MUSICALS | In the space of three dispiriting years, during which time disco dominated the airwaves and Studio 54 became New York’s hottest destination, Broadway was beset by a string of legendary flops, including Home Sweet Homer, Rockabye Hamlet, and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a presidential affair by Alan Jay Lerner and Leonard Bernstein that lasted only seven performances. I Love My Wife emerged as a fresh, contemporary comedy; Annie emerged as a family-friendly phenomenon; and Your Arms Too Short to Box with God emerged as a roof-raising gospel celebration. The popular Black musical, based on the Book of Matthew, was conceived and directed by Vinnette Carroll, who premiered the piece at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. Revivals, meanwhile, continued to flood the Main Stem. Pacific Overtures sent John Weidman, Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler, and Harold Prince to the Far East. And, Bubbling Brown Sugar, Dancin’, A Musical Jubilee, and Side By Side By Sondheim were among the new works to demonstrably alter the meaning of “revue.” Once a singular, distinctive form of legitimate stage entertainment, “revue,” by the 1970s, had become a nondescript catchall applied to anthologies, retrospectives, concerts, and song-and-dance displays. One of the decade’s earliest and most influential offerings of the sort was Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, a contemporary cabaret favorite that moved to Broadway in 1972 following a four-year run downtown at the Village Gate.
PLAYS | In addition to the auspicious playwrighting debuts of Michael Cristofer, Albert Innaurato, and David Mamet, Broadway witnessed over the course of the mid-1970s a hodgepodge of nonmusical offerings, from Neil Simon’s Chapter Two and Tom Stoppard’s Travesties to William Luce’s The Belle of Amherst and Simon Gray’s Otherwise Engaged. One of the most prominent, however, was Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman’s The Royal Family, a 1927 classic which received a starry revival under the direction of Ellis Rabb.