Sunday, December 31, 2017

Times Square...back in the day!

 Circa 1900, when it was called Longacre Square.
The first "ball drop" occurred in 1907.

 Flash forward to 1937,
and the tradition of the Ball Drop
and celebrating New Years Eve amidst thousands of strangers
had become a tradition.

 Circa 1978...above Russ Brown,
Superintendant of One Time Square
checking his hi-tech Mickey for the correct time
to drop that ball.
Just 100 lights on the first one!



 As compared to today's craziness, 
and "crystal ball!" 
A long way from Longacre...

Friday, December 29, 2017

Sunday Party Goers!

We're going to Put On 4 different Ritzs!
Above, Mel Brooks and the cast of the 1974 movie version
of Young Frankenstein:
Teri Garr, Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, with Mel.
Below, Mel's staged version starred
Christopher Fitzgerald, Roger Bart, Sutton Foster, and Andrea Martin.

 Another "Ritz" from Clark Gable (above)
in Idiot's Delight, his one and only musical number EVER,
and below, the best!
Fred Astaire...

 Judy Garland and long-time partner in crime,
Mickey Rooney.
We'll hear her version of "The Party's Over"
from a live concert done in 1962.
Below, Spike Jones and his City Slickers mid-performance,
and in keeping with our party theme,
they'll mix up "Cocktails For Two".

 Gotta have Frank and Bing
did you evah-ing in High Society,
and Elaine Stritch with "Zip" and "The Party's Over"
from her one-woman show,
Elaine Stritch At Liberty!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Playlist for December 31, 2017: Ringing out the Auld/Old!

Reality sucks, ya know that? I mean, here we all are, feasting and festivus-ing our respective holidays away, imbibing/inhaling/enabling/etc., and then CRASH. It's over and we have to come home and vacuum. Like we have to get an oil change, and shovel (oh, lots of shoveling!!!), and see the dentist. Mundane reality sneaks back in, as if it never left, and hijacks all your Christmas spirit, humbugging its way into your psyche like dried out tree needles clogging your Hoover. Hey, I still have leftovers! I want to party! ESPECIALLY in 10 degree weather...

So I guess that's what New Year's Eve is all about, Charlie Brown. One last huzz-ZAH before we get 90 days in the slammer (aka Winter).  A non-holiday streak of rock salt, wind chill, and long underwear (that you SHOULD wash mid-way, okay?). Valentines Day doesn't count. That's for 20-somethings, not a Woman Of Substance (Note Caps. I'm Serious.) So 2 on the Aisle is going to do its best to PAR-TEE!!!

We have Angela, Jerry Herman, The Wild Party, Spike Jones' cocktails, and Elaine and her vodka martinis (Am I wrong? Was it gin? I don't think she was picky.) We'll Put On The Ritz, have lunch on Sunset, Fasten Our Seatbelts, and go to A Marvelous Party. Are ya wit me??  Cuz soon enough, we'll be wearing flannels under those tails and ear muffs with those top hats, for the next 3 months. Party hearty, and happy new year! :)

It's Today (Angela Lansbury, Mame)
Top Hat, White Tie And Tails (Fred Astaire, Top Hat)
The Life Of The Party (David Wayne, Happy Time)
I Went To A Marvelous Party (Noel Coward)
Fasten Your Seatbelts (Len Cariou, Lauren Bacall, Applause)
Such A Merry Party (Ensemble, Little Mary Sunshine)
Dry (Ensemble, The Wild Party)
Well, Did You Evah? (Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, High Society)
Cocktails For Two (Spike Jones, Spike Jones Classic)
The Perfect Year (Patti Lupone, Sunset Boulevard)
Let's Have Lunch (Kevin Anderson, Meredith Braun, Daniel Benzali,
      Sunset Boulevard)
With One Look (Patti Lupone, Sunset Boulevard)
Zip (Jo Hurt, Pal Joey)
Zip (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty)
Somebody's Going To Through A Big Party (Ensemble, Fifty Million
The Way You Look Tonight (Fred Astaire, Swing Time)
I Want To Be Seen With You (Sydney Chaplin, Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl)
Shall We Dance (Bobby Short, K-RA-ZY For Gershwin)
Let's Face The Music And Dance (Fred Astaire, Follow The Fleet)
The Last Part Of Every Party (Ensemble, Irene)
The Worst Pies In London (Angela Lansbury, Sweeney Todd)
That's How Young I Feel (Angela Lansbury, Mame)
Each Tomorrow Morning (Angela Lansbury, Dear World)
Puttin' On The Ritz (Clark Gable, Idiot's Delight)
Puttin' On The Ritz (Fred Astaire, Blue Skies)
Puttin' On The Ritz (Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Young Frankenstein)
Puttin' On The Ritz (Roger Bart, Shuler Hensley, Young Frankenstein)
The Party's Over (Judy Garland, Judy Garland Live!)
The Party's Over (Judy Holiday, Bells Are Ringing)
The Party's Over (Leslie Odom, Jr., Leslie Odom, Jr.)
The Party's Over (Elaine Stritch, Elaine Stritch At Liberty)
Johnny, It's Cold Outside (Tom Wopat, John Schneider, Home For Christmas)
The Last Night Of The Year (Tom Wopat, Consider It Swung)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Playlist for Sunday, Dec. 24th, 2017: O Little Town Of Broadway!

