Henry, Sweet Henry

HenryOriginal Broadway Cast, 1967 (ABC-ParamountlVarèse Sarabande) 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) Nora Johnson’s novel The World of Henry Orient and the subsequent film version that she wrote with her father, Nunnally, were marvelous stories of two girls enjoying and anguishing over their adolescence, but the stage musical based on the same source material was a big disappointment. That’s mostly because of Bob Merrill’s score, his first misfire after several good outings. Val (Robin Wilson) and Gil (Neva Small) have a schoolgirl crush on avant-garde pianist Henry Orient (Don Ameche), who is — to his credit! — more interested in women his own age. The ballad “In Some Little World” is melodious, and “Here I Am” is rather pretty. “I Wonder How It Is (to Dance With a Boy)” is a nice waltz that makes you hunger to see what choreographer Michael Bennett must have done with it. All this sweetness is interrupted by a Nazi-like anthem sung by Alice Playten: “Nobody Steps on Kafritz,” in which Val and Gil’s nemesis makes her position known. Eddie Sauter’s orchestrations try hard to lend some excitement to the score, but by the time you reach “Weary Near to Dyin’,” a condescending comment on hippie life, you may be shaking your head in sympathy with the song’s title. And there are still five tracks to go. — Peter Filichia