Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Broadway Birthdays...Got a lot of celebratin' to do!

 Born August 3, 1918,
in Lawrence, Mass as...Louis Bernstein,
whose parents at first discouraged his musical aspirations.
Classically trained in piano, conducting, and composition
(Harvard, The Curtis Institute, Tanglewood),
Leonard did it all.

 And one of his first musical accomplishments
was with The Revuers (a Greenwich Village act)
which consisted of Betty Comden, Adolph Green and Judy Holliday.
This led to the creation of On the Town
(above, the trio with Jerome Robbins, in black tie)
and Wonderful Town.

 West Side Story and Candide followed,
but of course Leonard's "other brain"brought him back to 
a classical career with the New York Philharmonic,
composing operas and other large works, and lecturing.
He was hailed as "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history."
He died at the age of 72, in 1990. 

 Richard Adler (in the vest) was born in New York City
on August 3, 1921, to musical parents
(his father was a concert pianist and teacher of the likes of Aaron Copland).
He teamed up with Jerry Ross to write songs in the early 1950s
in the Brill Building, and 
their first success was "Rags To Riches" 
recorded by Tony Bennett in 1953.
Frank Loesser became their mentor. 

 The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees followed in rapid succession,
both shows winning Best Musical and Best Composer/Lyricist Tonys.
But Jerry passed away at the age of 29
(having written more than 200 songs)
and Adler (above, and at the keys with Ross below)
was devastated.
He wrote little for Broadway after that,
but lived to the age of 90.

 Carolyn Leigh (with pearls) and Cy Coleman.
Together they wrote
Little Me, Wildcat, and pop standards a'plenty.
Born Aug. 21, 1926...died of a heart attack at 57.
Cy called her a poet with a great feeling for the music.

 With Elmer Bernstein, who Carolyn partnered with 
for How Now, Dow Jones, which had a 6 month run in 1967-68.
It starred Brenda Vaccaro and Tony Roberts.
One song survived: "Step To The Rear".
It became Hubert Humphrey's campaign song,
and a Lincoln Mercury ad.
I'm rejecting it in favor of a outtake of
"Rich Is Better".
(Elmer and Leonard Bernstein were not related:
Elmer was called "Bernstein West" noting his Hollywood film connections,
and Leonard "Bernstein East".)

 Working with Moose Charlap (real name, Mark)
on Peter Pan, her Broadway debut in 1954.
Jerome Robbins came up with the idea;
he initially wanted just a few songs, but then it blew up into
a full musical.
Jule Styne, Comden, and Green were brought on to "help".
Carolyn looks like she just got the news.
(Interesting side note: Moose, who died at age 45,
had one son, Jazz pianist Bill Charlap.)

 Lee Adams (standing at left)
was born in Mansfield, Ohio, on Aug.14th, 1924.
He met Charles Strouse (seated at the piano)
and together made Bye Bye Birdie sing!

 Above the creative team for Birdie: Gower Champion, Choreography,
Charles, Music, Ed Padula, Producer, Michael Stewart, Book,
and Lee on lyrics. 
Best Musical of 1961.
The team of Strouse and Lee went on to create
All American, Applause, It's A Bird...It's A Plane...It's Superman,
and Golden Boy (below with Sammy Davis, Jr.).

Lee (on the right) turns 91 years old this Sunday.
Charles (left) is 88.

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