Lost Broadway musical revived by Sheffield student

Matthew Malone conducts the orchestra during rehearsals for the lost musical.
Matthew Malone conducts the orchestra during rehearsals for the lost musical.
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A forgotten Broadway musical is to get its European premiere in Sheffield - the first time it’s been heard anywhere in the world for over 50 years.

Sheffield University masters student Matthew Malone has worked through boxes of neglected manuscripts to reconstruct the score of Subways are for Sleeping, which ran for only 205 performances in 1962.

Its renowned composer was Jule Styne, who wrote the music for classics Gypsy, Funny Girl and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The lyrics and script were by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who wrote the screenplay for Singin’ in the Rain.

Matthew hunted through sheet music from three US archives to piece together a full orchestration.

He is now to conduct a 30- piece orchestra during two concert performances of the show’s music, featuring staff and students, at the university’s Firth Hall on April 29 and 30.

Despite its impressive pedigree, the show – based on an article and book that described the real-life exploits of homeless people living on New York’s underground system – struggled during previews and the script was partly rewritten.

The critical reception was mixed and, in an attempt to boost ticket sales, the show’s producer, David Merrick, paid several New Yorkers with the same names as the leading theatre critics of the day to provide positive quotes about the show.

The show opened on December 27, 1961, but it never toured. There was a short semi-staged revival in 2009, but this used only piano accompaniment, and there has never been a European production.

Dr Dominic McHugh from the university music department is producing the Sheffield performances, using brief excerpts of the script alongside a newly-written narration.

He said the score is a ‘neglected masterpiece’ and contains several songs that became very popular at the time – in particular, Judy Garland’s hit song Comes Once in a Lifetime.

Matthew said: “I feel very lucky to be able to bring this fantastic score to a fresh audience that would otherwise not be able to hear it.”