Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Playlist For Sunday, June 4, 2017: A Murray By Any Other Name...

 Mary, Rose, Alice, Johanna. Tom, Dick, Bernie and Bill. I'm up to my old tricks again with a theme for this Sunday's 2 On The Aisle...NAME that tune. Well, not exactly. Just a tune with a NAME in it. Yeah, I know, you're saying when will this woman stop with the cheesey themes??? Never, okay? I like 'em! They're an excellent excuse to jam up (and jelly tight!) songs that would never ever get together. Songs that would (if given the cocktail party opportunity) never mingle, never jostle elbows while reaching for the cornichons, let alone swap napkins, toothpicks, or LinkedIn "Professional Networks". But if you can talk them into appearing on a playlist together, you get some fascinating pairings (like goat cheese with ...uh...prunes!).

Like this little juxtaposition: "Arthur In the Afternoon" (Kander and Ebb), which leads to "Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry (Betty Hutton), which staggers over to "Just One Step" (Jessica Molaskey...screaming at hubby MURRAY!), and ending with Babs & Murray (of Murder For Two) j'accusing each other of doing in ARTHUR Whitney! Man, what a musical mobius strip we weave (when first we try  to make a playlist late at night with anything stronger than Kool-aid).

Enough. Come join me on Sunday; your name might be among the list, and you'll see it as a sign!

Billie/Push Me Around In My Push Cart - Ring To The Name Of Rose
      (Jamie Donnelly, Joel Grey, Ensemble, George M!)
Mary's A Grand Old Name (James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy)
It's A Jolly Holiday With Mary (Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins)
Little Mary Sunshine (Eileen Brennan, Ensemble, Little Mary Sunshine)
Mary (Jacqueline Alloway, George M!)
Rosemary (Robert Morse, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying)
Second Hand Rose (Fanny Brice)
Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You? (Barbara Cook, The Buffalo Bills,
       The Music Man)
Honeysuckle Rose (Ken Page, Nell Carter, Ain't Misbehavin')
Arthur In The Afternoon (Karen Ziemba, And The World Goes Round)
Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry (Betty Hutton)
Just One Step (Jessica Molaskey, Songs For A New World)
It Was Her (Jeff Blumenkrantz, Murder For Two)
They Call The Wind Mariah (Rufus Smith, Paint Your Wagon)
Mira (Anna Maria Alberghetti, Carnival)
With Anne On My Arm (John Weiner, Gene Barry, La Cage Aux Folles)
Johanna (Victor Garber, Len Cariou, Merle Louise, Sweeney Todd)
Tom, Dick Or Harry (Lisa Kirk, Harold Lang, Ensemble, Kiss Me Kate)
Sam And Delilah (Louise Carlyle, Girl Crazy)
Miss Marmelstein (Barbra Streisand, I Can Get It For You Wholesale)
My Attorney Bernie (Jessica Molaskey, At The Algonquin)
Bill (Anita Darian, Show Boat)
Alice Blue Gown (Debby Reynolds, Irene)
I Love You, Samantha (Bing Crosby, High Society)
Suddenly Seymour (Lee Wilkof, Ellen Greene, Little Shop Of Horrors)
My Name Is James (Paul Terry, James And The Giant Peach)
Drop That Name (Judy Holliday, Bells Are Ringing)
My Name (Danny Seewell, Oliver!)
His Name Is Lancelot (Christian Borle, Hank Azaria, Spamalot)
Give My Regards To Broadway (Joel Grey, George M!)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Broadway Bookends, aka Comets with Tales

 Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet Of 1812 
is a piece of Tolstoy pie,
70 pages from War and Peace, presented as an 
"electro pop opera."
It began life in 2012 with stagings done off Broadway and
in Cambridge, Mass.
It landed on Broadway in 2016...and has received 11 Tony nominations.
Music, lyrics and book by Dave Malloy.
Josh Groban (in his Broadway debut) as Pierre and
 Denee Benton as Natasha.

