Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Playlist For Sunday, May 28, 2017: Do I Hear An Electro Pop Opera?

Fasten your seat belts, gird your loins, and tuck in that shirt for The Great Comet! Yes, this Sunday we'll be experiencing Natasha (young), Anatole (hot), Mary (plain), Andrey (who's not even there yet!), and Pierre (what about Pierre???). It's been called an electro pop opera, with indie mixing with Russian folk dance, Klezmer clarinet and accordian. Most NY critics are over the moon...tho it takes a real listen. Like fine wine (and me), it may be an acquired taste, that appreciates like your 401k (and me) with time. The first time I inhaled, I exhaled right away. Now...another story.

On the other side of that Broadway coin (remember those subway tokens? I should have my leftovers made into earrings), is the pablum that is A Bronx Tale. Called "a combo of Jersey Boys and Westside Story."  I would add to that list: Hercules, Aladdin, Tangled, and Newsies. There is something so Disney about this score that no matter what the mob gangsters SAY in "Bronx", you know it will be fine in 1.75 hours, Sonny will not be wearing cement shoes, and Disneyland will be establishing a new beach head in Hoboken within the decade. This is movie-treacle Broadway, and it should be torched immediately.

BUT I WILL PLAY IT. Because it's what's happening on Broadway today. But keep listening past those Bronx Tales til Comet! Please!

P.S. Did you like Bette's Dolly efforts? I don't know about you, but I found it lackluster. It just lacked ....luster. No pizazz in Bette's voice. NOT a Broadway voice. Perhaps this is due to a lack of direction during the recording process, and that she is better in person ("Explosive", "Earthquake Insurance" read the reviews), but not here on this recording. A disappointment.

Prologue (Ensemble, Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812)
Oh, What A Beautiful Morning (Alfred Drake, Oklahoma!)
Oh, Happy We (Robert Rounseville, Barbara Cook, Candide)
Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale (Rhoda Williams, Ilene Woods, Cinderella)
Oh Me, Oh My, Oh You (Doris Day, Gene Nelson, Tea For Two)
Upstairs At O'Neals (Ensemble, Upstairs At O'Neals)
Stools (Bebe Neuwirth, Douglas Bernstein, Richard Ryders, Upstairs
       At O'Neals)
Something (Douglas Bernstein, Upstairs At O'Neals)
Theatre Party Ladies (John Driver, Jeffrey Haddow, Roger Neil,
       Scrambled Feet)
Belmont Avenue (Bobby Conte Thornton, Ensemble, A Bronx Tale)
I Like It (Hudson Loverro, A Bronx Tale)
Out Of Your Head (Bobby Conte Thornton, Ariana DeBose, A Bronx Tale)
The Three B's (Nancy Walker, June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, Best Foot
The Three Of Us (Michael McKean, The Pajama Game)
Three Friends (Lynne Wintersteller, Sally Mayes, Richard Muenz,
       Closer Than Ever)
Three Coins In The Fountain (Jason Graae, Ensemble, Forever Plaid)
Three Little Maids (Veronica Hart, Alison Jiear, Paulette Ivory, Hot Mikado)
Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning (Irving Berlin, Ensemble,
       This Is The Army)
Oh, My Goodness (Shirley Temple, Poor Little Rich Girl)
Uh-Oh! (Margery Gray, Byron Mitchell, Tovarich)
I Can Do Better Than That (Sherie Rene Scott, The Last 5 Years)
Shiksa Goddess (Norbert Leo Butz, The Last 5 Years)
Goodbye Until Tomorrow (Sherie Rene Scott, The Last 5 Years)
Ooh! My Feet! (Susan Johnson, The Most Happy Fella)
Ooh, Do You Love You! (Linda Lavin, It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman)
Ah! Paris (Liliane Montevecchi, Follies)
Ah! Sweet Mystery Of Life/I'm Falling In Love With Someone (Marc Kudisch,
       Angela Christian, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
Pierre (Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812)
The Private And Intimate Life Of The House (Gelsey Bell, Nicholas
       Belton, Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812)
Natasha & Anatole ( Denee Benton, Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre
       And The Great Comet Of 1812)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Basket of Adorables

Can-Can the MOVIE (released in 1960)
had little to do with Can-Can the MUSICAL:
several of the Cole Porter songs were tossed,
and other Cole Porter songs shuffled in.
The plot was overhauled, as well, with
Louis Jordan (the judge) becoming part of a love triangle
with Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine (below).
Frank had to do it.
It cost a lot to make. 
It didn't make it back.

