I became a fan of John Cullum when I saw him in Shenandoah and then the cinema 1776 sing “Rum Molasses to the Slaves”.
Starting with “On A Clear Day,” you can hear clues about this man’s great voice. He tells his story like a bard, remembering his audition song “On The Street Where You Live”. Her last name was often mispronounced. He came to New York full of ambition and his leadership paid off. Her audition for Shakespeare is hysterical, spirited and a roller coaster of emotions.
We learn the story of his father and in the middle of the start of his career, his mother is killed in a car accident. She was his most loyal and constant support and it broke his heart. His accident has affected him until now. In a sense, it’s Cullum’s recovery.
“I wonder what the king is doing tonight”, from Camelot was the next musical entry. Although Cullum had one of the best voices in musical theater, like Len Cariou, those days are over.
Cullum was cast in three Shakespeare in the Park by Joe Papp in performance and without warning had to play a role he barely knew. His acting is superb.
His first musical audition, he came to billiards. Singing “There But For You Go I” by Brigadoon for Alan J Lerner, Fredrick Lowe and Moss Hart. He was called back then thrown away Camelot as Sir Dinadan as Richard Burton and Roddy McDowell’s understudy. Cullum sang the title song like Burton and it works. He became a longtime friend with Burton.
Then was We take the city with Robert Preston and we get a song from the show.
Having to audition for A clear day for a year after learning that the role was his, they chose others, so he took the movie “Hawaii”, then he got a call to go to Boston. He replaced Louie Jordan. He had 5 days to learn the show. He rehearsed in total a day with the actors. 15 minutes after opening night, there was no contract and Jordan was not notified. Singing “Come Back To Me” with gestures and more talk, Cullum’s vocals are nice.
By singing “I’ve Heard All Before”, “Father’s Going To Make It Alright” and “The Picker’s Are Coming”, we are brought to Shenandoah. “Meditation” was also offered. At the time, Cullum’s performance won him the award for Best Actor in a Musical.
Then it was In the twentieth century and Madeline Kahn. This role also earned Cullum another Tony. Madeline wrote down the score and Cy Feuer never forgave her. Cullum missed his vocals and gave us “I Rise Again”.
Speaking a little about “Northern Exposure”, he tells how he was offered Urine city, he hated. His wife’s nickname for him is Agnes and as he reads “Don’t Be The Bunny” to her, he sees the humor. He was nominated for Another Tony for this role, thanks to John Rando.
Scottsboro Boys was one of his last Broadway shows. He tells how he worked in the theater for 60 years for an almost perfect life.
Cullum ends the song by singing Camelot. Although Cullum’s voice is failing, he is charming and his stories enchanting. It is a must have for any theater artist.
Lonny Price and Matt Cowart run the show with a personal style and it’s very personable. Julie McBride is a wonderful companion. He also thanks his wife and the audience. Cullum is a class act.
You can catch John Cullum, an accidental star until April 22.