THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL Loves Vintage Showtunes

THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL Loves Vintage Showtunes

She’s done it again! She's done it again! Amy Sherman-Palladino, mastermind behind “The Gilmore Girls”, the most pitter-patter paced, binge-worthy television show (that’s nearly a religious experience) has done it again! This time, however, Palladino has paired with Amazon Prime. This makes her latest, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” her least inhibited outing to date. And I’m happy to report that its title is perfectly aplomb: the show is truly marvelous. It's as if vintage Woody Allen and prime Wendy Wasserstein gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Do yourself a favor and take a gander!

Now, you may be asking yourself: “What the hell does his incessant fangirling of a new TV series have to do with Broadway history?” Well, for starters, Amy Sherman-Palladino happens to be created by a dyed-in-the-wool theatre nerd. You guys, she is totally one of us! References to musical theater appear fairly consistently in her work: Pippin, Cabaret, and Fiddler on “The Gilmore Girls”, to name a few.  But, with “Maisel,” it seems her admiration for the musical theatre form has run so deep that it's made itself evident in her plotting. In “Maisel”, we have the story of a woman in 1958 who is learning the sound of her voice via stand-up comedy. That comedy in the series serves a comparable function to that of songs in a musical. As the emotional height of the scene reaches an apex, our lead character finds a microphone and starts telling jokes. Its writers have constructed her stand-up routines to be born naturally from the character’s situation and, in process, advance her comprehension of the world.

Oh, yeah, and the show's soundtrack is absolutely chock-a-block with showtunes. And, because the show is (mostly) dutiful to its 1958 setting, its offerings account for a truly darling period in Broadway’s past. There are a lot of songs that kept me grinning.

And, well, because I really have no other hobbies but this…. here is a comprehensive list of all the showtunes you'll hear in the first season (with a little additional background info on their sources.

Um, you're welcome.


  • “On a Wonderful Day Like Today”

    • Written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
    • May 16, 1965 – December 4, 1965
    • Number of Performances: 231 + 7 Previews

NYT Review: Anthony Newley and his collaborator, Leslie Bricusse, have a penchant for Big Themes. Their hearts generally are in the right place. In “The Roar of the Greasepaint,” they are firmly on the side of the underdog, the little man, the exploited of this planet. But my, oh my, are they pretentious and corny!


  • “Come to the Supermarket (in Old Peking)"

    • Written by Cole Porter
    • February 21, 1958
    • Performed Live for CBS Television

NYT Review: Cole Porter and S.J. Perelman should send out for a genie. Their attempts last night to make a musical out of “Aladdin” ran headlong into sustained disaster. Sal Mineo, an idol of the teen-agers, play Aladdin and was hopelessly out of place. His was the awkward performance of a virtual beginner in the acting art.


  • “Dance Only With Me”

    • Music by Jule Styne; Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
    • April 3, 1958 – January 17, 1959
    • Number of Performances: 332

NYT Review: This one is hardly more than a clever college show. It is a higgledy-piggledy yarn composed of snappy gags and enlivened here and there with songs. How much better it was when it was called “The Pajama Game”!

say darling.jpg

  • “What's In It For You”

    • Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick
    • October 17, 1960 – April 23, 1961
    • Number of Performances: 216 + 6 Previews

NYT Review: The execution is faulty. The fun is only fitful. The glaring weakness is in the point of view. The creators of “Tenderloin” are not quite sure whether they are jesting or in earnest. They end up trying to have it both ways. They are for good and evil, and that leaves the show sitting on the fence.


  • “Comedy Tonight”

    • Written by Stephen Sondheim
    • May 8, 1962 – August 29, 1964
    •  Number of Performances: 964 + 8 Previews

NYT Review: The phrase for the title of the new musical comedy that arrived at the Alvin last night might be, caveat emptor. “A Funny Thing,” indeed! No one gets to the forum; no one even starts for it. And nothing really happens that isn’t older than the forum, more ancient than the agora in Athens. But somehow you keep laughing as if the old sight and sound gags were as good as new.


  • “On The Sunny Side Of The Street”

    • Music by Jimmy McHugh; Lyrics by Dorothy Fields
    • February 25, 1930 – May 17, 1930
    • Number of Performances: 95

NYT Review: Gertrude Lawrence can sometimes make you forget that she is a matchless comedienne by overacting every stroke. The review has been lavishly set and costumed, staged well in the dancing numbers and keyed to a high pace when the material is not sluggish. Last evening seemed frantically assembled, cluttered with unprepossessing sketches and heavy-footed.

