Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sunday HUNKS

 Born in NYC, raised in Philly...
Leslie Odom, Jr. had his Broadway debut 
at the age of 17, as Paul in Rent.
Since then, roles in Smash, CSI: Miami, Grey's Anatomy,
Law & Order, etc.,
and finally (at the age of 34) 
a Tony-winning performance in Hamilton.
We'll hear from his solo album, released in 2014.

 Aaron Burr (Odom, Jr.) and Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
take the R.
Photo Cred: Cosmopolitan

 John Barrowman was born in Glasgow in 1967,
but by '75 he and his family had settled in Joliet, Illinois,
where he learned to soften his Scottish accent.
His first big role was as Billy Crocker in Cole Porter's Anything Goes,
in the West End.
After that, watch the list of theatrical and television roles grow!
John has also written 2 memoirs,
and is an active spokesman for the LGBT community in the UK.

 Above as Captain Jack in Dr. Who, 
and below...well, whatever it's for, he looks mahvelous! :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Playlist for July 3, 2016: New (Tiny) Infusion (CD) of Music (yum!)

 Ahhhh, a new album! Do they even USE that word "album" anymore? Okay, a new CD! But how long are they even going to use THAT technology? Remember when you got a new record? With covers you could caress, liner notes that came in 10 by 10 "glossy" formats, that you could read without a magnifying glass, and pour over the printed lyrics 'til you'd burned them into brain cells? Those albums were tangible, aesthetic representations of a show...well, at least for me. The closest I could get to Broadway, or La Scala, The Music Box, The Carlyle, a rock concert. Nostalgia coming over me in waves here. Tsunami nostalgia.

But, hey!  I got a new CD! Leslie Odom, Jr. released (in 2014, evidently...where was it hiding?) "Leslie Odom, Jr." ...okay, he seems title challenged, but it's a really excellent first "shot" pre-Hamilton. His voice ranges higher than in that musical, and with the assistance of some excellent arrangements (bongos? YES!), does a tasty job with a few Broadway selections, like "Look for the Silver Lining," "The Party's Over," and (my favorite on this "album") "Joey, Joey, Joey" from The Most Happy Fella. That voice and those lyrics ("like a perfumed woman...the wind blows in the bunk house"), well, it sends me. :) Just listen. You may be "sent" too!

Plus "I Got Rhythm" to the 3rd power, John Barrowman, Yma, a Swing-challenged Roz, and Alex Brightman from School of Rock (called The Sound of Music without the Nazis)...they'll all show up on Sunday.

But, hey, a new CD. So a tiny caress. 

Look For The Silver Lining (Leslie Odom, Jr., )
I Got Rhythm (Mary Martin, Girl Crazy)
I Got Rhythm (Gene Kelly, An American In Paris)
I Got Rhythm (Jodi Benson, Ensemble, Crazy For You)
Cop Song (Jeff McCarthy, Ensemble, Urinetown)
If You Were Gay (John Tartaglia, Rick Lyon, Avenue Q)
Baptize Me (Josh Gad, Nikki James, The Book Of Mormon)
Joey, Joey, Joey (Leslie Odom, Jr.)
Marry Me A Little (John Barrowman, Putting It Together)
Who Are You Now? (Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl)
Something Good (Elaine Stritch)
Night Of My Nights (Richard Kiley, Kismet)
The Olive Tree (Alfred Drake, Kismet)
Najla's Lament (Yma Sumac, Flahooley)
Temptation (Instrumental, Singin' In The Rain)
Mu-Cha-Cha (Judy Holliday, Peter Gennaro, Bells Are Ringing)
Tango De Amor (Instrumental, The Addams Family)
The Beguine (Tamara Long, Steve Elmore, Dames At Sea)
Won't You Charleston With Me? (Ensemble, Paul McGrane And His Bearcats
        Orchestra, The Boy Friend)
Shadow Waltz (Tammy Grimes, Carole Cook, 42nd Street)
Swing! (Rosalind Russell, Wonderful Town)
I Am Aldolpho (Danny Burstein, The Drowsy Chaperone)
Show Tune (Charles Nelson Reilly, Dody Goodman, Ensemble, Parade)
The Next Time I Love (Fia Karin, Parade)
The Grass Is Always Greener (Karen Mason, Karen Ziemba, And The World
         Goes 'Round)
I Don't Remember You/Sometimes A Day Goes By (Jim Walton, Robert
         Cuccioli, And The World Goes 'Round)
In The End Of Time (Alex Brightman, School Of Rock)
Ring Of Keys (Sydney Lucas, Fun Home)
What'd I Miss (Daveed Diggs, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Okieriete Onandowan,
          Ensemble, Hamilton)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Shoulds, Strings, Ukeleles, and SUPERMAN!!!

