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  • Ben Franklin in Paris (1964 Original Broadway Cast)
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Ben Franklin in Paris (1964 Original Broadway Cast) Cast Recording, Original recording reissued

13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Cast Recording, Original recording reissued, April 9, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Fresh from his groundbreaking run in The Music Man , Robert Preston again took Broadway by storm with his starring role in Ben Franklin in Paris . First time on CD for this long-out-of-print recording!

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It's tempting to compare Ben Franklin in Paris with another musical from the late 1960s featuring the titular character, 1776. Hard to say why, exactly: they have little in common musically, and while 1776 won a Tony Award and remains popular despite--or perhaps because of--its quirks, Ben Franklin in Paris is remembered chiefly for being a flop. Not that it's unassailably bad. Robert Preston, as Franklin, does a capable job, though he does most of the show in Music Man mode. There are some good songs, particularly Jerry Herman's two contributions, "Too Charming" and "To Be Alone with You." It's arguable that this musical's failure was due not to its own weaknesses, but to the competition. Still, despite this reissue of the 1964 Broadway cast recording, it seems unlikely to experience a rebirth. --Genevieve Williams

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 9, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Cast Recording, Original recording reissued
  • Label: Drg
  • ASIN: B000060PC7
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,525 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 5, 2002
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I was sure happy to track down the 1964 Original Broadway Cast album of this Robert Preston musical, which I have not heard in decades. My father belonged to a "tape club" in the sixties, which was where you went to a place and could make copies of records and other tapes on reel to reel tapes (How is that for a technological blast for the past for all you old timers out there?).

"Ben Franklin in Paris" is by no means a great music, but I have always found it an utterly charming little show. Preston plays the title character and if you think it is strange to see Professor Harold Hill with long hair, you are not alone. But the character of Franklin certainly fits Preston's signature "singing" style. His best songs in the show are essentially fun pieces such as "I Invented Myself," "God Bless The Human Elbow" and "I Love The Ladies." Yet Preston can also carry off the simple love tunes "Look For Small Pleasures," and there is a simple, dramatic elegance to his character's final speech in which he tells an unforgettable story about a fly who fell into a cask of Madeira wine.

The story combines diplomacy and romance. In late 1776 the 69-year-old Franklin arrives in France to pressure King Louis XVI to assist the new nation with money, troops, and most importantly by providing recognition. However, the British capture of Philadelphia and various court intrigues make this a daunting task. Meanwhile, Franklin rekindles at old romance with the Countess Diane de Vobrillac (Ulla Shallert), especially when it becomes clear that the widowed Countess has the ear of the king (Oliver Clark) with regards to the American matter.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jay Lesiger on July 2, 2006
Format: Audio CD
One of the many musicals of the 1964-5 Broadway year to run almost an entire season and yet not make back its profit (BAJOUR and WHAT MAKES SAMMY RUN come to mind, among others), BEN FRANKLIN IN PARIS was actually literate, reasonably melodic and boasted one of Robert Preston's latter-day dazzling performances (yes, you could call it Harold Hill mode, but nobody did what he did and nobody did it better; for someone who had been around for nearly 20 years, in nondescript film roles, to burst forth on the scene in THE MUSIC MAN was no small feat, and for theatregoers it was heaven; if you never had the pleasure of seeing him do his thing live, just watch the film of THE MUSIC MAN, and I promise that you'll get it). Yes, it's true that Jerry Herman contributed two of the better songs (just as some others had done for him earlier that year in HELLO DOLLY!), but the score offered some other true gems; LOOK FOR SMALL PLEASURES is surely one of the loveliest ballads of its time, and the comic production numbers are equally delighful (I INVENTED MYSELF and GOD BLESS THE HUMAN ELBOW), and his eleven o'clock speech about the fly in the wine cask is quite wonderful (okay, it was a speech and not a song, but so what?) Regardless of who wrote what (the typical melange of many hands working on a Broadway musical), it was a delight to watch and a pleasure to listen to over again on the recording. The one problem: Ulla Sallert, the Swedish leading lady imported to sing the pivotal role of the courtesan; her voice is pretty enough, and I'm sure her Swedish Eliza Doolittle was charming (but only in Swedish), but her English is muddled to say the least. And there is the wonderful asset of Susan Watson, the best ingenue of the 1960s and arguably one of the best ever, as the coquettish maid. All told, Mr. Preston and company make this well worth a visit.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Byron Kolln HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 9, 2004
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
BEN FRANKLIN IN PARIS can almost be seen as a prequel to 1776, with a fanciful score by Mark Sandrich Jr. and Sidney Michaels. With the reliable Robert Preston at the helm and featuring the renowned Swedish musical theatre diva Ulla Sallert in her only Broadway role, BEN FRANKLIN IN PARIS lasted for 215 performances, largely thanks to its strong cast.
Robert Preston (THE MUSIC MAN, MACK AND MABEL, I DO! I DO!) is perfect for the role of Ben Franklin, who journeys to Paris in order to attend to political matters and along the way rekindles his love affair with the beautiful Countess Diana (Ulla Sallert). Lovely ingenue Susan Watson (BYE BYE BIRDIE, NO NO NANETTE) impresses with 2 great numbers "You're in Paris" and "When I Dance with the Person I Love".
Jerry Herman penned 2 of the score's better numbers ("Too Charming" and "To Be Alone with You"), and Ulla Sallert has a full strong voice. One of the better cast albums of the early 60's.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ~Amante on August 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The show is alright, the lyrics are fine, The music ia surprisingly good, but the best part of this CD is Robert Preston. He has a beautiful voice. I was never expecting such a great Ben Franklin. If you like musical theater, this is a good soundtrack. If you like clean male voices, this is a good soundtrack. Other than that, its not one that you should pick up to learn songs from, although it has some ballads. At any rate, it is at a great price, so its worth the listen. Favorite Song: "I Love The Ladies"
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By William A. Brimmer Jr. on April 3, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a very curious and fun show. Of course, Robert Preston is the show and he is a superb Ben Franklin. The beutiful "Look for small pleasures" is included in the catch score. Enjoyable, particularly if you are a Robert Preston fan.
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