Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Historically speaking...

Life Begins At 8:40 (exactly, or thereabouts), 
produced in 1934,
starred Ray Bolger, Luella Gear, Frances Williams and Bert Lahr.
With tunes by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Yip Harburg
(with an assist by Ira G),
it presaged The Wizard of Oz, just 5 years later,
which would reunite stars and the songwriting team.
Despite its launch on Broadway in the deepest/darkest Depression,
it ran for over a year.

 Just a few of standards emerged,
like Fun To be Fooled, Let's Take A Walk Around The Block,
and You're A Builder Upper,
it was still touted as a "gay romp".
Below, the perpetrators,
Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen.  

 Above, a photo collage from the original program.
Below, Bert Lahr singing "Things!",
which Brad Oscar does in the 2010 concert version.
From that listen, 
it's easy to imagine the Cowardly Lion
as Bert's next step.

 Sandra Church as Gypsy 
IN Gypsy!
"Let Me Entertain You"
Below with Queen Ethel as Mama Rose in
the "King Lear of Musicals".

 A trio of Roses...
The Real Gypsy Rose Lee,
Sandra C,
and Mama Rose Merman.
Below, a group of theatre gods I would never want to face
if not adequately martini-ed:
Jerome Robbins (director/choreographer),
Stephen Sondheim (lyrics)
The REAL Gypsy Rose Lee,
Goddard Lieberson (cast album producer)
and Jule Styne (music). 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Playlist for Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018: Old, Cult, and Peppy!

A new musical! Well, that needs qualifying. New to 2! Written in 1934, revived in 2010 for a lovely recording. I'm salivating, it's THAT lovely. Life Begins at 8:40, born in the midst of the Depression, and it still succeeded, so there...take that, Big D! And a history, and trivia, and cultness abound. Just my type.

It takes its name from that best seller of 1932 (surely you have a copy, Shirley?), Life Begins At 40, written by Walter B. Pitkin. People so infrequently lived to the ripe old age of 60 back then (yup, that was the average life expectancy...I'd be waaaay dead), that 40 was practically stultifying, but Walt's prosey pep pill exhorted his readers not to give up or in, get out there and LIVE! So there's that. Then theatrical curtains evidently rose at 8:40 (-ish) back then, so put it all together and there's the show's first joke.

It starred Ray Bolger and Bert Lahr, and yes, it was a revue, so popular in those days. On the writing side, Harold Arlen tunes, and the wordsmithing of Yip Harburg and Ira Gershwin. Yip knew Ira from high school days ("Yo, wanna grab a knish after French class?"), and asked him to co-write lyrics for the show, as brother George was busy with Porgy. And Bess, too. What was Ira supposed to do? Smoke cigars in his undershirt at the kitchen table?

Put this altogether, gently stir and you got a "light-hearted romp", a couple of great standards, and a few patter-y novelty numbers (that Kim holds so dear). We'll hear three of them this week, and hold a few up our leg o' mutton sleeve for Valentine's Day! I'll stopping waxing now.

Plus...a song that got Jason Robert Brown sued, 2 sets of Broadway Goes Russian (by request!), Barbara Hutton AND Audra corners, Ethel, Robert, Zero, know the last names, right? All waiting for you, come Sunday.  At 3:00...not 3:40.

