Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fosse Shots

 Fosse as The Snake in The Little Prince, 1974,
which had the music of Lerner and Loewe,
although Loewe thought little of the film and refused to attend the premiere.
Bob choreographed his own dance...and it was a pain to do.
The desert and all. 

 Co-starring as The Little Prince was Steven Warren...
with Gene Wilder as The Fox, Donna McKechnie as The Rose,
and Richard Kiley as The Aviator.
Not so successful. But definite cult status. 

 Sweet Charity's "Rich Man's Frug",
quintessential Fosse choreography.
Another take on Fellini...this time, Nights of Cabiria.

 As Daddy Brubeck in the movie version of SC,
Sammy Davis, Jr. leading his "flock."
Made three years after the Broadway musical,
Fosse spent nearly $20 million to perfect his "vision."
It nearly bankrupted Universal Pictures.

It starred Shirley McClaine, who was coached by 
the original Charity, Gwen Verdon...
and John McMartin (left).
Despite filming a "happy ending", 
which was the uniting of John and Shirley, 
Fosse preferred the main character leaving Charity...
and he got his way.

All That Jazz...another Fellini-esque take on
Joe Gideon, drug-addicted, woman-obsessed director/choreographer...
created by Fosse in 1979.
We'll hear a "cleaned up" excerpt of "Take Off With Us."

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Damn Frogs.

 Ya gotta "Dress Big,"
with Burke Moses (as Heracles) giving Nathan Lane
(as Dionysus) fashion advice. 
Stephen Sondheim, Burt Shevelove and Nathan Lane
mounted a 2004 revival of The Frogs at Lincoln Center.
Is Nathan checking his cell phone?  Patti Lupone will have a fit!
 Peter Bartlett as Hades, with Nathan.
Dionysus travels with his slave, Xanthias (played by Roger Bart)
to Hades, hoping to bring George Bernard Shaw back to life and
make the world a better place.
Or Shakespeare...or...well, somebody, anybody!

 Those nasty frogs.
 Sondheim wrote seven new songs for this revival...
Critics said the low brow comedy warred with high ideals,
but somebody pointed out that's exactly what Aristophanes did.
And who's to chide Aristophanes? 

Opening night at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre...
from left: Roger Bart, Michael Siberry, John Byner 
(who played Charon, the boater on the River Styx), 
Susan Stroman (who both directed and choreographed),
Burke Moses, Nathan Lane, Daniel Davis and Peter Bartlett.

In the original 1974 production at Yale University's pool,
the frogs were played by members of the Yale swim team.
Larry Blyden played Dionysus, 
and Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver and Christopher Durang
were in the (wet) ensemble.
Sondheim said the acoustics were like "performing in a urinal."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Playlist for Sunday, August 2, 2015: Frogs and Fellini

Have you heard the frogs recently? The real ones, I mean. Don't know about you, but at this point in the summer, they are offering one hell of a chorus from my ditch...I mean, the lovely creek that flows in front of my house. They're a bit cacophonous, not really paying attention to any sort of rhythm or fact they act like each and every one of them is the only one on stage.  Sorta like short-sighted divas. Well, that put me in mind of The Frogs, college-aged Stephen Sondheim's creation, first staged at Yale University's pool (yes, they boated, they sculled, they repelled the nasty frogs), revived and produced at Lincoln Center in 2004. The frogs were the most irritating part of that musical; Nathan Lane and Roger Bart (as Dionysus and Xanthius) were delightful, however, from "Dress Big" to "Hades." So that part of The Frogs will take center stage this Sunday.

Plus two musicals who show their Fellini obsessions, like petticoats showing under one's best red taffeta.  Nine's creator, Maury Yeston was enamored of 8 1/2 from age 13, when he first saw that film, and he eventually created a musical version...we'll hear Anita Morrison's "A Call From The Vatican" and Liliane Montevecchi's "Folies Bergeres"...Then there's a quick sample from All That Jazz, Bob Fosse's take on Fellini.  Artists in crisis, with all the women in their lives (in memory, in reality) showing their import (and slips). 

Muddle in Mickey Rooney, Jackie Gleason, Ragtime and Music Man classics, and you've got yourself a show...that may drown out those frogs! 

