Saturday, May 30, 2015

Silk Stockings...hanging by a garter!

 Silk Stockings appeared on Broadway in 1955,
Cole's last staged musical.
He'd go on to write the music for the movie musicals,
High Society and Les Girls,
but his Broadway days were over.
He passed away in 1964.
 The critics were kind to Silk Stockings,
which starred two leads who'd never even sung,
let alone trod the Broadway boards.
Don Ameche, seated on the left, watching his Hollywood star wane,
 jumped at the opportunity to do theatre.
Hildegard Knef (anglicized to "Neff") was a German film star,
brought to the U.S. by David O. Selznik.
After her relative success as Ninotchka in this show,
she returned to Europe, eventually finding a career in singing.

 More Hildegard...she may be phoning a script doctor!
Previews of the show were "troubled" to say the least.
Writer/Director George S. Kaufmann walked off the job due to 
disagreements with the producers.
Abe Burrows (Guys and Dolls) was hired to re-write,
Cy Feuer (one of the producers) stepped in as director.
Exhaustion, accidents, even measles hit the cast and crew...
almost no one got out alive.

 Gretchen Wyler, in her Broadway debut in this show,
played Janice Dayton, America's Swimming Sweatheart.
We'll hear her singing "Stereophonic Sound."

 Don and Hildegard recording the original cast album.
The latter wrote a vivid backstage account of the
making of Silk Stockings, in her auto-biography,
which is entitled "The Gift Horse." 
Still in print? Yup!

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Musicals of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick

 Jerry Bock from Queens (music) and Sheldon Harnick from Chicago (lyrics)
formed an alliance in 1957, and their first musical, 
The Body Beautiful,
though short-lived, brought them to the attention of 
Producer Hal Prince and Director George Abbott.
Those VIPs of theatre invited the newly formed team 
to help create Fiorello!

 Fiorello! won not only the Tony for Best Musical of 1959,
but the Pulitzer Prize.
It starred Tom Bosley, Howard DaSilva, Nathaniel Frey, 
and a ton of wonderful character actors.

 That was followed by Tenderloin in 1960...
with a book by George Abbott (who wrote Fiorello!)
and Jerome Weidman.
Both William and James Goldman were asked to come in 
to doctor the ailing script during previews.
The patient lived...

She Loves Me, produced in 1963,
was based on "The Little Shop Around The Corner",
and is considered by many to be the team's best score.
It starred Daniel Massey, Barbara Cook, Jack Cassidy, 
Barbara Baxley and Nathaniel Frey.
Above is a photo from a recent revival of the show.

 In 1964, Bock and Harnick had their biggest hit,
Fiddler on the Roof, starring Zero Mostel, 
surrounded here by his on-stage family.
Fiddler was the first Broadway musical to surpass 3,000 performances,
and it held that record for 10 years 
(until Grease passed it in the fast lane!).

 The Apple Tree, a show in 3 parts 
(Mark Twain's Adam and Eve,
Jules Feiffer's Passionella, and Frank R. Stockton's The Lady or the Tiger?)
was produced in 1966,
and starred Larry Blyden, Alan Alda, and Barbara Harris.

 The Rothschilds, 1970...with Leila Martin and Hal Linden...
had 500 performances.
The other side of the Fiddler coin...Tevye as the "Rich Man" he wanted to be.
Bock and Harnick's last collaboration.

Sheldon (at left), Joseph Stein (who wrote the book), Jerry at the keyboard,
and Jerome Robbins (director/choreographer)
at work on Fiddler.
Sheldon is alive and well at age 91, but Jerry passed away in 2010.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


 Murder for Two opened off-Broadway in 2013...
after winning Best New Musical awards in Chicago (2011)...
written by Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, directed by Scott Schwartz
(yup, Stephen Schwartz's son!)
An Agatha Christie-worthy murder mystery with
a plethora of suspects, all with equally-motivating motivations
to do away with novelist Arthur Whitney who dies
almost before the stage lights come up.

 Jeff Blumenkrantz (the bald one) played all the suspects,
from Dahlia (the newly widowed Southern Belle), 
to Barrett Lewis (prima ballerina/mistress who's killed before),
to 3 members of the boys choir hired for entertainment
(they're from Badoinkaville).
And more.

It's left to Brett Ryback, right, 
played aspiring detective Marcus Moscowicz,
to untangle the plot knots and find the perpetrator.

