Meet Me In St. Louis (Original Broadway Cast)
Original Broadway Cast
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Although it ran over 14 months on Broadway from 1970 to 1972, The Rothschilds, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's final musical, suffered in comparison to the team's longest running show, Fiddler on the Roof. The comparison was inescapable: Fiddler was about a poor Jewish-Russian milkman of the early 20th century and his five daughters; The Rothschilds was about a rich Jewish-German banker of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and his five sons. But whereas the former was a sentimental tragedy depicting the destruction of tradition through the marriages of the daughters, the latter was a story of historical triumph depicting the rise of the most successful Jewish family in European history. If The Rothschilds had an inspiring tale to tell, it was also one that was emotionally less involving, a problem exacerbated by a structural difficulty: in an attempt to inject feeling into the show, much of the second act was given over to a romantic subplot involving one of the sons that only distracted attention from the main plot. Necessarily, Bock's music, steeped in period styles, and Harnick's lyrics were less universal than those of some of the Fiddler songs. In a sense, The Rothschilds told what would have happened if Fiddler's Tevye really had been a rich man, as he sang, but the fantasy turned out to be more interesting.
Nevertheless, such songs as "He Tossed a Coin," "Sons," "Rothschild and Sons," and "In My Own Lifetime" were among the songwriters' best accomplishments, even if it was hard to imagine any of them being performed outside the show.