Thursday, July 20, 2017

Beauty Queens

 Florence Nightingale Graham
was born in 1878 in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada.
She dropped out of nursing school, studied in France, changed her name
to Elizabeth Arden, and founded The Red Door Salon 
on Manhattan's 5th Ave., all by 1910.
EA stressed that makeup was imperative to a lady-like appearance
(before that, it was a sign of the prostitute or the actress!
Quelle horror!).
 Behind "The Red Door"...
why am I reminded of the first scene of The Women?
At her peak, Arden owned 150 salons
in 22 countries,
and was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

 Chaja Rubenstein was born 6 years earlier in 
Krakow, Poland.
She joined her uncle in Australia,
working first as a waitress, and selling jars of 
"beauty cream" out of her luggage.
Thanks to plentiful "lanolin" down under (sheep grease?),
she opened shops in Sydney, Melbourne, and eventually 
London, Paris...and New York,
just doors down from Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Helene died within 6 months of each other
(in 1965 and 66),
both self-made millionaires.
 They supposedly never met.
 But if they had...

 ...we can only imagine it would have gone something like
War Paint,
with music by Scott Frankel and Michael Kourie.
It opened in March of 2017,
starring Christine Ebersole and Patti Lupone.
As Doug Wright (author of show's book) put it,
“Together, they not only forged an industry, but a way of life...They absolutely shattered glass ceilings as women in industry."

 Composer Frankel attempted to flavor
the music with the feel of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
The Washington Post wrote,
 "LuPone and Ebersole wrap their prodigious voices 
around a score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie 
that rings with the kind of exhilaratingly brassy notes that match the chutzpah of their characters’ ambitions."

 Above, "Fire And Ice"
with Erik Lieberman and Steffanie Leigh.
The Charles Revson "take over".

 According to Mr. Brantley of The NYTimes,
“War Paint can sometimes sound like a singing Wikipedia entry",
with all its research-laden beauty formulas,
Senate investigations, and "data heavy" exposition.
But in that same review,
 "I wouldn’t have missed it, if only to hear 
its leading ladies’ climactic ballads."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Playlist For Sunday, July 23, 2017: I TOLD YOU there'd be a test!

A quiz for this week's 2 on the Aisle listeners. You may get these right without listening, if you are an extremely knowledgeable Broadway-phile, lucky, or me. Have at it. No looking at your neighbor's paper!!!!  

1.) Fire + Ice =

a.) That's some chemistry formula that I never memorized. I had a crush on my chem teacher and my eyes were always glued to the tightness of his corduroy blazer (with appropriate elbow patches) as it spanned his pecs...don't get me started. Well, you already have.
b.) Atmosphere on a Class M planet (see Voyager).
c.) A puddle
d.) One jazzy lipstick color!

2.) What is this show's middle name?

a.) on the
b.) Esmeralda
c.)  Iphigenia
d.) Quirky
e.) Corky
f.)  Esoteric-Often-Boring-But-Not-Without-Its-Charm

3.) Who was the first to sing "Manhattan" in Rodgers & Hart's Garrick Gaieties? (Trick question...2 answers may both be right, in theory!)

a.) Arthur Treacher, pre-fish, pre-Merv
b.) Ed McMahon, pre-Johnny, pre-boring
c.)  Winnie The Pooh
d.) Sterling Holloway

4.) Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and Bert Lahr did a live television performance of which musical? Suffice it to say, Frank and the Merm got along like oil and vinegar (make that Fire & Ice).

a.) Hair
b.) Rent
c.) Rented Hair
d.) Anything Goes (and Did)

5.) Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock wrote Fiddler. They wrote Fiorello. They wrote incredible Tony-winning stuff. But in 1955, Sheldon wrote...

a.) Oh Calcutta
b.) HMS Pinafore
c.) Garbage
d.) Do You Know The Way To San Jose? no, you know?
e.) Mambo Italiano

6.) In the song "Monkeys and Playbills", what does the monkey drive?

a.) A Segway
b.) A Schwinn
c.) A rocket ship to a Class M Planet (see Babylon 5)
d.) A speed boat

7.) Complete this sentence: "Take Me Back to ______" (and no peaking at the playlist).

a.) Bim Bom Bay
b.) The Okefenokee Swamp
c.) The Zuider Zee
d.) Manhattan

Pencils down. You've had more than enough time. Grading will be harsh and expedient. No curves. No nothin'. You fail, you'll just have to listen HARDER next week.  Whaddaya think this is supposed to be, fun'ner sumpthin'?