 Lucas Steele as Anatole.
Josh, Denee and Lucas are all nominated for Tonys.

 It's a complicated Russian novel,
everyone's got 9 different names...
hence the "family" tree.

 Dave Malloy on accordian
in the Cambridge production.

 Nicholas Belton as Old Prince Bolkonsky,
is double cast as Andrey.

 At the other end of the Broadway spectrum
is A Bronx Tale,
based on the life of writer/actor Chazz Palmenteri.
It features the music of Al Menken and Glenn Slater,
famous for their Disney scores.

 It's been called a combination 
of Jersey Boys and West Side Story...
and stars Nick Cordero (top center)
Hudson Loverro (the short one), 
Bobby Conte Thornton (above center),
and Ariana DeBose (below center).
 Palmenteri first performed the story as a 
one-man show,
and then Robert DeNiro approached him about making it into a movie.
It came back to off-Broadway in 2007,
and finally morphed into a musical,
launching ON Broadway in 2016.
No nominations, just feel good songs and lots of happy audiences. 
As Charles Isherwood of the Times wrote,
"Sometimes plain old pasta with red sauce is just what the doctor ordered."

Friday, May 26, 2017

Oh! Ah! Ooh! Uh-Oh!

Starting off our theme of 
Alfred Drake as the original Curly in
R&H's Oklahoma!,
here with Aunt Eller, Betty Garde.
Betty was a CBS radio player in the 1930s,
and would go on to do movies
(Call Northside 777, Caged, Queen High)
and television
(The Honeymooners, as Trixie's "maid", The Twilight Zone,
and Car 54, just to name a few).

"Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale"
from Disney's Cinderella.
Drizella (in yellow) has the first verse,
voiced by Rhoda Williams...
and Ilene Wood, as Cinderella
(she's out back scrubbing the floor),
does the second.

 Gene Nelson and Doris Day
taking off with "Oh Me, Oh My, Oh You"
in Tea For Two, 1950.
This movie marked the first time Doris danced in a film.
Though she tapped with Gene,
her "heart" (in the film, that is)
belonged to leading man, Gordon MacRae.
Bosley Crowther of the NYTIMES wrote, 
"Miss Day and Mr. MacRae . . . complement each other like 
peanut butter and jelly."

 In the "Ah" category, we have
Lilianne Montevecchi,
who sang in the concert version of 
Stephen Sondheim's Follies...
"Ah, Paris!"

 Irving Berlin took his early version of 
Yip Yip Yaphank 
and turned it into 2 staged versions
(and a movie)
of This Is The Army.
We'll hear him singing a solo in
"Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning!"

Am I gonna have trouble with you?
No way, Shirl...
Poor Little Rich Girl, 1936:
Miss Temple was 8 years old
and at the peak of her performing career.
"Oh My Goodness!"
The movie co-starred Jack Haley and Alice Faye,
whose presence in the film was lamented by critic,
Frank Nugent :
  “Short of becoming a defeated candidate for Vice President,
 we can think of no better way of guaranteeing one’s anonymity than appearing in the moppet’s films.”

 "Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life"
was the signature song of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.
Originally from Victor Herbert's 
Naughty Marietta, 
it was pilfered for Thoroughly Modern Millie,
in which Angela Christian and Marc Kudisch (below) got to warble it
(that's Sutton Foster sandwiched between them...
unhappily, it seems!).

Couldn't resist the above photo
of another Trevor Graydon III and Miss Dorothy
from TMM, the movie:
John Gavin and Mary Tyler Moore.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Playlist For Sunday, May 28, 2017: Do I Hear An Electro Pop Opera?