So now we Christmas! Now we Holiday Broadway! If you can't cue up White Christmas melodies on December 24th, when can you? So come this Sunday, all Xmas breaks out and we do Mame, She Loves Me, the stage and film version of White Christmas...and divas like Babs and Liza and Bernadette and Pearl, all with winter and bells and memories and MONEY on their Christmas-y little minds. We do esoteric, as well, like Kander and Ebb's Starting Here, Starting Now, Jason Robert Brown's Songs For A New World, and the flop (gotta have a flop on 2 On The Aisle!) Here's Love...Meredith Willson's musical take on Miracle On 34th Street. No Natalie. No Edmund. No Maureen. That sunk it. !!!

And then I admit to going completely off the Broadway rails to sample Christmas Dragnet, some Tom Lehrer, and a dose of Sherman (gotta get that transistor radio from Santa SOME year!).

So prepare your turkey ("Lurkey"), watch out the window for "Snow!", wear some holiday "Plaid", suck on some "Hard Candy" (from last year's stocking?), and "Let Yourself Go!"

...and here's to a "Cool Yule!"

Happy Holiday/Let Yourself Go (Brian d'Arcy James, Jeffrey Denman,
      Ensemble, Irving Berlin's White Christmas)
Overture To White Christmas (Instrumental, Irving Berlin's White Christmas)
We Need A Little Christmas (Angela Lansbury, Ensemble, Mame)
Be A Santa (Sydney Chaplin, Subways Are For Sleeping)
Turkey Lurkey Time (Ensemble, Promises, Promises)
Snow (Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, White Christmas)
Sisters (Rosemary Clooney, White Christmas)
The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing (Danny Kaye, White
Count Your Blessings (Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, White Christmas)
Love You Didn't Do Right By Me (Rosemary Clooney, White Christmas)
White Christmas (Company, White Christmas)
Twelve Days To Christmas (Ensemble, She Loves Me)
That Man Over There (Paul Reed, Here's Love)
Christmas Day (Ensemble, Promises, Promises)
Pine Cones And Holly Berries (Laurence Naismith, Here's Love)
Christmas Time Is Here (Ensemble, A Charlie Brown Christmas)
Ring Them Bells (Liza Minelli, Liza With A 'Z')
Surabaya Santa (Jessica Molaskey, Songs For A New World)
A Five Pound Box Of Money (Pearl Bailey)
Nothin' For Christmas (Eartha Kitt)
Hard Candy Christmas (Ensemble, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas)
I Don't Remember Christmas (George Lee Andrews, Starting Here,
      Starting Now)
Christmas Is My Favorite Time Of Year (Norbert Leo Butz, Aaron Tveit,
      Catch Me If You Can)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Bernadette Peters)
I'll Be Home For Christmas (Leslie Odom, Jr., Simply Christmas)
Christmas Mem'ries (Barbra Streisand, Christmas Memories)
Three Wishes For Christmas (Tony Yazbek, Gypsy)
Talk Christmas, Cool Yule (David Engle, Paul Binotto, Larry Raben,
      Holiday In Plaid)
Lovers On Christmas Eve (Joanna Gleason, James Naughton, I Love My Wife)
(I'm Spending) Hanukkah In Santa Monica (Tom Lehrer, The Remains Of Tom
Catered Holiday Affair (David Engle, Ensemble, Holiday In Plaid)
Christmas Dragnet (Stan Freeberg, Daws Butler)
The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas (Allan Sherman, For Swingin' Livers Only!)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Judy Garland, Meet Me In
      St. Louis)

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Musicals of Jason Robert Brown

 Spotlighting the shows of Jason Robert Brown 
this Sunday...
1.) Born in Ossining, New York in 1970.
2.) Studied at The Eastman School of Music for 2 years.
3.) First off Broadway project, Songs For A New World.
A flop, but it was directed by Daisy Prince,
daughter of Hal. :)
In VERY non-chronological order,
we'll hear from some of his shows...
like (above and below) Honeymoon In Vegas,
which starred Tony Danza, Rob McClure and Brynn O'Malley.
It opened in 2015,
with decent reviews from the critics,
but the audience stayed away in droves. 
Digging the Elvis impersonators and Hawaiian motifs, myself. 

