Friday, March 31, 2017

Louisa, Oscar, Mad Women, and Judy, Judy, Judy

 Nanette Fabray as "Louisa," 
with Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon,
the movie version, done in 1953,
which had the music of Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz.
Of course we ALL know that first it was indeed
 a Broadway musical, done in 1931,
 starring Fred and his sis, Adele, and Frank Morgan.
That show had "Louisa" and "Dancing In The Dark",
but several songs were later concocted especially for the movie
including..."That's Entertainment".
"By Myself" and "Triplets" 
were originally part of  a show called "Between The Devil"
done in 1937.

 Nanette and Oscar (almost) at the piano,
and below with Jack Buchanan (in blue) and Fred,
with "That's Entertainment".
Jack was 63 at the time...and Fred, 54.

 More piano-ed Oscar, here with Gene Kelly
in An American In Paris:
"Tra La La!"
Why do I find Oscar so attractive? 

 A bit of Spring (the noxious version)
from Jerry Herman's Dear World,
a musical based on The Mad Woman Of Chaillot,
starring Angela Lansbury as said "Mad Woman."
Our flop of the day?
Tune in to find out!

 Judy Holliday and Sydney Chaplin
in the original staged version of Bells Are Ringing...
we'll hear "Just In Time" on Sunday...
what do you think of the set (below)?
Compared to the "bells" and whistles of today's
Broadway, it ain't much to write home about.
But those painted back drops did show a certain charm
(and A LOT of talent)!

The "Just In Time" number
from the movie,
with Dean Martin and Judy...with a similar bridge!
This is just before she tore her dress to shreds
for that "Drop That Name" number.
I always felt bad for the dress.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, April 2, 2017: You're Never Fully Dressed Without Muck Boots

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm walking toward it. I must believe in Spring, but if that light turns out to be a neon no vacancy sign for The Bates Motel (and I have a suspicion it WILL), I am finding the largest comforter in the world and diving back under it. Spring, Spring, Spring wrote Johnny Mercer. Well, who would have pegged him for Mr. Sunshine?

But the grass looks a little greener, I'll give you that. I was out, picking up the 17,000 sticks dropped by my half-dead maples (thank you, Windstorm), and I noticed a clump of sod scrapped up by my snow plow "staff", picked it up to right it, and was immediately stung by some sort of THIS IS MY SOD, TOUCH IT NOT insect. Really? It's March and you're territorial? I guess it's within its buggy rights, as it has lasted (or was birthed) during March Hell '17, and deserves its little clump of muck. But man, a bug bite in Lent? If I believed in(stead of Spring) omens, this harbinger wouldn't harbor well! What's next? Ahhh, yes...a rain of locusts. (Do smart-ish phones have a forecast icon for that? No effing doubt.)

But shaking the blues (and bugs) away, I see clearly that (Tra La!) these 40-watt light bulb skies will soon bring April Showers and daffodils, and this Naughty Baby will Grow Up, Get a Bran' New Suit, Slap That Bass, and Sing!  So Long, Farewell...see you on Sunday, in SPRING!

P.S. Still in that Pledge Drive, folks! Give a little, give a lot....

