In last week’s post, Youffraita posted a video of Patti LuPone singing a hysterical version of Broadway Babies. I found out that the clip was from the television show Life Goes On. The show from 1989-1993 featured the trials of a suburban family with a son with Down’s Syndrome (how many of us remember Corky?) Patti LuPone played the mother, and inevitably, was persuaded to audition and perform for the community college’s Autumn Follies. In other words, let’s put on a show!
When a television show has a cast that started out on in musical theatre, at some point, if the writers are savvy and the show allows for it (and sometimes even when the show doesn’t), a musical episode will occur. For some reason (the orphanage is closing down, or the kids want to put on a show, or in Neil Patrick Harris’ case, just because) the cast must put on a show, and either they or a guest star will end up singing and stealing the show. For the TV watching audience, Patti LuPone was astonishing in the episode. For musical theatre aficionados, it was more of “Hey duh, Patti LuPone as Evita!”
These musical episodes show up for very simple reasons:
1) A savvy producer wants to goose up the ratings
2) A star wants to remind the audience (and the producer) that they can do something other than their character
3) For a guest star, it’s some very welcome money and exposure doing something they know well
Thus you have episodes that are unforgettable (no matter how much you try).
The Golden Girls (1985 to 1992) starred Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan, Estelle Getty, Betty White (the only star that had not appeared on Broadway) as four senior citizens sharing a home. With such a talented cast, the Let’s Put on a Show episode was inevitable, and thus the four actresses plus guest star George Hearn put on a play for the kids.
Don’t laugh – the play was supposed to be performed by the kids themselves but the quarantine got into the way.
Even Murder She Wrote got into the act. Although Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher never put on a show herself, her identical cousin Emma (played by, of course, Angela) had to audition for a play in a 1987 episode.
How I Met Your Mother stars the unforgettable Neil Patrick Harris, who through 99 episodes of the comedy simply watched or applauded his co-stars singing. In episode 100, he let it loose, surprising folks who didn’t know his Broadway work in Assassins and Sweeney Todd, and only knew him as Doogie Howser, underage M.D.
Share your unforgettable memories of the Let's Put on a Show episodes, good and bad, in the comments. I know there are more out there!