It Shoulda Been You...
 from left, Chip Zien, Tyne Daly, Harriet Harris and Michael X. Martin.
Upper East Side meets Upper West Side,
so a mixed marriage indeed!
Not a long run but some fun songs,
by Barbara Anselmi and Brian Hargrove.

George Murphy and Shirley Temple (10 years old at the time)
in Little Miss Broadway...
cavorting to "We Should Be Together"...
Murphy didn't like the dance, and insisted it be reworked.
Shirley thought so, too (despite grumblings from Mom).
The dance proved popular,
and George and Shirley did an encore for the crew. 

Diahann Carroll in front of the marquis
for Richard Rodgers' No Strings,
in which she starred with Richard Kiley in 1962.
Socially progressive casting in its day,
and a Tony for Ms. Carroll!

Vaudeville and recording star, Cliff Edwards,
aka Ukelele Ike.
Cliff had a Number One hit with "Singin' In The Rain" in 1929,
and along with a respectable history appearing on the Vaudeville circuit,
he starred on Broadway opposite Fred and Adele Astaire in
Lady By Good (1924).  
Cliff also voiced the part of Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio...
he tried out for the part of Pinochio, but Walt D. wanted a real kid.
Dickie Jones got the nod.

Edward Everett Horton (always befuddled)
and Fred (if befuddled, always charming)
in Top Hat, from 1935...we'll hear No Strings (I'm Fancy Free!),
by Irving Berlin.

And a couple of goodies from
It's A Bird...It's A Plane...It's Superman.
The above are cut outs placed on the back of the 
playbill for the show.
So I guess if the thing got boring enough,
you could take out your nail scissors, chop away at intermission and
make your OWN show with these "life-like" figures!
Below, some of the stars:
Particia Marand, Jack Cassidy (villian-esque), 
Michael O'Sullivan, Bob Holiday (the S man himself),
Linda Lavin and Don Chastain.

Guess they figured out all that flying technology
with Peter Pan.

The Al Hirschfeld illustration for the Times...
Music, Charles Strouse (who just a few years later
would embark on another Sunday Comic musical: Annie)
Lyrics, Lee Adams.
Decent reviews, a Tony for Jack, but otherwise, it tanked.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Emma. I want to be Emma.

 Young Emma Thompson, on the lower right,
with her actress mom, Phyllida Law
and sister Sophie.
 Her father, Eric Thompson (actor and producer) died in 1982,
when Emma was 23.

 As a member of the Cambridge Footlights Club.
How'd you like THESE folks as acting buddies?
Top left, Robbie Coltrane (who would later play Harry Potter's Hagrid),
Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie,
and in the 2nd row, Siobhan Redmond, Ben Elton, and Emma,
who was the club's first female member.

 First film,
"The Tall Guy" with Jeff Goldblum in 1989.
Box office failure, with Rowan Atkinson...
but Emma's reviews were respectable.
 Emma's first husband, top, Kenneth Branagh 
(they appeared together in Much Ado About Nothing
and several other projects),
and with Hugh Grant in Sense and Sensibility,
where she met Greg Wise, who eventually became Husband No. 2.

