Saturday, November 29, 2014

We're in the Money...then and now!

 "We're in the Money," with music by Harry Warren and Al Dubin,
was the first scene in the movie, "Gold Diggers of 1933,"
not in the movie "42nd Street." 
It starred Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell and...

 ...Ginger Rogers, who sang this song.

 In 1980, "42nd Street" opened on Broadway,
and it included several Warren/Dubin songs,
from many different movies/shows...

Is it me, or do the 1980 size coins look
a heck of a lot smaller than the 1933 variety!?!?

Friday, November 28, 2014

George M. Cohan: 1878 - 1942

 Born on "the 4th of July," well, close enough...
George Michael Cohan...soon to be "the man who 
owned Broadway." 

 The Four Cohans (originally spelled "Keohane"), a vaudeville troupe 
which toured from 1890 - 1901.
George was first seen on stage as an infant "prop."

 Here with his sister, Josephine (Josie).

 The Four Cohans in action...
George officially joined the act at age 8.

 James Cagney in the bio pic, "Yankee Doodle Dandy," 1942,
pictured here in a scene from "Little Johnny Jones,"from 1904! 
That show debuted the songs,"Give My Regards to Broadway," and 
"Yankee Doodle Boy."
Rosemary DeCamp, Walter Huston, Jeanne Cagney 
(yes! James' real-life sister, playing George's sister)
and James in Hollywood's perspective on "The Four Cohans."
George consulted and approved the film,
just prior to his death in 1942.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lee Remick: 1935 - 1991

 At the recording session for "Anyone Can Whistle."
One of the Sondheim shows that ran for one week...but back in the day,
even flops got their day in the recording "sun,"
with a full-fledged original cast album.

 She co-starred in "Whistle" with Angela Lansbury 
and Harry Guardino.
Arthur Laurents, who did the book, wanted
Barbra Streisand for the part, but she turned it down 
to do "Funny Girl."

 "Whistle" began a life-long friendship between
Lee and Stephen,
and some say she hoped for more than friendship.

 Previously, Lee had played Laura Manion in Otto Preminger's
"Anatomy of a Murder," 1959...

 ...and "Days of WIne and Roses" 
with Jack Lemmon, in 1962.

 Lee's film debut was "A Face in the Crowd,"
with Andy Griffith.
While filming in Arkansas, Lee lived with a local family
and practiced baton twirling, to look believable in her 
twirling competition scene.
She was 22 years old.

Lee passed away at the age of 55...
having made over 30 movies, and 
twice as many television appearances.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Playlist for Nov. 30, 2014: Give My Regards, Too!

George M. Cohan knew how to write 'em!  When I was a kid, I always enjoyed watching "Yankee Doodle Dandy" with Jimmy Cagney playing George.  And now, come to find out, George danced and "sang" pretty much the same way Cagney did.  A street-wise tap dance, honed in alley ways on the East Side of New York...Cohan was "the man who owned Broadway," having created over 300 songs, and written, produced and starred in over 30 musicals. I should be playing more of them! And we'll start this week...with "Give My Regards to Broadway!"

My favorites in this Sunday's show have to be the ballads, performed by five wonderful "divas" of the musical theatre stage: Barbara Cook, Bea Arthur, Elaine Stritch, Bernadette Peters, and Lee Remick. I especially like Barbara's rendition of "Losing My Mind," from Follies...a haunting, almost Gershwin-like melody, but only Sondheim could write that lyric. And a listener sent me a "new" Elaine number!  Her rendition of "Something Good" from the movie of The Sound of Music, is marvelous. Too short, but marvelous.

And as I researched our movie musical corner (On the Town), I found that because the "powers that be" dropped all but three songs from the original Broadway score, written by Leonard Bernstein, Lenny boycotted the movie!  And wouldn't you have done the same!?!?  Roger Edens (the musical director on the movie) said Lenny's songs were too complicated and operatic for a movie!  Really?  Who died and made you king, Rog? Well, we have 4 to sample...can YOU tell the Edens from the Bernsteins?  Hmmmm....?

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!  I'll be there on Sunday to share your leftovers.  :)