When the Brazilian Navy wants to Conga,
we Conga!
Roz Russell above in Wonderful Town.

Pearl Bailey as Madame Fleur in
House of Flowers, 1954.
Below with Gloria Vanderbilt and "lyricist" Truman Capote.

The cast of Groundhog Day:
John Sanders (who plays Ned Ryerson), Andy Karl (Phil Connors)
Barrett Doss (Rita Hanson) and Rebecca Faulkenberry (Nancy).
7 Tony Nominations for this show!
This Sunday we'll hear "Playing Nancy" with Rebecca.
Music and lyrics: Tim Minchin

Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells
as Marvin and Whizzer in Falsettos...
both are nominated for acting Tonys this season.
(You may remember Christian from Something Rotten
and Andrew from The Book Of Mormon.)

The odds-on favorite to win
Best Actor In A Musical:
Ben Platt, in Dear Evan Hansen.
The show has 9 nominations in all,
including Best Musical,
though Ben Brantley of the Times called it
"a rendering of a young adult novel".

 And then back to classic...
Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker
in Do Re Mi,
a Jule Styne/Comden and Green creation from 1960:
 "an average score that is worth the price just to hear Miss Walker describe her life of 'Adventure'."
Despite mixed reviews, it played 400 performances.
Not too shabby.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Who Wore It Better?

 Many talented actresses
have worn the Dolly Levi red plumes and sequined gown
and traveled down those stairs to the waiting arms and towels of...waiters.
Here, in not so sequential order, are some of 
Broadway's Dollys!
 First (and in my heart, the only) Carol Channing...

 The Pearl Bailey version...
helped along by Cab Calloway,
and Morgan Freeman (who played a waiter!)

 Phyllis Diller...
 Ginger Rodgers...

 Martha Raye...

 Ethel Merman,
who the part was actually written for.
She rejected it, Carol scooped it...
but Ethel came back eventually for a share.

 Ann Miller...

 Betty Grable...
 Dorothy Lamour...
 Eve Arden...

 Mary Martin...

 and Babs in the film version...

 And now of course, Bette Midler, in the revival.

 Above.."Dancing" with Kate Baldwin, Beanie Feldstein, and Taylor Trensch.
Below, Bette with HER Horace, David Hyde-Pierce.
And who will the next Dolly be?
I know! Nathan Lane in drag...perfect! 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, May 14, 2017: Who Ordered The Mai Tai?

News Flash ("Extra! Extra! Just look at the headlines!"): Dolly's back (please tell her HELLO from me!), Joey's going away (said he's getting way too comfortable in that RV "bunk house" out back), Pearl just let "You Know Who" know EXACTLY where he stands (my guess is, his days are numbered!), and Tony will be here in June with his usual judgement issues, giving each of us the nod or the heave ho... he really needs to discuss these tendencies with his therapist, you know?

So it's all go here! Do let me know what you think of the Hello, Bette...I mean,  Dolly! revival...According to the (quote-worthy) reviews, everyone is ga-ga about her performance and David Hyde-Pierce and Gavin Creel...and it's all "throw your hat in the air" hyperbole. Having NOT seen the show, my allegiance of course must be won over...and away from the Channing/Burns/Reilly/Brennan original. I'm yearning for a cast album that lifts me as much as the original.

YET as I type this, a GENTLE (not 80 mph...hey, we all know what THAT feels like!), WARM breeze is at last wafting thru these old windows (and thru these old ears, in one, out the other), actually feeling like it might really be May. I hear coo doves. I hear the rustle of new leaves. And lawn mowers. And I feel an actual Lazy Afternoon comin' on. All the Dollys and Pearls and Tony Hype may have to wait til a less beautiful day, cuz dammit, don't we deserve a moment to soak this up? I may ferret a lawn chair out of my shed and sit on my lawn! And read Danielle Steele. With a G&T. (She's been asking to come by for free drink for ages.) How's that for decadence? So there, Broadway!  Cool your jets...while I swallow.

