Thanks to Kevin at Theatre Aficionado at Large I've been browsing through a very cool collection of poster art from Broadway musicals.
I found one for the very short-lived musical Ari, based on the bestselling novel Exodus, by Leon Uris, about the founding of the State of Israel. (The Playbill is from eBay.)
I never knew there was a musical version of Exodus until I read Everything Was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies, by Ted Chapin, who mentions it briefly. With Passover starting tonight, what better show to write about!
Uris adapted his 1958 novel for the stage and wrote the lyrics. The music was composed by Walt Smith, about whom I haven't been able to find anything. Perhaps this was his first and only foray into musical theatre.
The musical takes place in Cyprus in 1947, so apparently it only covers the first part of the book, when Jewish refugees are trying to break the British blockade and reach Palestine.
In the show's cast were David Cryer as the handsome and fearless sabra Ari Ben Canaan, and Constance Towers as his love interest, the American Kitty Fremont.
(Their roles were played by Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint in the 1960 movie version of Exodus. Too bad they couldn't have gotten Jill Haworth, who was a young Jewish refugee in the movie and grew up to be Broadway's original Sally Bowles in Cabaret.)
After a tryout in Washington, D.C., Broadway previews began on Jan. 6, 1971, at the gorgeous Mark Hellinger Theatre, now the Times Square Church, which, thanks to Kevin, I had the great fortune to tour last fall. Ari opened on Jan. 15 and closed on Jan. 30.
Some musicals were just not meant to be, I guess.
This is hard to believe but the show's producers, Leonard Goldberg and Ken Gaston, had even worse luck with their next Broadway musical, Heathen!, set in Hawaii in 1819 and 1972. After six previews at the Billy Rose Theatre, the show opened - and closed - on May 21, 1972.
Now that there's a native of the Aloha State in the White House, maybe it's time for a revival!