This song was written for the slot in the show that “Raunchy” now occupies, and even shares the same intro verse as that song. The context is that Lizzie is fantasizing about letting her hair down and being a wild, ‘loose’ party girl, something that is normally completely foreign to her nature. And while including a song with a title like “Flibbertigibbet” would have made the show even more dated today than it already is, this song has a wonderfully catchy tune and is extremely distinctive and memorable. And given the fact that its replacement, “Raunchy”, is the weakest song in the finished score, it probably would have been wiser to keep this song, but superproducer David Merrick took a dislike toward it for some reason, and Merrick generally got what he wanted. (Actually, there were no less than four numbers written for this slot. The other two were “I Can Dance”, which was too innocent and ingenue-esque to fit the moment, and “Dessau Dance Hall”, which was basically a slightly different alternate draft of “Raunchy”. Legend has it that there were actually over 110 songs written for this score; I can’t say for sure if that’s true, but it does have a ridiculously large collection of cut number for a single show, even when you limit your survey to what has actually been recorded.)
The Lost In Boston CD series called this ‘the only song cut from The Fantasticks‘, but what that actually means was that it was the only song cut once the show as a whole was more or less finished, as there are several other dropped songs from the developing stages. This song was the original climactic number in the show, and while it is a musically attractive piece with the extremely recognizable sound of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt’s songwriting, dropping it was the smartest move they could have made. It was supposed to be the resolution of the central relationship, but it didn’t have anywhere close to the emotional impact to make that moment work, and the lyric was far too straightforward and earthbound to match the show’s mood of effusive lyricism anyway. It was replaced by the quietly exquisite “They Were You”, which, with its more poetic and abstract (and thus more universal) lyrics and its incredible musical and emotional impact, was a far more effective and convincing communication of the more mature love into which the protagonists have grown at this point. This song, while not a bad piece as a standalone outtake, would have come pretty close to ruining one of the greatest shows of all time if it had been kept, so it’s lucky that Jones and Schmidt were perceptive enough to see this flaw and fix it before they opened their show.
This song is cut from virtually every modern production of Carousel, mostly because its real function in the show is a purely technical one that is no longer needed. It was originally intended as an old-fashioned ‘scene change’ number, a character solo in front of a closed curtain to distract the audience during the massively difficult scene change from rural New England to the show’s elaborate vision of Heaven. It serves no real purpose in the actual story…even its establishment of Billy’s suicidally defiant character is really just telling the audience something they already know. That said, it’s a shame that this number has become dramatically redundant, because in and of itself, it is a phenomenal song…a thrilling, almost violent outburst of a kind unthinkable in the theater before Rodgers and Hammerstein, with some of the finest musical scene-painting of Rodgers’ career and a lyric that perfectly captures exactly what Billy Bigelow would say in this situation. It’s actually one of the highlights of the Carousel score, and if you’re familiar with the show, you know how much of a statement that really is. All I can say is that if I were producing a Carousel revival myself, I would be very tempted to include the song on those grounds, lack of dramatic necessity notwithstanding.
For those who are only familiar with the iconic film version of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!, this was the most genuinely menacing of the show’s half-a-dozen Villain Songs, which establishes the character of the dreaded Bill Sykes. It’s a harsh, brutal, terrifying piece of music that reminds one that Oliver! did not soften Dickens’ original material quite as much as some people like to think. That said, even though the film version made a habit of dropping some of the most interesting songs from the show (“That’s Your Funeral”, “I Shall Scream”), I understand why this one had to be cut. For one thing, Bill Sykes is played in the film by distinguished actor Oliver Reed, and, as anyone who’s seen the film version of Tommy knows, Reed is one of the most embarrassingly terrible singers ever to appear in any kind of musical. But beyond that basic necessity, Reed’s decision to play Sykes as though he were in a straight dramatization of Charles Dickens meant that the act of singing a song, even one this harsh and abrasive, would have been uncomfortably out of place for this interpretation of the character…and since Reed’s Sykes was one of the most terrifying performances ever given in any movie, that decision was probably a wise one, even if it cost the show one of its most interesting songs.