Invocation And Instructions To The Audience (Nathan Lane, Roger Bart, The Frogs)
Rock Island (Paul Reed, Ensemble, The Music Man)
Iowa Stubborn (Ensemble, The Music Man)
Till There Was You (Barbara Cook, Robert Preston, The Music Man)
Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little (Helen Raymond, Ensemble, The Music Man)
Sid Ol' Kid (Jackie Gleason, Ensemble, Take Me Along)
Nine O'Clock (Robert Morse, Take Me Along)
But Yours (Jackie Gleason, Eileen Herlie, Take Me Along)
Take Me Along (Walter Pigeon, Jackie Gleason, Take Me Along)
Take Off With Us (Ensemble, All That Jazz)
Snake In The Grass (Bob Fosse, The Little Prince)
Rich Man's Frug (Instrumental, Sweet Charity)
The Rhythm Of Life (Sammy Davis, Jr., Ensemble, Sweet Charity)
A Call From The Vatican (Anita Morris, Raul Julia, Nine)
Folies Bergeres (Lilliane Montevecchi, Stephanie Cotsirilos, Raul Julia, Nine)
Right Hand Man (Heidi Blikenstaff, Something Rotten!)
I Really Like Him (Ernie Sabella, Man of La Mancha)
I Wanna Be Like You (Louis Prima, Phil Harris, The Jungle Book)
Under The Bamboo Tree (Judy Garland, Margaret O'Brien, Meet Me In St. Louis)
My Blanket And Me (Bob Balaban, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown)
With You On My Arm (Gene Barry, George Hearn, La Cage Aux Folles)
I Won't Say I'm In Love (Susan Egan, Hercules)
What A Game (Mark Jacoby, Alex Strange, Ensemble, Ragtime)
Sarah Brown Eyes (Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Ragtime)
Buffalo Nickel Photoplay, Inc. (Peter Friedman, Ragtime)
Let Me Be Your Sugar Baby (Female Ensemble, Sugar Babies)
A Good Old Burlesque Show (Mickey Rooney, Sugar Babies)
Cuban Love Song (Scott Stewart, Michele Rodgers, Sugar Babies)
I'm Just A Song And Dance Man (Mickey Rooney, Sugar Babies)
Dress Big (Nathan Lane, Burke Moses, The Frogs)
Ariadne (Nathan Lane, Roger Bart, The Frogs)
Hades (Peter Bartlett, The Frogs)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Nothing L'il About It!

 Based on the comic strip by Al Capp,
L'il Abner had music by Gene DePaul and Johnny Mercer,
who had worked together on Seven Brides For Seven Brothers...
also on hand was Michael Kidd for the choreography,
another Brothers alum.
Edie Adams (above) won a Tony for her performance as Daisy Mae.

 William Lanteau as Available Jones, Edie, 
and Charlotte Rae as Mammy Yokum.

 Stubby Kaye as Marryin' Sam...
singing "Jubilation T. Cornpone,"
along with the residents of Dogpatch.

Edie, Peter Palmer as Abner, William Lanteau,
and Julie Newmar as Stupifyin' Jones.
Pre-Cat Woman!
The show ran for 693 performances,
with Tina Louise helping out as Appassionata von Climax.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sunday Sampler!

 Minnie's Boys, 1970...a musicalized take on
the beginnings of the Marx Brothers' act,
starring Shelley Winters as Minnie, their mom.
Sort of like Gypsy, a pushy mom, but less stripping and more jokes.
The brothers, from left...Daniel Fortus as Harpo, 
Lewis J. Stadlen as Groucho, Irwin Pearl as Chico and
Alvin Kupperman as Zeppo.
80 performances...and the story is the real Groucho was paid off
NOT to raise legal objections.
Music Larry Grossman, Lyrics Hal Hackady

 For some reason, Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart
decided to write a musical about P.T. Barnum...
it hit Broadway in 1980, and was pretty much a hit.
It makes my teeth ache.
Here's Jim Dale, in the title role. Glenn Close starred as his wife.
Still can't stand it.  Why Cy, why?

 Before Steven Fry and Mike Okrent brought their revised 
Me and My Girl to Broadway,
it played in the West End with Robert Lindsay and Emma Thompson...
so cute!

Here's Jack Gilford as King Sextimus
and Carol Burnett as Princess Winifred (Fred for short!)
in the original production of Once Upon A Mattress, 1959.
Televised versions in 1964, 1972 and 2005 would follow,
and in the last one, Carol played Queen Aggravain,
and Tracey Ullman was "Fred".

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Something about that state of Denmark!

 It opened in April of 2015, with music and lyrics by 
Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick...
Set in 1595, it tells the tale of the Bottom Brothers and their struggle
to best the literary god of the moment, Shakespeare.
 Referencing everything from
 The Music Man to Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,
the Soothsayer (played by Brad Oscar)
envisions "A Musical" and soon Nick Bottom (Brian D'Arcy James)
sees how he can top Will...with Omelette (Hamlet?) the Musical.

Brian, one half of the playwriting team of Nick and Nigel Bottom,
facing off with Christian Borle as Will (The Bomb) Shakespeare.

"It's Hard To Be The Bard,"
with Christian Borle
riffing on a Queen's theme.
 Christian won both a Drama Desk Award and a Tony for his performance.

Michael James Scott, center, as The Minstrel,
leading the ensemble in the opening number,
"Welcome To The Renaissance."

Playlist for Sunday, July 26, 2015: HUZZAH!

 Even if you smell Something Rotten!, it's plenty fresh, having opened in April of this year...the cast album was just released and I have been playing it all week, in my car, in the shower, and now in my head (can't change the station in there, now can I?).  Like Spamalot, it's a grand irreverent parody of everything Medieval, Literary, and Theatrical: The Renaissance, Will (The Bomb) Shakespeare, The Black Death, and best of all, The Musical. So if you like any of the above (and who doesn't!) (oops, not the death part), you'll have found a new musical comedy to love. Heavily salted (okay, there's several shakers in there, plus a salt lick for those who like a more visceral experience) with references to: Rent, Gypsy, Annie, South Pacific, A Chorus Shakey's sonnets and plays and characters and...well, it's quite the blended smoothie...of theatre in general.  You'll cry for more.  Or just moan at the puns.

So now I'll stop my adoration for all things middle-aged and over the top (sorta like me) and talk about the rest of the playlist.....We've got City of Angels (that Cy Coleman murder mystery musical that I love), plus a song from Barnum, which he also wrote (which I find incredibly irritating, but hey, never let it be said that I am judgmental.  Never.) A little Baker Street, which is only one of the many Sherlock Holmes musicals...and a dash of Me and My Girl, another English-y show with cockneys and mussels, alive a-live-oh. That flop, Minnie's Boys, will make an appearance, along with L'il Abner and Daisey Mae and Marryin' Sam.

So from L.A. slick to Dogpatch to the lower east side to ....Merry Ole England.  Doesn't the musical just take us everywhere? 

A Musical (Brian D'Arcy James, Brad Oscar, Something Rotten!)
I Hope I Get It (Company, A Chorus Line)
I Can Do That (Wayne Cilento, A Chorus LIne)
Nothing (Priscilla Lopez, A Chorus Line)
Prologue/Theme From City Of Angels (Gregg Edelman, Ensemble, City Of Angels)
The Buddy System (Rene Auberjonois, City Of Angels)
You Can Always Count On Me (Randy Graff, City Of Angels)
It's So Simple (Fritz Weaver, Peter Sallis, Baker Street)
Leave It To Us, Guv ("The Baker Street Irregulars", Baker Street)
The Family Solicitor (George S. Irving, Me And My Girl)
Leaning On A Lamppost (Robert Lindsay, Me And My Girl)
Mama, A Rainbow (Daniel Fortus, Shelley Winters, Minnie's Boys)
Once Upon A Time (Ray Bolger, Eileen Herlie, All-American)
Join The Circus (Jim Dale, Barnum)
Happily Ever After (Carol Burnett, Once Upon A Mattress)
Easy Street (Robert Fitch, Dorothy Loudon, Barbara Erwin, Annie)
If I Had My Druthers (Peter Palmer, L'il Abner)
I'm Past My Prime (Edie Adams, L'il Abner)
Jubilation T. Cornpone (Stubby Kaye, L'il Abner)
Beauty School Drop Out (Marya Small, Alan Paul, Grease)
Alone At The Drive In Movie (Barry Bostwick, Grease)
Grease (Frankie Valli, Grease)
Welcome To The Renaissance (Michael James Scott, Company, Something Rotten!)
Hard To Be The Bard (Christian Borle, Something Rotten!)
Something Rotten/Make An Omelette (Brian D'Arcy James, Company, Something

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More Sunday Songbirds

 Elaine Stritch will be on hand with
"Are You Having Any Fun?"
a Sammy Fain/Jack Yellin tune...from her "Stritch" album, 1956.
Tony Bennett later recorded it with the Count Basie Orchestra.