 Above in the 1985 production of Me And My Girl,
with Robert Lindsay.
Her old pal, Stephen Fry, had revamped this 1937 musical
and it was an instant hit, both in the West End and on Broadway.
Emma starred as Sally in the London production
for 15 months,
but bowed out of the Broadway one, saying that if she had to do  the Lambeth Walk "one more time, I'd throw up."  :)

 In 2015, Emma joined Bryn Terfel in 
a semi-staged (by Lonny Price btw)
performance of Sweeney Todd,
which by the sound of it, was a chaotic, wonderful mess!

 Another recent appearance:
as Professor Trelawny in the Harry Potter series.
Emma said that she did the movie (in 2004)
to impress her daughter, Gaia.
“I have a nervous breakdown in the film and in one scene I get to stand at the top of the stairs waving an empty sherry bottle which is, of course, a typical scene from my daily life, so it wasn't much of a stretch.”

With her family,
Greg Wise, Tindyebwa and Gaia.

Only we have a lot more Emma to enjoy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Playlist for Sunday, June 26, 2016: On the Lawn and Looking Up

I'm writing this on the longest day of the year. I've decided that this is the summer I will sit out ON MY LAWN, with a book, and a glass of (fill in the blank with available beverage here), as often as possible. You see, I spent 35 years in NYC, and that was one of the things that bugged me about that town; you couldn't actually sit out on a summer evening. No lawn, no patio (rent stabilized flats rarely come with 'em), the park...yes, but it's not exactly the same when you have to walk a mile, or take a subway to a park. You want to be able to walk out the door, barefooted, travel 6 steps and be in grass. Clean grass, that maybe you yourself mowed. And just sit in a lawn chair and breathe the night air. In the quiet. Okay, maybe an errant dog barking. But like, in the distance.

But now that I've been here 5 years, I find myself ignoring those country summer evening possibilities. Too busy to go out and watch the stars come out. What's that all about? Come on. The things that this new country life has brought me are too many to count: Fresh air, quiet, friends, a radio show (!!!), the chance to change my life. Sitting outside is a way of remembering all that, and I'd better take advantage now. Before the metaphorical mosquitoes (and other life speed bumps) chomp.

And ironically, I've learned more about Broadway 450 miles AWAY from it than I did when I lived half a mile from it. From this "distance", I find perspective and some curiously fascinating circles. Case in point: This week I learned that Andy Blankenbuehler, who just won the Tony for Best Choreography (Hamilton) started out at the age of 27 in Fosse, a revue of THAT choreographer's, 20 years later, he's probably the hottest choreographer on Broadway. But he started as a Fosse "silhouette", slight of figure, goatee-d, slithering with a Carol Haney-esque partner, to "From This Moment On." Yes, that information was always there, waiting for me to find it, and appreciate it. Which you can only do when your mind is 6 barefooted steps from "grass."

I'm rambling. I'm nostalgic. It's summer and I'm on the lawn. Watching (and listening to) "stars."

P.S. Because of live coverage of the Jazz Fest, the playlist had to be curtailed, so the list below NOW shows the songs I actually got to play. I'll be adding those left out to next week's show. Thanks for your patience. :) 

