When Musical Theatre and Football Collide
By Rob Shapiro (musical theatre writer)
So the Superbowl was Sunday. And if you watched it, you probably watched it for the commercials and Beyoncé halftime show. But long before Beyoncé, 'N Sync + Aerosmith + Britney Spears, and the Justin Timberlake/Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, there were halftime shows with musical theatre icons and songs.
Did you know that Carol Channing appeared in TWO Super Bowl halftime shows? Ms. Channing first appeared at Super Bowl IV (1970) at the host for a Tribute to Mardi Gras.
The second time, Ms. Channing appeared alongside Ella Fitzgerald at Super Bowl VI (1972) with a Salute to Louis Armstrong.
While musicals themselves have never been highlighted at the Super Bowl (maybe we should change that), a number of musical theatre songs were performed at Super Bowl XVIII (1984) as part of the Salute to Superstars of the Silver Screen. The producer was The Walt Disney Company and the setlist included "Hooray for Hollywood," "You Oughta Be in Pictures," "Steppin' Out with My Baby," "Puttin' on the Ritz," "42nd Street," and of course "When You Wish Upon a Star".
The last time that a song written for a musical appeared at a halftime show occurred in 1995 at Super Bowl XXIX - Ii was "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King. (OK, so it wasn't a Broadway show then, but that's as good as we get.) Now this was one of the most bizarre halftime shows from my childhood. The title of the show was "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye" because of the new Indian Jones attraction at Disneyland. So naturally Patti Labelle and Tony Bennett were there to perform. You can relive the magic right here.
Last year 114 million viewers watched Madonna headline the halftime show, the most watched in history. I think we should get the Broadway League to become an NFL sponsor. Hey, the NFL already tackled Broadway with Lombardi, and next year's Super Bowl is at the Meadowlands!
What Broadway stars or shows would you put into a the 2014 halftime show?
ROB SHAPIRO is a musical theatre writer and he watches sports too. www. thatrobshapiro.com
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