Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This Week's Movie Musical Corner...

 Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray, and Jack Buchanan
performing "Triplets," a Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz creation
from The Bandwagon
The first time around for this song was in
Between the Devil, 1937...
a musical which also starred Jack Buchanan.

Danny Kaye as The Court Jester, from 1955...
"the pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle,
the chalice from the palace..." ahhh...you get it!
Music by Sylvia Fine and Sammy Cahn.

Playlist for Sunday, October 5, 2014: Find Out What They Like!

That playlist title above comes of course from a Fats Waller tune, one that was included in "Ain't Misbehavin'" back in 1978, when I first came to live in New York City.  Living just two blocks from the Times Square area, the "poster" for that show (poster? it was 6 stories high!) was one I saw everyday, walking to the terrifying subway to get to my terrifying temp job. Once I got past TERRIFYING, I could start appreciating the shows, which back then could be seen for the price of an SRO ticket ($8.00) and you'd stand in the back, watching Nell Carter in this show, or Liza in The Act, or....

That playlist title ALSO accounts for the type of show this Sunday.  When folks request their favorite Broadway, I do indeed FIND OUT what they like, but when they don't, I'm left to my own sinister devices, and that's what we have here.  A very mixed bag of a show...from Dirty Rotten Number(s) with city sleaze attitude to 1950s doo-wop nostalgia, from Lena Horne class to Danny Kaye corn! I even stuck in a Legally Blonde number...so if you don't like chaos, please call me with "what You Like" and "how you like it!"  Otherwise....

Happy October, btw!

The Movin' Uptown Blues (Adam Grupper, Stuart Zagnit, The Wild Party)
Welcome to the Night (John Lithgow, Brian D'Arcy James, Sweet Smell of Success)
Dirty Rotten Number (John Lithgow, Norbert Leo Butz, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)
Serious (Richard H. Blake, Laura Bell Bundy, Legally Blonde)
Island (Sherie Rene Scott, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown)
Those Magic Changes (Ensemble, Grease)
Moments to Remember (Ensemble, Forever Plaid)
We Go Together (Barry Bostwick, Carole Demas, Ensemble, Grease)
Life Could Not Better Be (Danny Kaye, The Court Jester)
Triplets (Fred Astaire, Jack Buchanan, Nanette Fabray, The Bandwagon)
I Wants to Stay Here (Lena Horne, Porgy and Bess)
Find Out What They Want (Nell Carter, Armelia McQueen, Ain't Misbehavin')
Give Them What They Want (John Lithgow, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)
I Can Live With That (Danny Burstein, Melissa Weil, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now
Find Yourself a Man (Kay Medford, Ensemble, Funny Girl)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Comden and Green Go Hollywood!

 Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote screenplays
 for several of the great MGM musicals,
including Good News, starring Peter Lawford and June Allyson...

 Singin' in the Rain, with Donald O'Connor,
Gene Kelly, Jean Hagen and Debbie Reynolds...

 Take Me Out to the Ball Game,
with Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Jules Munschin, etc.!...

 The Barkleys of Broadway,
with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers...

 It's Always Fair Weather,
with Michael Kidd, Gene Kelly, and Dan Dailey...

 The Band Wagon,
with Oscar Levant, Cyd Charisse, Jack Buchanan,
Fred Astaire and Nanette Fabray...

 On The Town,
with Frank, Gene, Jules, Betty Garrett,
and Ann Miller....

What a Way to Go!
with Shirley MacClaine and Gene Kelly
(this one I HAVE to see!)....

 and Auntie Mame,
with Rosalind Russell and Fred Clark.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Broadway of Comden and Green

 Carol Burnett starred in Fade Out - Fade In, 1964.

 The apartment of Ruth Sherwood and her "Sister Eileen"...
in Wonderful Town, 1953.
(Click on the photo to see a larger version, 
with Rosalind Russell and Edie Adams stage center.)

 Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker starred in 
Do Re Mi, in 1960.
Phil is smiling, Nancy is not.

 Dance scene from On the Town, 1944.
Can you spot Betty Comden and Adolph Green?
(Take a look at the couple on the left.)

 Leslie Uggams, Marilyn Cooper, and Robert Hooks
in Hallelujah, Baby!, 1967,
performing Smile, Smile. 