This song was in the original London production of the Song and Dance double bill, but was cut from the more famous Broadway version of the show, which is kind of a shame. This is the moment where the protagonist finally snaps and tells her mean-spirited, hypocritical ‘best friend’ exactly what she thinks of her. It’s an incredibly satisfying moment, all the more so because of Don Black’s deliciously venomous lyric, and it’s a moment that kind of needs to happen in the show. In the Broadway version, the show doesn’t really acknowledge the unpleasant qualities of the ‘friend’ (called Viv in that version), but it’s still abundantly clear that she richly deserves a moment like this, and the fact that the show seems to gloss over her bad qualities only makes her more unlikable. This song is the payoff to a very important running theme of the show, and I’d argue Webber’s decision to reinstate it for the 2003 revival was a wise move.
There’s a pretty obvious reason this song was cut from the 2003 Broadway revival of Nine. It’s an artifact of a subplot from an early version of the show, about a Romeo and Juliet-esque relationship between the children of German film producers and Italian spa owners. Because this subplot was abandoned early on, and the characters who were originally supposed to sing this song were deleted from the show, in the finished version this number has no relevance whatsoever and is in fact a total waste of time. That said, I can see why Maury Yeston couldn’t initially bring himself to cut it. It really is a fantastic song, a dazzling contrapuntal showcase with fiendishly clever lyrics. Then again, pretty much everything in the score of Nine is on the same level, so it’s not quite as much of a loss as it sounds.
This was one of two songs that were included, in the form of surprisingly well-sung demos by composer Cy Coleman, on the CD re-release of the Barnum cast album, and were so obviously lovely that fans immediately wondered why they had ever been cut. Granted, both this and “So Little Time” (the other song in question) were ballads, which are often trimmed because they tend to slow down the pace of the show, especially in large numbers. But frankly, Barnum was an unbelievably frantic and exuberant show that actually could have used a few more ballads to provide the audience with a chance to catch its breath. And like most of the ballads in the finished show, this song is actually pretty extroverted as old-style Musical-Comedy ballads go. It serves as a kind of counterpart to the explosively joyous “Out There” at the end of the first act (this song was supposed to be the second-act opener). Both are songs about risk, but “Out There” is an exhilarating anthem about how life without risks is not really living, whereas “At Least I Tried” is the ‘no regrets’ philosophy of a man who has to face the consequences of his failed gamble. And given that this was ultimately replaced by a reprise of the show’s weakest song, “Love Makes Such Fools of Us All”, it might have actually been wiser to keep it. In fact, since Barnum isn’t one of those all-time classics that it would be sacrilege to tamper with, I’d argue that the next revival should try re-inserting this one, and see what happens.
This song began its life as a cut number from the score of the classic Lerner and Loewe film musical Gigi. After being excised from the film, the bittersweet waltz ballad was recorded by a couple of second-tier crooners and wound up becoming a very minor semistandard that is still heard occasionally on radio stations dedicated to so-called Traditional Pop. Years later, when a stage version was made of the film, the team co-opted the melody of “A Toujours” for one of the new numbers they were composing for the stage. Written to give a musical opportunity to the great Agnes Moorehead as Gigi’s mercenary Aunt Alicia, it set a cold-blooded negotiation about the terms of Gigi’s status as Gaston’s mistress to the rhapsodic waltz melody, a juxteposition that is both hilarious and a perfect illustration of the scene’s concept…the reduction of love and romance to a mere business negotiation. The stage version of Gigi has never worked in either its original stage production or its surprisingly long string of revivals, but what sets it slightly apart from the other terrible stage adaptations of great musical movies from around the same time (Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, Meet Me In St. Louis, Singin’ In the Rain) is that it at least contains five new Lerner and Loewe songs that are pretty much on the level of the original score, and “The Contract” is easily the best of them.