Saturday, April 29, 2017

Promises, Polecats and Pee!

 Promises, Promises
was based on The Apartment, written by Neil Simon.
It took inspiration (and hard work) 8 years,
but it finally opened as a Broadway musical,
thanks to Burt Bacharach, Hal David, and Michael Bennett.
Above, Jerry Orbach with a very popular apartment,
and several business types vying for its key.
 A. Larry Haynes, Dick O'Neill, Vince O'Brien, and Paul Reed

 Jill O'Hara as Fran Kubelick.
Jill starred in the original production of Hair,
just one year before this.
Below, some of the ensemble players,
a few of home we would see in Bennett's A Chorus Line
just a few years later:
Kelly Bishop, Ken Howard, Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie,
Frank Pietri, and Marian Mercer.

 Jerry was so popular in the 60s
he got a Blackglama ad. 
What becomes a legend most? :)

 Our movie corner:
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers,
a 1954 release, that narrowly missed Best Picture
(On The Water Front scarfed the award that year!).
Above "Goin' Courtin'...
all but one of the 6 brothers 
(we'll leave Howard Keel out of the equation)
were professional dancers and/or gymnasts.
Jeff Richards (who played Benjamin) was a baseball player,
who looked great, but couldn't dance a lick. 
Below, "Lonesome Polecat".

Yes, Jane, it's time for the beards and the long underware
to come off!

After a successful Off-Broadway "run",
it opened in September of 2001, just days after 9/11.
 Despite fears of non-attendance,
audiences came, and it ran for 3 years.

 Jennifer Laura Thompson as Hope Cladwell
and Hunter Foster as Bobby Strong

 Officer Lockstock and Little Sally
(aka Jeff McCarthy and Spencer Kayden)

Friday, April 28, 2017

On The (Wonderful) Town!

 On The Town,
based on the ballet "Fancy Free",
opened in 1944.
Leonard Bernstein, Adolph Green and Betty Comden
were the musical perpetrators, 
helped by Jerome Robbins who choreographed,
and was one of the original dancers in "Fancy Free".
The cast of On The Town above:
Top left, Betty Comden, John Battles, Cris Alexander,
Adolph Green, Sono Osato, and Nancy Walker. 
Below, the cast recording...oh, to be a fly on THAT wall. 

 Betty Comden and Adolph Green
were part of The Revuers,
which included (at top left):
Judy Tuvim (later Judy Holiday),
Adolph, Betty, John Frank, and at center Alvin Hammer.
The Revuers had a radio show on NBC Radio prior to On The Town,
and performed in Greenwich Villages bars.
Lenny would often accompany them on piano!
 Adolph Green, Cris Alexander, and John Battles...
only 24 hours, guys! 
Better get moving!

 A promotional playbill from the Boston previews...
direction by George Abbott, 
only the MOST sought after Broadway director
of the day!

 Love the above letter from the dancers,
pre- Air Conditioning!
 As Ivy Smith, "Miss Turnstiles",
Sono Osato starred.
She was American, with Japanese ancestry,
and a ballerina with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
Her Broadway debut was with One Touch Of Venus,
in a secondary role.
One year later...she was Ivy.
She is presently 97 and going strong!
The cast was multi-racial,
with African Americans "holding hands" in the dance sequences.
This defied racial practices of the day.
Go George Abbot. Go Lenny. Go everybody!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, April 30, 2017: But Officer, It's Broaday!

"Take it easy out there, m'am. And turn your radio down."

I've gotten 2 speeding tickets in my life. And 2 warnings. Of those 4 dealings with the law, 3 of them I have to blame on Broadway.  I'm flying along, singing to Jules or Jerry or Lenny or Steve (Steve?? Really, you're THAT close?), at volume 11, and here come those flashing bubble tops, just as sure as Herman always does 7 more choruses then he needs to, as sure as Howard Keel looks (looked?) good in buckskin, as sure as John Adams never "sits down". You get caught up, is all. And the pedal goes DOWN.