Give My Regards To Broadway (James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy)
We're in the Money (Ensemble, 42nd Street)
Dames (Lee Roy Reems, 42nd Street)
About a Quarter to Nine (Tammy Grimes, 42nd Street)
Shuffle Off to Buffalo (Joseph Bova, Carole Cooke, 42nd Street)
If My Friends Could See Me Now (Gwen Verdon, Sweet Charity)
There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This (Helen Gallagher, Thelma Oliver, Gwen
                        Verdon, Sweet Charity)
I Love to Cry at Weddings (Ensemble, Sweet Charity)
Big Spender (Ann Reinking, Ensemble, Sweet Charity/Fosse)
There is Nothing Like a Dame (Myron McCormick, Ensemble, South Pacific)
Happy Talk (Juanita Hall, South Pacific)
I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right Outta My Hair (Mary Martin, South Pacific)
Some Enchanted Evening (Ezio Pinza, South Pacific)
Losing My Mind (Barbara Cook, Follies)
Where Do You Start? (Bea Arthur, Just Between Friends)
Anyone Can Whistle (Lee Remick, Anyone Can Whistle)
Not a Day Goes By (Bernadette Peters, Merrily We Roll Along)
Something Good (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty/The Sound of Music)
Company (Ensemble, Company)
Barcelona (Dean Jones, Susan Browning, Company)
Getting Married Today (Beth Howland, Steve Elmore, Company)
The Ladies Who Lunch (Elaine Stritch, Company)
Count On Me (Gene Kelly, Jules Munshin, Alice Pearce, Ensemble, On the Town)
Come Up to My Place (Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, On the Town)
Prehistoric Man (Ann Miller, On the Town)
You're Awful (Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, On the Town)
Lovely (Zero Mostel, Jack Gilford, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the
Bring Me My Bride (Leon Greene, Forum)
Impossible (Michael Hordern, Michael Crawford, Forum)
Everybody Ought to Have a Maid (Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers, Ensemble, Forum)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Paint Your Wagon's Ben Rumson, aka Lee Marvin

 Paint Your Wagon was released by Paramount Pictures in 1969...
music by Lerner and Loewe, directed by Joshua Logan.
Almost 3 hours in length, a budget that swelled to $20 million,
and delays a-aplenty in production.
Despite box office success, it did not make enough to cover its costs.

 Here's Lee Marvin, as he "sings" a wistful "Wand'rin' Star."
Sources say he did plenty of heavy drinking during production
which may have enhanced (or detracted) from his performance...
it certainly added to the delays.

 Clint Eastwood, Jean Seberg, and Lee...
family portrait!

1924 - 1987

Friday, November 21, 2014

Annie, Will Ya Please Get Your Gun Already!?!?

 Final set for the the original Broadway production,
done in 1946...Irving Berlin came of out retirement to do the show.
Originally, Jerome Kern was slated to write the music, 
Dorothy Fields the lyrics, but when Jerome passed away,
Irving stepped in to do both. It has some of Irving's best music,
some think because he wanted to prove to Rodgers and Hammerstein
that he still had "it" in him!

 Dorothy Fields come up with idea!
She envisioned from the "get go" as perfect for her friend,
Ethel Merman.
Ethel especially liked the idea of Irving Berlin as the
show's composer, as he was happy to write in her
vocal range and style.
 For the 1951 movie, Judy Garland was cast.
However, literally half-way thru shooting, 
Judy had to bow out due to ill health.
Rumor has it that she was also bullied by 
Busby Berkeley, the first of 3 (count 'em, 3) directors!
She looks pretty terrorized here...

 Her replacement was Betty Hutton,
and replacing Judy wasn't fun.
Most of the cast and crew thought Betty had stolen the part.
She wasn't invited to the New York premiere.

 It was Howard Keel's film he is with
Betty, Keenan Wynn, and Louis Calhern.
Frank Morgan was supposed to play the part of 
Buffalo Bill, but died of a heart attack after 
completing the first production number!

 In the 1999 revival, Annie was played by Bernadette Peters...

and in 2001, by Reba McEntire...
She was fab!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Band Wagon, 1953...That IS Entertainment!

 Jack Buchanan, Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray, and Oscar Levant
singing "That's Entertainment." (Relax your shoulders, Oscar!)
The Band Wagon was originally a Broadway musical,
staged in 1931...when in starred Fred and his sister, Adele.

 Cyd Charisse was often taller than her male partners,
and spent most of Singin' in the Rain bending her knees, 
so that Gene Kelly wouldn't appear a dwarf.
No such story about how she stacked up against Fred...

 Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz did the music.
"Shine On Your Shoes" was actually written for 
one of their earlier shows, "Flying Colors."
Here's Fred with Leroy Daniels.
 Fred with Jack Buchanan (an English version of Fred)
performing "I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan."

Fred and his collection...
guess he had a lot of shinin' to do!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Show Boat: Lots of Vessels. All Big!

 Showboat debuted in 1927,
at Florence Ziegfeld's "new" theatre, on Sixth Avenue.
It starred Norma Terris, Helen Morgan, and Jules Beldsoe.

 In the 1936 movie, Irene Dunne, Allan Jones, 
Helen Morgan (again!) and...

 ...Paul Robeson, who also appeared in several revivals.

 In the 1951 movie, Kathryn Grayson appeared as Magnolia 
Howard Keel played Ravenal...

 and Ava Gahhhhdner...was Julie,
although her singing voice was dubbed by
Annette Warren.

A studio cast recording was made in 1962,
with John Raitt, Barbara Cook, and William Warfield.
The musical perpetrators....Hammerstein and Kern.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Idiot's Delight: Comedy. Propaganda. Jumping About to Music.

