Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Choose: Philly Story or Society, High?

 The Philadelphia Story (1941) or its musicalized cousin,
High Society (1956)?
The critics enjoyed the tunes of the latter,
but said it had little of the snap, crackle, pop
of the original Katherine Hepburn gem.

 Cole Porter's great music....
here "Well, Did You Evah?" with Frank and BIng.
This song was originally in another Porter show,
DuBarry Was a Lady,
and tossed into this film at the last minute.
I mean, Crosby and Sinatra HAD to have a duet, right?

 Celeste Holm and Frank,
wondering "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"
Time Magazine was not impressed:
"Kelly lacks the gawky animal energy that 
Katharine Hepburn brought to the 1941 movie, 
Crosby saunters through the part rather sleepily, 
without much of the old Bing zing, 
and Sinatra plays the reporter like a dead-end kid with a typewriter."

Movie poster...
selected scenes to "whet" the appetite!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Til the Clouds Roll By...Star Studded!

 A fictionalized account of the life of Jerome Kern...
who was originally involved in the film's production,
but passed away before its released in 1946.
Just look at that cast list!
Most of the stars appeared in cameos,
but it still proved to be a big hit.

 Angela Lansbury was 21 years old,
and sang "How'd You Like to Spoon With Me?"
She'd just finished Gaslight and 
The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Love the outfits!

Judy and "Look for the Silver Lining."
She had just returned from her honeymoon with Vincente Minnelli, 
and because of her pregnancy, 
completed all her scenes for the movie first!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Playlist for Sunday, January 4, 2015: Rumble Rumble!

We start this week's show off with a Frank Loesser "special:" The Most Happy Fella...It took Frank 4 years to write the book, the music AND the lyrics for this show, and just to be "safe", he wrote over 40 songs for it...leaving Broadway audiences wondering if it was a musical or ...an opera!? Loesser called it "a musical with music," but there isn't much spoken dialogue, and like Gilbert and Sullivan, and later Sweeney Todd, its melodies demanded decent singers.  Robert Weede of the New York City and San Francisco Opera companies was dubbed to play the original lead, Tony Esposito, the California wine grower, one of the dozens Loesser and his producing wife auditioned.  And one more piece of trivia, Frank actually ended up leaving that "producing wife" and marrying Jo Sullivan, cast as the female lead, Rosabella! Those rehearsals musta been fun.

I'm really looking forward to our movie musical sections of the show.  First, 3 songs from High Society!  Did you know that there are no less than 5 movies with that title?  One was an Our Gang movie, done in 1924, and another was a Bowery Boys film...Huntz Hall and Spanky, as Tracie Lord and Cary Grant, anyone?

In our second half, a real favorite of mine, "The Clouds Will Soon Roll By," sung by Elsie Carlisle...they put it in the 1981 version of Pennies from Heaven, that's where I first heard it.  And then there's Rumble Rumble Rumble, Betty Hutton as Pauline in The Perils of Pauline...a little comedy number written by, yes! Frank Loesser.

Hope you all have a great first week of this new sci-fi-sounding year, and check in on Sunday, okay? 

 Sposalizio (Ensemble, The Most Happy Fella)
The Most Happy Fella (Robert Weede, Ensemble, The Most Happy Fella)
Standing on the Corner (Shorty Long, Ensemble, The Most Happy Fella)
Song of a Summer Night (Ensemble, The Most Happy Fella)
Big "D" (Shorty Long, Susan Johnson, The Most Happy Fella)
What Did I Have That I Don't Have Now (Barbara Harris, On A Clear Day You Can
                          See Forever)
Wait Til We're Sixty-Five (William Daniels, On A Clear Day)
On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (John Cullum, On A Clear Day)
Now You Has Jazz (Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, High Society)
Mind If I Make Love to You? (Frank Sinatra, High Society)
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (Frank Sinatra, Celeste Holme, High Society)
The Story of Lucy and Jessie (Lee Remick, Follies)
The Road You Didn't Take (George Hearn, Follies)
Could I Leave You? (Lee Remick, Follies)
Broadway Baby (Elaine Stritch, Follies)
Marry Me a Little (John Barrowman, Puttin' It Together)
Anyone Would Love You (John Gary, Destry Rides Again)
That's the Beginning of the End (Elaine Stritch, Stritch)
Never Look Back (Doris Day, Love Me or Leave Me)
Christopher Street (Ensemble, Wonderful Town)
Ohio (Rosalind Russell, Edith Adams, Wonderful Town)
What a Waste (George Gaynes, Ensemble, Wonderful Town)
Wrong Note Rag (Rosalind Russell, Edith Adams, Wonderful Town)
The Clouds Will Soon Roll By (Elsie Carlisle, Pennies From Heaven)
How'd You Like to Spoon With Me? (Angela Lansbury, Til the Clouds Roll By)
Look for the Silver Lining (Judy Garland, Til the Clouds Roll By)
Rumble Rumble Rumble (Betty Hutton, The Perils of Pauline)
Make 'Em Laugh (Donald O'Connor, Singin' in the Rain)
Too Bad (Fred Astaire, Jules Munshin, Peter Lorre, Silk Stockings)
Rock Island (Ensemble, The Music Man)
The Sadder But Wiser Girl (Robert Preston, Iggy Wolfington, The Music Man)
Marian the Librarian (Robert Preston, The Music Man)
The Wells Fargo Wagon (Eddie Hodges, Ensemble, The Music Man)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fred "Changes Partners"....3rd Installment!

