Being good just won't be good enough
I'll be the best or nothing at all
In 1968 Hallelujah, Baby! won 5 Tony Awards: Best Actress, Best Featured Actress, Best Producer, Best Original Score and Best Musical. So why did it close after 293 performances?
Arthur Laurents's libretto had a tricky concept. Leslie Uggams traveled through 50 years of American history while remaining 25. The book is focused the progress of civil rights. The score is focused on Uggams' showbiz career. It's Roots meets Funny Girl and critics found it a tough sell. The New York Times referred to the 1967 production as "Civics One" and a 2004 revisal as "bland and anachronistic."
In a 2011 interview Arthur Laurents stated that the show was written for Lena Horne. He felt it lost it's edge when the sweet Leslie Uggams replaced her. Edgy or not Uggam's star-making turn is what the show is best remembered for now. You can watch her performances on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Tony Awards broadcast to see why.