Mary Martin (up) and Cyril Ritchard (down).
Peter Pan, 1954.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Betty and Adolph...

 Adolph Green from The Bronx and Basya Cohen, from Brooklyn.
They met in 1938 while looking for acting jobs,
and then decided to write their own.


 Gotta be a publicity shot...or did Betty ALWAYS
work on top of the piano?
Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Betty Comden and Adolph Green
"working" on On The Town, 1944.

The studio cast recording, 1961.
Betty on the left, Adolph, Nancy Walker, Lenny.

 Ah, this is how they wrote lyrics!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Playlist for Sunday, September 28, 2014: A Comden and Green Extravaganza!

My favorite wordsmiths!  Betty Comden and Adolph Green, the masters of musical comedy...a 6 decade partnership that brought us On the Town, Do Re Mi, Bells Are Ringing, and so many more.  A dame from Brooklyn and a Joe from da Bronx met up in 1938 and formed an alliance with Judy Holliday and Leonard Bernstein, "The Reveuers," that would take them from the Village Vanguard down there in "GREEEEN"-wich Village (as a character in On the Town would call it) to the stratosphere of Broadway and Hollywood Musicals.

They wrote the books and lyrics for several now-iconic musicals and then there were the MGM screenplays they created: Singin' in the Rain ("Cosmo, call me a cab!  Okay, you're a cab!"), The Bandwagon, Good News, and Take Me Out to the Ball Game, just to name a few. They wrote lyrics to the music of the best of them: Bernstein, Styne and Coleman. They were NOT married to each other, they just had a bond. When asked, Betty said that she would sit at a typewriter, Adolph would pace, and by the end of the day, they really couldn't remember who had written what.  Comden was the realist, the down-to-earth one...Green the dreamer, the clown. At one of their early Revuers' performances, on stage in a nightclub, they were met with silence at the end of their act.  As they were exiting, one lone audience member clapped...TWICE.  "Hey, they like us!," says Green, at which point Comden had to physically drag him off the stage before he started an encore.

They loved SHOW. Maybe that line they wrote for Lina Lamont in Singin' in the Rain says it all about all their strivings:

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though
     our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'." 

New York, New York  (Adolph Green, Cris Alexander, John Battles, On the Town)
You Got Me (Adolph Green, Nancy Walker, Betty Comden, ensemble, On                              the Town)
Carried Away (Betty Comden, Adolph Green, On the Town)
Pass That Football (Jordan Bentley, Wonderful Town)
A Hundred Ways to Lose a Man (Rosalind Russell, Wonderful Town)
Drop That Name (Judy Holliday, Ensemble, Bells Are Ringing)
I'm Going Back (Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing)
It's Good to be Back Home (Carol Burnett, Fade Out - Fade In)
I'm Just Taking My Time (Sydney Chaplin, Subways Are For Sleeping)
Waiting, Waiting (Nancy Walker, Do Re Mi)
Ambition (Phil Silvers, Nancy Dussault, Do Re Mi)
Smile, Smile (Leslie Uggams, Robert Hooks, Marilyn Cooper, Hallelujah, Baby!)
I Don't Know Where She Got It (Marilyn Cooper, Hallelujah, Baby!)
Five Zeros (John Cullum, George Coe, Imogene Coca, On the Twentieth 
Captain Hook's Waltz (Cyril Ritchard, Peter Pan)
Never Never Land (Mary Martin, Peter Pan)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sutton Foster: Thoroughly Modern!

 The Speed Test, from Best Musical of 2002,
Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Sutton, stage center, with Marc Kudisch just behind her.

 Couldn't resist this shot of Sutton and Mark,
as secretary Millie Dillmont and Trevor Graydon, III. 

Maybe the best Millie ever!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Julie as Eliza...Age 21

A Cecil Beaton photograph
of young Julie.

 And another one by Cecil
in a gown from the musical.

Top: Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, Hurricanes hardly happen...
and Bottom: They SHOULD have danced all night.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Pajama Game, Movie Style...1957

Doris Day, as Babe Williams...
oh yeah, she's not at all in love!
Third from the right is Barbara Nichols,
as Poopsie. 

 Group shot...7 1/2 Cents!

