This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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Reviewing: GUNSMOKE, THE MUSICAL
An April Fool parody by Adam Roslewicz © 2012
(From Radio Recall, April 2012)
Now in its pre-Broadway tryout at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, "Gunsmoke: The Musical" is building interest.I was reluctant to attend this production, since the radio version is my preferred one. And I couldn't imagine the "powers that be" to feel the same. But after hearing the lyrics to the opening theme, my feelings quickly perked up. The sound of Rex Koury's familiar theme, along with Michael Buble's baritone singing:
"Away, come wander away with me
To the day when gun smoke was law,
With Matt Dillon, Chester Proudfoot,
Doc and Kitty at their best.
Just let your imagination do the rest."
When hearing the name "Proudfoot" instead of "Goode," it tells you that "everything is all right in Dodge." The show's story line is quite contrived, with Matt, played by Jeff Conrad (nephew of Bill Conrad) disarming crooked gamblers, their lawyers, and other cohorts. After getting wounded in both legs during a shoot-out, his perspective changes and his interest in upholding the law goes downhill, along with his ambulatory skills.
This prompts the trio of Chester (Murray Needleman), Kitty (Flo Ellis, cousin of Georgia Ellis) and Sam, the Long Branch barkeep/piano player (Raoul Lewis) who does a fantastic job on the upright. They plead with Matt, in three part harmony to get medical attention in the song "Gotta See Doc."
"You gotta see Doc, if you ever want to walk..."
(Which reminded me of "Heart" from the musical, "Damn Yankees.")
The singers are supported well by a good orchestra in the pit. Scene changes were handled with dispatch, alternating between the five sets. The two exterior sets are Front Street and the prairie, interwoven with three interior sets: Matt's office and jail, The Long Branch saloon, and the doctor's office.
Matt's booming voice is heard in a number of songs, which put the accent on "opera" as in "horse opera." His best song comes early, after an off stage announcer delivers the introduction: "...the story of the violence that moved west with young America , and the story of a man that moved with it." We then hear the marshall whose chosen melody is somewhat akin to "Old Man River."
"I'm Matt Dillon, the U.S. Marshall
No one's my master, 'cause I draw faster.
It makes me watchful, but makes me lonely as well.
I fight with outlaws...sometimes a nester.
My only allies are Doc and Chester.
And yet I'm watchful and still as lonely as hell.
Now and then, I face a man.
Who tries to outdraw me, and thinks he can.
Can't change his mind, and tries until,
He ends up on the way to ol' Boot Hill.
I'm the first they look for, and the last they meet.
It ends in a shoot-out along Front Street.
'Cause I'm Matt Dillon, the U.S. Marshall in Dodge."
But the most touching moment is in Act II, when Kitty, accompanied by Sam on the piano, delivers her song of:
"I'm Miss Kitty, from Dodge City
And I'm pretty and witty and gay,
(Not like Ellen) but I'm tellin' you today...
If I'm willin', Marshal Dillon,
Is a man I can easily sway.
But I'm certain that he hasn't time for me today."
Among the toe-tapping melodies you'll leave the theatre with, are: "Don't Fall in Love with a Lawman", "Gotta See Doc", "Every Day's a Bloody New Day in Dodge", "I'm Miss Kitty","Sam, the Piano Bar Man" and six other tunes that will make you say, "Play it again, Sam."