Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, February 5, 2017: Not Tonight, Darling

As I sat down to write this blog, I wondered what tack to take, what perspective to bring to this chosen list of possibly disparate Broadway tunes? Were they linked deliberately (does Kim actually follow some deep, sometimes subconscious, profound thought process whereby Gwen Verdon morphs subtly but inevitably into Sutton Foster?) or were these songs tossed willy-nilly into an un-ordered order, smacking of a cavalier/slap-and-dash/shoddy/dare we say unprofessional nonchalance? Well, if you think I'm going to answer that question, you gots another thing comin', bub.

But anyway. What we have here is, for the most part, Valentine's Day Overflow. I was shuffling...I mean, carefully adding songs to the up and coming VD show, and I was met by an overabundance of love songs. Broadway's like that; it would seem that every 3rd song in a musical is about love (how you want it, can't get it, louse it up, lose it, never want to experience it again). So what to do with the extra 17,000 songs?!?  Shove 'em in...I mean, carefully place them in this week's show! Voila!  A chance to "get in the mood" a week or so early. Plenty of time to get over a figurative "headache."

What the world needs now....Love, Sweet Love. :)

Ah! Sweet Mystery Of Life/Falling In Love With Someone (Marc Kudisch,
     Angela Christian, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
I Love You Like A Table (Christopher Fitzgerald, Kimiko Glenn, Waitress)
Love Is Good For Anything That Ails You (Ida Sue McCune, Billy May, The
     Hit Parade)
Loads Of Love (Diahann Carroll, No Strings)
I'd Rather Be Blue Over You (Fanny Brice, My Man)
Roll Your Socks Up (Ensemble, New Girl In Town)
Yer My Friend, Ain't Cha? (Thelma Ritter, Cameron Prud'homme,
     New Girl In Town)
Flings (Lulu Bates, Thelma Ritter, Mara Landy, New Girl In Town)
You're Awful (Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, On The Town)
When Love Arrives (Steven Pacey, Diana Morrison, Judy Blazer, George
     Irving, By Jeeves)
Outside Of That, I Love You (Judy Blazer, George Irving, Louisiana Purchase)
Heart And Soul (Jason Graae, Ensemble, Forever Plaid)
Valse Milieu (Clive Revill, Irma La Douce)
The Wreck Of A Mec (Keith Michell, Irma La Douce)
Grand Imperial Cirque De Paris (Pierre Olaf, Ensemble, Carnival)
Humming (Kaye Ballard, Henry Lascoe, Carnival)
Come Raise Your Cup (Ensemble, Ernest In Love)
It's So Simple (Fritz Weaver, Peter Sallis, Ensemble, Baker Street)
You Can't Make Love (Christina Gillespie, Alan Shayne, Ernest In Love)
Muffin Song (John Irving, Louis Edmonds, Ernest In Love)
Leave It To Us, Guv (Fritz Weaver, Ensemble, Baker Street)
Why Does The Whole World Damn World Adore Me? (Nathan Lane, Sherry!)
I'm Fascinating (Ray Bolger, All-American)
C'est Moi (Robert Goulet, Camelot)
Champagne (Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights)
Born In Puerto Rico (Paul Simon, The Cape Man)
Finale (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ensemble, In The Heights)
Listen To Your Heart (Sutton Foster, Young Frankenstein)
My Heart Belongs To Daddy (Mary Martin, Leave It To Me)
Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart (Judy Garland, Listen, Darling)
Heart (Peggy Lee, Latin A La Lee)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart  (Carl Switzer, Darla Jean Hood, Our Gang)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Yup, Old-Guy Composer/Lyricists...but thank the theatre gods for 'em!

 Jerome Kern, born Jan. 27, 1885,
on Sutton Place
(when it was the brewery district, not the high-rent 'hood 
it is now),
started his career as a rehearsal pianist and
on Tin Pan Alley, plugging other people's songs.
His own songs found their way into The Earl and The Girl,
The Beauty of Bath, and silent films.
Between 1915 and 1920, 
he wrote 16 musicals.
Projects with P.G. Wodehouse, Guy Bolton,and later
Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein.

Later in life,
at his doctor's insistence,
he moved to Hollywood to write movie scores...
as if that was less stressful than Broadway?
Below with Oscar,
with whom Jerome had his longest-lasting writing partnership
(unusual for Jerome, supposedly).
He died in 1945, having written (or contributed to)
over 60 musicals, and over 700 songs.

