7 Patriotic Moments from Broadway Musicals

The USA turns 240 years old this weekend, and Tams-Witmark is celebrating Independence Day the only way we know how… with Broadway Musicals!

Here are 7 Patriotic Moments from Great Broadway Musicals.

George M! Patriotic Musicals

Jill O’Hara, Joel Grey and Company in GEORGE M!

1. Joel Grey in GEORGE M!

This 1970 musical, which also featured a young Bernadette Peters, celebrated the life of the Yankee Doodle Boy himself, George M. Cohan. Claiming he was “Born on the 4th of July,” Cohan penned some classic American anthems, like “You’re A Grand Ol’ Flag” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

2. “The Motherhood March” from HELLO DOLLY!

This hilarious Sousa-inspired tune from Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s blockbuster hit was actually penned (primarily) by Bob Merrill. Dolly attempts to hide young Barnaby and Cornelius from their curmudgeonly boss, Horace Vendergelder, by distracting and confusing him with a flurry of patriotic mumbo jumbo:

I stand for Motherhood, America,
And a hot lunch for orphans!
Take off your hat, sir,
While your country’s flag is passing.
Do you see him on the hill at Gettysburg
‘Neath that great triumphal arch?
If you see him as he’s trampling through the grapes of wrath,
Stand up and march, march, march!

HELLO DOLLY! Patriotic Musicals

Carol Channing with Charles Nelson Riley and part of Jerry Dodge in HELLO, DOLLY!

3. Dainty June in GYPSY

In her vaudeville act, Mama Rose’s little star attempts to dazzle the crowd with stars, stripes, banners, and batons. “Dainty June and Her Farmboys” actually ends with the orchestra playing “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

GYPSY Patriotic Musicals

Gemma Sutton as June in the 2015 West End revival of GYPSY

4. LITTLE JOHNNY JONES

George M. Cohan’s first full-length musical introduced “Yankee Doodle Boy” to Broadway audiences. Donny Osmond starred in an ill-fated 1982 revival that lasted one performance. But David Cassidy headlined this successful national tour of LITTLE JOHNNY JONES in 1981:

LITTLE JOHNNY JONES Patriotic Musicals

The cast of LITTLE JOHNNY JONES at Goodspeed Opera House, 1980.

5. “Don’t Put It Down” from HAIR

Though controversial, HAIR explored the question of what it means to be an American, and by challenging the status quo, was arguably one of the most patriotic shows of its era. Berger, Woof, and a friend sing:

My heart beats true
For the red white and blue.
Crazy for the blue white and red,
Crazy for the blue white and red
(And yellow fringe).
Crazy for the blue white red and yellow!

HAIR Patriotic Musicals

Tommar Wilson, Will Swenson, and Bryce Ryness in HAIR (2009 Broadway revival)

6. The “Star Spangled Banner” from ON THE TOWN

That’s right— ON THE TOWN features a glorious score from Leonard Bernstein and Comden & Green, but the overture is not Bernstein’s; it’s the National Anthem! For the 2014 Broadway revival, the tale of three sailors on leave in NYC opened with an enormous American flag.

ON THE TOWN Patriotic Musicals

The Overture from ON THE TOWN, 2014

7. “Our Favorite Son” from THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES

Keith Carradine starred in this 1991 hit, which won 6 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Director. The life of humorist Will Rogers was presented Ziegfeld-style, complete with showgirls, glitzy costumes, and brassy big band arrangements. In “Our Favorite Son,” with music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Comden & Green, and choreography by director Tommy Tune, Rogers celebrates a life in politics, while stars & stripes abound.

WILL ROGERS FOLLIES Patriotic Musicals

Marc Fouchi and Ensemble in a 2015 production of THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES at Rivertown Theater for the Performing Arts in Kenner, LA. (Photo by John B. Barrois)

Happy Independence Day, everyone! Have safe and joyful Fourth!