The Body Beautiful
|The Body Beautiful|
Original Cast Recording
The first collaboration by Harnick and Bock, and the only one to have a contemporary setting, its plot focuses on a wealthy Dartmouth College graduate who aspires to be a prize-winning boxer and the girl he loves who disapproves of his ambitions. His fight manager must cope with uninspired fighters, two ex-wives and a new girlfriend.
After a tryout at the Erlanger Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Broadway production, directed by George Schaefer and choreographed by Herbert Ross, opened on January 23, 1958, at The Broadway Theatre, where it ran for 60 performances. The cast included Mindy Carson, Steve Forrest, Jack Warden, Barbara McNair, William Hickey, and Brock Peters.
Journalist Dorothy Kilgallen and her husband Dick Kollmar, co-produced the short-run musical, along with Albert W. Selden. Kilgallen, known primarily at the time for her appearances as a panelist on TV's What's My Line, and her fellow panelists made mention of The Body Beautiful on various episodes of the game show during this time period. In fact, on one episode of the Sunday-night staple on CBS, Ed Becker, one of the cast members of the ill-fated musical (a well-built young man, billed as a "chorus boy" in the episode) appeared as a contestant and stumped Ms. Kilgallen and the rest of the panel, much to the delight of host, John Charles Daly.
Despite the show's failure, its score captured the attention of director George Abbott and producer Hal Prince, who hired the songwriting team for their next project, the politically themed Fiorello!, which proved to be a hit.