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart,
joined forces when they met at Columbia University;
their first song, "Any Old Place With You", was added to the
musical comedy, A Lonely Romeo.
1918 brought their break-thru show: The Garrick Gaieties.
Their partnership lasted for 20 years, 
having produced 26 musicals and scores for several films.
Hart passed away in 1943, at the age of 48.
Below, Richard with his "new" partner,
Oscar Hammerstein,
riding high after South Pacif...or The King and I...
or ...(insert R&H Smash here!

John Kander & Fred Ebb
(John at the keys)
were introduced by music publisher, Tommy Valando, in 1962,
and on the strength of their songs for Golden Gate
(never produced!)
they were hired to write the score for 
Flora The Red Menace.
Okay, so it was a flop (87 performances)
but it led to Cabaret, and a life-long connection with Liza.
The Happy Time, The Rink, Chicago, Curtains and more...
Fred passed away in 2004,
John will turn 90 in March of this year.
 David Shire and Richard Maltby, Jr. (in stripes!)
have written 2 Broadway musicals together (Big and Baby)
and 2 revues (Starting Here, Starting Now, and Closer Than Ever).
Separately, David has written for movies and television
(The Taking Of Pelham 123, Norma Rae, Alice
Shining Time Station, etc.), 
conducted symphonic orchestras, and
is a Buffalo native!
Richard has turned to directing and producing
(Ain't Misbehavin', Miss Saigon, Fosse, Ring Of Fire),
and is King of the Crossword.

 Leslie Bricusse,
lyricist, composer, and writer,
has a birthday on Sunday (1/29), when he'll turn 86 years old.
Above with Henry Mancini,
(with Cher and Placido?) 
receiving their Oscars for the score of Victor/Victoria.

 And Leslie with Anthony Newley,
with whom he created Stop The World,
and The Roar Of the Greasepaint, and
Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.
Leslie (working alone or with partners) has created
almost 2 dozen scores for shows and movies,
including "Talk To The Animals" from Doctor Doolittle,
for which he received an Academy Award for Best Song.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Classic Corner...before I get quirky!

Mary Martin, Richard Rodgers, and Ezio Pinza...
no doubt waiting for Oscar to show up
so they make that lunch reservation at Sardis.
South Pacific opened in 1949
 and ran for almost 2,000 performances.

 Ezio was a Metropolitan Opera star at the time,
but when he heard they were casting 
for an "Emile de Becque,"
he changed sides.
His contract for the show limited his singing to only
15 minutes per performance.
Hmmmm...better cut that last chorus!

 Julie Andrews was such a hit in 
My Fair Lady,
Rodgers and Hammerstein were ecstatic she'd agreed to be part
of a new CBS musical project.
They decided on Cinderella...
Above, "My Own Little Corner."

 A lousy (FUZZY) shot of Howard DaSilva as Jud
and Alfred Drake as Curly
in Oklahoma!:
"Pore Jud Is Daid"
Below, a much better pic of a slightly maniacal Howard
and Joan Roberts as Laurey.
None of the cast was a star prior to the opening,
which is what Richard and Oscar were going for.
Mike Todd, after seeing a preview in New Haven,
had the definitive quote:
"No legs, no jokes, no chance",
although I think that version's cleaner than the original.
 Theodore Bikel,
a talented folk singer, actor and activist from Russia 
who would go on to star in Fiddler,
etc., etc., ETC!,
as the original Baron Von Trapp
(with an admiring Marion Marlowe as Elsa Schraeder)
in The Sound Of Music.
I have no doubt he played the guitar when he
sang "Edelweiss" in the production.

 Above, the original On Your Toes,
which Richard wrote with the OTHER "H"...
Lorenz Hart, back in 1936,
originally starring Ray Bolger (above with Doris Carson).
Below, two pics from the 1954 revival,
with Bobby Van, and Elaine Stritch.

 Bobby and Kay Coulter
and "There's a Small Hotel"....
The same Bobby who danced in the movie version
of Kiss Me, Kate,
as one of those Tom, Dick or Harry's
(with Tommy Rall and Bob Fosse).

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, January 29, 2017: Double Park, I'll Just Be A Second.

With the country's new lunatic/leader in place, I sort of need to borrow that Newley/Bricusse show title: Stop The World, I Want To Get Off. I wonder which one thought that up? Or maybe it was one of their wives, or Aunt Sadie...or somebody who was just delivering coffees and buns to a rehearsal, and overheard them batting around possible ideas. Maybe that guy is the one we need to thank.

Of course, I'm not playing that show. It just works, that title. Right now. No, I'm playing Leslie Bricusse, 'cuz it's his 85th birthday. He's probably well ensconced in a little Cotswold cottage by now, adding a chapter to his memoirs and knocking back Darjeeling with Mrs. Nesbitt. Good on you, Les. You gave us Willie Wonka and Doctor Doolittle and Hook-ed us with your words.

We'll also say "Good On You" to Jerome Kern, born just 132 years ago (?), but his melodies still float my catamaran (don't know about yours!)...and have fun with a few classic composer corners: R&H, another R&H, K&E, and just H. (Oh come on, do I have to spell 'em out?) I also JUST THE OTHER DAY discovered Closer Than Ever, a revue of Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire tunes. It was produced in 1989. Maybe I was busy birthing Broadway Babies at the time, but this one slipped by me til...oh, last Thursday, when I cracked open that CD and "discovered it" (like a lost Scottish town that appears only...oops, wrong show). Anyway, I then realized I had actually met David Shire and his wife Didi Conn (remember Shining Time Station???) at a Seder Many Moons Ago (in a far off land...oops, wrong show), and had totally forgotten it. The drugs of the 70s (and 80s and...) have far reaching consequences. Don't do drugs, kids. Just do Broadway.

Doors (Sally Mayes, Richard Muenz, Lynne Wintersteller, Brent Barrett,
      Closer Than Ever) 
Some Enchanted Evening (Ezio Pinza, South Pacific)
In My Own Little Corner (Julie Andrews, Cinderella)
Pore Jud Is Dead (Alfred Drake, Howard DaSilva, Oklahoma)
Edelweiss (Theodore Bikel, The Sound Of Music)
On Your Toes (Bobby Van, Kay Coulter, Joshua Shelley, On Your Toes)
There's A Small Hotel (Bobby Van, Kay Coulter, On Your Toes)
You Took Advantage Of Me (Elaine Stritch, On Your Toes)
Not Today (Debbie Gravitte, Liz Callaway, Kevin Reed, Brownstone)
Crossword Puzzle (Lonnie Ackerman, Starting Here, Starting Now)
Colored Lights (Karen Mason, And The World Goes 'Round)
A Million Windows And I (Ann Hampton Callaway, Shoe String Revue)
Make Believe (Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson, Show Boat)
Bill (Annette Warren, Show Boat)
You Were Never Lovelier (Fred Astaire, You Were Never Lovelier)
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (Tamara Drasin, Roberta)
A Fine Romance (Marilyn Monroe, Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend)
Three Friends (Sally Mayes, Lynn Wintersteller, Brent Barrett,
      Closer Than Ever)
There (Sally Mayes, Richard Muenz, Closer Than Ever)
Patterns (Lynn Wintersteller, Closer Than Ever)
Who Can I Turn To (Anthony Newley, The Roar Of The Grease Paint, The
      Smell Of The Crowd)
Gay Paree (Robert Preston, Victor/Victoria)
Pure Imagination (Barbra Streisand, Seth McFarlane, Willie Wonka And
      The Chocolate Factory)
When You're Alone (Caroline Goodall, Hook)
Elegance (Charles Nelson Reilly, Jerry Dodge, Eileen Brennan,
      Sondra Lee, Hello, Dolly!)
Look What's Happened To Mabel (Bernadette Peters, Mack & Mabel)
Too Charming (Robert Preston, Ulla Sallert, Ben Franklin In Paris)
My Best Girl (Frankie Michaels, Angela Lansbury, Mame)
La Cage Aux Folles (George Hearn, Elizabeth Parrish, The Cagelles,
      La Cage Aux Folles)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Dolores and Madeline...Wowsers

 Dolores Grey,
born Sylvia Dolores Finkelstein in 1924,
was "discovered" by Rudy Vallee, 
who found her a spot on his radio show.
An MGM contract followed, where she did 
It's Always Fair Weather
and Kismet (below).

 Love this shot from "the wings" of The Opposite Sex...1956:
June Allyson, Joan Collins, Dolores, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller,
Joan Blondell, Agnes Morehead, and Barbara Jo Allen.

 Dolores also did Broadway...
Above with Andy Griffith in Destry Rides Again.
A revue with Bert Lahr called Two On The Aisle
Follies, 42nd Street, and 
Carnival At Flanders for which Dolores won a Tony.

 With Gregory Peck in Designing Women, 1957.

 Pink poodles, pink hair...and a pink-ish car!

 Madeline Kahn,
born Madeline Gail Wolfson in 1942,
was born in Boston, raised in New York City,
and began her performing career singing opera arias.
A role in the chorus of a Kiss Me Kate revival, and
Leonard Sillman's New Faces of 1968
followed soon after her graduation from Hofstra University.
Above, Madeline with George Coe and Dean Dittman
in On The Twentieth Century, singing "Never".
Below, other career highlights!

 High Anxiety with Mel Brooks

 Blazing Saddles

 Neil Simon's Cheap Detective, 1978,
with Louise Fletcher, Stockard Channing, Eileen Brennan, Ann-Margret, Marsha Mason, Peter Falk, and MORE! 

 With Ed Asner in a revival of Born Yesterday...1989

 Clue, in which Madeline played Mrs. White,
with Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull, Michael McKean,Tim Curry, 
Christopher Lloyd, and Eileen Brennan. 

 Young Frankenstein...1974
couldn't resist this photo with 
Madeline, Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, Teri Garr,
Kenneth Mars and Marty Feldman.

 Madeline passed away in 1999,
at the age of 57.
Way too early...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Iconic Icons. Does that work?

Dick Gautier,
of Culver City, CA,
was working at The Blue Angel in New York,
doing his comedy/singing act
when Destiny sat down in the front row.
Dick didn't want to audition for the role of Conrad Birdie,
which he found intimidating.
He wasn't fond of rock and roll OR Elvis.
Needless to say (so why am I saying it?),
he eventually accepted the part.
Brooks Atkinson called his portrayal in Bye Bye Birdie
 “a good, unsubtle cartoon of hideous reality."

Above, Dick with Paul Lynde (Mr. MacAfee)
and Michael J. Pollard, Jr. (Hugo).
Dick would go on to do several television appearances,
a few movies (like Divorce American Style),
voice overs, and cartooning.

The original set for "The Telephone Hour"
opening, designed by Robert Randolph.
Below, the creators:
Lee Adams (lyrics), Charles Strouse (music)
Goddard Lieberson (musical recording engineer)
and Elliot Lawrence (assistant).

Robert Alda and Isabel Bigley
as Sky Masterson and Sister Sarah
in the original Guys And Dolls.
Both won Tonys for their portrayals...
althought composer Frank Loesser had his problems with Isabel.
At one point, he slapped her!
Flowers and myriad phone calls later,
she agreed to continue with the show.

Vivian Blaine as Adelaide.
Originally Viv was cast as Sister Sarah.
When that didn't fit, Frank L. wrote her a tailored-made part.
Above with The Hot Box Girls...and "Take Back Your Mink."

Stubby Kaye got to "own" the part of Nicely-Nicely Johnson,
with 2 show stoppers:
"Fugue For Tin Horns" and "Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat"
He and Viv were the only ones to repeat their roles in the movie version.

Frank Loesser,
composer/lyricist of Guys And Dolls.
Despite his volatility (or perhaps because of it),
Frank's music was called,
"so right for the show and so completely lacking in banality, 
that it amounts to an artistic triumph."

After Jo Swerling took a shot at adapting 
Damon Runyon's short stories into a script, 
it was Abe Burrows' turn.
Abe was a script doctor, director and radio performer
of the early 1940s.
He helped the mugs of Guys and Dolls stay loyal to Runyon's style.
Great Abe quote:
"The libretto is not the most important part of the musical show…
but it is."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, January 22, 2017:While do I feel like Madonna when I say "Like An Icon"?

Well, the Heat Wave Fantasy of last week didn't have much effect. Although NOW the weather is toying with me. Here, take that...too warm? How 'bout some rain? (Raining In My Heart? Rain On The Roof? The Rain In Spain?) Black ice? (Ok, I got nothing there.) No worries, plenty in my bag of tricks. So maybe I should shut up already and quit tempting fate.

So it's back to Classics. Iconic stuff. You know, back 3,000 years ago, when dinosaurs walked the earth and I was tutoring SAT Verbal sections to Brooklyn public schoolers, NO ONE KNEW what an icon was. I had to tell 'em to think about the inside of St. Patrick's and all those statues with the cute little candles. Well, now EVERYBODY knows icons, just not the prayerful kinds. (Just click on the icon, Mom! Really?) But Iconic...having the traits of an icon? That might still slay those Park Slope sophomores.

