Sunday, July 30, 2017

Tribute to Lorenzo Fuller

 Born into a show biz family,
Lorenzo Fuller (born March 22, 1919, in Stockton, Kansas)
began by playing the harp in his family's act.
He went on to study voice at Juillard;
he could also play several different instruments
and sing in a ton of languages.

 Radio and television shows
(he had his own prior to Nat King Cole's),
voice coaching...and a star turn
in Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate,
as the Dance Captain, singing "Too Darn Hot".
A big step up from his previous show a year before that,
Finian's Rainbow,
where he was in the "Passion Pilgrim" ensemble!

Fred Davis, Lorenzo, and Eddie Sledge
(father of the Sisters Sledge!)
at the recording of Kiss Me Kate.
He toured with Porgy & Bess as Sportin' Life,
and also worked as the company's assistant musical director.
Writer, arranger, entertainer, coach...
Lorenzo passed away in 2011 in New York City. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dreams, Cake, Alternative Medicine, and Helpful Mice

 Although Amelie (the Musical)
lasted only 56 performances,
reviews of the cast album were good.
Above Phillipa Soo and Adam Chanler-Berat
who we'll hear sing
"Where Do We Go From Here?"
Below, Phillipa and Savvy Crawford 
who plays the young Amelie. 

 Opening night curtain call of
Groundhog Day, The Musical,
with Andy Karl (center above and below) as Phil Connors.
Note tacky B&B. Note clock.
Andy was a favorite to win a Tony for 
Best Actor in a Musical
(having scooped the Drama Desk and Outer Circle Critics Awards),
but the Tony went to Ben Platt
of Dear Evan Hansen.

 Alice Ripley, of Next To Normal,
a Pulitzer Prize winning musical back in 2010.
Below with Aaron Tveit
in "I Dreamed A Dance".
Music, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey.

 "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes"
from Cinderella 
was sung by Ilene Woods (below).
Thanks to the success of this project, 
Disney's 12th animated movie,
the company was saved from bankruptcy
(Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Bambi had NOT made money,
and wouldn't for years to come). 
Ilene was selected from over 400 candidates.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Dream. Of. Summer.

 Well, if it isn't Ethel Barrymore!
Debbie Reynolds knows how to enter a room
in Singin' In The Rain,
from which we'll hear 
"All I Do Is Dream Of You".
Just like the scene in Some Like It Hot,
but without the machine gun. :)

 Maria Karnilova and Zero Mostel
don't rest easy in "Tevye's Dream"
from Fiddler On The Roof.
Doesn't that look like "John Boy" on the upper right?

 Had to include this shot of 
Leonard Nimoy
who toured as Tevye!

 An 18 year old Bernadette Peters
with "The Sailor Of 'Her' Dreams",
David Christmas.
Dames at Sea began off off off off Broadway in

 Jonathan Lucas as Paris,
abducting Kaye Ballard who played Helen (of Troy?)
in The Golden Apple,
which was based on the Illiad and the Odyssey.
Bibi Osterwald played Lovey Mars.

 Kaye got to sing the only song that survived
to be almost a jazz standard,
"Lazy Afternoon".
Below, Stephen Douglass as Ulysses
returning home to find everyone playing parlor games??
Did they even realize he was gone?
 Despite supposedly "rave" reviews,
audiences were ho-hum, and it closed in 4 months.

 Sammy Davis, Jr.
in Golden Boy, done in 1964,
with music by Charles Strouse and Lee Adams
(Bye Bye Birdie, Applause, All American, etc.).
With Sammy jetting off to nightclub engagements,
and calling a lot of the musical's "shots",
Strouse and Adams had a difficult writing time.
And the subject matter was a far cry from
Hello Dolly and Funny Girl,
playing right down the block.
We'll hear "Night Song".

 The quintessential summer song 
straight from Rydell High,
"Summer Nights",
sung by the original Broadway cast of Grease.
Barry Bostwick (with hubcaps!),
Adrienne Barbeau (on the hood)
and Carole Demas (who seems to be off studying in the library).
Which Pink Lady are YOU?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Playlist For Sunday, July 30, 2017: Damp Dreams

I can't seem to get revved this morning. Part of me just wants to crawl back under the covers, rearrange my 17 pillows atop my head, and go back to Dreamland. A sodden summer, a smashed bike trip, and I'm losing my tan. Poor Little Me. When reality crowds, nit-picks, adds calories and moss (on my north side), I dream.

