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A proud master of the hummable show tune, he wrote Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage aux Folles and more
We woke up to the sad news that Jerry Herman passed away late yesterday. Broadway lovers know him as the Tony-winning composer-lyricist of Hello, Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles and other optimistic, heartwarming shows. His style and subject matter, which was unabashedly old-fashioned, stood in stark contrast to his peers like Stephen Sondheim and Kander and Ebb, who were exploring darker material. However La Cage—a comical drag farce about a gay couple who pose as straight spouses in order to not upset their conservative, soon-to-be in-laws—was revolutionary in its message of love is love.
Some of Herman's songs transcended the stage to become part of mainstream pop culture. "I Am What I Am" from La Cage has long been a gay anthem, and the 2008 Pixar movie WALL-E prominently featured two Hello, Dolly! numbers, "Put on Your Sunday Clothes" and "It Only Takes a Moment," introducing his work to a new generation.
While his aforementioned three hit musicals are well-known and frequently revived (though we're long overdue for Mame to come back!), he had some flops, including Mack and Mabel, about silent film pioneers Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand, which is getting a rare mounting at City Center's Encores! this February. Below is a wonderful, star-studded tribute to Herman from 2010, when he was a Kennedy Center honoree, and you can read a more in-depth obit in The New York Times. He will be greatly missed.