Both actors man the piano with aplomb,
taking turns accompanying each other
or duetting. 
With no more than that one instrument, one or two props,
a badge, and a pair of glasses...
they make theatre.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Playlist for Sunday, May 31, 2015: Music Box on Wheels

So every week, I have to come up with another 2 On The Aisle, right? One that will amaze and astound! (Well...pick one! Maybe.) Shows to select, songs to meld, new finds, old bagels, divas, leading men, side kicks, ballads, show-stoppers!!! ...and most likely I find myself doing this in my car. Yeah, it's the one place where I am stuck, sitting down, unable to "look away", feed my cats, tweeze my eyebrows, or paint my I sorta multitask aurally and pick music! And because of that, my festooned (yes, I believe in bumper stickers) Fiesta (yes, it IS the green model) becomes a music box, driving thru the decades of Musical Theatre (note caps, signifying Respect). A musical tardis, if you will...transporting me to The Tenderloin's "Little Old New York", to Zero Mostel's steppe-y "Anatevka", to Cole Porter's "Siberia", to the "Sheltering Palms of Florida" for a bit of Sugar, as well as Wegmans, the P.O., and Big Lots! Like a gypsy caravan with the balalaikas turned up to 11, bound for 390. Hey, if it works...

So thanks to those rides, we'll have some fun THIS WEEK with the musicals of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick: Tenderloin, Fiorello!, a dash of The Rothschilds, a pinch of The Apple Tree, a "tsp" of Fiddler.  It's also Harold Rome's birthday, so we have a snippet of Pins and Needles, his first success, along with some Elliot Gould (he sings, he dances, he jumps about to music!), Lillian Roth, and Babs in I Can Get It For You Wholesale... and a Betty Garrett gem, "Little Surplus Me."  A little NYC, a little Murder For Two (that's a musical, not an entree), and several "pairs" of Silk Stockings round out our time "together." for my green monster on the roads...but don't beep.  I'm concentrating! 

 Little Old New York (Eileen Rodgers, Lee Theodore, Tenderloin)
How The Money Changes Hands (Company, Tenderloin)
Artificial Flowers (Ron Husmann, Irene Kane, Tenderloin)
The Picture Of Happiness (Ron Husmann, Margery Gary, Tenderloin)
Too Bad (Leon Belasco, Henry Lascoe, David Opatoshu, Silk Stockings)
Stereophonic Sound (Gretchen Wyler, Silk Stockings)
Paris Loves Lovers (Don Ameche, Hildegard Neff, Silk Stockings)
The Red Blues (Ensemble, Silk Stockings)
Siberia (Leon Belasco, Henry Lascoe, David Opatoshu, Silk Stockings)
Sun On My Face (Company, Sugar)
Beautiful Through And Through (Cyril Ritchard, Robert Morse, Sugar)
Sugar (Tony Roberts, Robert Morse, Sugar)
Only In New York (Sheryl Lee Ralph, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
When You're Far Away From New York Town (Jack DeLon, Jennie)
Every Street's A Boulevard In Old New York (Jack Whiting, Hazel Flagg)
Nothing Is New In New York (Ensemble, Breakfast at Tiffany's)
There's A Boat That's Leaving Soon For New York (Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte,
          Porgy and Bess)
Gentleman Jimmy (Eileen Rodgers, Fiorello!)
The Name's LaGuardia (Tom Bosley, Company, Fiorello!)
Little Tin Box (Howard DaSilva, Ensemble, Fiorello!)
Nobody Makes A Pass At Me (Barbra Streisand, Pins And Needles)
Little Surplus Me (Betty Garrett, Call Me Mister)
The Way Things Are (Elliot Gould, I Can Get It For You Wholesale)
He's Not A Well Man (Barbra Streisand, Jack Kruschen, Wholesale)
Eat A Little Something (Lillian Roth, Wholesale)
Waiting In The Dark (Jeff Blumenkrantz, Murder For Two)
A Perfectly Lovely Surprise (Jeff Blumenkrantz, Brett Ryback, Murder For Two)
He Needs A Partner (Jeff Blumenkrantz, Brett Ryback, Murder For Two)
Good Morning, Good Day (Ensemble, She Loves Me)
Rothschild And Sons (Hal Linden, Ensemble, The Rothschilds)
Eve (Alan Alda, The Apple Tree)
To Life (Zero Mostel, Company, Fiddler On The Roof)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kiss Me, Kate, and MGM Everybody Else!