Leaning On A Lamp Post (Robert Lindsay, Me And My Girl)
You've Got Possibilities (Linda Lavin, It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman)
It's Superman (Patricia Marand, Bob Holiday, Ensemble, It's A Bird...)
The Woman For the Man (Jack Cassidy, It's A Bird...)
You Should See Yourself (Gwen Verdon, Sweet Charity)
It Shoulda Been You (Chip Zien, Tyne Daly, Ensemble, It Shoulda Been You)
We Should Be Together (Shirley Temple, George Murphy, Little Miss
She Acts Like A Woman Should (Marilyn Monroe)
Loads Of Love (Diahann Caroll, No Strings)
No Strings (I'm Fancy Free!)(Fred Astaire, Top Hat)
I've Got No Strings (Dickie Jones, Pinocchio)
Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart (Judy Garland, Listen, Darling!)
Take It On The Chin (Emma Thompson, Me And My Girl)
You Would If You Could (Susannah Fellows, Robert Lindsay, Me And My Girl)
The Family Solicitor (Roy Macready, Frank Thornton, Ensemble, Me And My
Murder, He Says (Betty Hutton, Happy Go Lucky)
It's Only A Paper Moon (Cliff Edwards)
When I Take My Sugar To Tea (The Boswell Sisters)
Guilty (Al Bowly and His Orchestra)
Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry (Betty Hutton)
Big Spender (Ann Reinking, Ensemble, Fosse)
Rich Man's Frug (Instrumental, Sweet Charity)
Coffee, Black (Daniel H. Jenkins, John Cypher, Barbara Walsh, Ensemble, Big)
One Special Man (Crista Moore, Big)
Baby, Baby, Baby (Liz Calloway, Todd Graff, Ensemble, Baby)
I Want It All (Liz Calloway, Beth Fowler, Catherine Cox, Baby)
Bottom's Gonna Be On Top (Brian D'Arcy James, Christian Borle, John
        Cariani, Ensemble, Something Rotten!)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

From Siberia to Summer Stock

 When Mary Martin appeared in Cole Porter's 
Leave It To Me!,
she sang "My Heart Belongs To Daddy"
in a Siberian train station, attired in JUST a fur coat
(well, that's what we were expected to believe...),
but above it seems they've dropped the train
and added some nice underwear.
 Edith Piaf
wrote "La Vie En Rose" in 1945,
but she shelved it for a year when friends thought it
not quite as good as the rest of her repertoire.
About a year later, she got new friends!
Released in 1946, it became an international success.
 Marin Mazzie
(star of The King and I, Bullets Over Broadway, etc. etc. etc.!)
joined in on the cast recording of Misia,
with the music of Vernon Duke and the lyrics of Barry Singer.
She sang the role of Misia Sert,
muse/mentor of many an artist in fin de siecle Paris.
I think Marin could do the same now.

 So many wonderful shots of Lena,
it's hard to pick!
We'll hear "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess,
which Lena recorded in 1959
on an album with Harry Belafonte.

 Judy in Summer Stock, 1950,
performing "Get Happy" to the cameras.
A Ted Koehler, Harold Arlen tune...
initially used in a 1930 Broadway revue called The Nine Fifteen.
It had more composers than performances
(of which there were 7).
 The big success of the thing was this song,
put over by Ruth Etting.
George Gershwin called it,
“the most exciting finale I have ever heard in a theatre.”

Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, and Marilyn Monroe
getting "Lazy" in
There's No Business Like Show Business.
The film tanked with audiences and critics;
Donald O'Connor was "overacting", Marilyn was "overwiggling".
Well, Irving Berlin liked it! 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A couple of GOLDEN moments

Golden Boy was based on a Clifford Odet's play of the same name.
In the original version,
the main character (played by Sammy Davis, Jr.)
turns to prize fighting to earn money for his education.
He wants to be a doctor, 
helping blacks when hospitals are denying them access, 
and fights only soooo hard to protect his hands for surgery.
Ironically, he ends up killing a fighter in the ring...
 Well, most of that was scrapped.
Above, Sammy surrounded by Lee Adams and Charles Strouse
who wrote the score.
Sammy was difficult to work with evidently,
wanting his songs to sound more his nightclub solos...
they complied!
 Paula Wayne as Lorna...
went by Joe's manager to entice Joe to fight harder.
An interracial romance,
yet onstage Paula and Sammy never got closer than 4 feet.

 Backstage after a performance
with Frank and Natalie.

 Another Golden Moment:
Kaye Ballard, circa 1954, when 
The Golden Apple appeared on Broadway
(in an evanescent form...only 125 performances).
It was a "modern day" 
(well, post-war, and I mean the Spanish American War here...)
re-telling of both the Illiad and the Odyssey,
almost completely sung thru.
 The character of Paris (who steals away Helen, remember?)
was a traveling salesman who had no lines or songs whatsoever;
he expressed himself in dance.
And that dance was by Choreographer Hanya Holm,
who would have a slightly longer job contract with
My Fair Lady, just a few years later.
Music Jerome Moss, Lyrics John LaTouche.
Below: that post-war fashion, and is that one girl eating An APPLE??? 