NOTE: Photo of Lew Leslie's BLACKBIRDS of 1928

NOTE: Photo of Lew Leslie's BLACKBIRDS of 1928

  • “The Gentleman Is a Dope”

    • Music by Richard Rodgers; Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    • October 10, 1947 – July 10, 1948
    • Number of Performances: 315

NYT Review: If the first half of “Allegro” were not so overwhelming, the commonplaceness of the second act would be hardly worth noting. Perhaps it is only commonplace by comparison. If this review sounds ungratefully reluctant it is because Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Hammerstein have just missed the final splendor of a perfect work of art.

Allegro B.jpg

  • “I Enjoy Being a Girl”

    • Music by Richard Rodgers; Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    • December 1, 1958 – May 7 1960
    • Number of Performances: 600

NYT Review: Being in an amiable frame of mind, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II have written a pleasant musical play. Since they are the masters of the medium, it is customary to discuss them in more legendary language. But this is an occasion when their good feeling for the human race, their warmth and professionalism are the factors that make something pleasant out of something that does not have the distinction of their great works.

Flower Drum Song.jpg

  • “It Isn't Enough“

    • Written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newly
    • May 16, 1965 – December 4, 1965
    • Number of Performances: 231 + 7 Previews

NYT Review: In a time when the stage is hungry for Brave, New Voices, one hates to discourage anyone who tackles Big Themes, especially one so immense as Playing the Game. But, unhappily, the name of “Greasepaint’s” game is Banality.

Roar 2.jpg

  • “Life Upon the Wicked Stage”

    • Music by Jerome Kern; Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    • December 27, 1927 – May 4, 1929
    • Number of Performances: 572

NYT Review: All right, there you have it: “Show Boat” is, with a few reservations in favor of some of the earlier “Follies” and possibly “Sally,” just about the best musical piece ever to arrive under Mr. Ziegfeld’s silken gonfalon. It has, barring perhaps a slight lack of one kind of comedy, and an overabundance of another, and a little slowness in getting under way—this last due to the fact that it is crammed with plot which simply must be explained—about every ingredient that the perfect song-and-dance concoction should have.

Show Boat.jpg

  • “(Ya Got) Trouble”

    • Written by Meredith Willson
    • December 19, 1957 – April 15, 1961
    • Number of Performances: 1375

NYT Review: Mr. Willson’s sophistication is skin-deep. His heart is in the wonderful simplicities of provincial life in Iowa in 1912, and his musical show glows with enjoyment.

Music Man.jpg

  • “Hey There”

    • Written by RIchard Adler and Jerry Ross
    • May 13, 1954 – November 24, 1956
    • Number of Performances: 1063

NYT Review: The last new musical of the season is the best. For, like the customers who are now going to pour into the St. James, [Director George] Abbott is really interested in the color, humor and revelry of a first-rate musical rumpus. “The Pajama Game” fits those specifications exactly.


  • “All The Things You Are”

    • Music by Jerome Kern; Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    • November 17, 1939 – January 6, 1940
    • Number of Performances: 59

NYT Review: But it will be impossible to enshrine “Very Warm for May” in the same niche that does honor to [Hammerstein and Kern’s] masterpieces. For the book is a singularly haphazard invention that throws the whole show out of focus and makes an appreciation of Mr. Kern’s music almost a challenge. They have mounted it lavishly; they have also populated it with some beguiling young people. But there has seldom been a book that fought entertainment as successfully as the story of this musical play.

very warm for may.jpg

  • “Carousel Waltz”

    • Music by Richard Rodgers
    • April 19, 1945 – April 24, 1947
    • Number of Performances: 890

NYT Review: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, who can do no wrong, have continued doing no wrong in adapting “Liliom” into a musical play. “Carousel” is on the whole delightful. It spins and whirls across the stage of the Majestic, now fast and rousing, now nostalgic and moving. To it, the composer of the team has brought one of the most beautiful Rodgers scores, and the lyricist some of his best rhymes. The Majestic is across the street from the St. James, where “Oklahoma!” is stationed; the pair of R&H shows will be able to wink at one another for a long time to come.

carousel b.jpg

  • “It's Only a Paper Moon”

    • Music by Harold Arlen; Lyrics by Yip Harburg and Billy Rose
    • December 2, 1932 – Unknown
    • Number of Performances: 11

NYT Review: The authors are not frugal. In one way or another, they manage to peek backstage all the way from Coney Island to rehearsal halls in New York and the flew circus. But the formula of these picaresque slumming parties is now thrice familiar and maggoty talk is no longer a fine theatrical virtue. When these shop-worn staples are eliminated there is very little left to the story.

Seriously, the show ran for 11 performances in 1932 and you thought I would find a picture?!

Seriously, the show ran for 11 performances in 1932 and you thought I would find a picture?!