7 points = You live backstage with Patti and Christine. 5-6 points, you live 1 block away from what WAS the Morosco. 3-4 points, you live. 1-2, there's a country western station just 1 megahertz up the dial.  I suggest you find it. :)

Take Me Back To Manhattan (Eileen Rodgers, Anything Goes)
Behind The Red Door (Christine Ebersole, Ensemble, War Paint)
Back On Top (Patti Lupone, War Paint)
Fire And Ice (Erik Liberman, Stephanie Leigh, Patti Lupone, War Paint)
Pink (Christine Ebersole, War Paint)
Kansas City (Lee Dixon, Oklahoma!)
Standing On The Corner (Shorty Long, The Most Happy Fella)
All I Owe Ioway (John Davidson, Company, State Fair)
Louisiana Hay Ride (Nanette Fabray, Ensemble, The Band Wagon)
Louisiana Purchase (Judy Blazer, New York Voices, Louisiana Purchase)
Monkeys And Playbills (Company, [title of show])
What Kid Of Girl Is She? (Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, [title of show])
Nine People's Favorite Thing (Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell,
       Heidi Blickenstaff, [title of show])
Manhattan (Tim Curry, Ensemble, My Favorite Year)
Nothing Is New In New York (Ensemble, Breakfast At Tiffany's)
Manhattan Madness (Jeffry Denman, Face The Music)
Manhattan (Lee Wiley)
I Happen To Like New York (Bobby Short)
New York, New York (And The World Goes 'Round)
Paducah (Peter Conlow, Shoe String Revue)
Garbage (Bea Arthur, Shoe String Revue)
I Furnished My One Room Apartment (Sarah Weeks, Upstairs At O'Neals)
Talkin' Morosco Blues (Richard Ryder, Upstairs At O'Neals)
I Could Write A Book (Harold Lang, Vivienne Segal, Pal Joey)
Dear Old Syracuse (Jack Cassidy, The Boys From Syracuse)
Way Out West (Judy Kaye, Ensemble, Babes In Arms)
Bon Voyage (Ensemble, Anything Goes)
You're The Top (Sutton Foster, Colin Donnell, Anything Goes)
Finale (Company, Anything Goes)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dim Sum

 Debbie Gravitte will be starting us off with
"I Wanna Be A Rockette",
from an unproduced musical called
with music by Alan Menken and Tom Eyen.

 Our Sondheim Corner
(well, more like a niche)
is Into The Woods...
above, Robert Westenberg and Kim Crosby Westenberg.
Yup, those fairy tale characters got married
in real life, too.
 (Maybe pitch on the stairs really works?)

 Jackie Hoffman and Adam Riegler
in The Addams Family.
Counsel from Grandma is always good, right?

 Fagin, as portrayed by Clive Revill, in a similar vein,
exhorting his gang...I mean, advising his "charges".
"You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two"
from Oliver!

 Bertie Carvel,
 the orginal Agatha Trunchbull,
in Matilda.
This role brought Bertie a
Drama Desk award, an Olivier,
and a Tony nomination
(one of only a handful of actors who've been nominated
for roles opposite their genders).

(you read that right!)
has extended its run to October 2017.
 Gerard Alessandrini's "forbidden" version
of Hamilton,
with water pistols and cheaper tickets.

 Mathew Morrison and Kelsey Grammar (note hook)
in Finding Neverland...
Below, "We Own The Night",
and yes, most of those characters end up 
under that table (literally).

Friday, July 14, 2017

Oldie Goldie New Yorkers

 It was 1930, the Depression had hit,
and so did The New Yorkers,
a Cole Porter musical,
proving that despite small change in their pockets,
New York audiences wanted to see a musical
based on them!
From the hoy ploy to the prostitutes, all seemed represented.

 Jimmy Durante starred,
but by the looks of this painted billboard scene,
he was low on the totem pole
(" Clayton Jackson & Durante")?
Also starring were Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians,
who played AND sang
(above, with 40 megaphones!).
 Herbert Fields (Dorothy's brother)
wrote the book,
Cole Porter did the music, 
but...NOT the 5 songs sung by Durante.
Those were written by Durante himself
(guess he couldn't trust Cole!?).

Another star of the show,
Ann Pennington.
 Four years earlier, 
Ann was doing the Black Bottom
in George White's Scandals of 1926!

 Barrie Oliver,
who though not listed on that marquee,
sang "Getting Myself Ready For You!"

 Composer/lyricist Cole Porter
(with actress Ruth Chatterton)
dining at the Coconut Grove, 1936.
Ah, to be at THAT table!

 Lee Wiley
(above, sedate, below, not sedate)
a jazz singer of the 1930s, 40s and 50s...
who sang with the Paul Whiteman band,
the Casa Loma Orchestra,
and opened the very first Newport Jazz Festival, in 1954.
We'll hear her rendition of
"Let's Fly Away" also from The New Yorkers.