Put On Your Sunday Clothes (Gavin Creel, Bette Midler, Ensemble,
       Hello, Dolly!)
Christopher Street (Warren Galjour, Wonderful Town)
Conversation Piece (Edie Adams, Cris Alexander, Rosaline Russell, George             Gaynes, Wonderful Town)
Conga! (Rosalind Russell, Ensemble, Wonderful Town)
Main Title/I Love Paris (Frank Sinatra, Maurice Chevalier, Ensemble,
You Do Something To Me (Louis Jordan, Can-Can)
Just On Of Those Things (Maurice Chevalier, Can-Can)
Come Along With Me (Shirley MacLaine, Can-Can)
Joey, Joey, Joey (Art Lund, The Most Happy Fella)
Lazy Afternoon (Kaye Ballard, The Golden Apple)
I Wants To Stay Here (Lena Horne, Porgy & Bess)
Playing Nancy (Rebecca Faulkenberry, Groundhog Day)
What More Can I Say (Christian Borle, Falsettos)
Waving Through A Window (Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen)
A Woman's Prerogative (Pearl Bailey, St. Louis Woman)
One Man (Pearl Bailey, House Of Flowers)
Legalize My Name (St. Louis Woman, Pearl Bailey)
You Can Be Replaced (Pearl Bailey, For Adults Only)
Before The Parade Passes By (Pearl Bailey, Hello, Dolly!)
Waiting, Waiting (Nancy Walker, Do Re Mi)
Waitin' (Dolores Harper, Ada Moore, Enid Mosier, House Of Flowers)
Just You Wait (Julie Andrews, My Fair Lady)
How Can I Wait? (Olga San Juan, Paint Your Wagon)
Accident Waiting To Happen (Sutton Foster, John Mitchell,
       The Drowsy Chaperone)
Waiting Trio (Robert Roznowski, Jennifer Simard, Melissa Weil,
       I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change)
Waiting In The Dark (Jeff Blumenkrantz, Murder For Two)
Waiting For You (David Josefsberg, Brynne O'Malley, Rob McClure,
      Honeymoon In Vegas)
I Put My Hand In (Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!)
It Takes A Woman (David Hyde-Pierce, Hello, Dolly!)
Hello, Dolly! (Bette Midler, Company, Hello, Dolly!)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Act II of Elaine!

 Elaine was 45 when she started her Company run.
Above with Larry Kurt, who took over for Dean Jones as Bobby.

 The cast recording of Company,
with Hal Prince.

 "Two's Company",
a BBC sit-com, with Donald Sinden
ran for four seasons...1975-79.
It earned both of them Bafta nominations.

 Elaine with actor John Bay,
her husband for almost 10 years,
until he passed away in 1982.

 In 2002, Elaine replaced Angela Lansbury as 
Madame Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim's
A Little Night Music.

 Above, Elaine with Barbara Cook
in a concert performance
of "The Grass Is Always Greener"
from Woman Of The Year.
 Below, with Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey
on 30 Rock...Elaine played Colleen, Alec's mom,
a role which brought her one of her three Emmys.

 Elaine retired to her childhood home in Michigan,
leaving her Carlyle Hotel digs after many years. 
She passed away in her sleep,
at the age of 89.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Mothers and Moose

 Minnie's Boys hit Broadway in 1969, 
with music by Hal Hackady and Larry Grossman,
and a book by Robert Fisher and Arthur Marx,
Groucho's son.
Arthur grew up on the Vaudeville circuit with his extended family,
and went on to be a gag writer for Milton Berle,
and a sitcom writer for shows like
Alice, My Three Sons and All In The Family.
The musical starred Shelly Winters, Lewis J. Stadlen as Groucho,
Irwin Pearl as Chico, and Daniel Fortus as Harpo.
We'll hear "Mama, I Rainbow" ironically sung by Harpo.  

