After more than a half-century of creating some of the world's most memorable songs, The Sherman Brothers are still going strong. Now octogenarians, Robert B. Sherman has lived in London where he continues songwriting and is actively writing novels and gallery quality paintings. Richard M. Sherman, who lives in Beverly Hills, says his life is writing songs.
Over the years The Sherman Brothers and Milt Larsen, best known as a TV writer and the founder of the famous private club for magicians in Hollywood, have been lifelong friends. Not too many people know that Richard and Milt collaborated on songs before they found success in their respective careers. They wrote their first song "Concert in the Park" in 1955 followed by nine songs for a roaring twenties musical in 1957 and a cult comedy classic Lp "Smash Flops" in 1959. The Sherman Brothers hit their stride in the mid sixties under contract to Walt Disney winning two Oscars in 1965 for Best Song and best score for Mary Poppins.
Milt Larsen pursued his career as writer and entrepreneur (Magic Castle, Mayfair Music Hall, Variety Arts Theater, Caesars Magical Empire) and, at the same time, enjoyed writing songs with Richard Sherman with Robert Sherman's approval. In 1972 The Sherman Brothers wrote the songs and Milt Larsen and the late Robert Lauher wrote the book for the WWII musical "Victory Canteen" that played seven months at Hollywood's Ivar Theater. Most of the Sherman & Larsen songs were written for comedy albums and Milt's various stage revues. They wrote the words and music for over 200 songs.
One of their projects was an idea for a musical based on the lives of legendary comedian Joe Weber and Lew Fields. In 1985 Larsen produced a version of the show "Little Old Broadway" at his Variety Arts Center in Los Angeles. Although the play got good reviews and even won awards, it was not working as a fully developed musical story. Both Richard and Milt were very busy with their various careers and put the musical on the shelf for the next several years. One of Larsen's associates Joseph Hoffman remembered the show and uncovered a little known fact that George M. Cohan worked for Weber and Fields when he was a young maN. Hoffmann, Sherman and Larsen collaborated on a new book and the show had a tryout production at the University of Texas, Arlington. After the usual re-writes the musical was re-named "Pazzazz!" and a full-scale production was mounted. After performances at Citrus College the musical became the first Broadway type musical to play the newly restored multi-million dollar Granada Theater in Santa Barbara.
The new production of "Pazzazz!," directed and choreographed by Walter Painter, will premiere at the historic Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara March 25, 26 & 27. It will then be offered to west coast performing arts centers through Larsen's production partner Terry M. Hill and Associates. Larsen and Hill have a track record for producing family friendly stage shows such as the all-star magic revue "It's Magic!" now in it's 55th year.
For information www.pazzazzthemusical.com or www.lobero.com