Doris with John Raitt,
modeling those Sleep Tite pajamas
they spent the whole movie making.

The PJ Game...Broadway Style, 1954

Janis Paige and John Raitt,
in a clinch...Janis was one of the few actors
not cast in the 1957 movie version.

 Eddie Foy Jr. (yes, he of the Seven Little Foys)
timing his sewers.

Buzz Miller, Carol Haney and Peter Gennaro
the unmistakable choreography of Bob Fosse.

Richard Adler (age 33) and
 Jerry Ross (28)...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Playlist for Sunday, September 21, 2014: Put on Your PJs!

 This Sunday's playlist is top-heavy with songs from The Pajama Game, an Adler and Ross smasheroonie from 1954...all about labor squabbles in a PJ factory.  What? A plot like that could "kill your brother!"  But, man, did it work! So put on your Sleep-Tite onesie, and settle in for a dose of Adler and Ross...

Richard Adler, son of a concert pianist, and Jerry Ross (born Jerold Rosenberg) of the Bronx, met in 1950 and started out composing songs together...like "Rags to Riches" which became a Tony Bennett smash hit. Then it was on to "John Murray Anderson's Almanac," a Broadway revue, that brought them to the attention of Frank Loesser (no musical slouch he!) who helped them gain footing in the industry. Bang, they get a shot at The Pajama Game with George Abbott (no musical slouch he, either!) writing the book.  Best Musical of 1954!  A year later (almost to the day), they presented their next work, Damn Yankees...another Tony winner. Consecutive Best Musical awards? Within a year of each other? Pretty astounding...But unfortunately, Jerry up and died within six months of Damn Yankees' opening, and there went the partnership, up in smoke.

They wrote musicals in an exceptional way.  Both Richard and Jerry were composers AND lyricists. When one got stuck on a measure or a phrase, the other would jump in.  This kind of sharing was almost unheard of.  Would YOU trust another composer to work on your hit melody? Did Richard trust Oscar?  Hmmmm?

Overture to The Pajama Game (Instrumental, The Pajama Game)
Something to Dance About (Ethel Merman, Call Me Madam)
I Could Have Danced All Night (Julie Andrews, My Fair Lady)
The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing (Danny Kaye, White Christmas)
Dance with Me (The New York Voices, Louisiana Purchase)
Gimme Gimme (Sutton Foster, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
The Speed Test (Marc Kudish, Sutton Foster, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
Put 'Em in a Box, Tie 'Em with a Ribbon, and Throw 'Em in the Deep Blue Sea
                  (Doris Day, Romance on the High Seas)
Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me (Rosemary Clooney, White Christmas)
I'm Not At All in Love (Janis Paige, The Pajama Game)
I'm Not At All in Love (Doris Day, The Pajama Game)
Hey There (John Raitt, The Pajama Game)
Her Is (Stanley Prager, Carol Haney, The Pajama Game)
(IF TIME, Hernando's Hideaway!)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Vivian Blaine...1921 - 1985

 With George Raft, in Nob Hill, 1945.

 Three Little Girls in Blue (yes, that IS the title of the movie)
with June Havoc (left) and Vera-Ellen (center), 1946.

 Singing "Eighty Miles Outside of Atlanta," in
Something for the Boys...1944.

 Two pics from Guys and Dolls, the 1955 movie version.
At the top, "Take Back Your Mink," and at the bottom,
with Frank in a shot for Life Magazine.

 In character with Robert Alda,
in Stephen Sondheim's Follies, 1973.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Carol Burnett and "Mattress"...times 4!

 Princess Winifred's debut,
the original Broadway production, 1959.
Carol received a Tony nomimation for this one!
The first TV adaptation (1962) used most
of the original cast,
including Jack Gilford, Jane White, and Joseph Bova.

 Second television adaptation...with Ken Berry, 1972.

The third television rendition, 2005,
and this time Carol played Queen Aggravain
with Tracey Ullman as Princess "Fred."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rhett is to Gable, as Lancelot is to....

 27 year old Robert Goulet,
at the recording session for Camelot's cast album, 1960.

 The heady triumvirate...
Goulet, Andrews and Burton.

 Between takes at the recording session,
Burton and Goulet.

Oh yeah.
1933 - 2007