So let's try to slay this damp dragon with 2 themes (well, it IS 2 on the Aisle, right?):  Dreams (the nice kind, not the type you have to analyze with your therapist, however alternative) and Summer (as in the REAL summer, 92 degrees in the shade, in need of an iced "something", sand in your shoes, everyone-in-the-pool, we-all-scream-for-ice-cream, Noxema SUMMER!). We'll have to pretend, esp. on that last one, but what is Broadway, if not the inspirational uplifter that it is? When I spin "Too Darn Hot", the sweat will magically appear on my brow and I will reach for a cold one. THERE!  Solved.

Yeah, I'm mopey. But I'll get in the mood. Just need another pillow.

All I Do Is Dream Of You (Debbie Reynolds, Ensemble, Singin' In The Rain)
Baby, Dream Your Dream (Helen Gallagher, Thelma Oliver, Sweet Charity)
The Sailor Of My Dreams (Bernadette Peters, Dames At Sea)
I Dreamed A Dance (Alice Ripley, Next To Normal)
Tevye's Dream (Zero Mostel, Maria Karnilova, Carol Sawyer, Fiddler On
       The Roof)
Times Are Hard For Dreamers (Savvy Crawford, Amelie)
Dream Variations (Audra McDonald, Way Back To Paradise)
First You Dream (Karen Ziemba, Steel Pier)
I Have Dreamed (Julie Andrews)
If I Could Tell Her (Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Dear Evan Hansen)
What Baking Can Do (Jessie Mueller, Waitress)
Where Do We Go From Here (Phillipa Soo, Adam Chanler-Berat, Amelie)
Stuck (Andy Karl, "Healers", Groundhog Day)
Do You Ever Dream Of Vienna? (Elizabeth Parrish, Mario Siletti,
       Little Mary Sunshine)
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes (Ilene Woods, Cinderella)
Dulcinea/The Impossible Dream (Joan Diener, Richard Kiley,
       Man Of La Mancha)
Lazy Afternoon (Kaye Ballard, The Golden Apple)
Summertime (Lena Horne, Porgy And Bess)
Blame It On The Summer Night (Julie Migenes, Rags)
Summer Nights (Barry Bostwick, Carol Demas, Ensemble, Grease)
Night Song (Sammy Davis, Jr., Golden Boy)
Too Darn Hot (Lorenzo Fuller, Ensemble, Kiss Me, Kate)
A Summer In Ohio (Sherie Rene Scott, The Last Five Years)
The Girls Of Summer (Suzanne Henry, Marry Me A Little)
The Song Of A Purple Summer (Lauren Pritchard, Company,
       Spring Awakening)
Smoke Dreams (Jo Stafford and The Starlighters)
I Could Use A Dream (Alice Faye, Tony Martin, Sally, Irene And Mary)
I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls (Jacqueline Wells, Bohemian Girl)
I'll Never Have To Dream Again (Connee Boswell)
All I Do Is Dream Of You (Gene Kelly, Singin' In The Rain)

Friday, July 21, 2017

From Hoy Polloi to Haute Monde

 "All I Owe Ioway!"
or something like that.
State Fair was the only Rodgers and Hammerstein musical
written specifically for film, 
the 1945 version which starred Jeanne Craine and Dana Andrews.
A staged version was done in 1969 with Tommy Tune (in St. Louis),
but the one in 1996 made it to Broadway,
with songs from other R&H shows
(Pipe Dream, Me & Juliet) added in.
Above, John Davidson, Ben Wright, Kathryn Crosby, and Andrea McArdle. 
State Fair was the last show that David Merrick produced.

Irving Berlin's music and Moss Hart's book 
brought Face the Music to the stage in 1932,
smack dab in the middle of the Depression,
when times were so tough that the Astors
are hanging out at the Automat.
The Encores! revival of 2007
brought Walter Bobbie (below), Judy Kaye (below that!), 
Lee Wilkof (not below!),
Jeffry Denman (above),and Meredith Patterson (also above!)
together for a rematch. 
Much fun evidently ensued.
 We'll hear Jeffry and "Manhattan Madness!"

From Babes In Arms,
the 1990 studio cast recording,
we'll hear Judy Kaye with "Way Out West".
Judy is a Broadway perennial,
having debuted in Grease in 1970,
"overnight star"-ing when she replaced Madeline Kahn in
On The Twentieth Century.
From opera to acting to belting to award-winning...
she's done it all successfully.
 And if you're going with the Hoe-Down genre,
gotta have Nanette Fabray
with "Louisiana Hayride" from The Bandwagon.
Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz were the musical perpetrators. 

