Ben Franklin in Paris

Ben Franklin in Paris

It's tempting to compare <I>Ben Franklin in Paris</I> with another musical from the late 1960s featuring the titular character, <I>1776</I>. Hard to say why, exactly: they have little in common musically, and while <I>1776</I> won a Tony Award and remains popular despite--or perhaps because of--its quirks, <I>Ben Franklin in Paris</I> is remembered chiefly for being a flop. Not that it's unassailably bad. Robert Preston, as Franklin, does a capable job, though he does most of the show in <I>Music Man</I> mode. There are some good songs, particularly Jerry Herman's two contributions, "Too Charming" and "To Be Alone with You." It's arguable that this musical's failure was due not to its own weaknesses, but to the competition. Still, despite this reissue of the 1964 Broadway cast recording, it seems unlikely to experience a rebirth. <I>--Genevieve Williams</I>