Ben Franklin in Paris
|Ben Franklin in Paris|
Original Cast Recording
|Music||Mark Sandrich, Jr.
2008 San Francisco
The story is a somewhat fictionalized account of Benjamin Franklin's adventures in the French capital. Seeking support for the Colonies' war against England, he arrives in Paris, where he enlists the aid of an old friend, Madame la Comtesse Diane de Vobrillac, a confidante to King Louis XVI. Franklin's hopes of winning the king's support seem dashed when British forces capture Philadelphia but rally when the Colonists are victorious at Saratoga. At home, his son William, the governor of New Jersey, sides with the enemy, and the traitorous act upsets the elder Franklin's plans. To regain the upper hand, he offers to marry Diane, but she rejects him. Knowing he faces death by hanging, Franklin nevertheless decides to go to England, hoping his act of martyrdom will win him posthumous support. Diane learns of the plan and intercedes with the King, who eventually welcomes Franklin in his new position of the Ambassador of the United States of America to France.
After 13 previews, the Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Michael Kidd, opened on October 27, 1964 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where it ran for 215 performances. The crew consisted of set design Oliver Smith, costume design Motley, lighting design John Brown, musical director/vocal arrangements Donald Pippin, orchestrations Philip J. Lang, and dance music Roger Adams.
The cast included Robert Preston (Benjamin Franklin), Ulla Sallert (Mademoiselle la Comtesse Diane de Vobrillac), Susan Watson (Janine Nicolet), Sam Greene (Captain Wickets), Franklin Kiser (Temple Franklin), Jerry Schaefer (Benjamin Franklin Bache), Anthony Falco (Footman), Oliver Clark (Louis XVI), Art Bartow (Vergennes), Clifford Fearl (Turgot), Roger LePage (British Grenadier), Byron Webster (David Lord Stormont), Ron Schwinn (French Soldiers), Bob Kaliban (Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais), John Taliaferro (Jacques Finque), Stuart Getz (Little Boy), Jack Fletcher (Pedro Count de Arande), Herb Mazzini (Bookseller/Abbe de Morellet), Kip Andrews (Spanish Aide-de-Camp), Art Matthews (Spanish Soldier), Suzanne France (Spanish Ambassador's Daughter), and Lauren Jones (Yvonne). The ensemble included Barbara Bossert, Mona Crawford, Hilda Harris, Anita Maye, Caroline Parks, John Keatts, Diane Ball, Marilyn Charles, Jean Elliot, Ellen Graf, Sandy Roveta, George Ramos, Eddie Roll, Rec Russel, and Lou Zeldis. Watson was replaced by Rita Gardner soon after opening night. Michaels was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Author of a Musical.
An original cast recording was released by Capitol Records.
The music of "We Sail the Seas" bears a striking resemblance to that of "Tomorrow Mountain" from Duke Ellington's flop musical, "Beggar's Holiday."