Roger Miller's "Big River" - New York City Article
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In 1985, the Tony Award for best musical went to a show that combined innovative story-telling with an innovative score. The words and music to “Big River,” by the short-lived Texas troubadour Roger Miller (otherwise best known for “King of the Road,” “Dang Me,” “England Swings” and other pop classics), brilliantly combined country music style with traditional show tune narrative – in a way that parallels the fashion in which “Hair” had created theater music out of the vocabulary of rock ‘n’ roll 15 years earlier. In an era when Broadway was dominated by the cheap thrills of Franglais phantoms and belting shlock-opera Victor Hugos, “Big River” was also a warm and welcome burst of Americana, and the score today is as tuneful and memorable as it ever was. City Center Encores!, which presents semi-staged (and semi-concert) versions of worthwhile shows, with full orchestra and choreography, is famous for getting nearly everything right, and this promises to be the “Big River” production that we’ve all been waiting for.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)