Two shots of Ruth Etting,
who definitely knew how to dress for a photo shoot.
Ruth was one of the first to record
"Close Your Eyes"
by Bernice Petkere
back in 1933.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Playlist For Sunday, July 16, 2017: Another parade, another show!

We are deep into Parade Season, and to the unitiated, yes, I have the parade gene. That's a certain part of certain peoples' DNA that tells them to start with their left foot, guide right, step out "long" if you're in front of the trombones, and drop NOT your baton! You'd think I would have excised that gene post high school (we really DID have a fantastic marching band for the size of this 'burg), but no, it lingers (like a chronic disease) and metastasizes (like a goiter) and must be fed (like piranha, twice a week).

In other words, I am part of the Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies, a "precision" (note quotes) marching/dancing unit, made of ladies of a certain age (nobody too young and or, PLEASE! We have a niche!), who's only prerequisite to joining is that they are not above making fools of themselves in local parades, where in fact they are KNOWN.  People point. People laugh. You gotta be able to take that kind of treatment, all while remembering the routine you're doing, smiling a toothy (yes, we still have them!) grin and shedding copious amounts of boa feathers and sequins. (Check your local listings. You may be visited soon.)

What's that got to do with Broadway? Well, 8 times each summer, we get to "put on a show"...a musical production, with bows and applause and makeup and bling! Fits perfectly with MY personality, anyway.

And we celebrate Parade Season with Kim having little or no time to form Profound Playlists (if they ever were thus!), and voila, case in point. This is Blendered Broadway week...pulling from everything from Into The Woods to Assassins to The New Yorkers to Spamilton. I'm a Funny Girl one moment, a Fagin the next, and don't forget Frogs, Les Poissons, and other amphibians.

You see, I always wanted to be a Rockette....:)

Invocation And Instructions To The Audience (Nathan Lane, Roger Bart,
       The Frogs)
I Want To Be A Rockette (Debbie Gravitte, Kicks)
Two A Day (Richard Tone, Parade)
Applause (Bonnie Franklin, Company, Applause)
You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two (Clive Revill, Davy Jones, Bruce
       Prochnik, Ensemble, Oliver!)
Bruce (Bertie Carvel, Jack Broderick, Ensemble, Matilda)
What If? (Adam Riegler, Jackie Hoffman, The Addams Family)
We Own The Night (Aidan Gemme, Matthew Morrison, Laura Michelle Kelly,
       Ensemble, Finding Neverland)
Close Your Eyes (Ruth Etting)
Let's Fly Away (Lee Wiley, The New Yorkers)
I'm Getting Myself Ready For You (Barrie Oliver, The New Yorkers)
Any Moment/Moments In The Woods (Joanna Gleason, Robert Westenberg,
       Into The Woods)
On The Steps Of The Palace (Kim Crosby, Into The Woods)
No One Is Alone (Kim Crosby, Chip Zien, Ben Wright, Danielle Ferland,
       Into The Woods)
Be Our Guest (Jerry Orbach, Angela Lansbury, Beauty And The Beast)
Les Poissons (Rene Auberjonois, The Little Mermaid)
I Won't Say I'm In Love (Susan Egan, Ensemble, Hercules)
A Whole New World (Lea Salonga, Brad Kane, Aladdin)
Skid Row (Downtown) (Company, Little Shop Of Horrors)
Unworthy Of Your Love (Greg Germann, Annie Golden, Assassins)
Gun Song (Terrance Mann, Victor Garber, Assassins)
You Don't Know This Man (Carolee, Carmelo, Parade)
I'm The Greatest Star (Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl)
If A Girl Isn't Pretty (Jean Stapleton, Kay Medford, Danny Meehan,
       Funny Girl)
You Are Woman (Sydney Chaplin, Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl)
Time Heals Everything (Bernadette Peters, Sondheim, Etc.)
Ribbons Down My Back (Eileen Brennan, Hello, Dolly!)
I Don't Want To Know (Angela Lansbury, Dear World)
Lin-Manuel As Hamilton (Dan Rosales, Company, Spamilton)
His Shot (Dan Rosales, Juwan Crawley, Chris Anthony Giles,
      Nicholas Edwards, Nora Shell, Spamilton)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

...and what the Titans did!

 That surrey DOES have fringe on top!
The original 1943 production 
of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! with 
Lee Dixon, Celeste Holm, Alfred Drake and Joan Roberts
(and farmers and cowmen...and Howard DaSilva as Poor Jud!).
 Michele Lee
in Seesaw,
the work of Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields.
"Nobody Does It Like Me"

 Another Dorothy Fields number,
this one done with Jerome Kern:
Swing Time with Fred and Ginger.
"The Way You Look Tonight"
 From Curly Top, with Shirley Temple,
we'll hear a Ray Henderson/Ted Koehler song,
"Animal Crackers In My Soup".