Let Me Entertain You (Sandra Church, Gypsy)
Ya Got Trouble (Robert Preston, The Music Man)
Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little (Adnia Rice, Martha Flynn, Peggy Mondo,
      Elaine Swann, The Music Man)
Til There Was You (Barbara Cook, Robert Preston, The Music Man)
The Wells Fargo Wagon (Eddie Hodges, Ensemble, The Music Man)
Can't Stop Talkin' About Him (Audra McDonald)
I Won't Mind (Audra McDonald)
Down With Love (Audra McDonald)
Siberia (Jules Munshin, Joseph Buloff, Peter Lorre, Silk Stockings)
Paris Loves Lovers (Don Ameche, Hildegard Knef, Silk Stockings)
Tschaikowsky (Danny Kaye, Lady In The Dark)
Too Bad (Fred Astaire, Ensemble, Silk Stockings)
I Could Be In Love With Someone Like You (Jason Robert Brown)
Shiksa Goddess (Norbert Leo Butz, The Last Five Years)
Still Hurting (Jessica Molaskey)
Land Of Yesterday (Caroline O'Connor, Anastasia)
It Used To Be (Michael Kermoyan, Gene Varrone, Louise Troy, Paul
      Michael, Tovarich)
The Red Blues (Ensemble, Silk Stockings)
Nitchevo (Jean Pierre Aumont, Michael Kermoyan, Gene Varrone,
      Rita Metzger, Tovarich)
Far From The Home I Love (Zero Mostel, Julia Migenes, Fiddler On The Roof)
Anatevka (Zero Mostel, Company, Fiddler On The Roof)
You're A Builder-Upper (Christopher Fitzgerald, Jessica Stone, Life Begins
      At 8:40)
Quartet Erotica (Brad Oscar, Graham Rowat, Philip Chaffin, Christopher
      Fitzgerald, Life Begins At 8:40)
Things! (Faith Prince, Brad Oscar, Life Begins At 8:40)
Can't Stop Talkin' About Him (Betty Hutton, Fred Astaire, Let's Dance)
It Had To Be You (Betty Hutton)
Murder, He Says (Betty Hutton)
Anything You Can Do (Betty Hutton, Howard Keel, Annie Get Your Gun)
Let Me Entertain (Lane Bradbury, Ensemble, Gypsy)
You Gotta Get A Gimmick (Maria Karnilova, Faith Dane, Chotzi Foley, Gypsy)
If Mamma Was Married (Sandra Church, Lane Bradbury, Gypsy)
Everything's Coming Up Roses (Ethel Merman, Gypsy)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Presenting Ms. Ebersole!

 Born in 1953 in Winnetka, Illinois,
Christine's dad was president of a steel mill,
back when we had steel mills! :)
 After high school, she headed to NYC and  
the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. 

 Her first big jobs were 
on soap operas, like Ryan's Hope and One Life to Live,
and 20 episodes of Saturday Night Live,
where she worked the Weekend Update desk,
impersonating Lady Diane, Cheryl Tiegs, and Rona Barrett.
As you can tell by the hair, this was in the early 80s! 
 In 1982, Christine got a cameo in Tootsie.
She played a woman at Dustin Hoffman's surprise birthday party.
Maybe on screen for a grand total of 1.5 minutes,
but hey...Tootsie! 
(And yes, that's Dustin, mid-hug, above.)

 Lots of movies, lots of tv...
above, from Richie Rich (ugh),
with John Larroquette and Edward Herrmann,
and below, from Amadeus (yay!).

 Broadway-wise, Christine has performed in
 straight plays and musicals:
Three Sisters, On The Twentieth Century, War Paint,
revivals of 42nd Street (1st Tony Award), Oklahoma, Camelot, and Best Man.
Above as Little Edie, a role Christine originated
 in Grey Gardens...her 2nd Tony!

 As Elvira (at left) in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit,
with Angela Lansbury and Rupert Everett,
in the 2009 Broadway revival.
As this play required 2 intermissions 
and somewhat length scenery changes,
Christine recorded Noel Coward songs
to play in the interim.
A perfect accompaniment! 

Christine will turn 65 this February...
still going strong, still looking gorge!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Audra Came/Saw/Conquered

This is not a review of the Audra McDonald concert (of Jan 25, 2018, with the RPO in Kodak Hall at Eastman) last night. If I write a review, it will end up sounding either like a hyperventilating 4 year old ("I saw Santa!") or a George Saunders-like acerbic nit-pick. Let's just say I Love Audra McDonald at the outset. I wished I was sitting in Row 3, not row FFFF so I could make eye contact or she'd spit on me through out the evening. And with that mind set going in...well, I believe she can't really do Wrong.

So you get my perspective going in.

To start, she won everybody over with a "Gorgeous" opener. As in "Gorgeous" from The Apple Tree (Bock and Harnick). This was a total esoteric start and NOBODY sings this gem from 1966 any more and guess what it was wonderful. See? I'm already babbling.

In fact, the concert broke down into two halves (despite its lack of intermission): a fight between crowd-pleasing favorites and lesser known "new" ballads, from the likes of Jason Robert Brown, Jeff Blumenkrantz, etc. One minor problem I found was, that with the lack of any info in the program, the names (and composers) of some of these lesser known goodies went unmentioned, even by Audra. I will have some tracking down to do!

