Sunday, July 15, 2018

Old, Schmold...I still love 'em!

 Bert Lahr,
born Irving Lahrheim in NYC in 1895,
dropped out of school at the age of 15 to join a Vaudeville act.
His debut on Broadway came in 1927 in
Delmar's Revels,
and he wow'ed 'em 1 year later in Hold Everything!
Cast as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz
(that was his 17th movie),
Bert had to suffer through several takes...
his own fault, really,
because Judy G and Ray B kept laughing at his antics!
  When warned that Hollywood had a habit of typecasting actors, 
Lahr replied, "Yeah, but how many parts are there for lions?

In 1951, Bert played many roles
 in Two On The Aisle, a musical revue,
with Dolores Gray and Kaye Ballard,
 including Queen Victoria (above).
We'll hear his classic "The Clown"
written by Jule Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

 Yowza! A gorge Doris Day
who'll sing "Lullaby Of Broadway" for us...
Doris began her recording career in 1939,
and prior to her film career,
recorded over 650 songs,
with Les Brown's band and on her own.
 She'd go on to do more than 3 dozen films
over 20 albums, and host her own television show. 

 A gif of a gif...
Donald O'Connor was 27 years old,
with a rubber face and a 4 pack-a-day smoking habit
when he filmed "Make Em Laugh" for Singin' In The Rain.
He debuted on the "silver screen" when he was 11,
in It Can't Last Forever.
But it seemed to, cuz DOC went on to do almost 60 films,
Broadway and television.
Donald passed away in 2003, at the age of 78.
 Judy Garland ("Taffeta, darling!")
and a super-moussed Gene Kelly
in The Pirate.
Before there was "Make Em Laugh",
there was "Be A Clown"...
yup, pretty much the same melody, dressed in different lyrics.
Cole Port wrote "Clown" in 1948
and didn't say BOO when Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
stole the tune, just a couple of years later,
for use in Singin' In The Rain. 
Stanley Donen (who co-directed Rain with Gene K)
called it, "100% plagiarism."

 Lee Wiley,
jazz singer of the 30s, 40s and 50s,
sang with the Leo Reisman Orchestra,
Paul Whiteman, Eddie Condon, and the Casa Loma Orchestra. 
We'll hear her "Manhattan" 
from Night in Manhattan,
a 1951 release, recorded with Bobby Hackett,
Joe Bushkin, Stan Freeman, and Cy Walter.

 And then we'll hear Maurice Chevalier
and a song from The Big Pond (1930),
in which he starred with Claudette Colbert.
A French version was filmed simultaneously,
both done at the Astoria Studios in Queens.
Maurice received an Academy Award nomination, 
for Best Actor 
and got to sing a couple of real goodies,
including "You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me." 
Of course it didn't take long for Maurice to be parodied;
just 1 year later, the Marx Brothers made
Monkey Business,
where in an attempt to leave a cruise ship without a passport,
they steal Maurice's and pretend to be him,
by lip-synching to that song. 
So in other words, the song is now tattooed on my brain
as a Marx Brothers skit,
not a Chevalier romancer.

Friday, July 13, 2018

OOOOH...That Broadway Rhythm!

 From Singin' in the Rain
to Yankee Doodle Dandy,
everybody sings about Broadway...
Gene Kelly (above AND below)
in the Broadway Melody Ballet,
which is actually 2 songs with 3 parts:
Broadway Melody...from the show Broadway Melody (1929)
Broadway Rhythm...from Broadway Melody of 1936.
And then they threw in a ballet, and THAT was written by Nacio Herb Brown.
And I always thought it was called
"Gotta Dance!"

The Spamalot gang
will be at it on Sunday, too,
with "You Won't Succeed On Broadway".
Hank Azaria, David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry,
Christopher Sieber, and Steve Rosen.
Over 1500 performance and a Best Musical Tony Award!
 Camelot is a silly place.

 From a non-Broadway production 
of Annie,
but still you get the gist of "N.Y.C."!
Reid Shelton, Dorothy Loudon, Andrea McCardle,
and Sandy Faison.
When Dorothy left the production,
she was replaced by Alice Ghostley, Betty Hutton,
and June Havoc, just to name a few.

 The Drifters Faux
and The Drifters Veritas!
The real ones recorded "On Broadway",
the creation of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann
(with a little help from their friends, 
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) back in 1963.
Come 2014,
the quartet above sang the song as part of
Beautiful: The Carol King Musical.
E. Clayton Cornelious, Douglas Lyons, 
Arbender Robinson and James Harkness.