The other time I was just cocky. Damn small towns and their speed traps.

So watch it out there on the roads, Broadway mavens, is all I'll say. Keep the volume to a respectable...10. Maybe listen to a musical you don't LOVE, so you won't be so enticed to pedal it to the metal. Which is difficult for me, because the more I listen to even the bagels, the flops, the stinkeroos, the more I appreciate them, understand "where they're coming from", and fall in love with them. And then I'm on to another chorus and another 10mph over the limit.

Meanwhile, drive to this: On The Town, Urinetown. Promises, Promises. Audra (always), Christine (not enough). John Adams, Amalia, 7 hunky brothers, waitresses, taxi drivers, polecats, and peas. Worth a ticket??? :)

New York, New York (Cris Alexander, Adolph Green, John Battles,
      On The Town)
Sit Down, John (William Daniels, Company, 1776)
Molasses To Rum (Clifford David, 1776)
Cool, Cool, Considerate Men (Paul Hecht, Ensemble, 1776)
The House We Live In (Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens)
Will You? (Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens)
Peas In A Pod (Erin Davie, Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens)
My Own Morning (Leslie Uggams, Hallelujah, Baby!)
Go Back Home (Audra McDonald, The Scottsboro Boys)
The Sweetest Sounds/I Can See It (Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway,
      Sibling Revelry)
Try Me (Nicholas Barasch, Byron Jennings, She Loves Me)
Will He Like Me? (Laura Benanti, She Loves Me)
A Trip To The Library (Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me)
Too Much Exposition (Jeff McCarthy, Spencer Kayden, Urinetown)
Cop Song (Jeff McCarthy, Daniel Marcus, Urinetown)
Run, Freedom, Run! (Hunter Foster, Urinetown)
Bless Your Beautiful Hide (Howard Keel, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers)
Lonesome Polecat (Tommy Rall, Russ Tamblyn, Ensemble, Seven Brides
      For Seven Brothers)
Goin' Co'tin ( Jane Powell, Brothers!, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers)
Everything's Great (Kenneth Tobey, Paula Wayne, Golden Boy)
Everything (Paul Hecht, Robby Benson, Leila Martin, The Rothschilds)
Everything I Know (Mandy Gonzalez, In The Heights)
Everything Changes (Jessie Mueller, Waitress)
Overture (Instrumental, Promises, Promises)
Promises, Promises (Jerry Orbach, Promises, Promises)
Knowing When To Leave (Jill O'Hara, Promises, Promises)
Come Up To My Place (Nancy Walker, Cris Alexander, On The Town)
Some Other Time (Betty Comden, Nancy Walker, Ensemble, On The Town)
Nightclub Sequence/You Got Me (Company, On The Town)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

We Good, We Better, We BEST!

One of our Betters!
"Life Could Not Better Be", from The Court Jester,
starring Danny Kaye...
above with wife Sylvia Fine 
(who along with Sammy Kahn wrote the songs for the movie)
and below with costar Basil Rathbone.
The rest of the cast wasn't too shabby either:
Mildred Natwick, Angela Lansbury, Glynnis Johns and Cecil Parker.

A "good"-ie from The Producers:
"Never Say Good Luck On Opening Night"
Nathan Lane and Mathew Broderick!

Bob Holiday (mid-transformation)
from Clark to The Man of Steel!
 It's A Bird...It's A Plane...It's Superman
had the music of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams,
and also starred Linda Lavin and Jack Cassidy. 
Four months and it was goodbye, Clark!
We'll hear "Doing Good".

Peter Palmer and Stubby Kaye
in Lil Abner...
which had lyrics by Johnny Mercer, and the music of Gene de Paul
(the same team that brought us the tunes
in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers).
The original production hit Broadway in 1956,
and won Tonys for Edie Adams (below, at the cast recording)
and Michael Kidd, the choreographer.
The movie (above) kept several Broadway actors in their roles,
with the exception of Edie, who was replaced by Stella Stevens.
We'll hear "The Country's In The Very Best Of Hands".

