Destry Rides Again
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The 1959 musical adaptation of Max Brand's Western novel Destry Rides Again, about a bashful lawman who tames a frontier town without using a gun (almost), did not answer the usual descriptions of a Broadway show as either a "hit" or a "flop"; it ran for more than a year after its April 23 opening, but it closed without turning a profit. One reason may have been the competition, as it played at the same time as blockbusters like Gypsy and The Sound of Music. But audiences also may have been disappointed that it had a very different feel from the 1939 film version that had starred James Stewart along with Marlene Dietrich, who made a personal standard out of "The Boys in the Back Room." That Frederick Hollander/Frank Loesser song was not in evidence, replaced by a frisky, hard-working Harold Rome score that was steeped in Broadway clichés but still tuneful and enjoyable. The understated Stewart was nowhere to be found in the characteristically ingratiating performance of Andy Griffith, and veteran musical star Dolores Gray's broad belting was nothing like Dietrich's raspy timbre. Still, the show is more memorable for its principals than for its music, especially Griffith, whose winning persona soon would find its ideal embodiment on his long-running television show. Destry Rides Again attracted only one significant revival in the 25 years after its original production, an indication of its footnote status in the history of Broadway. The original cast album effectively displays the show's sturdy, but essentially modest, virtues.
Born: 01 June 1926 in Mount Airy, NC
Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s
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