 "The King Of Broadway"
now wearing a cardboard belt!
Nathan Lane as Max Bialystock sings a Mel Brooks' ballad
(which seems an oxymoron to me)
as Mathew and Shakey look on
in The Producers.

 George M. Cohan loved Broadway
(in fact he was dubbed "the man who owned Broadway"),
running as many as 5 shows on the
Great White Way at a time.
Jimmy Cagney got to sing those Cohan goodies
in Yankee Doodle Dandy,
which Cohan got to see just before he died.
 His comment on Cagney's performance was, 
"My God, what an act to follow!"
Pictured with James...Joan Leslie.

 Liza with Charles Aznavour,
in a concert they paired up for 
in Paris in 1991.
Long live 90's pink palazzo fashion!
John Kander and Fred Ebb loved writing for 
for Miss M,
and "New York, New York" was one of their gifts.
Liza turned 72 this March, and btw,
Charles is 94! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Playlist for Sunday, July 15, 2018: Do you dream of Broadway Sheep?

This is what you get with too much oxygen. Wild and weird ideas...why send a card when you can have a song delivered by a clown with silver, non-environmentally sound balloons (or bassoons)? Why wear black sneakers when you can hot glue rhinestone "jewels" to them? Why stay in upstate NY when you can fly to Philadelphia or a Greek Isle or Prague or drive to Punxsutawney or Gary? All the bi-products of biking al fresco, the wind invading your brain with new possibilities!

Ahem. Back to Broadway business. And that's what this edition of 2 on the Aisle is all about. A no brainer. Broadway at its Best does Broadway. Like Debbie (ahem) Does Dallas (who remembers that???). Give my regards, a Lullaby, 45 minutes get the idea. And when we've exhausted THAT, New York, Manhattan and all general geographically-centered songs in sync with that. Hmmmmm...and I have one problem. Having lived on 2nd Ave. in Village East for almost 30 years, the song "New York, New York" brings back less than favorable memories. That's the song that I (and my children) would hear at 3am, sung by drunken tourists or at least newbies to the scene, ambling down the street, in love with their NYC experience. Out of tune, out of their minds. So that song, that one frickin' song....brings back a whole ton of memories. Ya dig?

But that aside...Broadway. The heart and soul of me. No idea why. Raised 460 miles NW of it. To non-musical parents. Like deep DNA or reincarnation run amok...enjoy, as I do!

On Broadway (E. Clayton Cornelious, Douglas Lyons, Arbender J. Robinson,
      James Harkness, Beautiful: The Carol King Musical)
Give My Regards To Broadway (James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy)
Broadway Baby (Elaine Stritch, Follies)
You Won't Succeed On Broadway (David Hyde-Pierce, Tim Curry, Ensemble,
      Monty Python's Spamalot)
Broadway Baby (David Christmas, Dames At Sea)
Lullaby Of Broadway (Doris Day, Lullaby Of Broadway)
Forty-Five Minutes From Broadway (James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy)
Give My Regards To Broadway (Joel Grey, George M!)
I'd Rather Be Blue Over You (Fanny Brice, My Man)
Heart And Soul (Al Bowlly)
You Brought A New Kind Of Love To Me (Maurice Chevalier, The Big Pond)
I Won't Dance (Kaye Ballard, Jack Cassidy, Roberta/Lovely To Look At)
New York, New York (Cris Alexander, Adolph Green, John Battles,
      On The Town)
Manhattan (Lee Wiley)
N.Y.C. (Reid Shelton, Sandy Faison, Andrea McCardle, Laurie Beecham,
Broadway Melody Ballet (Gene Kelly, Singin' In The Rain)
Be A Clown (Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, The Pirate)
Make 'Em Laugh (Donald O'Connor, Singin' In The Rain)
The Clown (Bert Lahr, Two On The Aisle)
Take Me Back To Manhattan (Eileen Rodgers, Angels, Anything Goes)
The King Of Broadway (Nathan Lane, The Producers)
Broadway Baby (Bernadette Peters, Royal Festival Hall London Concert)
It's A Perfect Relationship (Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing)
Loving You (Judy Holliday, Loving You)
The Party's Over (Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing)
Do You Miss New York (Dave Frishberg, At The Algonquin)
I Happen To Like New York (Bobby Short, Bobby Short Loves Cole Porter)
Give My Regards To Broadway (Patti LuPone, Don't Monkey With Broadway)
New York, New York (Liza Minnelli, Aznavour & Minnelli- Live At Paris
      Palais Des Congres)
Don't Monkey With Broadway (Fred Astaire, George Murphy, Broadway
      Melody of 1940)
Lullaby Of Broadway (Jerry Orbach, Wanda Richert, Company, 42nd Street)

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ahrens and Flaherty: From Dead Uncles to Disney Princesses (and Rocky in the Middle)

 Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty
began working together in 1983.
Lynn was a native New Yorker
(and Syracuse grad),
Stephen hailed from Pittsburgh.
Their first collaboration was a children's show
called "The Emperor's New Clothes."
After that, they were off and running 
(to Off-Broadway)
with Lucky Stiff in 1988.
And speaking of the 80s,
below is a pic from that time period. 