 Released in 1953,
Kiss Me Kate (the movie) began in Fred Graham's apartment,
as Howard Keel and an actor playing Cole Porter
attempt to lure Lilli Vanessi (Kathryn Grayson) to play the lead in his new musical.
Enter Ann Miller as Lois, 
who almost ruins the scheme, with "Too Darn Hot."

with Kathryn and Howard.

 Kathyrn Grayson, Cole Porter, and Howard Keel,
behind the scenes at "Kate."
This musical was Cole's most successful,
following in the footsteps of other integrated musicals,
tying musical numbers to the plot.
Cole won Best Musical and Best Score with "Kate" on Broadway,
just 5 years before.
He would die in 1958.

 Tommy Rall, Ann Miller, Bobby Van, and Bob Fosse
in "Tom, Dick, and Harry."

 Bob Fosse got a chance to choreograph his section of
"From This Moment On" with Carol Haney. 
These few moments brought him to the attention of Broadway producers,
and one year later, he was choreographing "Pajama Game" on Broadway.

It was filmed in 3D, using the best "of the day" 3D technology.
There's Ann, in costume, with her 3D glasses, at left!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Lesser Known!

Oh, Captain! lasted 6 months on Broadway...
it had music by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans,
who wrote three Oscar-winning movie themes...
"Buckles and Bows," "Mona Lisa," and "Que Sera Sera."

 It starred Tony Randall as Captain Henry St. James,
who received a Tony nomination for his performance.
He had just finished his stint as "Mr. Peepers" series on television.
The hit number of the show featured Tony
with ballerina Alexandra Danilova.
Tony in Tights...yikes!

 Jamaica, another show from 1958, had music by Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen,
and specifically created for Harry Belefonte...
but after Harry left, the show was rewritten with a female lead.
Lena Horne took over, with Ricardo Montalban as her love interest.
At the time, Harburg had been black-listed by Hollywood,
so he turned his sights on Broadway...
unsurprisingly, his tone was cynical.

 Co-starring with Lena was Josephine Premice
and Ossie ran for 1 1/2 years, lots of nominations, but no big wins!

 A 1993 musical based in 1954...My Favorite Year.
It was based on the movie of 1982, with words and music
by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who created the songs for
 Once On This Island, Rags, and the music for Disney's Anastasia.
(Pictured above, "Welcome To Brooklyn.")

It starred Evan Pappas, Tim Curry, Andrea Martin (above, right)
Lainie Kazan, and Josh Mostel.
Only 36 performances, lousy reviews,
and despite several nominations,
only Andrea "collected!"

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Gentleman's Guide: Murder Most Foul

 Starring Jefferson Mays, playing 8 D'Ysquith family members,
(at center in red, as Lord Adalbert),
and Bryce Pinkham as Monty...
"Gentleman's Guide" opened in 2013,
winning the Tony for Best Musical.
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Lutvak and Robert L. Freedman.

 "Poison In My Pocket,"
with Catherine Walker, Bryce (with saw) and Jefferson,
here as Asquith D'Ysquith, Jr. 
(Say that 3 times fast!)

 "You're A D'Ysquith!"
Rachel Izen as Miss Shingle, and Bryce.

 "Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun",
the one murder Monty DIDN'T commit.

Jefferson in his 8 D'Ysquith characters...
was called "dazzling" by the critics,
and the show noted for its "fizzily witty turns of phrase."
Go see's still running!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Playlist for Sunday, May 24, 2015: On Rye, with a Pickle.

 You know you've been away from Broadway too long when something as good as A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder has been running for 2 YEARS and you haven't seen it yet! I've actually been starting to have those dreams again...You know, the ones where you can't find the nearest subway stop, cuz you've FORGOTTEN where the 1 Train is?  And then you look for your favorite deli to console yourself with a chopped liver on pumpernickel, and it's's just (POOF) vanished?  Oh, no...that's not a dream, that's real life...but really, I have to get back. Without a Manhattan sojourn, I may just end up losing some of my pithy style, and start wearing sweatshirts. And this is bad.

So let's "transport" ourselves this Sunday to a matinee of "Gentleman's Guide"...and ask the musical question, "Why Are All The D'Ysquiths Dying?"  We'll also delve into some little known shows, like Jamaica (with Lena), Oh Captain! (with Tony), and the interesting (FLOP!), cult (FLOP!), and quirky (FLOP!) My Favorite Year...that last one has some snappy tunes, Tim Curry, Lainie Kazan, spectacle and show why didn't it work, O Crystal Ball of Broadway?

