Broadway’s John Cullum delights in streamed AN ACCIDENTAL STAR
(Cleveland Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association)
The average theatre-goer is probably unaware of the Broadway superstar, John Cullum. In spite of his two Tony wins and numerous nominations, and 60+ years starring in such shows as Camelot, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Urinetown The Musical, The Scottsboro Boys, On the Twentieth Century and 110 in the Shade, his name is seldom mentioned when “important” Great White Way stars are listed. If anything, he is probably more noted for his role in the television show Northern Exposure.
My exposure, and ever-lasting admiration for the gentle man with the folksy twang, who hails from Knoxville, Tennessee, was in 1975 when I saw Shenandoah. I was not only enthralled by the anti-war message of the musical, and its emotional score, but by Cullum’s ability to interpret a song. His vocal range, even then wasn’t great, but his ability to sing words of meaning and tell a tale, was spell-binding.
Cullum’s 1960 Broadway debut was playing Sir Dinadan in Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot. He also understudied King Arthur. It followed his accidental casting in several plays, including roles, in which he admits, he should not have been cast. These “accidents” took place in 1956, within six weeks of his arriving in New York.
This and other personal tales are the core of John Cullum: An Accidental Star. Stories about the golden days of the American musical and his friendships with the likes of Richard Burton, Robert Goulet, and Julie Andrews, told in his home-style manner, is interspersed with songs from shows in which he appeared.
Melodies include “On A Clear Day,” “Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight,” “There But For You Go I,” “Camelot,” and “Come Back to Me.”
Is Cullum’s voice as good as it was in his prime? Of course not, he’s 91 years old, but he can still tell a great story and make the song lyrics meaningful.
Kudos to his accompanist, Julie McBride.
Capsule judgment: John Cullum: An Accidental Star is a wonderful opportunity to become acquainted with one of Broadway’s “unknown” stars and learn about the making of some of the important musicals. This is a delightful 90-minutes of entertainment!
The show streams from April 8-22. Once you purchase your ticket, you will receive a link that can be used any time between 8PM on April 8 and 11:59PM on April 22.
For information and purchasing tickets, which start at $15, go to: https://www.vineyardtheatre.org/an-accidental-star/