 Lots of shows for this pair,
and above they're beaming cuz of their very successful
revival of Once On This Island,
orginally done in 1990.
Below, a pictorial reminder of what else this pair has created!

 My Favorite Year...1992
with Josh Mostel, Evan Pappas, Andrea Martin and...
well, I'm not too sure about that dude on the right. 
Only 36 performances! 

 Ragtime, with Brian Stokes Mitchell and a young Audra McDonald.
Done in 1998, Ragtime won the songwriting team
a Tony for Best Score.

 The Glorious Ones, 2007.
Marc Kudisch (center) starred in this Off-Broadway
tale of a Renaissance period theatre company.
Here's the definitive quote from Charles Isherwood:
 "With buoyant music by Stephen Flaherty 
and a bawdy book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, 
the show mixes the lowdown pratfalls of commedia dell’arte 
with the rosy sentimentality of classic American musical comedy...
The resulting musical is a sweet but strange hybrid, 
both joyfully naughty and totally innocuous."

 Anastasia, on Broadway right now!
Lynn and Stephen wrote the songs for the animated movie,
then added more tunes for the Broadway production.

 Seussical, which opened in 2000.
Playing Horton (who heard a Who!) 
was Kevin Chamberlain
who would go on to portray Fester in The Addams Family.
The "Junior" version of this show is produced hither and yon, 
most probably at a middle school very near you!

 Rocky The Musical (2012)
starred Andy Karl and Margo Seibert.
Original music by Lynn and Stephen,
but they kept "Eye Of the Tiger"
and "Gonna Fly Now"  for old time sake. 
188 performances
(I think it did better in Stuttgart).

 A Man Of No Importance, from 2002,
with an original cast that included Jessica Molaskey,
Faith Prince and Roger Rees.
It won an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical.
A theatre group in Dublin, 
whose director very much wants to put on Oscar Wilde's Salome
at his church. :)

And the one that started it all,
Lucky Stiff.
Stiff originally starred Steven Stout, Mary Testa, and Stuart Zagnit.
It ran Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizon,
and closed after 15 performances.
No where else to go but UP!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Revivals a go-go!

 The revival of Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady,
on Broadway right now with
Lauren Ambrose (center above),
Diana Rigg (on the left),
and Harry Hadden-Patton (below)!
Jesse Green of The Times has called
it "better than ever",
and under the directorship of Bartlett Sher,
a feminist call!
"The question quickly becomes not whether Eliza will succeed 
— of course she will — 
but whether Higgins can accept her success. 
Will he join her in it, or get out of the way?"

 Remember Harry from Downton Abbey?
Edith's beau and (finally, Edith..REALLY!) her new husband.

 Lauren is older than most who've played Eliza 
(she's 40),
but 40 is the new 28, right?
Stage, screen (big AND small), classic theatre experience,
and a wonderful voice!

 Harry, Lauren, and Allan Corduner as
Colonel Pickering.
"The Rain In Spain"

 Norbert Leo Butz plays
Alfred P. Doolittle,
with 2 show stoppers to enjoy.
Above, "Get Me To The Church On Time",
and all those feet are OFF the ground!

 And then ALSO on Broadway right this very instant,
the revival of Once On This Island,
with music by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.
Winner of the Best Musical Revival Tony of 2018.

 Called "ravishing" and "gorgeous" by the NYTimes,
Once is a Romeo and Juliet story carried out
amongst temperamental (and gender fluid) gods
in the French Antilles.
The score is Caribbean, the costume design is a crazy
quilt of tablecloths and plastic tiaras.
Above, in red is
Hailey Kilgore (as Ti Moune)
in her Broadway debut.

 Lea Salonga (in White) as Erzulie, Goddess of Love,
and spear-carrying Merle Dandridge is Papa Ge,
("don't come around here")
rocking a bra !

God Portrait:
Merle, Quentin Earl Darrington, Lea and Alex Newell.