 From Shall We Dance, 1937...
that roller skating dance, 
"Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."

 The infamous feather dress,
in Top Hat, 1937.
Despite the feather debacle (shedding was the problem!),
it remained in the picture,
and Fred sent Ginger a gold feather charm for her bracelet.

 Adele and Fred in The Band Wagon,
on Broadway (1931),
touted as the best revue ever.
It was the team's last musical together.

 From Dancing Lady, 1933,
Fred's first movie.
Here he is with the "dancing lady" herself,
Joan Crawford...and lots of what looks like beer!

 With Cyd Charisse (all 7 feet of her)
in the movie version of The Bandwagon, 1948.

 In Broadway Melody of 1940,
with Eleanor Powell...Fred's most talented dancing partner.
And that's not just MY opinion!

 With Audrey Hepburn, in Funny Face...1957.
Originally one of Fred's first Broadway musicals
(done with Adele in 1927),
the movie paired him with Audrey, 30 years his junior,
and replaced all but 4 songs.
It did not do well.

The Babbit and the Bromide number
from The Ziegfeld Follies,
with Gene! 1946

A PR shot with Shirley Temple, as Rita Hayworth looks on.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Fred....2nd Installment!

 Two from The Bandwagon, 1948...
"By Myself," at the top,
and Nanette Fabray, Oscar Levant and Fred
look on in horror at a scene without them in it!

 Rita Hayworth and Fred
about ready to throw themselves into 
"The Shorty George,"
from 1942's You Were Never Lovelier.

 With Judy Garland,
"We're a Couple of Swells,"
from Easter Parade,
the highest grossing picture of 1948.

 And finally, two from Royal Wedding,
with Jane Powell...1951.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fred...1st Installment!

 Fred and Adele Austerlitz, ages 7 and 10 respectively,
from Omaha, Nebraska...
moved with their parents to New York City in 1905.
Their act, called
"Juvenile Artists Presenting an Electric Musical Toe-Dancing Novelty," 
debuted in Keyport, NJ, in 1906.

 They played the Orpheum Circuit, then Broadway,
first in Over the Top, 1917.
Funny Face, Lady Be Good and The Bandwagon followed.

 Once Adele left to marry a Lord (!!!) in 1933,
Fred finally clinched that Hollywood contract,
and eventually teamed with Ginger...

 Puttin' On the Ritz,
(it's all smoke and mirrors!) from Blue Skies...1946,
a routine that took 
"5 weeks of back breaking work to stage." 
Despite his second billing to Crosby (again!),
this dance is the only thing really memorable from that film.

 He'd dance with ANYBODY!
Here with Harpo, of course.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Playlist for Sunday, Dec. 28th, 2014: A Fred Astaire New Year's!

 When I was a little girl, my parents used to take me to a very glamorous (well, in my little girl opinion) restaurant that had a dance floor, low lighting, a bank of raised tables all around the perimeter... and a band playing every Saturday night. Enamored as I was with movie musicals, this seemed like a nightclub right out of a Ginger Rodgers/Fred Astaire movie, or one where William Powell would walk in with Myrna (dripping in fox furs) on his arm and ask for "two martinis, very dry...and a table not too near the band." Top hats, white tie, and tails...what an imagination!  I mean, this was (and still is) upstate New York! 

But with that in mind, and New Year's Eve on the horizon, let's envision a little nightclub like that and set Fred Astaire spinning on the "hifi." Stuff that everyone knows, like "Cheek to Cheek" and "The Way You Look Tonight," and stuff that not too many of us know..."The Shorty George," "Got a Brand New Suit," "The Yam," and "I Love Luisa."  Some are from recordings done by Fred, others right from the soundtracks of his many movies...solos, duets, some with the sounds of tap breaks (or roller skate breaks!), others are just Fred's voice, which was soft, expressive and very musical. 

