Lyric revives Loesser’s ‘Pleasures & Palaces,’ a musical unseen in 47 years

Continuing our Music Issue week here at Dallas Voice, we have some insights into the rarest of auditory experiences: The lost Broadway musical. No, really ā€” it was all but forgotten … and technically, never on Broadway.

In 1965, composer Frank Loesser and director/choreographer Bob Fosse were hot off their collaboration on the Pulitzer Prize-winning How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying, so they teamed up for another musical. Pleasures and Palaces, based on a flop play (already a bad start) set during the court of Catherine the Great, was booked for a Broadway opening, but during a troubled spring tryout in Detroit ā€” the city’s Free Press called it “lesser Loesser” ā€” the composer pulled the plug. No cast recording. No New York run. Not really even much legend around it.

But Irving’sĀ Lyric Stage, which in recent years has specialized in big productions of Broadway classics, had an “in.” Their musical director, Jay Dias, is pals with Jo Sullivan Loesser, the composer’s widow (Lyric recent produced his great American opera The Most Happy Fella), and got the chance to produce a concert version of this forgotten piece of Americana.

I got a sneak peak at a full, 40-piece orchestral rehearsal with vocals this week, and what an unusual experience it is to hear music played and lyrics sung that have, quite literally, not been heard in my lifetime. It’s a rare treat, featuring one of Lyric’s reigning stars (hunky Bryant Martin) as American naval hero John Paul Jones.

Unlike most other Lyric shows, this production runs a single weekend: Thursday through a Sunday matinee. It is, quite possibly, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear forgotten songs of a golden age of Broadway composing.

Fot tickets, visit Lyric Stage.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones