Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Playlist For Sunday, December 4, 2016: All I Want For Christmas

Am I getting old?  Or do I just want to climb into a time machine and beam myself back to 1935, where ladies wore hats and gloves (and a clutch to match)? Do I want to live in a 1926 year old bubble and pretend nothing else past WWII matters? I mean, I do have a Noel Coward smoking jacket which I walk around in, a cigarette holder (no cigs) I toy with devastatingly, and if I play THIS music, I might be able to (like the hero of Time And Again) transport myself back to the time of Snazzy, Snappy, and Class Up To The Eye Teeth.

So that's it, folks. We're doing it on Sunday.  Dial the Timey Wimey Machine to the days of flappers and bread lines...but the musical kind, so no one leaves without the girl of their dreams or...bread.  If you don't like scratchy gramophone sounds, if you don't like no bananas or someone nagging you to wear your overcoat or blue skies (or blue rooms, for that matter!), forget it. Don't tune in. Go listen to Beyonce. (Did I spell that right?)

We'll have those "new" shows that adore "old" shows so much, they'll actually sink to stealing songs (Bullets Over Broadway)(42nd Street). I respect that.  Then some parody shows (Dames At Sea) (The Boyfriend)(The Drowsy Chaperone) with songs that sound like they're fresh off the 1928 press, but with a wink and a slap.  And then the real thing...Annette Hanshaw, Eddie Cantor, Helen Kane, Elsie Carlisle, singing the oldie moldies.

Makes me want to trade this laptop in for an Underwood (black) and a fountain pen (gold). That would go perfectly with my smoking jacket. Hmmm....Santa?? 

Tiger Rag (Helene Yorke, Ensemble, Bullets Over Broadway)
Choo-Choo Honeymoon (Sally Stark, Joseph R. Sicari, Dames At Sea)
Choo Choo Love (Jim Stanek, Porters, Kitty's Kisses)
Shuffle Off To Buffalo (Karen Prunczik, Joseph Bova, 42nd Street)
A Room In Bloomsbury (John Hewer, Julie Andrews, The Boy Friend)
The Blue Room (The Revelers, The Girl Friend)
There's A Small Hotel (Bobby Van, Kay Couter, On Your Toes)
Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You (Vincent Pastore, Helene York, Bullets Over
Let's Misbehave (Brooks Ashmanskas, Helene Yorke, Bullets Over Broadway)
Yes, We Have No Bananas (Company, Bullets Over Broadway)
Button Up Your Overcoat (Helen Kane, Follow Thru)
Mary's A Grand Old Name (James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy)
The Band Played On (Guy Lombardo And His Royal Canadians)
Show Off (Sutton Foster, The Drowsy Chaperone)
I Am Adolpho (Danny Burstein, The Drowsy Chaperone)
Toledo Surprise (Company, The Drowsy Chaperone)
Love Is Good For Anything That Ails You (Ida Sue McCune, Billy May)
What The Well Dressed Man In Harlem Will Wear (Corporal James Cross,
       This is The Army)
I Left My Heart At The Stage Door Canteen (Cpl.Earl Oxford & Co., This Is
       The Army)
How'd You Like To Spoon With Me? (Angela Lansbury, Till The Clouds Roll By)
Little Mary Sunshine (Eileen Brennan, Little Mary Sunshine)
Ah! Sweet Mystery Of Life/I'm Falling In Love With Someone (Marc Kudisch,
       Angela Christian, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
Colorado Love Call (Eileen Brennan, William Graham, Little Mary Sunshine)
Mandy (Eddie Cantor, Ethel Merman, George Murphy, Ann Sothern,
       Kid Millions)
Blue Skies (Al Jolson, The Jazz Singer)
Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries (Walt Harrah & Friends, George White's
       Scandals of 1931)
The Clouds Will Soon Roll By (Elsie Carlisle & The Ambrose Orchestra)
Lunching At The Automat (Judy Kaye, Jeffrey Denman, Face The Music)
You're The Cream In My Coffee (Annette Hanshaw, Hold Everything)
Let's Have Another Cup Of Coffee (Kevin Chamberlain, Judy Kuhn, Paula
        Newsome, Howard McGillian, Face The Music)
Getting Out Of Town (Carole Cook, Joseph Bova, 42nd Street)
I'm Young And Healthy (Lee Roy Reams, Wanda Richert, 42nd Street)
Finale (Jerry Orbach, Company, 42nd Street)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Seesawing, Hollywooding...and a Bear

 Seesaw leading lady, Michelle Lee,
although this Cy Coleman/Dorothy Fields show
 WAS to star Lainie Kazan, 
that is before Le Michael Bennett took over the helm.
MB called "rewrite" on the book and the score,
chucked Lainie, and crowned himself the new director/choreographer.
Below, a 70s styled Tommy Tune,
who also starred and assisted in the choreography. 

 When you want a rewrite,
your go-to guy in 1973 was Neil Simon,
above on the right,
with Cy Coleman at the keys.
Despite their best efforts at an overhaul and some decent reviews,
the show ran less than a year and never made back its investment.

 Couldn't resist one more heel-clicking shot 
of Tommy...all 6.5 feet of him.

 Tommy went on to direct and choreograph
A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine,
which came to Broadway in 1980.
It was a 2 act mash-up:
Act 1...An ode to Hollywood movies of the past,
Act 2...Chekov's The Bear, as done by the Marx Brothers.
"A musical grab bag," with songs by 
everybody on the planet, including Jerry Herman and Richard Whiting.

The cast included Priscilla Lopez (as Harpo), 
David Garrison, Peggy Hewitt, Kate Draper, Albert Stephenson, 
Stephen James and Frank Lazarus.
It lasted almost 2 years on Broadway,
with Priscilla and Tommy winning Tonys.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Betsy Does Vegas

 Honeymoon in Vegas, Broadway Style.
With Tony Danza as mobster kingpin, Tommy Korman,
Byrnn O'Malley as Betsy
and Rob McClure as Jack.
It opened on Broadway in January of 2015,
and despite some favorable reviews, vamoosed in April of the same year.
Music and Lyrics, Jason Robert Brown.

 Ben Brantley called the show, "bright and bouncy...
a real-live, old-fashioned, deeply satisfying Broadway musical 
in a way few new shows are anymore." 
And of Jason's score he said, 
"His songs seamlessly propel plot
 and define character in the way numbers did in the 
heyday of Rodgers and Hammerstein."

 While Tommy makes time with Betsy,
a desperate Jack tries to get back to Vegas
(with no help from the major airlines)
with a phalanx of Elvis impersonators
who are planning a parachute jump into the casinos.
(Yes, another critic called it "damn farcical".)

 A national tour, with Tony Danza, followed.
For all I know, they're still out there...

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Playlist for November 27, 2016: Pass the gorgonzola!

Have you had enough turkey? No, I'm not talking about the President Elect (hah!), I'm talking the Thanksgiving one...well, by Sunday (when you hear this playlist come to audio life), I'm sure you'll be stuffed to the eyes. So my musical "feast" may fall on deaf ears and plugged arteries, but listening to songs about food is totally fat free. In fact, if you dance "around the living room" (A Chorus Line line...right? Try to keep up!), you'll actually work off calories and it'll all even out. Yes, we have a couple of sets about Food Glorious Food, just before the toothpick and ice cube fast I foresee, which may have to last til the next major holiday.

Some new goodies litter the landscape as well: a side of ham from Honeymoon In Vegas (by Jason Robert Brown? He of the Mood Serieux? Writing about dancing-Danza mobsters and parachuting Presley impersonators?), and the new(est) revival, a bon-bon or two from She Loves Me. The sleazy 70s of Cy Coleman (Seesaw), the quirky Ukrainiacs of the 80s (A Day In Hollywood, A Night In The Ukraine). And in this corner, Merry Mary Martin battling it out with Lovely Leslie Odom, Jr., twin-spinning an R&H favorite ("Favorite Things"), like apple pie meets bananas foster (with FLAMES!).

Something for everyone. We are what we are/eat.

We Are What We Are (Gene Barry, Ensemble, La Cage Aux Folles)
Food, Glorious Food (Ensemble, Oliver)
Vanilla Ice Cream (Laura Benanti, She Loves Me)
It Couldn't Please Me More (A Pineapple) (Lotte Lenya, Jack Gilford,
Bread (Alun Armstrong, Company, The Baker's Wife)
Coffee Shop Nights (Daniel Hyde-Pierce, Jill Paice, Curtains)
That's The Way It Happens (Isabel Bigley, Bill Hayes, Me And Juliet)
Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm (Bonnie Scott, How To Succeed In
     Business Without Really Trying)
The Cake I Had (Mary Louise Wilson, Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens)
Let's Have Another Cup Of Coffee (Enric Madriguera And His Orchestra)
I Love Betsy (Rob McClure, Honeymoon In Vegas)
The Invitation/Forever Starts Tonight (Tony Danza, Rob McClure, Brynn
      O'Malley, Honeymoon In Vegas)
Come To An Arrangement (Tony Danza, Rob McClure, Honeymoon In Vegas)
Airport Song (Tracee Beazer, Gaelen Gilliland, George Merrick,
      Honeymoon In Vegas)
Welcome To Holiday Inn (Michele Lee, Seesaw)
Seesaw (Ensemble, Seesaw)
It's Not How You Start (Tommy Tune, Seesaw)
Good Morning, Good Day (Ensemble, She Loves Me)
Try Me (Nicholas Barasch, Byron Jennings, She Loves Me)
A Trip To The Library (Jane Krakowski, Michael McGrath, She Loves Me)
Twelve Days To Christmas (Ensemble, She Loves Me)
I Love A Film Cliche (Stephen James, A Day In Hollywood, A Night In The
Doin' The Production Code (Ensemble, A Day In Hollywood...Ukraine)
Natasha (David Garrison, Peggy Hewitt, Ensemble A Day in Hollywood
My Favorite Things (Mary Martin, The Sound Of Music)
My Favorite Things (Leslie Odom, Jr., Simply Christmas)
With You On My Arm (Gene Barry, George Hearn, La Cage Aux Folles)
The Best Of Times Is Now (George Hearn, Elizabeth Parrish, Company,
      La Cage Aux Folles)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

...and then there's Jason.

with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown,
and a book by Alfred Ulrhy,
opened on Broadway in 1998.
Despite good reviews, the public had other ideas...
only 39 performances.
Based on the murder trial of Leo Frank,
a Jewish factory manager of Atlanta, Georgia,
it won Tonys for book and score,
and several Drama Desk awards.
 Brent Carver as Leo 
and Carolee Carmello as his wife, Lucille. 

 Above a Princeton University production...
and below composer/lyricist Jason Robert Brown.

The "legend" goes that the story of Leo Frank's
trial and lynching
was introduced to Stephen Sondheim thru director Hal Prince,
but Stephen took a pass (Jason didn't!).
Post-Parade, Jason would go on to write
The Last Five Years and 13. 
Prior-Parade, Songs For A New World (an off-Broadway revue)
was the first New York production of his songs.
Jason has said that Sondheim's scores for Sweeney Todd
and Sunday In The Park With George 
were huge influences in his life,
and without them "I would have joined a rock band and tried to be
Billy Joel".

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Visual Hits: Go on, inhale!

 The 1985 concert version of Follies:
from the left, George Hearn, Lee Remick, Stephen Sondheim,
Barbara Cook, and Mandy Patinkin.
Additional cast members included Elaine Stritch, Carol Burnett,
Phyllis Newman, Adolph Green, Betty Comden,
Andre Gregory, Liz Calloway (Ann's sister)...
man, you can guess the ticket prices on that!
"The concept behind 'Follies' is theater nostalgia, representing the rose-colored glasses through which we face the fact of age."
 Below, Lee and Jim Walton.

 Two Sondheim "also rans":
The Frogs (above with Nathan Lane and Roger Bart)
that Sondheim wrote while a senior at Yale,
and Saturday Night
(below with David Campbell and Lauren Ward),
written back in the early 50s,
but left unproduced til 2000.

 Merrily We Roll Along
(which wasn't so merry...the biggest flop of SS's career):
Jim Walton, Anne Morrison, and Lonny Price, 
the three leads.
Only 16 performances. Nuff said.
Well, not really...some really gorgeous songs came out of it,
like "Not A Day Goes By" and "Good Thing Going."
Sondheim has said that this musical is the closest
to "autobiographical" of all his shows,
writers trying to make it in the world.  

 Even his rejects have legs.
Above Stephen with Suzanne Henry and Craig Lucas,
who starred in Marry Me A Little,
which featured the goodies left out of several Sondheim shows.
 Company's "Side By Side/What Would We Do Without You?"
The cast was another hummer:  
Dean Jones (who replaced Anthony Perkins, 
who in turn was replaced by Larry Kert shortly after the opening), 
Barbara Barrie, Elaine Stritch, Beth Howland
Donna McKechnie, Susan Browning, 
Pamela Myers, Charles Kimbrough, George Coe, Charles Braswell...
with staging by Michael Bennett. 
Six Tonys, including Best Musical of 1971.

 Three from the cast of Sondheim On Sondheim,
a 2010 revue of songs from nineteen Sondheim shows:
Barbara Cook, Tom Wopat, and Vanessa Williams.
Reviews were mixed, saying some of the songs
were ill-chosen
(well, they CHOSE to do some of the eccentric ones,
thank the gods of theatre! We don't just want the over-played, right??)
and they didn't like Tom at all.
I like Tom. Piss off.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Playlist for Sunday, November 20, 2016: Stuck on Stephen

 I need a hit.  Of Stephen Sondheim. You know, since "the world turned upside down" (Hamilton lyrics are super appropriate right now).  I need something neurotic, acerbic, and snarky to get me through. And it was like, what? Six months since 2 on the Aisle EVEN DID a Sondheim special?  SO I think I'm due. We're ALL due. Well, ALMOST all of us.

A few newbies, too...Found a great recording, Sondheim On Sondheim, with new "flavorings" sprinkled on old favorites. New takes on the goodies from his flops, the gems from his early creations (or maybe the NOT so gem-my), the perennials that keep delivering like your mother's hostas (whether you LIKE hostas or not).

In the middle, I'll un-stick myself from SS for a brief foray into Parade, a musical by Jason Robert Brown. This is a new show for me, and I was taken with several numbers...Sondheim-esque, some of them. Not to say Jason will be taking over Stephen's mantle/pedestal/god-like position in the musical theatre world soon, but he's inching/itching for that, for sure.

Hope you like listening. I'll be there in the studio, with my blanket, old dog-eared Playbills from "Sunday" and "The Frogs" and a chai latte, sucking up those melodies like the "substance" they are. Good thing Stephen's legal in this NYS of mine.

Company (Ensemble, Company)
God (Ensemble, Sondheim On Sondheim)
The Story Of Lucy And Jessie (Lee Remick, Follies)
The Glamorous Life (Audra McDonald, A Little Night Music)
It's That Kind Of A Neighborhood (Ensemble, Saturday Night)
So Many People (Lauren Ward, David Campbell, Saturday Night)
Ariadne (Nathan Lane, Roger Bart, The Frogs)
Hades (Peter Bartlett, Nathan Lane, The Frogs)
No One Is Alone (Ann Hampton Calloway, Blues In The Night)
Losing My Mind/Not A Day Goes By (Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams,
      Sondheim On Sondheim)
Finishing The Hat (Tom Wopat, Sondheim On Sondheim)
The Picture Show (Kirk McDonald, Christy Carlson Romano, Parade)
Frankie's Testimony/The Factory Girls (Kirk McDonald, Christy Carlson  
      Romano, Brooke Sunny Moriber, Brent Carver, Ensemble, Parade)
You Don't Know This Man (Carolee Carmello, Parade)
Uptown, Downtown (Craig Lucas, Marry Me A Little)
Pour Le Sport (Suzanne Henry, Craig Lucas, Marry Me A Little)
Happily Ever After (Craig Lucas, Marry Me A Little)
Sooner Or Later (Bernadette Peters, Live At Carnegie Hall)
Take Me To The World (Charmian Carr, Anthony Perkins, Evening Primrose)
Send In The Clowns (Barbara Cook, Sondheim On Sondheim)
Johanna (Victor Garber, Sweeney Todd)
Franklin Shepard, Inc. (Lonny Price, Merrily We Roll Along)
Now You Know (Leslie Kritzer, Erin Mackey, Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams,
       Sondheim On Sondheim)
Sorry - Grateful (Charles Braswell, Charles Kimbrough, George Coe,
Pretty Little Picture (Zero Mostel, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way
       To The Forum)
Poems (Isao Sato, Sab Shimono, Pacific Overtures)
Anyone Can Whistle (Lee Remick, Anyone Can Whistle)
Good Thing Going (Vanessa Williams, Sondheim On Sondheim)
Side By Side/What Would We Do Without You (Dean Jones, Ensemble,

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Best Girls, Certain Girls, Girls Who Climb On Rocks

 Frankie Michaels became the youngest actor
to win a Tony Award (back in 1966...he was 10 years old)
for his role as Patrick Dennis in Mame.
At the top, dancing with Angela,
and directly above with Jerry Herman, Angela and 
Jerry Lanning on the far right, who played Patrick all grown up.

 Frankie sang "My Best Girl" at a tribute to Angela 
in 2010, at the Pierre Hotel,
and also sang a lounge act at Turning Stone Casino, 
in Verona, NY, back in 2013.
He passed away in last March, at the age of 61 (gulp!).

 Sydney Chaplin (above with Judy Holliday and CAKE!)
celebrating the opening of Bells Are Ringing.
Syd won a Tony for his role in that 
Jule Styne/Betty Comden/Adolph Green show.

 I wonder how growing up as the son of Charlie Chaplin was!
The above photo might give us a clue:
Celebrating Charlie's 77th birthday is
Charlie (with the knife), Sophia Lauren, Tippi Hedren, and Syd.
This might have been around the time they were filming
A Countess From Hong Kong.
Charlie wrote and directed it, Sophia, Tippi, Syd and Marlon Brando starred.

 Above, commemorating a stamp to his dad...
Syd was named after his uncle,
who was also an actor,
who became Charlie's business manager,
who Syd's mother hated,
so she never called Syd SYD! 
She called him Tommy. 
Go figure.

 What a trio!
Michael Rupert (Broadway Debut), Robert Goulet, and David Wayne...
3 generations of French Canadians
in Kander and Ebb's The Happy Time. 
Below, David and Robert recording the cast album.
If David Merrick had his way,
the score was to be written by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields,
and would have starred Yves Montand.
 Above David Wayne's slightly younger self,
trying to make time with "Amanda"
in the Hepburn/Tracey flick, Adam's Rib.
And below, with Marilyn...
How To Marry A Millionaire.
("You look better with 'em on!")

Saturday, November 12, 2016

George Gaynes: Character Actor/Baritone/Star at 67

 George Gaynes (born George Jongejans
in Helsinki, Finland)
grew up in France, Switzerland, and England.
He began his career as a opera singer,
performing in Italy and Spain.
When WWII broke out, he enlisted in the Royal Dutch  Navy,
and they put him to work as a translator (well, all those languages!).
Flash NYC! 

 After the war, he joined the New York City Opera,
but felt his acting talents weren't being used there.
Wonderful Town (1953)
with Roz Russell and Edie Adams (above) fixed that.
George is second from the right, next to Cris Alexander.

 Television, films, and lots of stage work,
but he wasn't a household face til
Punky Brewster hit the small screen...
George played Henry Warnimont to Soleil Moon Frye's Punky
for 4 seasons back in the 1980s.
 “The two things an actor dreads most are children and dogs,” 
he told The Times in 1984. 
“I have both in this series.”

And then of course there was Tootsie (1982).
George played soap start John Van Horn,
and got to make passionate love to Dustin Hoffman.
Rehearsal musta been a riot.

 The "Police Academy" movies followed,
(7 altogether),
 another brush with stardom,
although George seemed to take his new fame lightly.
  "My wife is happy, because we can travel more, 
and she can get a new couch cover. 
But knowing the vagaries of the entertainment business, 
I can’t take it too seriously.”

Always a bridesmaid, perhaps,
but a great character actor.
1917 - 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Ladies...and Cake.

 Tammy Grimes as The Unsinkable Molly Brown, 1960,
a role that gained her a Tony as Best Actress in a Musical.
Below, Tammy with Harve Presnell, as J.J. Brown.
When they made the movie, 4 years later,
Harve reprised his role, but Tammy lost out to Debbie Reynolds.

Spoiler Alert:
Yes, Molly and J.J. make it BIG;
they rise to the social scene in Denver and Europe.
No more pissant-dom for Molly! 

 And above, the real Molly: Margaret "Maggie" Brown, 
the stuff of Broadway heroines...
who rose from poverty to panache, thanks to 
a Leadville, Colorado silver mine.
She and her husband, J.J. Brown, became "new" money,
with Maggie a Denver socialite and do gooder.
She worked in France during WWI, 
and returned to the U.S. via the Titanic,
where she helped passengers until the bitter end.
She exhorted her life boat navigators to return to save survivers.
That sealed her fame...she died in 1932, 
made famous by a musical, a movie, and her legacy of philanthropy.

 The wonderful Barbara Harris (above with co-star Alan Alda
and below...with co-star "dress!")
in The Apple Tree,
a Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick show from 1966.
Barbara won a Best Actress Tony for her triple role.
We'll hear "Gorgeous" from Act III, "Passionella".

 Little Me, 1962, with music by Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields
(above, an original Playbill, 
showing Sid Caesar's multiple characters).
We'll hear "Real Live Girl".

 The "wedding cake" scene from MGM's The Great Ziegfeld, 1936,
which in today's "money" would have cost almost $4,000,000
(and that's just 1 set!).
And below, the real Ziegfeld Girls this song was composed to spotlight
by Irving Berlin, back in 1919.
(Those headdresses in The it!)