Classics like Irene and the MGM movie of Kiss Me Kate will also make appearances, so don't think I've gone all new and/or esoteric on you.  I might not remember the express stops on the 4 train, but I know a grand ole musical when I hear it! 

You're A D'Ysquith (Rachel Izen, Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman's Guide To Love And
Poison In My Pocket (Bryce Pinkham, Jefferson Mays, Catherine Walker, A
                    Gentleman's Guide)
Why Are All The D'Ysquiths Dying? (Jefferson Mays, Ensemble, A Gentleman's
Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun (Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman's Guide)
The World Must Be Bigger Than An Avenue (Debbie Reynolds, Irene)
They Go Wild, Simply Wild, Over Me (George S. Irving, Irene)
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Debbie Reynolds, Irene)
You Made Me Love You (Monte Markham, Debbie Reynolds, Irene)
You Made Me Love You (George S. Irving, Patsy Kelly, Irene)
The Word Is Love (Ensemble, Starting Here, Starting Now)
Crossword Puzzle (Loni Ackerman, Starting Here, Starting Now)
Flair (George Lee Andrews, Starting Here, Starting Now)
I Don't Remember Christmas (George Lee Andrews, Starting Here, Starting Now)
We Open In Venice (Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Ann Miller, Tommy Rall,
                    Kiss Me Kate)
Too Darn Hot (Ann Miller, Kiss Me Kate)
So In Love (Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Kiss Me Kate)
From This Moment On (Bob Fossee, Bobby Van, Tommy Rall, Kiss Me Kate)Wunderbar (Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Kiss Me Kate)
Twenty Million People (Company, My Favorite Year)
Shut Up And Dance (Lannyl Stephens, Evan Pappas, My Favorite Year)
Welcome To Brooklyn (Lainie Kazan, Evan Pappas, Tim Curry, Ensemble, My Favorite
Life Does A Man A Favor (When It Leads Him To The Sea) (Tony Randall,
                    Oh, Captain!)
We're Not Children (Paul Valentine, Jacqueline McKeever, Oh, Captain!)
I've Been There And I'm Back (Edward Platt, Tony Randall, Oh, Captain!)
Push De Button (Lena Horne, Jamaica)
Little Biscuit (Ossie Davis, Josephine Premice, Jamaica)
Napoleon (Lena Horne, Jamaica)
Racing With The Clock (Michael McKean, Richard Poe, Ensemble, The Pajama Game)
The Three Of Us (Michael McKean, The Pajama Game)
Hernando's Jive (Instrumental, The Pajama Game)
A New Town Is A Blue Town (Harry Connick, Jr., The Pajama Game)
The Pajama Game (Company, The Pajama Game)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sweeney, the first, the best...

 The original cast of Sweeney...
from the left, Jack Eric Williams as Beadle Bamford,
Ken Jennings as Tobias,
Edmund Lyndeck as Judge Turpin,
Merle Louise as the Beggar Woman,
Joaquin Romaguera as Pirelli,
Len Cariou and Angela Lansberry as our romantic duo (!),
Victor Garber as Anthony, and Sarah Rice as Johanna.

 Sarah and Victor...Green Finch and Linnet Bird,
and Johanna!

 Victor was 30 when he joined the cast of Sweeney...

And here he is in Godspell,
the Toronto production of 1972,
in which he appeared with Eugene Levy, 
Gilda Radner, Martin Short, and
the musical director was...OF COURSE...Paul Schaffer.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Kinky! Best Boots of 2013

 The Sex is in the Heel!
The original cast of Kinky Boots,
with Stark Sands as Charlie, and Billy Porter as Lola.

Surrounded by the troupe of Angels (yes, all men in drag!),
Harvey Fierstein (book), Stark Sands, Jerry Mitchell (choreography),
Cyndi Lauper (music and lyrics), and Billy Porter.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Gene, Gene, and More Gene!

 In Les Girls, with Mitzi Gaynor, Kay Kendall, and Taina Elg, 1957,
music and lyrics by Cole Porter (his last film score).
This was Gene's last MGM movie, 
finishing the contract he had with them beginning in 1942.
The original "Les Girls" were supposed to be:
Jean Simmons, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, and Carol Haney.

 1951...and An American In Paris.
Gene with George Guetary and Oscar Levant
is sure "S'Wonderful".
Filmed in Hollywood (not on the Champs Elysee!),
it featured the music of the Gershwins
and a script by Alan Jay Lerner. 

 Oscar and Gene
belting out "Tra La La" in the same movie.
Oscar couldn't sing, but he couldn't dance either.

