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Ben Franklin in Paris (1964 Original Broadway Cast)
Jerry Herman, Robert Preston, Ulla Sallert
Ben Franklin in Paris (1964 Original Broadway Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1

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 Aw...  more »


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All Artists: Jerry Herman, Robert Preston, Ulla Sallert, Franklin Kiser, Bob Kaliban, Susan Watson, Byron Webster, Jack Fletcher, Oliver Clark, Jerry Schaefer
Title: Ben Franklin in Paris (1964 Original Broadway Cast)
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Drg
Release Date: 4/9/2002
Album Type: Cast Recording, Original recording reissued
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Style: Musicals
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 021471902327, 724356513426, 724356513457

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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CD Reviews

Robert Preston as "Ben Franklin in Paris"
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/05/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"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. Franklin has taken two of his grandsons, Temple (Franklin Kiser) and Benny (Jerry Schaefer), who chafe and revel respectively in the glory of their grandfather, the personification of the new nation the United States of America.

I know it does not sound like the material for a Broadway show, but it sure works for me. I could not name another music by the team of Sidney Michaels and Mark Sandrich, Jr., but I like this one. "Ben Franklin in Paris" anticipates one of my all time favorite musicals, "1776," although these events in France obviously take place after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Preston proves that one of the Founding Fathers can work as a character in a musical, but if you have ever seen Howard Da Silva's work as Franklin in the movie version of "1776," you already know that."
Robert Preston was always worth the price of admission
Jay Lesiger | New York City | 07/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"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.

For Robert Prestons Voice, get this
~Amante | Frederick, MD | 08/01/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"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""