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Ben Franklin In Paris (Original Broadway Cast)

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Album Review

The Broadway musical Ben Franklin in Paris, which, as its title suggests, recounts the Founding Father's adventures, political and amorous, while attempting to gain French recognition for the nascent United States in 1776, has two things going for it, both of which are on display on the original Broadway cast album. The first, which is apparent immediately, is the casting. As the album cover proclaims, it's "Robert Preston in Ben Franklin in Paris," with Preston's name above and nearly as large as the title. Preston, the star of The Music Man, returns to the stage with his broad appeal intact, making songs like "I Invented Myself" more amusing than egotistical. The second thing the show has going for it is hidden. While it was in trouble out of town in Boston, composer Jerry Herman (Hello, Dolly!) came in as a play doctor and ghostwrote two songs, the romantic duets "Too Charming" and "To Be Alone with You" for Preston and co-star Ulla Sallert, that are superior to anything by the credited songwriting team of lyricist Sidney Michaels and composer Mark Sandrich, Jr. Those two elements kept Ben Franklin in Paris on the boards for a while and justified this recording, though the show is substandard.

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