To name a few: "Can't Stop Talkin' About Him" which is a lickedy-split novelty number done back in 1950 by Betty Hutton in Let's Dance (which also starred Fred Astaire. Can something "also star" Fred Astaire?). The composer: Frank Loesser. Audra does this one with only 1 out of breath moment, which is totally pretended/acted, cuz she's got enough O2 to last til Labor Day.

"Stars and the Moon"....Audra, Sutton and Jessica Molaskey all do excellent renditions of this song from Jason's Songs for a New World, Jessica having "dibbs" as the first to do it in that show. A Jeff Blumenkrantz number, "Auntie Lizzie" jumped in (Sutton also included a JB song in her most recent Rochester concert, so his material is bubbling!). Sondheim, Lerner & Lane, Rodgers and Hammerstein all showed up as well, but perhaps my favorite of the night was "Ice Cream", from She Loves Me, Audra's bow to Barbara Cook.

Missing in Action: Lady Day stuff! I thought for sure she'd pull at least one Billie Holiday song from her Emerson Bar & Grill trunk, but no. Also hoped for a crazed rendition of "Down With Love", with Valentine's Day being around the corner. But rats! A no show.

But it was lovely.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Broadway Amuse-Bouches!

First course:
The Book Of Mormon, Best Musical of 2011,
starring Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells
as Elders Cunningham and Price.
Spoiler alert: They don't get sent to Orlando.

Then an "amuse-bouches":
Above Alfred Drake and Hermoine Gingold in the 
1973 staged production of Gigi,
and below Clint Eastwood, Jean Seaberg and Lee Marvin
in Paint Your Wagon.
Lerner and Loewe wrote French classy, western bushwah,
Ascot tea time, and King Arthur cute (those tights!)...
how's that for RANGE?

Either Rex is waaaaay early,
or way late for the running at Ascot.
We'll hear the sublime "I'm An Ordinary Man"
(yeah, right, Rex!)
and "Fie On Goodness" from Camelot below.
To be "fair", "Fie" was tabled from the Round Table agenda,
but... looks like it's been added back in later productions.
(See below...a toughened up "Fie"!)

As part of our vegetarian main course,
we'll hear Larry Blyden (above with glasses)
from The Apple Tree.
A Bock and Harnick creation from 1966,
it also starred Alan Alda and Barbara Harris.
Above with a chocolate egg (what PR dude dreamt that up?)
and below in costume.

 Side Dish: Tomato-ing and potato-ing above,
Matthew Broderick and Kellie O'Hara
in the "New" Musical Comedy,
Nice Work If You Can Get It,
a Brothers Gershwin re-hash.
Kelli could no way heft Matthew.
Where is truth in advertising?
"Let's Call The Whole Thing Off"

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Playlist for Sunday, Jan. 28th, 2018: Pass The Kiwis

It's come to THIS: a theme about fruit and vegetables. Yup, we may have hit a new low here at 2 On The Aisle. And just so you know, there are NOT a lot of songs about vegetables on Broadway. They get a very raw deal. Apples and cherries, even a pineapple rates higher than cauliflower and broccoli. So no matter how I tried, we will not be getting equal portions in a musical way!

But we WILL get a good deal (Super Size Me!) of Golden Age O'Broadway Classics, as well as 21st Century stuff. A nice-sized Lerner and Loewe collection, enough Noel Coward to last you through this "World Weary" winter, and the lovely Christine Ebersole. Then Contemporary takes over with ballads by Jason Robert Brown, a Shrek from Sutton, and Ben Platt with his no-dry-eyes-left-in-the-house rendition of "Words Fail". See? Just because you don't eat your veggies, doesn't mean you can't have dessert. :)

Annnnnd just to let you all know, if you can't always tune in to 2 On The Aisle on Sundays at 3pm, you now have a 2nd chance: On Fridays between 4 and 6pm, there will be a rebroadcast of that week's show, on our sister internet station, Swing & Blues Radio. So 2 chances to hear 2 on the Aisle!  Just jump on the website ( and click on S&B, or use your Tune In app on your mobile device (or like 7 other apps, I think)(don't look at me)(I'm mobile device challenged) and listen in.

So see you on Sunday (or Friday). Clean your plate.