 [title of show] was
written by Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell
in about 3 weeks for a New York musical theatre festival,
and there they are above with Susan Blackwell and 
Heidi Blickenstaff.
It succeeded well enough to transfer to off and finally 
ON Broadway. 
The set is 4 different kinds of chairs,
and Larry who plays the keyboard back in the corner.
Below, Heidi and Hunter...with "Monkeys And Playbills".

From the 2011 revival of Anything Goes
with Colin Donnell and Sutton Foster,
we'll hear "You're The Top",
"Bon Voyage" and the finale.
Below, cutting capers with Joel Grey!

Above, the 1962 revival,
that starred Eileen Rodgers, Hal Linden, and
Kenneth Mars.
We'll hear Eileen (below)
with "Take Me Back To Manhattan"
originally from The New Yorkers,
but added to this revival.
Eileen debuted in Fiorello!,
and went on to do Tenderloin, 
played Reno Sweeney in Anything,
Kelly (an infamous flop, 1 performance?
I'm going to have to find THAT ONE!)
and made several television appearances in the 1960s.

Had to put this one in!
Ethel M and Frank S in a live 1954 television performance
of Anything Goes!
No love was lost between these two "divas"!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Beauty Queens

 Florence Nightingale Graham
was born in 1878 in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada.
She dropped out of nursing school, studied in France, changed her name
to Elizabeth Arden, and founded The Red Door Salon 
on Manhattan's 5th Ave., all by 1910.
EA stressed that makeup was imperative to a lady-like appearance
(before that, it was a sign of the prostitute or the actress!
Quelle horror!).
 Behind "The Red Door"...
why am I reminded of the first scene of The Women?
At her peak, Arden owned 150 salons
in 22 countries,
and was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

 Chaja Rubenstein was born 6 years earlier in 
Krakow, Poland.
She joined her uncle in Australia,
working first as a waitress, and selling jars of 
"beauty cream" out of her luggage.
Thanks to plentiful "lanolin" down under (sheep grease?),
she opened shops in Sydney, Melbourne, and eventually 
London, Paris...and New York,
just doors down from Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Helene died within 6 months of each other
(in 1965 and 66),
both self-made millionaires.
 They supposedly never met.
 But if they had...

 ...we can only imagine it would have gone something like
War Paint,
with music by Scott Frankel and Michael Kourie.
It opened in March of 2017,
starring Christine Ebersole and Patti Lupone.
As Doug Wright (author of show's book) put it,
“Together, they not only forged an industry, but a way of life...They absolutely shattered glass ceilings as women in industry."

 Composer Frankel attempted to flavor
the music with the feel of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
The Washington Post wrote,
 "LuPone and Ebersole wrap their prodigious voices 
around a score by Scott Frankel and Michael Korie 
that rings with the kind of exhilaratingly brassy notes that match the chutzpah of their characters’ ambitions."

 Above, "Fire And Ice"
with Erik Lieberman and Steffanie Leigh.
The Charles Revson "take over".

 According to Mr. Brantley of The NYTimes,
“War Paint can sometimes sound like a singing Wikipedia entry",
with all its research-laden beauty formulas,
Senate investigations, and "data heavy" exposition.
But in that same review,
 "I wouldn’t have missed it, if only to hear 
its leading ladies’ climactic ballads."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Playlist For Sunday, July 23, 2017: I TOLD YOU there'd be a test!

A quiz for this week's 2 on the Aisle listeners. You may get these right without listening, if you are an extremely knowledgeable Broadway-phile, lucky, or me. Have at it. No looking at your neighbor's paper!!!!  

1.) Fire + Ice =

a.) That's some chemistry formula that I never memorized. I had a crush on my chem teacher and my eyes were always glued to the tightness of his corduroy blazer (with appropriate elbow patches) as it spanned his pecs...don't get me started. Well, you already have.
b.) Atmosphere on a Class M planet (see Voyager).
c.) A puddle
d.) One jazzy lipstick color!