That's Entertainment (Fred Astaire, Jack Buchanan, Nanette Fabray,
      Oscar Levant, The Bandwagon)
On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (John Cullum, On A Clear Day You Can
      See Forever)
Just In Time (Sydney Chaplin, Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing)
There Is Nothin' Like A Dame (Ensemble, South Pacific)
Prologue (Company, Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812)
Another Life (Kelli O'Hara, The Bridges Of Madison County)
Wondering (Steven Pasquale, The Bridges Of Madison County)
April Showers (Al Jolson, The Jolson Story)
Little April Shower (Ensemble, Bambi)
The Spring Of Next Year (Ensemble, Dear World)
Spring, Spring, Spring (Ensemble, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers)
Younger Than Springtime (William Taggert, South Pacific)
You Must Believe In Spring (Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Callaway,
      Sibling Revelry)
Tra La La (Oscar Levant, Gene Kelly, An American In Paris)
I Got Rhythm (Max Von Essen, Brandon Uranowitz, Robert Fairchild,
      An American In Paris)
Naughty Baby (Jodi Benson, Harry Groener, Crazy For You)
Slap That Bass (Harry Groener, Crazy For You)
I Can Do That (Wayne Cilento, A Chorus Line)
Sing! (Renee Baughman, Don Percassi, A Chorus Line)
At The Ballet (Kelly Bishop, Nancy Lane, Kay Cole, A Chorus Line)
I Love Louisa (Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray, Oscar Levant, The Bandwagon)
By Myself (Fred Astaire, The Bandwagon)
Triplets (Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabray, Jack Buchanan, The Bandwagon)
Got A Bran' New Suit (Nanette Fabray, Fred Astaire, The Bandwagon)
Food, Glorious Food (Ensemble, Oliver!)
You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile (Ensemble, Annie)
I Won't Grow Up (Mary Martin, Lost Boys, Peter Pan)
When I Grow Up (Adrianna Bertola, Lauren Ward, Ensemble, Matilda)
Gary, Indiana (Eddie Hodges, The Music Man)
So Long, Farewell (Ensemble, The Sound Of Music)
Kids (Paul Lynde, Bye Bye Birdie)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fund Raisers All!

 Arnold Soboloff,
 played Daddy Johann Sebastian Brubeck
in the original Broadway production of
Sweet Charity,
and got to lead his parishioners in "Rhythm Of Life".
Below, at right with Angela Lansbury in Anyone Can Whistle,
 in which he played Treasurer Cooley.

 Here he is with Dom Deluise in Fatso.
He also appeared in High Anxiety, Silent Movie, 
and The Cat From Outer Space,
 and he did plenty of television, as well,
like Barney Miller, Welcome Back Kotter, Kojak, and Car 54.
Arnold died at the age of 48, 
like most actors would hope to...during a performance...
of Peter Pan (he was playing Smee) 
on Broadway in 1979 
(yup, the Sandy Duncan revival).

 John Lithgow as JJ Hunsecker,
with Bryan d'Arcy James as Sidney Falco,
in The Sweet Smell Of Success.
We'll hear one of JJ's "nicer" songs.
Below the movie versions they had to live up to:
Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster.

 We fall off the Broadway wagon with
Ella Mae Morse and
"40 Cups Of Coffee" (my new favorite coffee song)
which is totally worth a non-Broadway nod.
Ella Mae hailed from Texas, and was singing with 
Jimmy Dorsey's band by the age of 14.
She later joined up with Freddie Slack (below)
and had her first big recordings:
"Cow Cow Boogie", "Mr. Five By Five",
and "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet".

 She went solo in 1943,
and had a major hit with "Blacksmith Blues".
Ella Mae's been called the first rock n' roll singer;
her style combined jazz, blues, and a touch of country.

 Don't look now, but this member of the Hazzard clan
has turned jazz singer...and taken turns on Broadway.
We'll hear "Pinstripes" from 
Catch Me If You Can,
in which Tom Wopat originated the role of Frank Abagnale, Sr.
Below with "son" Aaron Tveit
with a dumb hair band. 
(Sorry, it just is!)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sunday Blockbusters!

 Only blockbusters for a Pledge Drive, right?
Marissa Jaret Winokur says 
"Good Morning Baltimore"...

 Gotta do Fosse's Rich Man's Frug
from Sweet Charity.
It's a pledge drive perennial. 
I only wish this was "enhanced" radio,
so I could show you the fantastic Fosse choreography.

 I don't always play Wicked,
but when I's Popular.
Kristin Chenowith and Idina Menzel (in green).
 Nathan Lane and Burke Moses
in The Frogs,
the musical adaptation of Aristophanes' knee slapper of 404BC.
We'll hear "Dress Big".
Whatever Burke wants, I'm in.
 Frank Loesser's How To Succeed...
"The Brotherhood of Man"
with the effervescent Robert Morse, 
bubbling over with more Bob Fosse choreography,
and on the right...Sammy Smith, who played Wally Womper.
The original (if fuzzy) production of Dolly...
the set (and ensemble) for
"Put On Your Sunday Clothes".

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Playlist For Sunday, March 26, 2017: Let's Make Some Moola

 So even though I still see snow out there (brown, disgusting, rock-like) mixed with old grass and mud and leftover pieces of my roof (long story. Yeah, it sort of blew off.), it seems to be "Spring!" Why is everyone so ga-ga about this season? I find it the ugliest. Until it really takes hold, it's one big tease. 50 degrees one day, 25 the next. The clock's been changed so you have until do what? Shiver, for the most part. Wear your winter coat over your Easter dress (when I was 8, okay?), snow boots over your patent leathers (well...yes, I still do that), hide eggs in snow drifts and pretend you like peeps. Curse the lion. Long for the lamb.

And another harbinger (read: Temptress, Tease, Temporal Salivator) is the Jazz 90.1 Spring Pledge Drive. This one I have to get behind. Because without Jazz 90.1, jazz music dries up like an old fig in this ROC.  And 2 On The Aisle, too...I mean, 2.  Zippo, nada, defunct. So we really need your help.

I've brought back the Broadway Blender for this show, filled it with smash hits and oft-requested goodies, just to put everyone in a mirthy, moola-ed mood. Be a Big Spender, folks, and keep the jazz juice flowing. Temper that March blast, let a warm waft breeze in and melt your heart. Into giving. :)

Big Spender (Ann Reinking, Ensemble, Fosse)
Good Morning Baltimore (Marissa Jaret Winokur, Hairspray)
Popular (Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Wicked)
The Pinstripes Are All That They See (Tom Wopat, Aaron Tveit, Catch Me If
      You Can)
Dress Big (Nathan Lane, Burke Moses, The Frogs)
Put On Your Sunday Clothes (Carol Channing, Charles Nelson Reilly,
      Ensemble, Hello, Dolly!)
Your Feet's Too Big (Ken Page, Ain't Misbehavin')
Ooh! My Feet! (Susan Johnson, The Most Happy Fella)
Feet Do Your Stuff (Robert Hooker, Leslie Uggams, Hallelujah, Baby!)
Rich Man's Frug (Instrumental, Sweet Charity)
Adelaide's Lament (Vivian Blaine, Guys And Dolls)
Don't Look Now (John Lithgow, The Sweet Smell Of Success)
The Rhythm Of Life (Arnold Soboloff, Sweet Charity)
Gee, Officer Krupke (Eddie Roll, Grover Dale, Martin Charnin, West Side
Steam Heat (Megan Lawrence, Ensemble, The Pajama Game)
When You're An Addams (Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuwirth, Ensemble,
      The Addams Family)
Springtime For Hitler (Ensemble, The Producers)
If You Knew My Story (Carmen Cusack, Bright Star)
What's Inside/Opening Up (Jessie Mueller, Waitress)
Wait For It (Leslie Odom Jr., Company, Hamilton)
40 Cups Of Coffee (Ella Mae Morse)
Coffee, Black (Daniel H. Jenkins, Jon Cypher, Barbara Walsh, Ensemble, Big)
Coffee Break (Charles Nelson Reilly, How To Succeed In Business Without
      Really Trying)
Brotherhood Of Man (Robert Morse, How To Succeed In Business Without
      Really Trying)
Prisoners Of Love (Nathan Lane, Ensemble, The Producers)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

...and we'll toast with these "cocktails"!

 David Carradine, Jack Gilford,
David Burns and Zero Mostel
in the original Forum...
 low comedy and farce,
hardly any dances, no costume changes,
Sondheim's first solo show (music and lyrics both!),
and (after they changed the opening number)
a success!

 Lonny Price, Ann Morrison, and Jim Walton
(then and now)
who recently reunited to do a documentary 
on the production of Merrily We Roll Along.
Sondheim's song were called "crushingly beautiful",
the show "a shambles".

 The original Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney...
Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou.
There once was a sweater:
Director Hal Prince, et. al. deemed Mrs. L's costume too CLEAN
for her bug-ridden bakery life,
so the costumier (late of SNL)
dumped a plate of spaghetti on it.
Angela wasn't happy, and after the previews, 
cleaner "dirt" was found.

 Mako, the Reciter,
in Pacific Overtures...
and below, the recording session for the cast album,
with Alvin Ing and Ricardo Tobia singing "There Is No Other Way."

Mandy Patinkin as George Seurat
and Bernadette Peters as Dot
performing "We Do Not Belong Together."
Sunday In The Park With George
scooped a Pulitzer, 
but when it came to Tony night,
Jerry Herman's La Cage scored.

Elaine (no pants) Stritch
enjoying herself in her one-woman show,
Elaine Stritch At Liberty,
which was littered with Sondheim nuggets.
(The lady had taste.)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Huzzah for Birthday 87!

 Born in 1930, in NYC,
Stephen Joshua Sondheim's
first experience with musical theatre
happened at the age of 9,
when he was taken to see a show called Very Warm For May.
 "The curtain went up and revealed a piano. 
A butler took a duster and brushed it up, tinkling the keys. 
I thought that was thrilling."

With Leonard Bernstein,
after the opening of West Side Story.
(I think Stephen wants that suit!)
 With Richard Rodgers in 1965,
working on Do I Hear A Waltz?
Rodgers was evidently difficult to work with,
hiding vodka bottles in the piano,
and dismissing Sondheim's lyrics. 
Sondheim felt obligated to do the project;
Oscar Hammerstein, his friend and mentor, had hoped
he would succeed him as Rodger's partner.

At the top, a rather posed rehearsal pic
with book writer George Furth,
Dean Jones, Elaine Stritch, Hal Prince, Barbara Barrie,
and choreographer Michael Bennett.
Above, the recording session with
Pamela Myers, readying for her rendition of 
"Another Hundred People".
The show set a record for Tony nominations: 14.
It would win 6, including Best Book, Best Score, Best Direction, 
and Best Musical.

In London,
after the opening of the "Lansbury Edition"
of Gypsy, 1973.
Originally, Elaine Stritch was set to star,
but they couldn't raise enough capital with her name,
but Angela's fame brought in the dough!
From left, Jule Styne, composer,
Angela, Arthur Laurents, book-meister,
and Stephen.

 Opening night of Sweeney, 1979,
with Len Cariou and Angela (again)!
 8 Tony wins for this one...

 Working on Sunday in the Park
with Mandy and Bernadette, 1984.
 A Pulitzer, but no Best Musical Tony...
Jerry Herman's La Cage Aux Folles scooped it.

With Harold Prince,
director/producer of 6 Sondheim's creations,
and winner of 21Tonys
(more than any other person!).
The two parted ways after Merrily We Roll Along,
til 2003 (with Bounce).

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, March 19, 2017: Tall Enough To Be Your Mother

This Sunday we get to wallow in Sondheim. It's his 87th birthday this Wednesday, so 'tis the perfect excuse to wallow, and I aim to take full advantage, lemme tell ya. I've invited all the usual suspects to the "party": Elaine and her Stritchy siren, Zero (whose wife actually had to threaten him with bodily harm to get him to do Forum), Angela, Len, Dean, Hermoine, Alexis, Barbara (with a C), Bernadette...the list of Sondheim signature singers (and songs) is de-lightful and de-long. We'll raise our glasses of figurative bubbly, bleat our metaphorical makers of noise, and toast (not toast, but...) this wry musical genius who brought us songs to cry with over our cabernet. Yes, I've played it all before. Yes, I absolutely will again. But maybe each time, the wallowing may bring more insight. And more sophistication. Which I could use, big time.

So while the winter winds continue (March comes in like a lion, sticks around like a lion, overstays it's welcome like a lion...?), let's pretend we're in that Sondheim Turtle Bay townhouse, listening perhaps to the first time he played "Not A Day Goes By" and melt into the divan.

Cheers, Stephen.   