 Jason's first Broadway production was 
Parade, done in 1998...Winner of a Best Score Tony.
Based on the true story of the trial of Leo Frank,
a Jewish factory manager in Georgia.
The concept was first suggested to Stephen Sondheim,
but he chose not to...
Jason jumped at the chance.
Below, "Factory Girls" with 
Brooke Sunny Moriber, Emily Klein, Abbi Hutcherson,
and Brent Carver as Leo.

 The Bridges of Madison County,
adapted for the stage by Marsha Norman,
(and based on the best-selling novel by 
Robert James Waller)
was produced in 2014...and lasted only 3 months,
but again the score was praised (and Tony winning!).
Above Steven Pasquale and Elena Shaddow,
as our main characters Robert Kincaid and Francesca,
and below the set as used in a 2015 production by 
the Atlantis Theatre Group of New York.

 The Last Five Years,
a two-person musical done off Broadway in 2002.
Jason was supposedly "inspired" by the break up
of his first marriage.
So we can "thank" that divorce for some great music...
It starred Sherie Rene Scott and Norbert Leo Butz,
who we'll hear sing "Part Of That"
and "Shiksa Goddess".

 Jason also helped in the creation of the recent 
Hal Prince tribute on Broadway
(The Prince Of Broadway, 2015).
Brown has said that if it had not been for Stephen Sondheim's
Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George 
(his 2 biggest influences),
he would have joined a rock band and become Billy Joel.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Broadway Babes to Warm Your Cockles

 A mini tribute this Sunday
to Carol Burnett,
born in San Antonio, Texas in 1933, and
raised by her grandmother in Hollywood.
Her "big break" came in 1959 with Once Upon A Mattress,
as Princess Winifred (below).
And that was the beginning of a career that would
include television, film, Broadway, and concert performances.
Carol will turn 85 this coming April. 
 We'll hear
"The Swamps of Home"
from Mattress...

 From Fade Out - Fade In,
"You Mustn't Be Discouraged"
And above, I believe, is the Warner Brother's Seal of Approval.

 From the film version of Annie,
Carol as Miss Hannigan...brilliant casting! 

 And I couldn't resist including this pic
from one of the many times Carol teamed up with Julie Andrews
for live concerts and television appearances.

 Tom Wopat 
(yup, Luke Duke of the Hazzard duo)
has been theatre-ing and singing ever since he went into re-runs.
He hit Broadway in 2011 with Catch Me If You Can,
in which he played Frank Abagnale Sr.
(below with Aaron Tveit).
We'll hear an outtake from that show,
"Fifty Checks"
which Tom later recorded on his solo album
Consider It Swung.

 We'll also sample "The Last Night of the Year"
and "Finishing The Hat" from the revue
Sondheim On Sondheim.
Below, the Dukes: Tom and John Schneider,
back in the day.

 Kelli O'Hara's Babe (above) with The Factory Girls
 is "Not At All In Love"
in the revival of The Pajama Game, 2006,
which received the Best Revival Tony award that year.

 And in our honeymoon set,
Mary Martin and Robert Preston 
in I Do! I Do!
which was the story of a marriage over the span of 45 years,
1895 - 1945.
Mary and Robert starred in the national tour as well
(it began in Rochester, NY!),
but there were several interesting "replacements," 
like Carol Burnett and Rock Hudson,
and Carol Lawrence and Gordon McCrea.
 We'll hear "The Honeymoon Is Over"!

The NYTimes called Mary's voice
"like red wine at room temperature"...
and Robert won the Tony! :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Playlist For Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017: Riding the (no)(don't)(not yet) Christmas Express!

This is difficult. Every neuron in my brain is firing: Christmas. Now. Do it. Resistance is...

Well, FEUDAL in this instance. Renaissance-ian, even closer to the mark! While we maintain our "Brakes On Xmas" stance, we release them to speed blithely down Broadway boulevards, shuffling off to Buffalo, riding the Choo-Choo express to Vegas/Hawaii/insert honeymoon spot of choice here, lingering momentarily to instagram a Swamp or two, over the Bridges (of Madison County? So soon? We just had cheese!), thru the land of Al Menken's Disney, Carol Burnett's Tarzan, and Tom (cleared of all assault charges) Wopat 's Hazzards. Oh, and something ROTTEN at the end!

