterworks Broadway USSM19304028
4:26 PM
My One And Only Strike Up The Band George Gershwin
My One And Only (Original Cast Recording) Rhino Atlantic USAT20002124
4:32 PM
Original Cast Of Cats The Ad-Dressing Of Cats
Highlights From Cats Universal Music Ireland Ltd. GBALG8900016
4:37 PM
Bernadette Peters Move On Stephen Sondheim
Sunday in the Park with George (Original Broadway Cast Recording) Masterworks Broadway USBC18400152
4:42 PM
Donald Pippin The Finale: With You on My Arm; La Cage aux Folles; Song on the Sand; The Best of Times (Reprise) (From La Cage Aux Folles) Jerry Herman
La Cage Aux Folles Original Broadway Cast RCA Red Seal USBC18300165
4:49 PM
Darlene Love (Today I Met) The Boy I Gonna Marry
Leader of the Pack Original Broadway Cast
4:54 PM
Daniel Jenkins River In The Rain Roger Miller
Big River: The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn Universal Music Ireland Ltd. USMC19545725
5:02 PM
Bernadette Peters Unexpected Song Andrew Lloyd Webber
Song & Dance - The Songs (Original Broadway Cast Recording) Masterworks Broadway USBC18500263
5:08 PM
Cleo Laine Don't Quit While You're Ahead (Puffer & Company) Rupert Holmes
The Mystery Of Edwin Drood Verve USUM71204566
5:14 PM
Dick Latessa Rags: The New American Musical: Rags Charles Strouse
Rags: The New American Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording) SME - Masterworks Broadway USSM10409540
5:19 PM
Various Artists Red And Black
Les Misérables Original Broadway Cast Universal Music Ireland Ltd. USGF18715115
5:24 PM
David Bryant Empty Chairs At Empty Tables
Les Miserables Original Broadway Cast Universal Music Ireland Ltd. USGF18715132
5:28 PM
Bernadette Peters & Company Finale: Children Will Listen (From "Into The Woods") Stephen Sondheim
Into The Woods Original Broadway Cast RCA Red Seal USBC18700170
5:33 PM
Phantom Of The Opera Original London Cast The Mirror (Angel Of Music) Andrew Lloyd Webber
Highlights From Phantom Of The Opera Universal Music Ireland Ltd. GBUM71301497
5:35 PM
Andrew Lloyd Webber The Phantom Of The Opera
Unmasked: The Platinum Collection UMC (Universal Music Catalogue) GBF068790005
5:44 PM
Black and Blue (1989 Original Broadway Cast) If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep Sittin' On It
Black And Blue DRG Records USKO10409048
5:50 PM
Paul Gemignani Comedy Tonight (From "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum")
Celebrate Broadway Vol. 3/Lullaby of Broadway RCA Victor USBC18900257
5:55 PM
John Williams;The Boston Pops Orchestra I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables
Music of the Night: Pops on Broadway 1990 Sony Classical USSM19918322
5:56 PM
Various Artists Do You Hear The People Sing? Alain Albert Boublil, Claude-Michel Schönberg, H. Kretzmer, J.M. Natel
Les Miserables - Highlights Universal Music Ireland Ltd. USGF18715116