Dick Gautier, the first Conrad Birdie, passed away last week, so we'll haul out Bye Bye (to say Bye Bye). Conway Twitty was (in those days) an Elvis Presley rival...hence the name. Well, Dick at first refused to audition for the part. He preferred Sinatra and Como standards (which he was singing in his nightclub act at the time). Didn't know any Elvis tunes to audition with. Still, he had that hair. So eventually he came around...talk about playing an icon! And then he got down off the icon...shelf...and went on to do some questionable 70s TV, and then became a pretty decent caricaturist. Iconic no longer. Go figure.

So icons. Vivian, Stubby, Madeline, Dolores. Carol, Chita, Betty and Adolph. We could pray to those icons. The icons of Broadway. Click!

Overture (Instrumental, Bye Bye Birdie)
The Telephone Hour (Ensemble, Bye Bye Birdie)
Spanish Rose (Chita Rivera, Bye Bye Birdie)
A Lot Of Livin' To Do (Dick Gautier, Bye Bye Birdie)
The Oldest Established (Sam Levene, Johnny Silver, Stubby Kaye, 
      Guys And Dolls)
Take Back Your Mink (Vivian Blaine, The Hot Box Girls, Guys And Dolls)
If I Were A Bell (Isabel Bigley, Guys And Dolls)
Sit Down, You're Rockin' The Boat (Stubby Kaye, Guys And Dolls)
Raining In My Heart (Bernadette Peters, Dames At Sea)
Rain On The Roof (Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Follies)
Little Drops Of Rain (Judy Garland, Gay Purree)
Soon It's Gonna Rain (Rita Gardner, Kenneth Nelson, The Fantasticks)
The Rain In Spain (Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison, Robert Coote, My Fair Lady)
Now You Know (Leslie Kritzer, Vanessa Williams, Erin Mackay, Barbara Cook,
      Merrily We Roll Along)
Every Day A Little Death (Patricia Elliot, Victoria Mallory, A Little Night
Barcelona (Dean Jones, Susan Browning, Company)
Buddy's Blues (Mandy Patinkin, Follies)
The Column (John Lithgow, The Sweet Smell Of Success)
One Track Mind (Bryan d'Arcy James, The Sweet Smell Of Success)
Everything's Great (Kevin Tobey, Paula Wayne, Golden Boy)
While The City Sleeps (Billy Daniels, Golden Boy)
If You Hadn't, But You Did (Dolores Gray, Two On The Aisle)
Wherever He Ain't (Bernadette Peters, Mack & Mabel)
Never (Madeline Kahn, George Coe, Dean Dittman, On The Twentieth 
After You've Gone (Leland Palmer, All That Jazz)
Still Hurting (Sherie Rene Scott, The Last Five Years)
Happily Ever After (Carol Burnett, Once Upon A Mattress)
Dahlia Whitney/A Perfectly Lovely Surprise (Murder For Two)
He Did It (Karen Ziemba, Ensemble, Curtains)
Long As I'm Here With You (Sheryl Lee Ralph, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
They Don't Know (Harriet Sansom Harris, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
Not For The Life Of Me/Thoroughly Modern Millie (Sutton Foster, Thoroughly
      Modern Millie)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

More Bringers of HEAT!

Tomorrow (1/15/16)
Danny Kaye and The Andrews Sisters
(getting their daily quota of CocaCola, below)
help us satisfy our "thirst" for 
hot (if tropical) weather:
"Civilization" from Angels In The Wings.
A song written especially for La Stritch back in 1948
by Bob Hilliard and Carl Sigman. 

 And then there's Shirley Booth
in an Arthur Schwartz/Dorothy Fields show,
By The Beautiful Sea, 1954.
Below, Shirley and Wilbur Evans
in a Coney Island Tunnel Of Love.

 Two gorgeous dames,
Lena Horne and Betty Hutton...
They'll offer plenty of Sun and Summer,

 Leland Palmer
appeared as Fastrada in the original production of
In 1979, she took the "Gwen Verdon" role
in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz.
She retired from stage work after that,
and now lives in California.
We'll hear "Spread A Little Sunshine".

Audra McDonald was 29 years old
when she was cast in the title role of
Marie Christine
with music by Michael John LaChiusa.
Audra later recorded one of these songs on a solo album,
"Way Back To Paradise".
Ben Brantley of the New York Times said,
 "When Audra McDonald sings her first notes as the Medea-like heroine,
  there is clearly sorcery at work."
Below with co-star Anthony Crivello,
in "Dance With Me".

 And then of course, there's 
Tony Danza,
as Tommy, head of the Vegas mob in
Honeymoon in Vegas.
We'll "experience" "Out Of The Sun"...
a song by Jason Robert Brown.