Was 1964 Broadway's Greatest Year for Musicals? Dolly, Fiddler, Funny Girl and Other Groundbreakers

By Robert Viagas
15 May 2014

April 4: In his first Broadway musical since A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Stephen Sondheim and his West Side Story/Gypsy librettist Arthur Laurents tried to stretch the musical form once again with Anyone Can Whistle, a story of integrity and corruption that examined the quality of sanity. The ahead-of-its-time musical, featuring Angela Lansbury’s maiden flight as a musical comedy star, closed in less than two weeks but became a cult favorite owing to its superb cast album. Along with Dolly’s “Before the Parade Passes By” and Funny Girl’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” Whistle’s “There’s a Parade in Town” was the third big parade song of the spring. The phenomenon gives its title to historian Peter Filichia’s forthcoming new book about this period, “A Great Parade on Broadway: The Spectacular 1963-1964 Season.”