Fasten your seat belts, gird your loins, and tuck in that shirt for The Great Comet! Yes, this Sunday we'll be experiencing Natasha (young), Anatole (hot), Mary (plain), Andrey (who's not even there yet!), and Pierre (what about Pierre???). It's been called an electro pop opera, with indie mixing with Russian folk dance, Klezmer clarinet and accordian. Most NY critics are over the moon...tho it takes a real listen. Like fine wine (and me), it may be an acquired taste, that appreciates like your 401k (and me) with time. The first time I inhaled, I exhaled right away. Now...another story.

On the other side of that Broadway coin (remember those subway tokens? I should have my leftovers made into earrings), is the pablum that is A Bronx Tale. Called "a combo of Jersey Boys and Westside Story."  I would add to that list: Hercules, Aladdin, Tangled, and Newsies. There is something so Disney about this score that no matter what the mob gangsters SAY in "Bronx", you know it will be fine in 1.75 hours, Sonny will not be wearing cement shoes, and Disneyland will be establishing a new beach head in Hoboken within the decade. This is movie-treacle Broadway, and it should be torched immediately.

BUT I WILL PLAY IT. Because it's what's happening on Broadway today. But keep listening past those Bronx Tales til Comet! Please!

P.S. Did you like Bette's Dolly efforts? I don't know about you, but I found it lackluster. It just lacked ....luster. No pizazz in Bette's voice. NOT a Broadway voice. Perhaps this is due to a lack of direction during the recording process, and that she is better in person ("Explosive", "Earthquake Insurance" read the reviews), but not here on this recording. A disappointment.

Prologue (Ensemble, Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812)
Oh, What A Beautiful Morning (Alfred Drake, Oklahoma!)
Oh, Happy We (Robert Rounseville, Barbara Cook, Candide)
Oh, Sing Sweet Nightingale (Rhoda Williams, Ilene Woods, Cinderella)
Oh Me, Oh My, Oh You (Doris Day, Gene Nelson, Tea For Two)
Upstairs At O'Neals (Ensemble, Upstairs At O'Neals)
Stools (Bebe Neuwirth, Douglas Bernstein, Richard Ryders, Upstairs
       At O'Neals)
Something (Douglas Bernstein, Upstairs At O'Neals)
Theatre Party Ladies (John Driver, Jeffrey Haddow, Roger Neil,
       Scrambled Feet)
Belmont Avenue (Bobby Conte Thornton, Ensemble, A Bronx Tale)
I Like It (Hudson Loverro, A Bronx Tale)
Out Of Your Head (Bobby Conte Thornton, Ariana DeBose, A Bronx Tale)
The Three B's (Nancy Walker, June Allyson, Gloria DeHaven, Best Foot
The Three Of Us (Michael McKean, The Pajama Game)
Three Friends (Lynne Wintersteller, Sally Mayes, Richard Muenz,
       Closer Than Ever)
Three Coins In The Fountain (Jason Graae, Ensemble, Forever Plaid)
Three Little Maids (Veronica Hart, Alison Jiear, Paulette Ivory, Hot Mikado)
Oh, How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning (Irving Berlin, Ensemble,
       This Is The Army)
Oh, My Goodness (Shirley Temple, Poor Little Rich Girl)
Uh-Oh! (Margery Gray, Byron Mitchell, Tovarich)
I Can Do Better Than That (Sherie Rene Scott, The Last 5 Years)
Shiksa Goddess (Norbert Leo Butz, The Last 5 Years)
Goodbye Until Tomorrow (Sherie Rene Scott, The Last 5 Years)
Ooh! My Feet! (Susan Johnson, The Most Happy Fella)
Ooh, Do You Love You! (Linda Lavin, It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman)
Ah! Paris (Liliane Montevecchi, Follies)
Ah! Sweet Mystery Of Life/I'm Falling In Love With Someone (Marc Kudisch,
       Angela Christian, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
Pierre (Josh Groban, Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812)
The Private And Intimate Life Of The House (Gelsey Bell, Nicholas
       Belton, Natasha, Pierre And The Great Comet Of 1812)
Natasha & Anatole ( Denee Benton, Lucas Steele, Natasha, Pierre
       And The Great Comet Of 1812)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Basket of Adorables

Can-Can the MOVIE (released in 1960)
had little to do with Can-Can the MUSICAL:
several of the Cole Porter songs were tossed,
and other Cole Porter songs shuffled in.
The plot was overhauled, as well, with
Louis Jordan (the judge) becoming part of a love triangle
with Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine (below).
Frank had to do it.
It cost a lot to make. 
It didn't make it back.

When the Brazilian Navy wants to Conga,
we Conga!
Roz Russell above in Wonderful Town.

Pearl Bailey as Madame Fleur in
House of Flowers, 1954.
Below with Gloria Vanderbilt and "lyricist" Truman Capote.

The cast of Groundhog Day:
John Sanders (who plays Ned Ryerson), Andy Karl (Phil Connors)
Barrett Doss (Rita Hanson) and Rebecca Faulkenberry (Nancy).
7 Tony Nominations for this show!
This Sunday we'll hear "Playing Nancy" with Rebecca.
Music and lyrics: Tim Minchin

Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells
as Marvin and Whizzer in Falsettos...
both are nominated for acting Tonys this season.
(You may remember Christian from Something Rotten
and Andrew from The Book Of Mormon.)

The odds-on favorite to win
Best Actor In A Musical:
Ben Platt, in Dear Evan Hansen.
The show has 9 nominations in all,
including Best Musical,
though Ben Brantley of the Times called it
"a rendering of a young adult novel".

 And then back to classic...
Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker
in Do Re Mi,
a Jule Styne/Comden and Green creation from 1960:
 "an average score that is worth the price just to hear Miss Walker describe her life of 'Adventure'."
Despite mixed reviews, it played 400 performances.
Not too shabby.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Who Wore It Better?

 Many talented actresses
have worn the Dolly Levi red plumes and sequined gown
and traveled down those stairs to the waiting arms and towels of...waiters.
Here, in not so sequential order, are some of 
Broadway's Dollys!
 First (and in my heart, the only) Carol Channing...

 The Pearl Bailey version...
helped along by Cab Calloway,
and Morgan Freeman (who played a waiter!)

 Phyllis Diller...
 Ginger Rodgers...

 Martha Raye...

 Ethel Merman,
who the part was actually written for.
She rejected it, Carol scooped it...
but Ethel came back eventually for a share.

 Ann Miller...

 Betty Grable...
 Dorothy Lamour...
 Eve Arden...

 Mary Martin...

 and Babs in the film version...

 And now of course, Bette Midler, in the revival.

 Above.."Dancing" with Kate Baldwin, Beanie Feldstein, and Taylor Trensch.
Below, Bette with HER Horace, David Hyde-Pierce.
And who will the next Dolly be?
I know! Nathan Lane in drag...perfect! 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, May 14, 2017: Who Ordered The Mai Tai?

News Flash ("Extra! Extra! Just look at the headlines!"): Dolly's back (please tell her HELLO from me!), Joey's going away (said he's getting way too comfortable in that RV "bunk house" out back), Pearl just let "You Know Who" know EXACTLY where he stands (my guess is, his days are numbered!), and Tony will be here in June with his usual judgement issues, giving each of us the nod or the heave ho... he really needs to discuss these tendencies with his therapist, you know?

So it's all go here! Do let me know what you think of the Hello, Bette...I mean,  Dolly! revival...According to the (quote-worthy) reviews, everyone is ga-ga about her performance and David Hyde-Pierce and Gavin Creel...and it's all "throw your hat in the air" hyperbole. Having NOT seen the show, my allegiance of course must be won over...and away from the Channing/Burns/Reilly/Brennan original. I'm yearning for a cast album that lifts me as much as the original.