 Leigh Ann Larkin (with a Moo Cow)
in the 2008 revival of Gypsy, 
which also starred Patti Lupone and Laura Benanti.
We'll hear a song dropped from the original production,
"Tomorrow's Mother's Day".
(Side note: Hopefully you were lucky enough to catch
Leigh Ann's excellent performance as Sally Bowles in the 
now-touring company of Cabaret.)

 Scott Jarvis in the original production of 1776
which had the music of Sherman Edwards,
who began his music career as a pianist, arranger,
and a pop song writer
("See You In September", "Wonderful, Wonderful", etc.
...yes, he was a Brill Building denizen).
But one day,
Sherman walked a few blocks over to Broadway
and became the composer of the Best Musical of 1969.
We'll hear Scott and "Momma Look Sharp".
 Broadway (and Hollywood)
make formidable mothers:
Above, Queen Latifah as Matron Mamma Morton
in the film version of Chicago,
and below, Marissa Jaret Winokur and Harvey Fierstein
in the original Broadway production of Hairspray.

 We'll also sample the brand-new-to-Broadway
Come From Away...
7,000 plane people stuck in Gander, Labrador
on 9/11, 
definitely the stuff of musicals.
A cast of 12, Celtic-flavored musical, and a hit with NY critics.
 Music and Lyrics,
Irene Sankoff and David Hein.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, May 14, 2017: An Existential Problem In Tights

It's Act II of Elaine Stritch. We left her hanging around 1968 last Sunday, and she'll get pissy (and stale) if we don't bring her out of the wings for Epi 2. So we'll get to hear about her tales of Rock Hudson, Hal Prince and Company, way too many vodkas, and the love of her life, John Bay. Plus a gaggle (a smack, a clowder, a murder?) of her songs, both poignant and pithy. She can pull both of those off.

Plus Mothers (well, it's OUR day, right?). Broadway makes Big Harvey Fierstein Big, Carol Channing Big, Matron Mama Morton Big. Plus we'll "visit" Gander, Labrador (I needed to get out my atlas for that one, and Trip Advisor wasn't much help), where a bazillion planes were stuck when they froze the U.S. airspace on 9/11. Frankly, living in NYC, I never gave a thought to anything past Manhattan on that day, or the days that followed it, but evidently while we were breathing in smoke and walking around like zombies, Gander was swamped with caring for 7,000 "plane people", jammed into that tiny little town. Drama, relationships, moose...all the stuff of musicals. It's called Come From Away, up for a Best Musical Tony, come June.

So we'll raise a "glass" to Gander, Mothers Everywhere, and The Stritch.  Alright, three glasses. 3 vodkas. Maybe 4.  Join me?

 I'm Still Here (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty)
Give The Little Lady (Elaine Stritch, Goldilocks)
You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me (Elaine Stritch, Stritch)
The Little Things You Do Together (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty)
The Ladies Who Lunch (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty)
Tomorrow's Mother's Day (Leigh Ann Larkin, Laura Benanti, Gypsy)
Motherhood (Carol Channing, Eileen Brennan, Sondra Lee, Hello, Dolly!)
You Remind Me Of My Mother (James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy)
When You're Good To Mama (Queen Latifah, Chicago)
So Long, Mom (Tom Lehrer, That Was The Year That Was)
If (Elaine Stritch, Stritch)
I Don't Want To Walk Without You (Elaine Stritch, Stritch)
There Never Was A Baby Like My Baby (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At 
I Went To A Marvelous Party (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty)
Welcome To The Rock (Company, Come From Away)
Stop The World (Lee MacDougall, Sharon Wheatley, Come From Away)
The Beast In You (Elaine Stritch, Goldilocks)
The Party's Over (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty)
Mama, A Rainbow (Daniel Fortus, Shelley Winters, Ensemble,
       Minnie's Boys)
Momma Look Sharp (Scott Jarvis, B.J. Slater, William Duell, 1776)
Confession To A Park Avenue Mother (Charles Nelson Reilly, Parade)
Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now (Marissa Jaret Winokur, Harvey Fierstein,
       Ensemble, Hairspray)
That's The Beginning Of The End (Elaine Stritch, Stritch)
Something Good (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty)