Saturday, April 30, 2016

Comden and (usually) Green

 Betty Comden was born Basya Cohen, on May 3rd, 1917,
in Brooklyn, New York.
She studied at NYU, where she met a young actor named
Adolph Green.
They began writing and performing as The Revuers,
below, at The Village Vanguard,
doing skits and songs.
Who knew at that time that they would create"the words"
to some of the 20th Century's most popular musicals?

 The Revuers:
From the top...Adolph Green, Betty,
John Frank, Judy Holliday (tho back then, she was Judith Tuvim)
and Alvin Hammer.
Leonard Bernstein would often accompany the group
on piano.

 Working on On The Town, 1944, 
the team's first Broadway show,
with Leonard at the piano, Jerome Robbins,
Betty (ON the piano) and Adolph.

 Nope, they were never married.
In 1942, Betty married Steven Kyle, a designer.
Adolph had 3 wives, the last Phyllis Newman!
Comden and Green worked together for 
six decades, more than A LOT of marriages. 

 I assume they were just pretending...

 The team earned a total of 7 Tonys for their Broadway work,
from Wonderful Town in 1953
to The Will Rodgers Follies in 1991.
In between the duo creating award-winning screenplays,
including The Band Wagon, Singin' In The Rain,
The Barkleys of Broadway, Good News
and It's Always Fair Weather.

Adolph passed away in 2002,
and Betty in 2006...
together they wrote dozens of musicals,
screenplays...and hundreds of song.
Happy Birthday, Betty.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sunday Minstrels, Hardly Depressed.

 Harry Crosby, Jr...who got his nickname from
a neighbor girl who took a local newspaper column,
The Bingville Bugle,
and slapped it on Harry at age 7.
When Bing was 22, he and fellow singer Al Rinker 
jettisoned Spokane venues for California.
One year later, they had a contract with Paul Whiteman.

 Couldn't resist this pic of Bing and Bob,
who starred together in 7 Road films,
from 1940 to 1962,
not counting all of the duo's radio, TV, and stage appearances.

 Bing on the set of "Pennies From Heaven,"
joined by the gang from Our Gang.
Top Left is Judith Fellows,
who starred with Bing in the film.

 The Boswell Sisters (above with Bing):
Helvetia (Vet), Connee, and Martha.
They hailed from New Orleans,
and despite their early classical training,
that city's musical style won 'em over.
Connee rearranged the popular songs of the day,
with tempo and major-to-minor key changes,
something a lot of other groups never did.
The burgeoning of radio helped too:
they performed on Bing's show 13 times,
and had 20 hit records over the course of the 1930s.

 Darla Jean Hood,
born in Oklahoma, but by the age of 3, 
her parents her brought to New York
(they knew a good thing when they saw it!)
for a screen test.
A contract for Our Gang episodes followed,
where she debuted as "Cookie."
From 1936-41, she was Darla...
and in The Pinch Singer epi, she sang "I'm In The Mood For Love."

 Her final Our Gang episode was 1941's "Wedding Worries." 
Above with George "Spanky" McFarland,
below with her on-screen heart throb,
Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer.

Darla sang in nightclubs and made
TV appearances (Jack Benny's show, Merv Griffin's, etc.),
and made several recordings,
but passed away at the age of 47.
Spanky said she died of a broken heart. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Playlist for Sunday, May 1, 2016: Another Piece Of Pie

As Director Roger De Bris in The Producers said about Springtime For Hitler's second act, "It's a bit depressing, they're losing the war! Gotta put something IN THERE!" Which brought about the 2-3 kick turns, and dancing SS men, and thigh high boots....well, that's what we got in the real Depression. Songs about the sunny side of the street, and that shine on your shoes, and coffee and pie and bowls of cherries. Some of the lightest and brightest shows on Broadway, and MGM movies that glittered with Ginger's marabou'ed gowns and Fred facing all that music (sideways, of course, show your best profile!) and dancing. So the Depression, music-wise, seems sorta H A double P Y. 

But I've never been on an actual bread line. Or begged for change. So my perspective is all from the eye of a lens, the melody of a song, or the perspective of a musical (and that's true as hell, right?) But true or not, that's our show this Sunday: Music of the Depression Era, some from shows of the 30s, some just popular songs of the day...sung by Bing and Rudy and Sisters Boswell.

Along with that, we'll celebrate Betty Comden's birthday, who lyric-ed with the best of 'em, straight from Queens, NY (yup, Erasmus High), who teamed with Adolph Green for 7 Tony wins over the course of six decades. Good thing they weren't married. Screenplays, books for musicals, and of course all those wonderful pithy words for the tunes of Bernstein, Styne, and other biggies. Gotta a lot to pick from!

So shine up your loafers for Sunday, pour me another cuppa joe, and slice up that pie already.

A Shine On Your Shoes (Fred Astaire, The Band Wagon)
Pennies From Heaven (Bing Crosby, Pennies From Heaven)
Let's Misbehave (Irving Aaronson and His Commandeers)
You're The Cream In My Coffee (Annette Hanshaw)
Let's Have Another Cup Of Coffee (Enric Madriguera and His Hotel Biltmore  
I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair (Mary Martin, South Pacific)
Bloody Mary (Ensemble, South Pacific)
This Nearly Was Mine (Ezio Pinza, South Pacific)
Let's Face The Music And Dance (Fred Astaire, Follow The Fleet)
Brother, Can You Spare A Dime (Rudy Vallee)
Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries (Jack Hylton And His Orchestra)
It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing (The Boswell Sisters)
Double Talk (Gregg Edelman, City Of Angels
The Buddy System (Rene Auberjonois, City Of Angels)
With Every Breath I Take (Kay McClelland, City Of Angels)
On The Sunny Side Of The Street (Judy Garland)
On The Good Ship Lollipop (Shirley Temple, Bright Eyes)
I'm In The Mood For Love (Darla Hood, Our Gang)
Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again (Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand,
          The Judy Garland Show)
Drop That Name (Judy Holliday, Ensemble, Bells Are Ringing)
Long Before I Knew You (Sydney Chaplin, Bells Are Ringing)
The Midas Touch (Ensemble, Bells Are Ringing)
The Party's Over (Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing)
Come Up To My Place (Nancy Walker, Cris Alexander, On The Town)
One Hundred Easy Ways (Rosalind Russell, Wonderful Town)
Wendy (Mary Martin, Ensemble, Peter Pan)
I Don't Know Where She Got It (Lillian Hayman, Hallelujah, Baby!)
All Of My Life (Phil Silvers, Do Re Mi)
All I Do Is Dream Of You (Ensemble, Singin' In The Rain)
Triplets (Fred Astaire, Jack Buchanan, Nanette Fabray, The Band Wagon)
Moses Supposes (Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Singin' In The Rain)
Smile, Girls (Patti Lupone, Gypsy)
If Momma Was Married (Laura Benanti, Leigh Ann Larkin, Gypsy)
Have An Eggroll, Mr. Goldstone (Patti Lupone, Boyd Gaines, Gypsy)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mame's Moon and Matilda's...Mousse?

Bea Arthur as Vera Charles...
above in the movie version, with Lucille Ball doing the Mame honors...
and below on Broadway,
"The Man In the a Miss!"
That's Angela on the moon!

Al Hirschfeld's take on the "Moon" song,
with Bea, Angela, and a pregnant Jane Connell as Miss Gooch.

And for no other reason than I would have LOVED to see 
THIS version,
Elaine Stritch as Vera and Janet Blair as Mame...
musta been replacements after Angela and Bea flew the 
Broadway coop.

Bertie Carvel, born "Robert Hugh Carvel",
as the Trunchbull
in Tim Minchin's Matilda.
Hard to believe that's him below (standing)
as Dr. Strange
in "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell"
with Eddie Marsan.

 Showing a lot of leg,
with Lauren Ward as Miss Honey.

Upon successful cake consumption.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Our Sunday Songbirds of Old

 Ruth Etting,
"America's Sweetheart of Song"
with over 60 hit recordings, 
stage, radio, and film appearances.
She had a wild personal life, too,
complete with gangsters...sorta like rappers today, I guess.
We'll hear her "Dancing In The Moonlight."

 The Incomparable Hildegarde,
an American cabaret singer who worked 
the Vaudeville Circuit, supper clubs
(she was nicknamed The First Lady of The Supper Clubs,
by Eleanor Roosevelt),
appeared on Life Magazine, 
even had a shade of Revlon Lipstick named after her.

 Here she is at the piano...
Liberace was inspired by her:
"Hildegarde was perhaps the most famous supper-club entertainer
 who ever lived. 
I used to absorb all the things she was doing, 
all the showmanship she created. 
It was marvelous to watch her, wearing elegant gowns, surrounded with roses and playing with white gloves on."
She lived to be 99!
We'll hear her rendition of 
R&H's "Ev'rything I've Got".

 Elsie Carlisle (above)
and with Burt Ambrose and his Mayfair Orchestra (below).
Elsie was a popular English singer in the dance band era 
of the 20s and 30s.
Two of her most popular tunes were
"Home, James, And Don't Spare The Horses" and 
"A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square."
We won't hear those...we're stuck with 
"The Clouds Will Soon Roll By."

 The Revelers,
first called the Shannon Four,
added a tenor and voila, a close harmony quintet.
They starred, along with Fanny Brice and Paul Whiteman
on the Palmolive Hour radio show.
We'll hear them perform Rodgers and Hart's 
"The Blue Room". 
What's with the dude in the glasses?

 Vivienne Segal who did Pal Joey with Gene Kelly (above)
in the original 1940 production,
in which she played Vera Simpson,
and introduced the song "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"
all 17 over-sexed verses.
Just LOOK at that backdrop! 
Vivienne as a guest on the CBS radio show,
Accordiana, in 1934.
She retired from acting in 1966
and lived to be 95 years old.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Playlist for Sunday, April 24, 2016: Hey, you there! In the blue boots!

Hey, I've never told you the story of "My Broadway Experience." Probably because it is secreted deep within a little Tin Box ("a little tin box") called My Rapidly Atrophying Brain, and I rarely take it out to play with anymore. See, I wanted to be a dancer. A tap dancer. Only thing it was 1980, and despite 42nd Street hoofing to popularity that year right down the block (yes, I lived in Hell's Kitchen when it WAS Hell's Kitchen, and no, you can't order out, and no, we don't deliver!), THAT was one of the very few shows that used tap dancers. Plus all the cattlecalls I went to demanded you first conquer the ballet combination ("facing AWAY from the mirror"), and I royally sucked at the ballet combination. A double pirouette was not in my line. The BEST I ever did was get "kept" thru the first 2 cuts of a group audition for Best Little Whorehouse in 1981or 82...I think they were doing a revival or a sequel...Anyway, I had my blue cowboy boots on for that, and I think those might have distracted THEM enough to get me into Round 2. That and my 80s hair. But that was it. No Round 3.

So as you can see, I'm a frustrated Broadway Baby. That explains a lot, right? It's why I lead a bunch of same-aged broads in parades (The Lawn Chair Ladies of Kendall...see the FaceBook page...shameless self-promotion), cavorting with our chairs, kick-lining in boas and tarty bling. It's why I lunge to community theatre, in all its amateur ("We just skipped 2 pages of dialogue!!!") glory. It's why I do this 2 on the Aisle THING, snuggling up to shows I never had the chance to snuggle up to before! No tears, now...I've had plenty of therapy to deal.

So when you're listening, now you'll know, okay? 

The Advantages Of Floating In The Middle Of The Sea (B.D. Wong, Ensemble,
       Pacific Overtures)
Revolting Children (Jake Bailey, Ensemble, Matilda)
My House (Lauren Ward,Tim Walton, Matilda)
Bruce (Bertie Carvel, Ensemble, Matilda)
The Clouds Will Soon Roll By (Elsie Carlisle & The Bert Ambrose Orchestra)
Look For The Silver Lining (Judy Garland, Till The Clouds Roll By)
Clouds (David Garrison, Terry Kerwin, Ensemble, Snoopy!)
Helpless (Phillippa Su, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Company, Hamilton)
You'll Be Back (Jonathan Groff, Hamilton)
The Room Where It Happens (Leslie Odom, Jr., Daveed Diggs,
       Okieriete Onaodowan, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton)
The Man In The Moon (Bea Arthur, Mame)
Dancing In The Moonlight (Ruth Etting)
Lazy Moon (Ensemble, Goldilocks)
Moonshine Lullaby (Ethel Merman, Annie Get Your Gun)
When You're Driving Through The Moonlight (Julie Andrews, Alice        
        Ghostley, Kaye Ballard, Cinderella)
Old Devil Moon (Ella Logan, Donald Richards, Finian's Rainbow)
Someone In A Tree (B.D. Wong, Alvin Ing, Telly Leung, Pacific Overtures)
Please Hello (Sab Shimono, Ensemble, Pacific Overtures)
I Wish I Were In Love Again (Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Words And
Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered (Vivienne Segal, Pal Joey)
This Can't Be Love (Jack Cassidy, Holly Harris, The Boys From Syracuse)
Ev'rything I've Got (Hildegarde, By Jupiter)
Blue Room (The Revelers, The Girl Friend)
Waiting, Waiting (Nancy Walker, Do Re Mi)
All You Need Is A Quarter (Ensemble, Do Re Mi)
The Late, Late Show (Phil Silver, Do Re Mi)
Adventure (Nancy Walker, Phil Silver, Do Re Mi)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Broadway Blender...Can You Say "Juxtapose"?

 Howard DaSilva played Republican "Machine Boss" Ben Marino
in Bock and Harnick's Fiorello!
(yes, the explanation point is part of the title.)
That's him in the center with the good hand and the cigar.
We'll hear "Politics & Poker."

Three goodies from Dames At Sea.
At the top, Bernadette Peters with David Christmas,
her "Sailor Of My Dreams".
In the middle, a ticket stub from an early (1969)production, 
one year after it opened, at the Bouwerie Lane Theatre...
Note ticket price: $5.95!  
At the bottom, the six member cast, 
a perfect parody of those 150 member Busby Berkeley extravaganzas! 

 Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Shirley Jones in her film debut (she was 21 years old)
with Gordon MacRae, in Oklahoma!
(okay, enough with the exclamatory titles!!!)
And below, Charlotte Greenwood
who played Aunt Eller
in "The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends"
(easy for YOU to say!)


Two from My Favorite Year...
which flopped big time (making it near and dear to my heart).
At the top, the "Welcome To Brooklyn" number
with Tim Curry, as Alan Swann, and Lainie Kazan as 
the perfect Jewish Mother.
Below, Tom Mardirosian and Andrea Martin
dressed for their "Professional Showbizness Comedy" song.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ode To Carol!

 Fade Out - Fade In (above in the Playbill, and below with
co-star Jack Cassidy)
with music by Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green
came in a 1964.
The show had its "speed bumps."
The worst was when Carol landed a TV opportunity,
and left the production.
The crowds left, too! 

 Carol with Julie Andrews,
readying for their first televised concert together...1962.
"Carol and Julie at Carnegie Hall."

 Once Upon A Mattress, 1959...a Broadway coup for Carol,
 in which she played Princess Winifred.
A Tony nomination AND a regular gig on The Garry Moore Show.
Years later she would do the musical again,
this time as Queen Agravain
(below in a helluva get-up!)

 The quintessential quartet...
from The Carol Burnett Show (1967 - 1978):
Harvey Korman, Carol, Vickie Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner.

 Just two of the kagillion photos from that show...
Gone With The Wind and Sunset Boulevard skits.

As mean Miss Hannigan, in Annie,
the movie version, released in 1982.

 Carol with her daughters,
at the opening of Putting It Together.
Carrie (who died from cancer in 2002), Jody, and Erin.

An incredible performer,
who turns 83 on April 26!