So you see, there is STILL plenty of Broadway living on the periphery of Christmas to enjoy. We WILL do Christmas Broadway, I promise, in just a week...December 24th, Christmas Eve-Afternoon! Be there for cookies and nog. But meanwhile, I'm still saving you a seat. :)

Welcome To The Renaissance (Michael James Scott, Ensemble,
      Something Rotten!)
Shuffle Off To Buffalo (Joseph Bova, Carole Cook, Ensemble, 42nd Street)
Aba Daba Honeymoon (Debbie Reynolds, Carleton Carpenter, Two Weeks
      With Love)
Choo-Choo Honeymoon (Sally Stark, Joseph R. Sicari, Dames At Sea)
The Honeymoon Is Over (Mary Martin, Robert Preston, I Do! I Do!)
I'm Not At All In Love (Kelli O'Hara, The Pajama Game)
I Won't Say I'm In Love (Susan Egan, Hercules)
Out Of Your Head (Bobby Conte Thornton, Ariana DeBose, A Bronx Tale)
Fifty Checks (Tom Wopat, Catch Me If You Can)
Finishing The Hat (Tom Wopat, Sondheim On Sondheim)
The Last Night Of The Year (Tom Wopat, Consider It Swung)
A Part Of That (Sherie Rene Scott, The Last Five Years)
Wondering (Steven Pasquale, The Bridges Of Madison County)
Shiksa Goddess (Norbert Leo Butz, The Last Five Years)
The Factory Girls (Brooke Sunny Moriber, Emily Klein, Abbi Hutcherson,
      Brent Carver, Parade)
Love Betsy (Rob McClure, Honeymoon in Vegas)
Come To An Arrangement (Tony Danza, Rob McClure, Honeymoon In Vegas)
Hawaii/Waiting For You (Brynne O'Malley, Rob McClure, Honeymoon In Vegas)
If I Could Tell Her (Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfus, Dear Evan Hansen)
Me And The Sky (Jenn Colella, Come From Away)
Stuck (Andy Karl, Ensemble, Groundhog Day)
The Swamps Of Home (Carol Burnett, Once Upon A Mattress)
Little Girls (Carol Burnett, Annie)
Adelaide's Lament (Carol Burnett, Let Me Entertain You)
You Mustn't Be Discouraged (Carol Burnett, Fade Out-Fade In)
Bottom's Gonna Be On Top (Bryan d'Arcy James, Christian Borle,
      Something Rotten!)
Right Hand Man (Heidi Blickenstaff, Something Rotten!)
Make An Omelette (Bryan d'Arcy, Company, Something Rotten!)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Funny, Shorty, and a little Lucy!

 Funny Face...
Fred Astaire in one of his last movie musicals,
above with Kay Thompson and Audrey Hepburn. 
Originally a 1927 staged musical,
also starring Fred (along with sis Adele),
Funny Face, the movie, kept only 4 of those Gershwin tunes,
and actually used the plot of another musical entirely,
Wedding Day.
Fred was 58, Audrey, 28...go figure!
The box office was disappointing:
Said the NY Times,
"This, in fact, is the American "musical" at its worst; 
not even the presence of Mr Fred Astaire, 
who was in the original stage production, 
nor that of Miss Audrey Hepburn can save the day."
After the successful release of My Fair Lady (1964),
however, MGM re-released FF and then the crowds came!

 Above Kay and Audrey,
possibly waiting to rehearse their duet
"On How To Be Lovely".
Audrey got to sing in this film;
just a few years later, she'd be dubbed in the movie version
of My Fair Lady.
Below Ms. Thompson with her alter-ego,
(whose exploits fill four books...including "Eloise Takes A Bawth", 
published posthumously).

 And then we'll hear 3 versions of the "same" song:
Above, Lee Remick in the 1985 concert version of Follies
got to sing "The Story Of Lucy And Jessie",
but by the time the show hit the West End (1987),
Diana Rigg got its if-temporary replacement,
"Ah, But Underneath!" 

 But the first (rejected) version of the song was 
"Uptown, Downtown",
 later used for the revue (of other Sondheim rejects)
Marry Me A Little.
Below, a Sondheim sandwich...with that revue's 2 cast members,
Suzanne Henry and Craig Lucas. 

 Susan Johnson and Shorty Long
at the recording session for the cast album
of The Most Happy Fella...
we'll hear Shorty lead his "pardners" in 
"Standing On The Corner"
and Susan and Shorty with "Big D". 
Shorty was a country singer and song writer,
with a band called the Sante Fe Rangers.
Most Happy was his first and only Broadway show,
tho his stardom (and good reviews!) got him appearances on 
the Ed Sullivan and Tonight shows.
Susan, on the other, was a Broadway denizen,
having performed in Brigadoon, Oh! Captain,
Donnybrook, and Whoop It Up!,
and later did film and television.

 And 2 pics from not-quite-Broadway productions:
 Above "Abbondanza", and "Big D", below. 
Nominated for Best Musical in 1957 
(along with Candide and Bells Are Ringing), 
but My Fair Lady carried away the award that year.