At the recording session for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,
Honi, left...and Cholly on the right.
Atkins and Coles performed together with many of the great jazz bands
from 1945 to 1949. Most consider them the last of the "class acts,"
tap duos that performed from the late 1920's to the late 1940's.
Cholly working with a 19 year old Aretha Franklin.
Charles (Honi) Coles, a virtuosic tap dancer who won a Tony Award for
his performance in the Broadway musical "My One and Only." Lena
Horne once described as him as making "butterflies look clumsy."
Not only was Charles (Cholly) Atkins an incredible tap dancer, he was also a choreographer for groups like the Temptations and the Shirelles...
so they didn't think up those steps themselves!
It was Cholly...even those "Stop in the Name of Love" moves of the
Fresh off our Cy Coleman show of last week, we have a verrrry varied hour for you of classic musical theatre, with just a sprinkling of quirky cult numbers...from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes to that old warhorse, Hello Dolly, to my new favorite, "Just One Step," from Jason Robert Brown's Songs for a New World, an off-Broadway production from 1995. That last one is all about a woman literally on the edge, of her apartment building, yelling at her husband (and of course his name is MURRAY!)...fantastic. Will she jump? Listen and see!
I've added a Movie Musical Corner to this week's show, and we'll hear George Guetary sing "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" from An American in Paris...do you remember the pink steps he walked up BACKWARD and WHILE SINGING? What a talent. Betty Garrett battles a skinny Frank Sinatra in "It's Fate, Baby, It's Fate," and Marilyn and Jane sing that iconic "Little Rock" ditty.
Hope you can listen in, and tap along!
Don't Rain on My Parade (Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl)
Bye Bye Baby (Carol Channing, Jack McCauley, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)
Mamie is Mimi (Cholly Atkins, Honi Coles, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)
I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face (Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady)
Sarah Brown Eyes (Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Ragtime)
Not Every Day of the Week (Bob Dishy, Liza Minelli, Flora the Red Menace)
It's Today (Angela Lansbury, Mame)
Hello, Dolly! (Carol Channing, Hello, Dolly!)
I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise (Georges Guetary, An American in Paris)
It's Fate, Baby, It's Fate (Betty Garrett, Frank Sinatra, Take Me Out to the Ball Game)
A Little Girl from Little Rock (Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Gentlemen Prefer
I Just Can't Wait (Orson Bean, Subways are for Sleeping)
Just One Step (Jessica Molaskey, Songs for a New World)
Despite the fact that Cy Coleman is one of my most favorite musical composers, this show was tough to come up with, because it meant having to choose WHICH of his delightful songs to fit into this short little hour! From Sweet Charity (which so many folks love) to City of Angels (which I love) to Wild Cat, I Love My Wife, Seesaw, and all the rest...plus, what about the standards Cy wrote, with Carolyn Leigh...surely I should include some of those!? You can see my conundrum.
What I like best about the Coleman "songbook" is the jazz...the slick city feel to his melodies. His music became a perfect Bob Fosse match (who directed and choreographed several of the shows/films Cy did), where there was always a burlesque sleeeeeze going on. And Cy worked with lots of different lyricists, including Dorothy Fields, Comden and Green, Ira Gasman, David Zippel, and others...each one complementing Coleman's music with that ever present syncopated innuendo.
The only musical I chose NOT to include is Barnum, which has none of the slickness Cy's other works do. Sorry, but Join the Circus, with its oompahs and Jim Dale-isms, makes me run the other way.... But I've loaded up the hour with sexy horns, blondes who drape themselves panther-like across the grand piano, and "Witchcraft." You're welcome.
Prologue: Theme from City of Angels (James Naughton, Ensemble, City of Angels)
Hey, Look Me Over! (Lucille Ball, Paula Stewart, Wild Cat)
I've Got Your Number (Swen Swenson, Little Me)
If My Friends Could See Me Now (Gwen Verdon, Sweet Charity)
Big Spender (Ensemble, Sweet Charity)
Welcome to Holiday Inn (Michele Lee, Seesaw)
Seesaw (Ensemble, Seesaw)
Witchcraft (Frank Sinatra, The Best of the Capital Years)
The Best is Yet to Come (Tony Bennett, The Essential Tony Bennett)
I Love My Wife (James Naughton, I Love My Wife)
Mine (John Cullum, Kevin Kline, On the Twentieth Century)
Lost and Found (Rachel York, City of Angels)
Ev'ry Body's Gotta Be Somewhere (Ensemble, City of Angels)
No Man Left for Me (Dee Hoty, The Will Rogers' Follies)
Use What You Got (Sam Harris, The Life)
It's Not Where You Start (Tommy Tune, Ensemble, Seesaw)
We have a combination of Classic and Cult this coming Sunday...some real back to back favorites, with a dose of those peculiar also-rans so dear to my heart!
Can't resist The Golden Apple, for one...which was a musical based on the Illiad, with an updated traveling salesman of a Paris, who comes to town to judge a pie-baking contest. Oh yeah, that fits! Its one popular song was "Lazy Afternoon," sung by Kaye Ballard, which I've played before...but one I haven't played is By the Goona Goona Lagoon, with Bibi Osterwald. Bibi understudied Carol Channing in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, worked along side her in The Vamp...and besides theatre, did a lot of sitcoms and soap operas from 1940 thru the 70s. A great character actress, and I love the name! In fact, I may change mine to Bibi!
A few more favorites, like Robert Goulet (The Happy Time), Raoul Julia who I saw in Nine several years ago, Elaine Stritch taking advantage of everyone...and then of course Zero, doing his Rich Man dance. Shirley Booth, with her (shall we euphemistically call it a...) distinctive voice, singing Coney Island Boat, as well, so hope you can give them all a listen come Sunday!
If I Were a Rich Man (Zero Mostel, Fiddler on the Roof)
On Your Toes (Bobby Van, Kay Coulter, Joshua Shelley, On Your Toes)
You Took Advantage of Me (Elaine Stritch, On Your Toes)
(Walking) Among My Yesterdays (Robert Goulet, The Happy Time)
Guido's Song (Raul Julia, Nine)
You're Getting to be a Habit with Me (Tammy Grimes, 42nd Street)
Dames (Lee Roy Reams, Ensemble, 42nd Street)
People Will Say We're in Love (Alfred Drake, Joan Roberts, Oklahoma)
Ya Got Trouble (Robert Preston, The Music Man)
Too Darn Hot (Lisa Kirk, Kiss Me Kate)
Coney Island Boat (Shirley Booth, Ensemble, By the Beautiful Sea)
By Goona Goona Lagoon (Bibi Osterwald, The Golden Apple)
Let's Step Out (Karen Aiemba, Susan Powell, Fifty Million Frenchmen)
Me and My Girl (Robert Lindsay, Maryann Plunkett)