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pippin, Pippin: We Really Do Know Ye

 Pippin, old and new...
Stephen Schwartz wrote the original draft 
(when it was called Pippin, Pippin) 
with Ron Strauss,
while attending Carnegie Mellon back in the late 1960s.
However, SS has stated that "not one single note" of that original show
made it into the final version that landed on Broadway in 1972.

 Ben Vereen as the Leading Player in
Bob Fosse's interpretation,
and below, Patina Miller in the same role some 40 years later.
Both Vereen and Miller won Tonys
for their portrayals;
they are the first pair of actors of different sexes to
receive a Tony for the same role.

 Above center is Irene Ryan, the original Berthe,
who died just a few months into the run, at the age of 70,
was given a posthumous Tony.
Below, Andrea Martin, who played the part at 66,
with sexier clothes and swinging on a trapeze,
won one, too, but she was alive to receive it!

 Above, Pippin the 1st...John Rubenstein,
and below, Pippin the 2nd...
Mathew James Thomas.

From Bob Fosse's "surreal and disturbing" version
(so said Clive Barnes, the NYTimes)
to the revival's circus-ful reincarnation,
brought to us by director Diane Paulus.
Stephen Schwartz says he thought Diane "did it better",
but then again Fosse had Stephen tossed out of his rehearsals,
back in the 70s, 
so Stephen WOULD say something like that.
(BTW: Fosse was the first to bring Broadway commercials to television.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, April 23, 2017: To Theme Or Not To Theme...

Broadway's got the Goods!  And the Betters...and a few Bests. Line 'em up, like Rockettes, and they (fingers crossed) make a show, hopefully just before that domino-effect collapse at the Christmas Extravaganz ("I canna change the laws a physics, Cap'n!"). From Good Mornings to Good Nights and everything in...between. From Better With A Man to The Best Man...from Doing Good, to Being Good, to You Be Good Or Eubie Blake, they jazz together like gravy on poutine. Yeah, another cheesy theme (how 'bout a cheese theme, Kim?), to carry us through April Shenanigans.

We'll also be auditioning that Pippin reincarnation of 2013 (call me Old School, but I loved the original Schwartz/Fosse jazz-handed original so much, I feel like a KGB defector even listening to the revival). But personal opinions aside, this "new" Pippin is decent, albeit Bob-less, but circus-full. Andrea Martin literally swings with a lusty, mustachioed, trapezed hunk, for her upside-down "No Time At All" number; I'm sure Irene Ryan (the original "Granny") didn't have to. But Energy. But Dance. But Good Stuff.

So tune in for The Good, The Better, and The Best on Sunday (and frankly, if I could find songs with Ugly in the title, I'd do The Good, The Bad, and The...., in a minute!!!). Fun and Games, with your wacky Broadway "Radio Gal".

Just pass the gravy, will ya?