 One of our Jerry Herman samples,
Dear World with Angela Lansbury.
Audiences stayed away in droves.
Still has that Jerry Herman joie de vivre, tho!
We'll hear the title song,
with Angela, feathers and all.

Another R&H goodie,
"The Lonely Goatherd",
this one from the movie version
of The Sound Of Music.
Bill Baird and Cora Eisenberg (the leading puppeteers of the day)
produced and operated the weird looking marionettes,
not Julie and those kids (surprise!), 
and Oscar Hammerstein had to come up with 
a ton of phrases that rhymed with goatherd:
 "remote heard", "throat heard", "moat heard", etc.

Birthdays of the Titans!

 Jerry Herman,
born in Jersey City, on July 10th, 1931,
cut his composing teeth in Catskill summer camps
where his parents worked.
At 17, he crossed paths with Frank Loesser,
who encouraged him to keep at it.
And who could say no to Frank?
After graduating from the University of Miami,
and producing/writing/directing 3 Off Broadway revues,
he was ON Broadway with From A To Z (1960)
and Milk And Honey (1961).
 1964...Hello, Dolly!
1969...Dear World
1974...Mack & Mabel
1979...The Grand Tour
1983...La Cage Aux Folles
Above with Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, and Colleen Dewhurst.

 Jerry celebrates his 86th birthday tomorrow,
probably IN STYLE!


Lyricist/Libretto-ist Dorothy Fields,
another New Jersey-ite, born July 15, 1905,
came from a show biz family.
Her father, Lew Fields, was half a vaudeville act for many years,
and when that duo broke up,
he became a Broadway producer.
Her brothers, Joe and Herbert (with Dorothy below)
followed suit, with Herbert becoming one of Dorothy's 
many collaborators. 

  Okay, who wouldn't LOVE to join this dinner table?
Jerome Kern, Dorothy, and George Gershwin.

 Dorothy's first lyric-writing connection
came thru J. Fred Coots, who introduced her to Jimmy McHugh,
and together they wrote songs for The Blackbird Revue,
and several Cotton Club Revues
Then it was on to Hollywood to write with Jerome Kern for movie musicals
(Roberta, Swing Time),
back to Broadway to work with Arthur Schwartz,
(A Tree Grows In Brooklyn),
brother Herbert (as a librettist for 3 Cole Porter shows),
and Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, Seesaw).
A 40 year career, from Tin Pan Alley to 1970s Broadway.
(Below, with Gwen Verdon, the recording session for Redhead,
for which Dorothy teamed up with Albert Hague).
 Dorothy died in 1974, at the age of 68.

 A young and dashing
Oscar Hammerstine, II, born July 12th, 1895, in NYC.
He was named after his grandfather
(below, with his dad, William).
Oscar the First built opera houses!
Produced shows!
Leapt tall opera houses in a single bound!
His dad was a theatrical manager.
(I'm seeing a trend here.)

 Oscar graduated from Columbia University,
and was starting law school,
when the theatre bug bit.
His first collaborators were Otto Harbach,
Jerome Kern, Vincent Youmans, Rudolf Friml, and Sigmund Romberg.
 Come the early 1940s, Richard Rodgers' writing partner, 
Lorenz Hart, could no longer work.
Oscar stepped in, and a Broadway golden age began:
 Oklahoma, Carousel, The King And I, South Pacific, 
Flower Drum Song, Cinderella, The Sound Of Music...

 With Richard Rodgers and Agnes DeMille,
working on Allegro, one of the team's few flops.

Richard and Oscar helping 3 different Nellie Forbushes
wash that man right out of their respective hairs
(Mary Martin, Janet Blair, and Martha Wright).
Oscar died not long after the opening of 
The Sound Of Music on Broadway, at the age of 65. 
Stanley Green in his book about R&H wrote, 
"For three minutes, on the night of September first, 
the entire Times Square area in New York City was blacked out 
in honor of the man who had done so much 
to light up that particular part of the world. 
From 8:57 to 9:00 p.m., every neon sign and every light bulb 
was turned off and all traffic was halted between 
42nd Street and 53rd Street, 
and between 8th Ave and the Avenue of the Americas. 
A crowd of 5,000 people, many with heads bowed, 
assembled at the base of the statue of Father Duffy on Times Square 
where two trumpeters blew taps. 
It was the most complete blackout on Broadway since World War II, 
and the greatest tribute of its kind ever paid to one man."