We'll also enjoy three selections from Bobby Short, another "nightclub" bon vivant,  some champagne/party songs, like "The Night They Invented Champagne," and "You Go To My Head," plus three of my favorite character songs, just to get 2015 started in the right way.

Happy New Year, and don't forget your hat and cane when you go out to celebrate!

Top Hat, White Tie and Tails (Fred Astaire, Top Hat)
Steppin' Out With My Baby (Fred Astaire, Easter Parade)
Cheek to Cheek (Fred Astaire, Top Hat)
By Myself (Fred Astaire, The Band Wagon)
Slap That Bass (Fred Astaire, Shall We Dance)
Open a New Window (Angela Lansbury, Mame)
Gooch's Song (Jane Connell, Mame)
It's Today (Angela Lansbury, Mame)
Got a Brand New Suit (Nanette Fabray, Fred Astaire, The Band Wagon)
The Shorty George (Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, You Were Never Lovelier)
The Way You Look Tonight (Fred Astaire, Swing Time)
Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (Fred Astaire, Ginger Rodgers, Shall We Dance)
Things Are Looking Up (Fred Astaire, A Damsel in Distress)
The Yam (Fred Astaire, Carefree)
The Night They Invented Champagne (Karen Wolf, Ensemble, Gigi)
Well, Did You Evah? (Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, High Society)
You Go to My Head (Doris Day, Day by Day)
The Life of the Party (David Wayne, The Happy Time)
S'Wonderful (Bobby Short, Funny Face)
Delishious (Bobby Short, Nice Work if You Can Get It)
But Not for Me (Bobby Short, Girl Crazy)
Let's Misbehave (Helene Yorke, Brook Ashmanskas, Bullets Over Broadway)
I'll Be Glad When You're Dead (You Rascal, You) (Ensemble, Bullets Over Broadway)
I Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle (Marin Mazzie, Bullets Over Broadway)
I Love Luisa (Fred Astaire, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray, The Band Wagon)
They All Laughed (Fred Astaire, Shall We Dance)
We're a Couple of Swells (Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Easter Parade)
How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been A
              Liar All My Life (Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Royal Wedding)
I Was a Shoe-In (Phyllis Newman, Subways Are For Sleeping)
Confession to a Park Avenue Mother (Charles Nelson Reilly, Parade)
Just One Step (Jessica Molasky, Songs for a New World)
Puttin' On The Ritz (Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Young Frankenstein)
Puttin' On The Ritz (Roger Bart, Shuler Hensley, Young Frankenstein)
Puttin' On The Ritz (Fred Astaire, Blue Skies)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Sampler!

 "We Need a Little Christmas," from 
the original production of Mame...1966.
Angela, Jane Connell, Sab Shimono, Frankie Michaels

 "Turkey Lurkey Time," 
with Donna McKechnie, center...
Promises, Promises, 1968.

 Liza, in that DRESS!
I don't think she was actually doing these moves
to "Ring Them Bells,"
but you never know.
From Liza with a Z, 1972.

 Alan Sherman...
who'll be in our Christmas show finale,
with "The Twelve Gifts of Christmas."
And finally...Stan Freberg, and his "Christmas Dragnet."
Stan has been a voice actor in cartoons,
an advertising slogan-meister,
political satirist, and song writer...
and he's still going strong at 88!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Judy, Judy, Judy: Meet Me in St. Louis!

 At the piano with Lucille Bremer, who played sister Rose...

 Ringing the bell for The Trolley Song,
with Tom Drake...

And with little Margaret O'Brien,
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Inn, and its sequel, Son of Holiday Inn!

It was 1942, and Bing was singing "White Christmas" to
Marjorie Reynolds, in Holiday Inn...
which OF COURSE inspired the name of theee hotel chain.
Originally, the song of the moment was thought to be
"Be Careful, It's My Heart," but "White Christmas" overwhelmed it.

 Starring was Bing, Fred, Marjorie Reynolds (at left), 
and Virginia Dale...
love the look, Der Bingle.

 The foursome...in a plot devised by Irving Berlin.
Do you know he couldn't read music?...and he had a special piano,
which would allow him to "pull a lever" and be in
another key, despite consistantly playing on the same 
black keys (and ONLY the black keys)!

