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Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty Recall Memories of My Favorite Year

The musical is back in New York as part of the York Theatre Company's 2014 Musicals in Mufti season.

Tim Curry leads the original Broadway cast of My Favorite Year at Lincoln Center Theater in 1992.
(© Joan Marcus)

This fall, off-Broadway's York Theatre Company revives four musicals not seen in New York since their premieres: Big, A Time for Singing, Saturday Night, and My Favorite Year — as part of its annual Musicals in Mufti series of script-in-hand concert readings of relatively unseen shows. TheaterMania asked members of each original creative team to provide anecdotes from their time spent working on these shows. We conclude the series with My Favorite Year, which runs December 5-7.

Stephen Flaherty
(© David Gordon)

Stephen Flaherty, Composer:

My Favorite Year premiered in 1992 at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. It was the first original American musical that had ever been done in that theater. It was thrilling.

The first day I was at the Beaumont, Bernie Gersten said something to me I never forgot: "Oh you lucky boy! You enjoy every moment that you are in this theatre — I wish I were in your shoes because this is your first day getting to work here. You're going to have wonderful days and horrible days, but cherish the bad with the good." And I did.

Like the show's "freshman writer" Benjy Stone, I was finally in show biz and working madly with my collaborators Lynn Ahrens and Joseph Dougherty to bring the show to life in front of a live audience. I am delighted that the York Theatre will be presenting this newly revised version of My Favorite Year this coming December as part of their Musicals in Mufti series. It will be the capper of what has proven to be one of my personal favorite years.

Lynn Ahrens
(© David Gordon)

Lynn Ahrens, Lyricist:

A few memories of the original production of My Favorite Year (at the Vivian Beaumont, in 1992):

  • Lainie Kazan with a giant bow on her backside. Sublime costume, sublime performance.
  • Evan Pappas trying to open a door leading onto Alan Swann's hotel terrace. He wrenched, he pulled, he ad-libbed. Suddenly, the door glided open. Huge house laugh.
  • Andrea Martin doing "Professional Showbizness Comedy" for the first time. The song bombed. I looked at the motionless audience, and whispered to Stephen: "It's an oil painting!" In desperation, we asked her, "What can you do??" She said, "I can play a musical instrument. Do a striptease. Tell a joke." By the time we got done with our rewrites, she was banging a tambourine all over her body, pulling a clothesline of men's underwear out of her sleeve and telling ridiculous Borscht belt jokes. She stopped the show and won the Tony.
  • Tom Mardirosian, bound and gagged as King Kaiser, being rolled through a fake brick wall on a gurney and falling off, unable to break his own fall. Taking his curtain call, bleeding.
  • Closing night — snow coming down — Tim Curry going off into the night, a little tipsy, just like Alan Swann.

Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (center) with cast members from the York Theatre Company production of My Favorite Year.
(© Alexander Kaufman)