 Clark and Norma Shearer, the stars of Idiot's Delight,
done in 1939, the same year Clark starred in Gone With the Wind.
What DIDN'T the plot touch on?  An anti-war, comic, back-stage drama,
set in an unnamed European country, with 42 sets, and 167 scenes.
And just look at that hair!

 Clark played Harry Van,
a song and dance man, with his troupe,
Les Blondes. 
This is the only movie in which Gable sang and danced.

And the song? Puttin' on the Irving Berlin.
All of 56 seconds long!

Playlist for November 23, 2014: Are you ready for some LEE MARVIN!?

Who cast Lee Marvin, that's all I wanna know! Here we are, in 1950, poised to produce Paint Your Wagon as a movie, and somebody says, "Who else but Lee!?"  Marvin turned down a role in The Wild Bunch to do it. I think he makes a marvelous Ben Rumson, and if you sorta turn your volume down a bit, he sings pretty good, too.  Clint Eastwood (as Pardner) did his own "singing," as well, but not Jean Seberg.  Jean was about the 4th woman they offered the female lead to (Julie Andrews, Diana Rigg, and Faye Dunaway had all turned it down).  Anyway, just be ready when Lee takes the "2 on the Aisle" stage this Sunday, okay? I'll give an advance warning.

Another goodie:  Judy Garland and Howard Keel, in an outtake from Annie Get Your Gun. Judy was initially cast as Miss Oakley, but due to illness, she was released from her contract, and Barbara Hutton replaced her.  So this version of "They Say It's Wonderful" that Judy did was shelved...Let's take it off that shelf this Sunday!

We'll also have a cameo by Jack Buchanan, singing with Fred Astaire...Jack was sort of a British version of Fred. He played classy bon vivants, on the English and American stage, British radio and he is in his best known film,The Band Wagon, where he played Jeffrey Cordova, ego-driven director.

And listen for 56 seconds of Clark Gable, hoofing it with chorus girls, in Idiot's Delight!  I'll say!  ;)

That's Entertainment! (Fred Astaire, Jack Buchanan, Nanette Fabray, Oscar Levant,
                                   The Band Wagon)
I Got the Sun in the Morning (Ethel Merman, Annie Get Your Gun)
I'm a Bad, Bad Man (Ray Middleton, Annie Get Your Gun)
They Say It's Wonderful (Judy Garland, Howard Keel, Annie Get Your Gun)
You Can't Get a Man With a Gun (Barbara Hutton, Annie Get Your Gun)
There's No Business Like Show Business (Ensemble, Annie Get Your Gun)
It's the Hard-Knock Life (Ensemble, Annie)
Maybe (Andrea McArdle, Annie)
N.Y.C. (Reid Shelton, Ensemble, Annie)
Tomorrow (Andrea McArdle, Annie)
I'm on My Way (Company, Paint Your Wagon)
They Call the Wind Maria (Rufus Smith, Ensemble, Paint Your Wagon)
There's a Coach Comin' In (Company, Paint Your Wagon)
Wand'rin' Star (Lee Marvin, Paint Your Wagon)
Shine on Your Shoes (Fred Astaire, The Band Wagon)
Puttin' on the Ritz (Clark Gable, Idiot's Delight)
I Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan (Fred Astaire, Jack Buchanan, The Band Wagon)
After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It (Marilyn Monroe, There's No
                                    Business Like Show Business)
Skid Row (Ensemble, Little Shop of Horrors)
Somewhere That's Green (Ellen Greene, Little Shop of Horrors)
Dentist! (Franc Luz, Little Shop of Horrors)
Suddenly Seymour (Ellen Greene, Lee Wilkof, Little Shop of Horrors)
After the Ball (Barbara Cook, Show Boat)
Make Believe (Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Show Boat)
Ol' Man River (William Warfield, Show Boat)
Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine (Annette Warren, Show Boat)
Naughty Baby (Jodi Benson, Crazy for You)
Things Are Looking Up (Harry Groener, Crazy for You)
Slap That Bass! (Harry Groener, Ensemble, Crazy for You)
How To (Robert Morse, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)
The Company Way (Sammy Smith, Robert Morse, How to Succeed)
Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm (Bonnie Scott, How to Succeed)
Brotherhood of Man (Robert Morse, Rudy Vallee, Company, How to Succeed)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A Look at Ben Franklin in Paris...50 Years Ago!

 Robert Preston as Mr. Franklin,
semi-singing his way into the lead.
Music by Mark Sandrich, Jr., lyrics Sidney Michaels.

 They even had a "balloon."
But neither that nor the choreography of Michael Kidd
could keep the show aloft.

"God Bless The Human Elbow."
I'll say!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Chorus Line: From Workshop to Wow!

 The original production of 1975...
Above, a rehearsal shot with Marvin Hamlisch (composer)
and Michael Bennett (director/choreographer).
Directly above, see what a well-placed mirror can do?

 Recording session for the original album.
Note bell bottoms!

Donna McKechnie, the original Cassie...

Final number..."One"
The 2006 revival!