 From Ziegfeld Follies, 1946...
Gene and Fred performed for the first (and only) time,
in "The Babbitt And The Bromide" which had 3 sections,
the first two choreographed by Gene, the third by Fred.
More Gershwin...

With Frank in Anchors Aweigh, 1945.
"If You Knew Susie," by Buddy DeSylva and Joseph Meyer.
First popularized by Eddie Cantor...way back in the 1920s.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Playlist for Sunday May 17, 2015: Ahh, Sweet Mystery of Life.

 The vicissitudes of life have swamped me! And this blog is a day late.  (Horrors!) Well, there is the lawn to mow, dandelions to decapitate, and all those demanding social affairs...ya know? And that's why I'm only 1 DAY LATE.

When people say they don't like Broadway, whattaya say to them? A friend of mine argues that Broadway musicals offer such a wide range of styles, there really HAS to be something for everybody.  Add to that the fact that 2 on the Aisle plays stuff from 1920 thru Today, and you have Range Indeed.  So tell 'em that, will ya? And then mention Kinky Boots.

Which is one of the shows we've got going for us this week. Which brought together the writing talents of Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein...and which brought 13 Tony nominations, and a Best Musical award (when Matilda was thought to have it nailed down, boxed up, and Fedex-ed to itself).  But then there's also plenty of Gene Kelly, from his movie musicals with Oscar and Frank and Fred.  And a couple of more obscure items from Redhead and New Girl in Town, with Gwen Verdon, from the 1950s.  And then Sweeney Todd bookending it all. 

Well, back to my social engagements. Followed by weed whacking.  :)

Prelude: The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd (Len Cariou, Angela Lansbury,    Company, Sweeney Todd)
The Germans At The Spa (Camille Saviola, Nine)
Guido's Song (Raul Julia, Nine)
Simple (Anita Morris, Nine)
Ti Voglio Bene - Be Italian (Kathi Moss, Ensemble)
The Right Finger of My Left Hand (Gwen Verdon, Redhead)
She's Not Enough Woman For Me (Richard Kiley, Leonard Stone, Redhead)
Erbie Fitch's Twitch (Gwen Verdon, Redhead)
At The Check Apron Ball (Ensemble, New Girl In Town)
Yer My Friend, Ain't Cha? (Thelma Ritter, Cameron Prud'homme, New Girl In Town)
Not My Father's Son (Stark Sands, Billy Porter, Kinky Boots)
Sex Is In The Heel (Stark Sands, Billy Porter, Ensemble, Kinky Boots)
Les Girls (Gene Kelly, Ensemble, Les Girls)
S'Wonderful (Gene Kelly, George Guetary, An American In Paris)
Tra La La (Gene Kelly, Oscar Levant, An American In Paris)
The Babbitt And The Bromide (Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ziegfeld Follies)
If You Knew Susie (Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Anchors Aweigh)
I Want To Be Happy (Jack Gilford, Ruby Keeler, Patsy Kelly, Helen Gallagher,
                   No No Nanette)
Too Many Rings Around Rosie (Helen Gallagher, Patsy Kelly, Jack Gilford,
                   No No Nanette)
Where-Has-My-Hubby-Gone Blues (Helen Gallagher, No No Nanette)
Promises Promises (Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth, Promises Promises)
I'll Never Fall In Love Again (Kristin Chenoweth, Sean Hayes, Promises Promises)
Whoever You Are, I Love You (Kristin Chenoweth, Promises Promises)
Knowing When To Leave (Kristin Chenoweth, Promises Promises)
The Contest (Joaquin Romaguera, Sweeney Todd)
Green Finch And Linnet Bird (Sarah Rice, Sweeney Todd)
Wait (Angela Lansbury, Len Cariou, Sweeney Todd)
Johanna (Victor Garber, Sweeney Todd)
Finale: The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd (Company, Sweeney Todd)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Berlin Pastiche...

 Marilyn...and "After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It,"
as part of There's No Business Like Show Business, 1954.
Irving Berlin wrote it back in 1920, and it was first released by 
Van and Schenck (below)!

Al Jolson say "Let Me Sing and I'm Happy," in black face,
in the "musical drama" Mammy, 1930...

 Fred Astaire in Easter Parade, 1948,
singing/hoofing/looking good (in red socks) "Steppin' Out With My Baby."

Howard Keel and Betty Hutton squaring off in 
Annie Get Your Gun, 1950.
We'll hear "I Got The Sun In The Morning,"
featuring Ms. Hutton.