Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Where You Going?

One more clip from the recording session of Company: Dean Jones (Robert) and Susan Browning (April, the stewardess whose name Robert can't remember even after he's slept with her) sing "Barcelona," that show-tune rarity: a subtle, low-key comedy song. Most comedy songs, including Sondheim's, have kind of a setup/punchline structure where each section of the song is a complete self-contained joke (like "The Ladies Who Lunch" from the same show). This is more like a Second City sketch in music and rhyme; the biggest laugh in the song is from an exchange that doesn't actually read like a joke:

ROBERT: Where you going?
APRIL: Barcelona.

Dean Jones, of The Love Bug fame, left Company soon after the show opened. The story is that Jones had decided early on that he wanted to leave the show, but agreed to stay through the opening and a few weeks beyond so that the show could establish itself without any "star quits out of town" stories. Jones' replacement, Larry Kert (who Prince and Sondheim knew from his lead role in the original West Side Story) got a Tony nomination -- the first mid-run replacement to get such a nomination -- but because Jones recorded the cast album, and because he was such perfect casting for the part (a handsome, superficially likable guy who has no idea what to do with his life), he's forever identified with the show.

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