 Mandy Patinkin, from the Lincoln Center Concert version
of Sondheim's Follies,
does a schizophrenic version of "Buddy's Blues."

 Sammy Davis Jr. did Golden Boy in 1964,
and from that, we'll hear "Night Song"...
written by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams.
 Peggy Lee
(our lone non-Broadway singer this week!)
and her Grammy-winning  "Is That All There Is?"
written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Irene, On the Rocks

 Irene premiered on Broadway in 1919...
and ran for 675 performances,
a record in those days for the longest running show!
Above, Gladys Miller, Bobby Watson, and Eva Puck
 It was based on James Montgomery's tale, "Irene O'Dare,"
about an immigrant shop keeper who is hired to re-decorated
an upper-class estate. 
And you know where that leads.

 It was revived in 1973...with walloping changes in the plot.
Here is Debbie Reynolds, evidently NOT wearing her 
"Alice Blue Gown" (what IS that thing?),
but posing as a countess to further the reputation of 
dress designer Madame Lucy (played by George S. Irving
who replaced Billy DeWolf).
Interesting trivia: Do you see daughter Carrie at Debbie's feet?

 Previews proved a fiasco.
In Toronto, Debbie suffered a throat ailment and couldn't talk.
So....director John Gielgud 
(Really? Gielgud directing a Broadway musical? 
Don't worry, he was replaced before the show's opening by Gower Champion. Whew.) 
spoke her dialogue from the wings
and Debbie mimed the words.
Have stranger things ever happened.

How does this thing work again?
Here's leading man Monte Markam, 
trying to help Debbie tune a piano.

The production lasted 574 performances, 
enjoying perfectly mixed reviews.
Debbie stayed with the musical for 5 months,
then she was replaced by Jane Powell (another feisty lady).
Clive Barnes of the Times called it,
"the best 1919 musical in town."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Fanny! 1891-1951

 Born Fania Borach, in New York City,
Fanny's parents owned and operated a saloon...
At the age of 17,
Brice dropped out of school to work in burlesque
and later headlined in the Ziegfeld Follies.
"My Man" and "Second Hand Rose" were her signature songs.

 "Hello Gorgeous!"

 In 1936, she began a radio show...
The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air.
On it, she played Baby Snooks, 
pictured here with George Burns and Gracie Allen.
Fanny played this "Baby" for the rest of her life on
various radio programs.

 Fanny's children, William and Frances...
She was married three times;
the second (and most infamous, with whom she had the children above) 
to gambler Nicky Arnstein,
who was jailed twice during their time together.
She then married theatrical producer Billy Rose, 
but not for long! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Playlist for Sunday, July 19, 2015: Broadway Blue(s)

Riffing on the blues....Broadway has 'em, ya know? Okay, some of their blues are birds, gowns, skies and towns, but then there's Fanny's "Blue Over You", Ann's "Shakin' Your Blues", the "Where Has My Hubby Gone Blues", the "You Don't Wanna Play With Me Blues", and the "Blues My Naughty Baby Gives To Me"...plenty there for a set or 7.

And since summer just arrived, why not some songs to say so? Porgy and Bess, Golden Boy, The Most Happy Fella, and of course Grease have their summer songs...a little nicer than the "back a my neck feelin' dirty and gritty" variety.

Some of my favorites: Elaine (of course), "having fun."  Karen Mason and "Colored Lights", from Kander and Ebb's The Rink.  And I'll fall off the Broadway wagon any day for Peggy Lee, and "Is That All There Is?"

And to make sure we don't forget our Classics (like Greek and Aristotle and amo, amas, amat), we'll travel 42nd Street for a big Broadway finish.  And then you can tell me: "Are You Having Any Fun?"  :)