2.) What is this show's middle name?

a.) on the
b.) Esmeralda
c.)  Iphigenia
d.) Quirky
e.) Corky
f.)  Esoteric-Often-Boring-But-Not-Without-Its-Charm

3.) Who was the first to sing "Manhattan" in Rodgers & Hart's Garrick Gaieties? (Trick question...2 answers may both be right, in theory!)

a.) Arthur Treacher, pre-fish, pre-Merv
b.) Ed McMahon, pre-Johnny, pre-boring
c.)  Winnie The Pooh
d.) Sterling Holloway

4.) Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and Bert Lahr did a live television performance of which musical? Suffice it to say, Frank and the Merm got along like oil and vinegar (make that Fire & Ice).

a.) Hair
b.) Rent
c.) Rented Hair
d.) Anything Goes (and Did)

5.) Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock wrote Fiddler. They wrote Fiorello. They wrote incredible Tony-winning stuff. But in 1955, Sheldon wrote...

a.) Oh Calcutta
b.) HMS Pinafore
c.) Garbage
d.) Do You Know The Way To San Jose? no, you know?
e.) Mambo Italiano

6.) In the song "Monkeys and Playbills", what does the monkey drive?

a.) A Segway
b.) A Schwinn
c.) A rocket ship to a Class M Planet (see Babylon 5)
d.) A speed boat

7.) Complete this sentence: "Take Me Back to ______" (and no peaking at the playlist).

a.) Bim Bom Bay
b.) The Okefenokee Swamp
c.) The Zuider Zee
d.) Manhattan

Pencils down. You've had more than enough time. Grading will be harsh and expedient. No curves. No nothin'. You fail, you'll just have to listen HARDER next week.  Whaddaya think this is supposed to be, fun'ner sumpthin'?

7 points = You live backstage with Patti and Christine. 5-6 points, you live 1 block away from what WAS the Morosco. 3-4 points, you live. 1-2, there's a country western station just 1 megahertz up the dial.  I suggest you find it. :)

Take Me Back To Manhattan (Eileen Rodgers, Anything Goes)
Behind The Red Door (Christine Ebersole, Ensemble, War Paint)
Back On Top (Patti Lupone, War Paint)
Fire And Ice (Erik Liberman, Stephanie Leigh, Patti Lupone, War Paint)
Pink (Christine Ebersole, War Paint)
Kansas City (Lee Dixon, Oklahoma!)
Standing On The Corner (Shorty Long, The Most Happy Fella)
All I Owe Ioway (John Davidson, Company, State Fair)
Louisiana Hay Ride (Nanette Fabray, Ensemble, The Band Wagon)
Louisiana Purchase (Judy Blazer, New York Voices, Louisiana Purchase)
Monkeys And Playbills (Company, [title of show])
What Kind Of Girl Is She? (Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, [title of show])
Nine People's Favorite Thing (Jeff Bowen, Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell,
       Heidi Blickenstaff, [title of show])
Manhattan (Tim Curry, Ensemble, My Favorite Year)
Nothing Is New In New York (Ensemble, Breakfast At Tiffany's)
Manhattan Madness (Jeffry Denman, Face The Music)
Manhattan (Lee Wiley)
I Happen To Like New York (Bobby Short)
New York, New York (And The World Goes 'Round)
Paducah (Peter Conlow, Shoe String Revue)
Garbage (Bea Arthur, Shoe String Revue)
I Furnished My One Room Apartment (Sarah Weeks, Upstairs At O'Neals)
Talkin' Morosco Blues (Richard Ryder, Upstairs At O'Neals)
I Could Write A Book (Harold Lang, Vivienne Segal, Pal Joey)
Dear Old Syracuse (Jack Cassidy, The Boys From Syracuse)
Way Out West (Judy Kaye, Ensemble, Babes In Arms)
Be Like The Blue Bird (Joel Grey, Anything Goes)
You're The Top (Sutton Foster, Colin Donnell, Anything Goes)
Finale (Company, Anything Goes)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Dim Sum

 Debbie Gravitte will be starting us off with
"I Wanna Be A Rockette",
from an unproduced musical called
with music by Alan Menken and Tom Eyen.

 Our Sondheim Corner
(well, more like a niche)
is Into The Woods...
above, Robert Westenberg and Kim Crosby Westenberg.
Yup, those fairy tale characters got married
in real life, too.
 (Maybe pitch on the stairs really works?)

 Jackie Hoffman and Adam Riegler
in The Addams Family.
Counsel from Grandma is always good, right?

 Fagin, as portrayed by Clive Revill, in a similar vein,
exhorting his gang...I mean, advising his "charges".
"You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two"
from Oliver!

 Bertie Carvel,
 the orginal Agatha Trunchbull,
in Matilda.
This role brought Bertie a
Drama Desk award, an Olivier,
and a Tony nomination
(one of only a handful of actors who've been nominated
for roles opposite their genders).

(you read that right!)
has extended its run to October 2017.
 Gerard Alessandrini's "forbidden" version
of Hamilton,
with water pistols and cheaper tickets.

 Mathew Morrison and Kelsey Grammar (note hook)
in Finding Neverland...
Below, "We Own The Night",
and yes, most of those characters end up 
under that table (literally).