YET as I type this, a GENTLE (not 80 mph...hey, we all know what THAT feels like!), WARM breeze is at last wafting thru these old windows (and thru these old ears, in one, out the other), actually feeling like it might really be May. I hear coo doves. I hear the rustle of new leaves. And lawn mowers. And I feel an actual Lazy Afternoon comin' on. All the Dollys and Pearls and Tony Hype may have to wait til a less beautiful day, cuz dammit, don't we deserve a moment to soak this up? I may ferret a lawn chair out of my shed and sit on my lawn! And read Danielle Steele. With a G&T. (She's been asking to come by for free drink for ages.) How's that for decadence? So there, Broadway!  Cool your jets...while I swallow.

Put On Your Sunday Clothes (Gavin Creel, Bette Midler, Ensemble,
       Hello, Dolly!)
Christopher Street (Warren Galjour, Wonderful Town)
Conversation Piece (Edie Adams, Cris Alexander, Rosaline Russell, George             Gaynes, Wonderful Town)
Conga! (Rosalind Russell, Ensemble, Wonderful Town)
Main Title/I Love Paris (Frank Sinatra, Maurice Chevalier, Ensemble,
You Do Something To Me (Louis Jordan, Can-Can)
Just On Of Those Things (Maurice Chevalier, Can-Can)
Come Along With Me (Shirley MacLaine, Can-Can)
Joey, Joey, Joey (Art Lund, The Most Happy Fella)
Lazy Afternoon (Kaye Ballard, The Golden Apple)
I Wants To Stay Here (Lena Horne, Porgy & Bess)
Playing Nancy (Rebecca Faulkenberry, Groundhog Day)
What More Can I Say (Christian Borle, Falsettos)
Waving Through A Window (Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen)
A Woman's Prerogative (Pearl Bailey, St. Louis Woman)
One Man (Pearl Bailey, House Of Flowers)
Legalize My Name (St. Louis Woman, Pearl Bailey)
You Can Be Replaced (Pearl Bailey, For Adults Only)
Before The Parade Passes By (Pearl Bailey, Hello, Dolly!)
Waiting, Waiting (Nancy Walker, Do Re Mi)
Waitin' (Dolores Harper, Ada Moore, Enid Mosier, House Of Flowers)
Just You Wait (Julie Andrews, My Fair Lady)
How Can I Wait? (Olga San Juan, Paint Your Wagon)
Accident Waiting To Happen (Sutton Foster, John Mitchell,
       The Drowsy Chaperone)
Waiting Trio (Robert Roznowski, Jennifer Simard, Melissa Weil,
       I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change)
Waiting In The Dark (Jeff Blumenkrantz, Murder For Two)
Waiting For You (David Josefsberg, Brynne O'Malley, Rob McClure,
      Honeymoon In Vegas)
I Put My Hand In (Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!)
It Takes A Woman (David Hyde-Pierce, Hello, Dolly!)
Hello, Dolly! (Bette Midler, Company, Hello, Dolly!)

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Act II of Elaine!

 Elaine was 45 when she started her Company run.
Above with Larry Kurt, who took over for Dean Jones as Bobby.

 The cast recording of Company,
with Hal Prince.

 "Two's Company",
a BBC sit-com, with Donald Sinden
ran for four seasons...1975-79.
It earned both of them Bafta nominations.

 Elaine with actor John Bay,
her husband for almost 10 years,
until he passed away in 1982.

 In 2002, Elaine replaced Angela Lansbury as 
Madame Armfeldt in Stephen Sondheim's
A Little Night Music.

 Above, Elaine with Barbara Cook
in a concert performance
of "The Grass Is Always Greener"
from Woman Of The Year.
 Below, with Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey
on 30 Rock...Elaine played Colleen, Alec's mom,
a role which brought her one of her three Emmys.

 Elaine retired to her childhood home in Michigan,
leaving her Carlyle Hotel digs after many years. 
She passed away in her sleep,
at the age of 89.