Alex Newell as Asaka
with "Mama Will Provide".

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Playlist for Sunday, July 8, 2018: Whelmed!

Okay, this is going to be the shortest Broadway at it's Best blog on record!
a.) holiday
b.) parade
c.) party...times 2
d.) HOT
e.) biking in the HOT
f.)  More Broadway.  Always.

So what's an overwhelmed (or just whelmed!!) on-air host to do? Choose those favorites, in this case the NEW, soon to be CLASSIC, composer/lyricists creating right now.Yazbek. Brown. Flaherty and Ahrens. (Okay so I left out Miranda...sue me! And Pasek. And Paul! Hey, I only have 2 hours here, bub!) PLUS 2 revivals to play: My Fair Lady and Once On This Island.

Voila, une show! C'est done! C'est nouveau! Now off to that barbeque...don't light the sparklers without me!

I Love Betsy (Rob McClure, Honeymoon In Vegas)
Wouldn't It Be Loverly? (Lauren Ambrose, "The Loverly Quartet," My Fair
The Rain In Spain (Lauren Ambrose, Harry Hadden-Patton, Allan Corduner,
      My Fair Lady)
A Hymn To Him (Harry Hadden-Patton, Allan Corduner, My Fair Lady)
Life With Harold (Emily Skinner, The Full Monty)
Giving Them What They Want (John Lithgow, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)
Lovesick (Sherie Rene Scott, Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown)
Lie To Me (Sherie Rene Scott, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Women On The Verge
      Of A Nervous Breakdown)
Haled's Song About Love (Ari'el Stachel, The Band's Visit)
Waiting (Ensemble, The Band's Visit)
Itzik's Lullaby (John Cariani, George Abud, The Band's Visit)
Omar Sharif (Katrina Lenk, The Band's Visit)
I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You (Jason Robert Brown,
      Wearing Someone Else's Clothes)
Wondering (Steven Pasquale, The Bridges Of Madison County)
Someone To Fall Back On (Jason Robert Brown, Someone Else's Clothes)
You Don't Know This Man (Carolee Carmello, Parade)
Do Something (David Josefsberg, Rob McClure, Honeymoon In Vegas)
Twenty Million People (Evan Pappas, Ensemble, My Favorite Year)
Sarah Brown Eyes (Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Ragtime)
I Was Here (Marc Kudisch, The Glorious Ones)
Nice (Evan Pappas, Judy Blazer, Lucky Stiff)
My Own Morning (Leslie Uggams, Hallelujah, Baby!)
Is It A Crime? (Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing)
Waiting, Waiting (Nancy Walker, Do Re Mi)
Never Never Land (Mary Martin, Peter Pan)
You Gotta Get A Gimmick (Lenora Nemetz, Marilyn Caskey, Allison
      Fraser, Gypsy)
We Dance (Company, Once On This Island)
Waiting For Life (Hailey Kilgore, Storytellers, Once On This Island)
Mama Will Provide (Alex Newell, Storytellers, Once On This Island)

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Poor little me...

 Randi Graff in her double role
in City Of Angels,
Oolie and Donna.
As Oolie
(the character she played in the noir section of the musical), 
she got to sing "You Can Always Count On Me",
a Cy Coleman goodie, lyrics David Zippel
(and don't the lyrics MAKE it!!).
Below with James Naughton, who played Stone.

 Michele Lee could sing!
Not just a pretty face,
Michele was part of the cast of Seesaw
(above center with replacement John Gavin),
another Cy Coleman show
(lyrics Dorothy Fields).
"Nobody Does It Like Me"
I can relate.

 Oh, those circus folk!
Billy Rose's Jumbo
(not to be confused with Jumbo, the Broadway musical of 1935!)
featured the music of Rodgers and Hart, 
and starred Doris Day, Martha Raye
Stephen Boyd, and Jimmy Durante. 

  Both the musical and the film featured Durante
 leading a live elephant and being stopped by a police officer, 
who asks him, "What are you doing with that elephant?" 
Durante's reply, "What elephant?"
 It was a knee slapper back in '35.

 We'll hear Martha and Doris
with "Why Can't I?"
Love this red-nosed DD.

 Ashley Park, who plays Rachel in Mean Girls
on Broadway RIGHT NOW,
and on the right,
the movie version of Rachel, 
Lacey Chabert.
Who wore it better? :)
 In rehearsal
and on the stage!
Below: Ashley, Taylor Louderman, Kate Rockwell,
and Erika Henningsen.
We'll hear Ashley with
"What's Wrong With Me?"