Couldn't resist including this shot,
from the cast recording of Cinderella.
That's Kaye in the middle, with Alice Ghostley on the left
(they played the annoyingly wonderful step-sisters)
and of course Julie Andrews on the right.
R&H, 1957.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Playlist for June 19, 2016: Blame it on a summer night...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...we had the Tonys, we had death...tap and rap 24 hours after a horrific shooting. It makes no sense, neither the act nor the acting which followed too quickly.  Yes, you could say not canceling the Tonys flies in the face of acts like this, and celebrates our rights and our stance against terrorism. But the other side of that "medallion" is stopping the silliness and standing, in silence, remembering, honoring...but, well, the sponsors wouldn't like more than 60 seconds of  that now, would they?

I'd had this 2 On The Aisle show carved out well before the events of last weekend, so it isn't as timely as I'd celebrates summer and classic if nothing had happened. After a week, we move on, right? We put it on the back burner, and try to block it.  A stiff upper lip and forge ahead. But something has to be done, more than a slap ball change.

Night Song (Sammy Davis, Jr., Golden Boy)
Summer Nights (Barry Bostwick, Carole Demas, Grease)
Get Happy (Judy Garland, Summer Stock)
The Girls Of Summer (Suzanne Henry, Marry Me A Little)
Summertime (Lena Horne, Porgy And Bess)
Blame It On The Summer Night (Teresa Stratus, Rags)
Lazy Afternoon (Kaye Ballard, The Golden Apple)
Up A Lazy River (Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway)
Lazy (Marilyn Monroe, There's No Business Like Show Business)
The Sea Song (Shirley Booth, Ensemble, By The Beautiful Sea)
By The Beautiful Sea (The Society Syncopators, Some Like It Hot)
By The Sea (Angela Lansbury, Len Cariou, Sweeney Todd)
Mame (Charles Braswell, Ensemble, Mame)
If He Walked Into My Life (Angela Lansbury, Mame)
Gooch's Song (Jane Connell, Mame)
I'm On My Way (Rufus Smith, Ted Thurston, Ensemble, Paint Your Wagon)
How Can I Wait? (Nola Fairbanks, Paint Your Wagon)
Wandrin' Star (James Barton, Paint Your Wagon)
There's A Coach Comin' In (Company, Paint Your Wagon)
Starting Here, Starting Now (Loni Ackerman, Margery Cohen, George Lee
        Andrews, Starting Here, Starting Now)
Flair (George Lee Andrews, Starting Here, Starting Now)
One Step (Company, Starting Here, Starting Now)
Parlez-Moi D'Amour (Lucienne Boyer, The Moderns)
My Heart And I (Marin Mazzie, Misia)
La Valse Moderne (Instrumental, The Moderns)
La Vie En Rose (Edith Piaf)
My Heart Belongs To Daddy (Mary Martin, Leave It To Me!)
Not My Father's Son (Billy Porter, Stark Sands, Kinky Boots)
Butter Outta Cream (Aaron Tveit, Tom Wopat, Catch Me If You Can)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Playlist for June 12, 2016: Re-run!

Taking this coming Sunday off (or as The Pump Boys And Dinettes would put it..."I need a vacation, like nobody's business!") So on rewind is a show from November 2015, "I Love To Travel." No, I won't be traveling hither and yon, or' hill and dale, or to the Tonys in NYC, for that matter (tho we can post-mortem them the FOLLOWING Sunday when I'm back...something to look forward to!), I'll just be hammocking and metaphorically "lemonading" in my backyard.