Lullaby Of Broadway (Jerry Orbach, Company, 42nd Street)
Shaking the Blues Away (Ann Miller, Easter Parade)
Blue Skies (Al Jolson, The Jazz Singer)
I'd Rather Be Blue Over You (Fanny Brice, My Man)
Be Like The Blue Bird (Mickey Deems, Anything Goes)
The You-Don't-Want-To-Play-With-Me Blues (Ann Wakefield, Paul McGrane and his
                      Bearcat Orchestra, The Boyfriend)
Alice Blue Gown (Debbie Reynolds, Irene)
Your Eyes Are Blue (Craig Lucas, Suzanne Henry, Marry Me A Little)
Where-Has-My-Hubby-Gone Blues (Loni Ackerman, Ensemble, No No Nanette)
Homesick Blues (Ensemble, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)
Buddy's Blues (Mandy Patinkin, Follies)
Really Blues (Instrumental, The Moderns)
A New Town Is A Blue Town (Harry Connick Jr., The Pajama Game)
Baloo's Blues (Phil Harris, The Jungle Book)
Blues My Naughty Baby Gives To Me (Zach Braff, Betsy Wolfe, Bullets Over
The Movin' Uptown Blues (Adam Gruper, Stuart Zagnit, The Wild Party)
Summertime (Lena Horne, Porgy And Bess)
Blame It On The Summer Night (Teresa Stratus, Rags)
Song Of A Summer Night (Keith Kaldenberg, Ensemble, The Most Happy Fella)
Night Song (Sammy Davis Jr., Golden Boy)
Summer Nights (Barry Bostwick, Carole Demas, Grease)
Are You Having Any Fun? (Elaine Stritch, Stritch)
A Shine On Your Shoes (Fred Astaire, The Bandwagon)
Get Happy (Judy Garland, Summer Stock)
If It's Time To Go (Ensemble, Brownstone)
Colored Lights (Karen Mason, And The World Goes 'Round)
Is That All There Is? (Peggy Lee, Is That All There Is?)
You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me (Tammy Grimes, 42nd Street)
Shuffle Off To Buffalo (Joseph Bova, Carole Cook, 42nd Street)
We're In The Money (Wanda Richert, Karen Prunczik, Ginny King, 42nd Street)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Jon Cypher, as promised.

 Jon Cyper made his television debut in 1957,
at the age of 25,
playing Prince Charming in 
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella
with Julie Andrews.

Jon is probably best known for his role
on Hill Street Blues (1981-87)
where he played Chief of Police Fletcher Daniels.
Jon did star spots on Dynasty, Marcus Welby, Jr.,
Santa Barbara, Knots Landing, McMillan and Wife,
and several others.

His first appearance as a villain...Frank Tanner,
in the movie Valdez is Coming, with Burt Lancaster.

 Major Dad (1990-93)
with Gerald Rainey...

And in the nooks and crannies,
Jon did Broadway.
From Man of La Mancha and 1776,
to The Night of the Iguana and Coco...
here he is (center, with Daniel H. Jenkins) in Big.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Our Sunday Singers!

 Angela Lansbury, as Countess Aurelia, in Dear World,
a Jerry Herman creation from 1969.
With the opening of this show, Jerry became the first
(and only?)
composer/lyricist to have 3 musicals running on Broadway
simultaneously...Dear World, Mame, and Hello Dolly.
 We'll hear "And I Was Beautiful."

Julie Andrews and Jon Cypher (I'll get a better photo of him soon!)
 in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, 1957.
We'll hear Jon singing a "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful" duet with Julie,
and then "Coffee, Black" from Big, almost thirty years later!

 Ruth Etting will be singing
"You're the Cream in My Coffee,"
from the musical, Hold Everything!
But not the cream.

No Coffee!
Who else could play Desperate
like Charles Nelson Reilly?
From How To Succeed In Business
Without Really Trying...
Thanks, Frank Loesser, for understanding us coffee fanatics.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

We eat ham...and jam...and Spam-a-lot!

 Best Musical of 2005!
Eric Idle did the book, the lyrics and collaborated on the music with
John Du Pre and Neil Innes.
Above, David Hyde Pierce as Sir Robin, Tim Curry as King Arthur,
and Hank Azaria as Sir Lancelot.

 Sara Ramirez as The Lady of the Lake,
with her Laker Girls. 

 He's All Alone...
Arthur with Patsy, his manservant with the coconuts
(played by Michael McGrath).

A total of 14 Tony Nominations...
and along with the win for best musical, 
awards went to Director Mike Nichols, and Sara Ramirez.
Some critics saw the show as the opposite of what Monty Python
was all went for the lazy laugh.
Others, like Charles Spencer of the Telegraph, 
wrote "It’s a wonderful night, 
and I fart in the general direction of anyone who says otherwise."