Dear World, a 1969 musical adaptation of Jean Giraudoux's play The Madwoman of Chaillot (which had been a Broadway hit in the late '40s as translated by Maurice Valency), brought together many of the principals from the 1966 hit Mame, including composer Jerry Herman, book writers Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, and star Angela Lansbury. But all of them seem to have been going for something off-beat, rather than another big commercial success. The anti-establishment theme, with its questioning of whether those thought to be insane aren't really saner than the rest of us, must have seemed timely. (The play was also adapted into a movie in the same year as the show.) And Lansbury, for one, had actually addressed something similar five years earlier with Stephen Sondheim's flop Anyone Can Whistle. But Sondheim might have made a better choice for songwriter than Herman, who was able to get into the material only to the extent of lamenting for an earlier time when life was glamorous, unlike the late '60s, when the clash between counterculture dissidents and the corporate establishment seemed to represent a choice between two evils. Herman gamely used plenty of French-sounding accordion music and wrote a title song that was clearly intended to have the same pop appeal as "Hello, Dolly!" and "Mame," as well as one of his trademark march songs, "One Person." He also came up with the seven-minute "The Tea Party," a colloquy among crazy women that was far from his usual style. But he was most at home, and most successful, with the sentimental ballad "And I Was Beautiful" and the defiant waltz "I Don't Want to Know," in which the madwoman rejects reality because, well, it just isn't fabulous enough. Dear World was a bad mix of talented creators and good source material that just weren't suited to each other.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Dear World, musical|
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