So enjoy your week and know that more Broadway At Its Best will be back in flip flops and bermudas for the rest of the summer...soon! :)

I Love To Travel (Nathan Lane, Roger Bart, The Frogs)
Vacation (Debra Monk, Ensemble, Pump Boys And Dinettes)
Sail Away (James Hurst, Sail Away)
What Do We Do? We Fly! (Elizabeth Allen, Ensemble, Do I Hear A Waltz?)
Paris Loves Lovers (Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Silk Stockings)
Ah! Paris (Liliane Montevecchi, Follies)
Do You Want To See Paris? (Howard McGillin, Kim Criswell, Fifty Million
Sous Le Ciel De Paris (Yves Montand, Sous Le Ciel De Paris)
In Paris And In Love (Charles Goldner, Zizi Jeanmaire, The Girl In Pink Tights)
A Foggy Day (Fred Astaire, A Damsel In Distress)
The Worst Pies In London (Angela Lansbury, Sweeney Todd)
We Open In Venice (Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison, Lisa Kirk, Harold Lang,
         Kiss Me, Kate)
The Rain In Spain (Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Robert Coote, My
        Fair Lady)
Barcelona (Dean Jones, Susan Browning, Company)
Katie Went To Haiti (Mary Martin, Ray Sinatra, Mexican Hayride)
Cuban Pete (Desi Arnaz, Cuban Pete)
Useless Useful Phrases (Elaine Stritch, Sail Away)
Travelin' In Louisiana (Ensemble, Sugar Babies)
Kansas City (Gene Nelson, Oklahoma!)
Ohio (Rosalind Russell, Edith Adams, Wonderful Town)
No Holds Barred (Company, Pump Boys And Dinettes)
Only In New York (Sheryl Lee Ralph, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
Little Old New York (Eileen Rodgers, Ensemble, Fiorello!)
When You're Far Away From New York Town (Jack De Lon, Ensemble, Jennie)
There's A Boat That's Leaving Soon For New York (Lena Horne, Harry
        Belafonte, Porgy And Bess)
Why Do The Wrong People Travel? (Elaine Stritch, Sail Away)
Finland / Fisch Schlapping Song (Ensemble, Spamalot)
Welcome To Transylvania (Ensemble, Young Frankenstein)
Nitchevo (Jean-Pierre Aumont, Michael Kemoyan, Gene Varrone, Tovarich)
Go Home Train (Carol Burnett, Fade In Fade Out)
Go Back Home (Audra McDonald, The Scottsboro Boys)
Let's Go Home (Joanna Gleason, Nick & Nora)
I Will Go Sailing No More (Randy Newman, Toy Story)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Gene Nelson (Not Just Another Hoofer)

 Gene Nelson was born Leander Eugene Berg,
in Oregon, 1920...
but graduated high school in Santa Monica.
He studied dance, acrobatics and ice skating,
studying at the Sonja Henie Hollywood Ice Revue,
and landing an early job (he was 17!) with 
"It Happened On Ice" at the Broadway Center Theatre.
He was noticed "on ice" by a talent scout from
20th Century Fox, and his movie career began.

 Above and below with Doris Day in
Lullaby of Broadway, 1951.
Below is that "Somebody Loves Me" number.

 He partnered in a number of flicks with
Virginia Mayo...
above in "She's Back On Broadway."

 Possibly the role that most movie-goers of the day associate him with:
Will Parker in Oklahoma!
playing opposite Gloria Grahame as Ado Annie.
Above, "All Er Nuthin'"
and below in "Kansas City."

 Above in Crime Wave with Sterling Hayden.
Gene did several dramas,
including The Atomic Man, 20,000 Eyes, and The Way Out.
Later in life, he turned to television directing 
(including episodes of the original Star Trek and Gunsmoke),
as well as directing 2 Elvis Presley movies.

 One of a series of photos
of Gene acting out a story for his son:
"Jack And The Beanstock".
Below, dining with Jane Powell...
In 1971 (when he was 51), 
Gene starred in Stephen Sondheim's Follies,
along with Alexis Smith and Yvonne DeCarlo,
receiving a Tony Nomination for Featured Actor.
He passed away in 1996, at the age of 76.