Poster for planned 1995 production
|Music||Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
|Lyrics||Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
|Basis||1938 film St. Martin's Lane|
|Productions||1995 US tour
2006 NY benefit concert
Busker Alley is a musical with music and lyrics by the Sherman Brothers and a book by AJ Carothers, based on the 1938 British film, St. Martin's Lane, which was inspired by the 1905 novel, Small Town Tyrant, by Heinrich Mann.
In the 1995 touring production, Tommy Tune played the lead character, "Charlie Baxter", a busker in love with another busker, who leaves Charlie to follow her dream of becoming a star. The musical toured the US in 1995 but did not open on Broadway.
Background and history
Brothers Robert and Richard Sherman had written the scores to several Disney movies such as Mary Poppins and The Jungle Book. In the mid 1960s, Disney staff scriptwriter, AJ Carothers rediscovered the motion picture St. Martin's Lane and approached the Sherman brothers with the idea of purchasing the rights to the film and making a stage musical out it. The Shermans and AJ Carothers did just that in 1969, writing the musical Piccadilly. But nothing more became of it until 1982 when interest was rekindled, and the project was rewritten and renamed, Blow Us a Kiss. Still, nothing happened with the property until later in the same decade when interest was again sparked, and Tommy Tune became attached to the show.
1995 U.S. tour
With a major Broadway star behind the project, the show was finally launched in 1995 with yet a new name: Busker Alley. The musical opened on April 11, 1995 at the Brown Theatre, Louisville, Kentucky as the start of a 16-city tour. It starred Tune and Darcie Roberts, Brent Barrett, Marcia Lewis, and The Huber Marionettes. Jeff Calhoun directed and choreographed, and sets were by Tony Walton. The producers planned to bring the production to Broadway later the same year at the St. James Theatre. Artist LeRoy Neiman created a 40-foot mural for Busker Alley on the façade of the theater, and the cast performed a number from the show at the 1995 Tony Awards ceremony. The production suffered numerous setbacks during the tour as well as two more name changes including Stage Door Charley (unilaterally chosen by the producer's wife). The show finished its pre-Broadway tour, however, as Buskers.
Six weeks prior to moving to New York, Tune broke his foot during one of the performances in Tampa, Florida. Although Tune's foot would have healed in time, the investors pulled out. The tour ended on October 8, 1995 in Tampa.
In 2003 AJ Carothers and the Sherman Brothers revised their book and song score, changing the name back to Busker Alley.
On November 13, 2006 the York Theatre Company presented a one-night-only benefit concert performance of Busker Alley at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. Jim Dale starred as "Charlie Baxter". Glenn Close appeared as "Dame Libby St. Albans" framing the show's main plot. Also in the cast were: Jessica Grové, George S. Irving, Simon Jones, Noah Racey, John Bolton, Robert Fitch, Anne Rogers, Michael Lane Trautman, Cristy Candler, Diane Wasnak and Bonzer the dog. Tony Walton directed the production, with Lisa Shriver as choreographer. Aaron Gandy was the conductor, and Mark York the pianist. A CD of the performance was recorded on Jay Records.
Busker Alley had been announced for a Broadway production for the 2008-09 season, with Tony Walton as director and designer and Jim Dale to star. In December 2008, the producers announced that the musical would be delayed. On August 25, 2009, the producers announced that they all were leaving the production, and, in a statement said (in part), "We will be returning all of the money to our investors and release all of our sponsors from their obligations."
- Source: allmusicals
- "Busker Alley"
- "Blow Us A Kiss"
- "Hula Love Song"
- "When Do I Get Mine?"
- "What To Do With 'Er"
- "He Has A Way/She Has A Way"
- "When the Moonlight's Bright In Brighton"
- "Crazy 'Appy Tears"
- "Tap Happy Feet"
- "Baby Me"
- "Ordinary Couples"
- "I'm On the Inside"
- "Where Are The Faces (Charlie the Busker)"
- "A Million Miles From You"
- "Tin Whistle Tune"
- "The World of Beautiful Girls"
- "All Around the Town"
- "Paddle Your Own Canoe"
- "Why the Tears?"
- "Waiting for Ann"
- "Never Trust A Lady"
- Busker Alley News Buskeralley.com
- Variety review, June 29, 1995
- Marks, Peter. "Can 'Busker' Go On Without Tune?", The New York Times, October 6, 1995
- Dale and Close originated the roles of P.T. Barnum and his wife, Charity Barnum, in Barnum in 1980.
- York Theatre information
- Gans, Andrew. "Busker Alley Aiming for 2008 Broadway Bow with Tony Winner Dale", playbill.com article, Nov. 30, 2007
- Gans, Andrew.Producers Withdraw from Broadway-Aimed Busker Alley Production", playbill.com, August 25, 2009
- "Busker Alley" Curtain Up article, ca. 2007
- Information on the Busker Alley, York Theatre Company CD