 White Christmas (the movie) hit in 1954...
with a slightly (okay, like a lot!) different plot.  
But who cared, now that you had Bing, Danny, Rosemary and Vera!
Vera, whose singing was dubbed by Trudy Stevens and Rosemary...
so when singing "Sisters," Rosemary was actually singing with herself.
"Snow" was written back in 1950 for Call Me Madame,
in which it was called "Free," but it was dropped during previews.

 "Count Your Blessings"....where liverwurst makes you dream...of liverwurst.
This song was written specifically for
the later movie, by Mr. Berlin.


Fred Astaire was originally slated for the role of 
Phil Davis, as the producers hoped to maintain the 
Bing-Fred star pairing of Holiday Inn,
but when he said no, and Donald O'Connor (Phil #2) 
bowed out due to sickness,
Danny Kaye stepped in.  Can you even imagine another "Sister"?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Playlist for Sunday, Dec. 21st, 2014: Need a Little Christmas?

Christmas, Broadway Style!

It seems that all about us, in every store, elevator, gym, and street corner, holiday music trickles/streams/floods or' us!  And maybe that's enough, right? Must we comb The Theatre for its seasonal songs, too?  Well, there are a few that don't make my teeth ache...like those from She Loves Me and Mame and Here's Love, and movie musicals like Holiday Inn and White Christmas.  So that's what we'll do...a sampling of the best, sprinkled with a couple of classic musicals, novelty songs, and perennial favorites.

I have to include Alan Sherman...who did actually write a Broadway musical once (called The Fig Leaves are Falling, 1963...4 performances)...and his Twelve Gifts of Christmas, and Christmas Dragnet, written by the first Weird Al, Stan Freberg. "Some people call 'em green onions, but they're really scallions..."  Yeah, I definitely have a weird side, too, to like this stuff. 

Have a wonderful holiday, and "see" you on the 21st! 

Overture from Irving Berlin's White Christmas (Instrumental, Irving Berlin's White
We Need a Little Christmas (Angela Lansbury, Ensemble, Mame)
Twelve Days Til Christmas (Ensemble, She Loves Me)
Pine Cones and Holly Berries (Ensemble, Here's Love)
Lovers on Christmas Eve (James Naughton, Joanna Gleason, I Love My Wife)
That Man Over There is Santa Claus (Laurence Naismith, Ensemble, Here's Love)
Bells Are Ringing (Ensemble, Bells Are Ringing)
Just in Time (Sydney Chaplin, Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing)
It's a Simple Little System (Eddie Foy, Jr., Ensemble, Bells Are Ringing)
Is It a Crime? (Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing)
Happy Holiday (Bing Crosby, Holiday Inn)
White Christmas (Bing Crosby, Ensemble, White Christmas)
Count Your Blessings (Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, White Christmas)
Snow (Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Peggy Lee, White Christmas)
Try to Remember (Jerry Orbach, The Fantasticks)
I Remember It Well (Alfred Drake, Maria Karnilova, Gigi)
I Don't Remember You (Robert Goulet, The Happy Time)
I Remember You (Doris Day, Day by Day)
Ring Them Bells (Liza Minelli, Liza with a Z)
Be a Santa (Sydney Chaplin, Subways are for Sleeping)
Turkey Lurkey Time (Ensemble, Promises, Promises)
Christmas Day (Ensemble, Promises, Promises)
Hard Candy Christmas (Delores Hall, Ensemble, The Best Little Whorehouse in
She Loves Me (Daniel Massey, She Loves Me)
Sounds While Selling (Ensemble, She Loves Me)
I Resolve (Barbara Baxley, She Loves Me)
Days Gone By (Daniel Massey, Ludwig Donath, She Loves Me)
Meet Me in St. Louis (Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis)
The Boy Next Door (Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis)
The Trolley Song (Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis)
The Twelve Gifts of Christmas (Alan Sherman, My Son: The Greatest)
Christmas Dragnet (Stan Freberg, Christmas Dragnet)
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland, Meet Me in St. Louis)

Friday, December 12, 2014

If I were Zero...the best Fiddler!

 The Broadway cast recording...was Zero ever "off?"

 The cast recording was done on an actual theatre stage...

 Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick...
music and lyrics.
Winners of the Tony for Best Composer/Lyricist, 1964.
They met in 1956, and had their first hit, "Fiorello!", in 1959...
which resulted in a Pulitzer Prize for the team.

 Zero and his co-star, Maria Karnilova,
who played the original Tessie Tura in "Gypsy," 
"Zorba," "Gigi" and many other musicals and films.

Although Tevye was played on stage by the
likes of Herschel Bernardi, Leonard Nimoy,
Harvey Fierstein, Alfred Molina, and Topol (in the movie),
most believe Zero to be the one and only!