Magic To Do (Patina Miller, Company, Pippin)
Good Morning (Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Singin' In
      The Rain)
It's Good To Be Alive (Gwen Verdon, New Girl In Town)
You Never Say Good Luck On Opening Night (Mathew Broderick,
      Ensemble, The Producers)
It's Good To Be Back Home (Carol Burnett, Fade Out Fade In)
On The Good Ship Lollipop (Shirley Temple, Bright Eyes)
Fie On Goodness (Ensemble, Camelot)
Doing Good (Bob Holiday, It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman)
Being Good (Leslie Uggams, Hallelujah, Baby!)
Be Good Or Be Gone (Cass Morgan, Pump Boys And Dinettes)
Good Thing Going (Vanessa Williams, Merrily We Roll Along)
Something Good (Elaine Stritch, The Sound Of Music)
Goodnight My Someone (Barbara Cook, The Music Man)
Too Good To Be Bad (Bernadette Peters, Carol Woods, The Goodbye Girl)
Life Could Not Better Be (Danny Kaye, The Court Jester)
You Better Love Me (Tammy Grimes, High Spirits)
Is There Anything Better Than Dancing? (Barry Bostwick, Joanna Gleason,
      Nick & Nora)
Corner Of The Sky (Mathew James Thomas, Pippin)
On The Right Track (Patina Miller, Mathew James Thomas, Pippin)
No Time At All (Andrea Martin, Pippin)
Rich Is Better/Just For The Moment (Marilyn Mason, How Now, Dow Jones)
Better With A Man (Jefferson Mayes, Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman's Guide
      To Love And Murder)
Isn't This Better?(Karen Mason, Brenda Pressley, Bob Cuccioli, And
      The World Goes 'Round)
Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend (Carol Channing, Gentlemen Prefer
My Best Girl (Frankie Michaels, Angela Lansbury, Mame)
The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing (Danny Kaye, White
The Best Man (Debra Monk, Pump Boys And Dinettes)
The Country's In The Very Best Of Hands (Peter Palmer, Stubby Kaye,
      L'il Abner)
The Best Of Times (George Hearn, Company, La Cage Aux Folles)
Goodnight, My Love (Shirley Temple, Stowaway)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Baseball, Brooklyn, Brown, and Broads

A mini Ode To Baseball...
and those Damn Yankees!
"The Game" with Albert Linville, Nathaniel Frey, Jimmy Komack and
Russ Brown.

 Gary Burghoff as the original Charlie Brown
in You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
That's Lucy in the background, played by Reva Rose.

 "What A Game!"
from Ragtime.
You'll hear blips in the recording that I play on Sunday:
I had to censor those baseball fans!

 A pic from the cast recording of Ragtime:
Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Mark Jacoby, Steven Sutcliff,
Marin Mazzie, Peter Friedman and Judy Kaye, in 1996. 

 Another cast recording pic, this one from My Favorite Year from 1992:
Josh Mostel (yup, you know who HIS dad is),
Lainie Kazan, Evan Pappas, Andrea Martin and Tim Curry.
Thanks to Master Works for both of the above photos.

 Jessica Molaskey,
who we'll hear singing a Jason Robert Brown song
from Songs For A New World,
"Stars And The Moon",
and accompanying her in the above shot is the composer himself.

Looks like a promo-shot for 
It Shoulda Been You...
Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris
possibly singing "Nice".

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Watch Out For That Rotogravure!

 MGM's Easter Parade (1948)
has some crazy casting "accidents" 
that changed the entire feel of the movie.
First off, Gene Kelly was supposed to star opposite 
Judy Garland,
but just days before filming was to start,
he broke his ankle, playing volleyball (of all things). 
He asked Fred to come out of retirement (one of many!)
and replace him, and Fred was supposedly elated to work with JG.
Meanwhile, Cyd Charisse was supposed to be Nadine
(Fred's original partner in the story)
but she broke her leg! 
Enter Ann Miller in her MGM debut.
 Peter Lawford was that 
"Fella With An Umbrella".

 Songs by Irving Berlin!
Above, the classic "A Couple Of Swells."
The score was completed by Roger Edens and Johnny Green,
and it garnered them a Best Score Oscar.
 What a trio!
Fred (age 49), Peter Lawford (his second movie musical...after Good News)
and Judy.
Below, that scandalous "Mr. Monotony" number that was 
excised at the last minute,
as it was thought too risque for the movie's 1912 setting.
The outfit had to wait til Summer Stock (1950)
and the number had to wait til
That's Entertainment! III.
 Fred, Irving Berlin, and Peter
share a guffaw over sheet music.

The "Steppin' Out With My Baby" number...
Easter Parade was the most financially successful movie
that Astaire or Garland did.
And I want those shoes!