Howard Sherman takes the Actor Hub Musical Theatre Challenge

Howard Sherman is the interim director of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts.
He was previously Executive Director of the American Theatre Wing, Executive Director of the O’Neill Theater Center and General Manager of Goodspeed Musicals.
He is also a regular columnist for The Stage and has contributed freelance pieces to The Guardian, American Theatre magazine and National Public Radio, among others.
He is a leading U.S. advocate against censorship in school theatre.
He blogs at and tweets as @hesherman
A song from the first musical you saw/heard – Part One
My mother sang ‘A Bushel and a Peck’ from Guys and Dolls while tucking us into bed.
Of course I didn’t know it was a show tune, or its true context, until much later.
A song from the first musical you saw/heard – Part Two
After that, I’d have to go with You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown which I did in a severely truncated version of at summer camp at about age 8. That show remains a touchstone for me.
A song from your latest musical obsession
‘Gold’ from Once isn’t quite an obsession, but it has really insinuated itself into my melody bank.
I actually sing along with the TV commercial.
A song demonstrating how underrated you think a musical is
‘I’m Breaking Down’ from William Finn’s Falsettos. A show I loved long before I ever saw it staged, based solely on the recording. I defy anyone to hear this song and not want to see the rest of the show.
A song which can make you cry
‘Unlikely Lovers’ from William Finn’s Falsettos. Can you tell I’m lobbying hard to see that London finally gets to see this show?
A song which makes you laugh
‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ from Kiss Me Kate. Never fails.
The musical you’d kill to be in
Guys and Dolls Just to be part of ‘Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat.’
A song sung by your favourite female character in a musical
‘How Are Things In Glocca Morra?’ sung by Sharon McLonergan in Finian’s Rainbow *sigh*
A song sung by your favourite male character in a musical
My admiration for the character of Charlie Anderson in Shenandoah – his commitment to his family, his efforts towards pacifism during a terrible war – lead me to ‘I’ve Heard It All Before.’
A song from the musical you know all – or nearly all – the lines to
You name the song. I’m ready to go on as Sweeney Todd at a moment’s notice. So I suppose I’d better go with ‘A Little Priest’, just to prove it.
Your guilty pleasure musical
Even though the score wasn’t written for the stage, so some might scoff, I think Xanadu is an absolute hoot.
The musical which made the most impact on you
Because I keep giving Sweeney Todd answers, let’s go with Fiddler On The Roof, the first full professional musical I saw, while in the 2nd grade.
A song you could listen to all day.
“How Beautiful The Days” from The Most Happy Fella
A song by your favourite musical composer
How to choose among the works of Sondheim? ‘Sunday’ from Sunday in the Park With George is stunning, especially when sung live (as I’ve heard it several times) by a chorus of 100+ voices.
But I’ll opt for a lesser known choral song: ‘The Hills of Tomorrow’ from Merrily We Roll Along, which isn’t even in some versions of the show at this point.
The character you’d kill to play
When I was a bit younger, I always fantasized about playing John Adams in 1776. When I was much younger, I had always hoped to play Finch in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying
Now I’m probably closer to Ben Franklin or J.B. Biggley. I could settle.
The character you’d kill to play – if you were the opposite sex
I have not sat up nights contemplating this, so I’ll go with my first instinct: Mama Rose in Gypsy
Because, after all, who wouldn’t want to play that role?
A song which inspires you
‘Wheels of a Dream’ from Ragtime, a musical I find deeply inspiring about equality and family.
The musical you’ve seen over and over
Sweeney Todd. No question.
The character in a musical you can most relate to
Mendel in Falsettos. There I go again.
A song from your favourite musical
“Nothing’s Gonna Harm You” from Sweeney Todd. Soaring, pure sentiments amid a hellish scenario.
Your favourite song NOT from a musical
Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’, especially in its more ruminative versions.
Though Elvis Costello is my all-round favorite artist and rock composer. When on earth is he going to write a musical?
Big thanks to Howard for taking the Actor Hub Musical Theatre Challenge.
Read Howard Sherman’s latest thoughts
  • There is a sad irony in hearing that a play about repairing relationships and rescuing people from racist ideologies through listening was shut down at a New Jersey high school less than 10 minutes into its performance, with silencing standing ...
  • “There is more than one way to burn a book,” wrote Ray Bradbury, in an afterword to his novel Fahrenheit 451. “And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” It is no small irony, consequently, that Bradbury’s ...
  • On November 13, following close to three hours of public comment by more than 60 individual speakers, each allotted up to three minutes to speak – the vast majority of whom vigorously supported the drama students and questioned the process ...
  • The Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little Ladies of River City, Iowa ain’t got nuthin’ on the district administrators and school board of Sherman, Texas. Don’t remember the Pick-a-Little Ladies? They’re the gossipy gaggle of book banning biddies who take time out of their ...
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