Broadway Baby (Elaine Stritch, Follies)
God, That's Good! (Ken Jennings, Angela Lansbury, Len Cariou, Sweeney    
Finale (The Ballad Of Sweeney Todd)(Company, Sweeney Todd)
The Advantages Of Floating In The Middle Of The Sea (Mako, Company,
      Pacific Overtures)
There Is No Other Way (Yoko Fumoto, Pacific Overtures)
Free (Zero Mostel, Brian Davies, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To
      The Forum)
Impossible (David Burns, Brian Davies, A Funny Thing Happened On The            Way To The Forum)
You Must Meet My Wife (Len Cariou, Glynis Johns, A Little Night Music)
Liaisons (Hermoine Gingold, A Little Night Music)
Sunday In The Park With George (Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters,
      Ensemble, Sunday In The Park With George)
We Do Not Belong Together (Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin, Sunday In
      The Park With George)
We're Gonna Be Alright (David Kernan, Millicent Martin, Do I Hear A Waltz?)
The Story Of Lucy And Jessie (Alexis Smith, Follies)
I Remember That (Clark Thorell, Andrea Burns, Saturday Night)
In Buddy's Eyes (Barbara Cook, Follies)
Poor Baby (Elaine Stritch, Barbara Barrie, Terri Ralston, Merle Louise, Beth
      Howland, Company)
Another Hundred People (Pamela Myers, Company)
Overture (Instrumental, Merrily We Roll Along)
Now You Know (Ann Morrison, Jim Walton, Lonny Price, Merrily We Roll
On The Steps Of The Palace (Kim Crosby, Into The Woods)
Agony (Robert Westenberg, Chuck Wagner, Into The Woods)
Anyone Can Whistle (Tom Wopat, Barbara Cook, Vanessa Williams, Leslie
      Kritzer, Norm Lewis, Erin Mackey, Anyone Can Whistle)
Not A Day Goes By (Bernadette Peters, Merrily We Roll Along)
Losing My Mind (Barbara Cook, Follies)
The Ladies Who Lunch (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty)
Side By Side/What Would We Do Without You (Dean Jones, Ensemble,

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Rene System

 Rene Auberjonois, born in 1940,
grew up in France, England, and the US,
with painters, writers and nobleman in his family tree
(seems crowded, right?).
During his teen years, 
his family lived in an artist community in Rockland County,
where he rubbed elbows (and flexed acting biceps)
with John Houseman, Helen Hayes and Burgess Meredith.
How could he NOT have become an actor?
Above, Rene as Buddy Fiddler in City Of Angels,
with Randy Graff.
We'll hear "The Buddy System"...
the role brought him a Tony back in 1989.

Initial forays on Broadway
included Coco, with Katherine Hepburn.
The year was 1970,
the hair was long and flowing,
and despite of the fact that Coco flopped in under 2 months,
30-year-old Rene got his first Tony from it.

 1970 was also the year Rene appeared in M*A*S*H,
as Father John Patrick "Dago Red" Mulcahy.

With Faye Dunaway in
The Eyes of Laura Mars, 1978.
 Other "Rene" movies...
McCabe & Mrs. Miller, King Kong, Inspector Gadget,
Batman Forever and more! 

 Guesting on
The Jeffersons (1975-85).
Other TV series that Rene guested on included
The Rockford Files, Hart To Hart, The Outer Limits,
Night Gallery, Frasier, L.A. Law, Grey's Anatomy
and Madam Secretary
(plus 17,000 more)... Benson,
in which Rene played Clayton Endicott III, on right!

 One of the biggest series of Rene's career
was Deep Space Nine
and a long lasting Star Trek connection.
Above, Rene as Odo.

 In Boston Legal, above on left,
with Candice Bergen and a bunch of suits...
in grey of course is William Shatner
(nice Star Trek connection)!

Rene has also done extensive voice acting:
Chef Louis in The Little Mermaid,
several video game characters, and book narrations.
He was GOING to do the recent revival of She Loves Me
on Broadway, but bowed out. 
He would have been super. :)
Rene now lives in California.