Two By Two (Andrew Rannells, Josh Gad, The Book Of Mormon)
I'm On My Way (Company, Paint Your Wagon)
I'm An Ordinary Man (Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady)
I'll Go Home With Bonnie Jean (Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Brigadoon)
Thank Heaven For Little Girls (Alfred Drake, Gigi)
Fie On Goodness (Ensemble, Camelot)
World Weary (Christine Ebersole, Christine Ebersole Sings Noel Coward)
The Revolutionary Costume For The Day (Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens)
Never Again/Sail Away (Christine Ebersole, Christine Ebersole Sings Noel
Said Away (James Hurst, Sail Away)
Useless Useful Phrases (Elaine Stritch, Sail Away)
The Passenger's Always Right (Ensemble, Sail Away)
Later Than Spring (Elaine Stritch, Sail Away)
Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries (Walt Harrah & Friends)
The Apple Tree (Forbidden Fruit) (Larry Blyden, The Apple Tree)
Grapes Of Roth (Instrumental, Promises, Promises)
Apples, Peaches, and Cherries (Peggy Lee, Black Coffee)
Plant A Radish (William Larsen, Hugh Thomas, The Fantasticks)
It Couldn't Please Me More (The Pineapple Song)(Lotte Lenya, Jack Gilford,
Let's Call The Whole Thing Off (Mathew Broderick, Kellie O'Hara,
      Nice Work If You Can Get It)
Strange Fruit (Audra McDonald, Lady Day At Emerson's Bar And Grill)
Yes, We Have No Bananas (Company, Bullets Over Broadway)
Someone To Fall Back On (Jason Robert Brown, Wearing Someone Else's
More To The Story (Sutton Foster, Sutton Foster At The Carlyle)
Words Fail (Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen)
Sincerely, Me (Ben Platt, Mike Faist, Will Roland, Dear Evan Hansen)
You And Me (But Mostly Me (Andrew Rannells, Josh Gad, The Book
      Of Mormon)
Helpless (Renee Elise Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Finale (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mandy Gonzalez, Company, In The Heights)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tangos, Overcoats, and You!

 David Garrison, Priscilla Lopez,
Peggy Hewett and Frank Lazarus
in the Ukraine half
of A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine.
We'll sample "Natasha" with
David (with Groucho 'stache)
and Peggy (be-furred, and below with a very large saxophone).

 Peggy Hewett,
as Mrs. Pavlenko.
As a server at a long-gone East Side eaterie,
I waited on Peggy and her hangers-on.
She was snazzy. :)

 Birthday boy, Buddy (B.G.) DeSylva,
born Jan. 27th, 1895.
Before meeting up with the two mischievous types below,
(Buddy on the left, with Lew Brown and Ray Henderson),
Buddy wrote for lyrics for Al Jolson and George Gershwin.

Helen Kane
does the honors with one of that triumvirate's goodies:
"Button Up Your Overcoat"
from 1928's Follow Thru.
Jack Haley (yup, the Tin Man) was the first to sing it in that
original production.
And we'll hear another "lyrics by Buddy and Lew"
song from Hold Everything,
"You're The Cream In My Coffee".

We'll also sample a buncha tangos this Sunday...
above "Temptation" from Singin' In The Rain.
This song was also used in 1933's Going Hollywood,
where it was sung by Bing Crosby. 

I doubt I'll have time this Sunday
for La Cumparsita, the iconic tango used in 
Some Like It Hot,
where the dance was taught to Joe E. Brown and Jack Lemmon
by George Raft (!),
but it's a honey...written by Gerardo Matos Rodriguez, 
Pascual Contursi and Enrique Pedro Maroni, back in 1916.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Joel G., in for the long haul!

 Joel David Katz
was born in Cleveland in 1932.
His father was Mickey Katz, 
an actor/comedian/musician, who wrote and recorded
klezmer, jazz and parody songs
(interesting note: Mickey and his band can be seen
in the movie Thoroughly Modern Millie, 
playing in the Jewish wedding scenes).

Meanwhile, back to Joel...
Children's theatrical productions in Cleveland 
started Joel off, 
followed by television and film roles in the 1950s,
like The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Ann Sothern Show 
(above, with Ann and Don Porter)
and Come September.

His big break came in 1966,
when he starred in Cabaret (both the stage and movie versions)
as The Master Of Ceremonies,
a role that brought him both a Tony AND an Oscar.
Before that...stage work in Come Blow Your Horn (1961)
, Stop The World - I Want To Get Off (1962)
and Half A Sixpence (1965) brought him to the eye of Bob Fosse.

 George M!, 1969,
was generally panned,
but Joel came out "smelling like roses" 
as far as the critics were concerned.
Above, with Judy Garland,
and below, as "The Man Who Owned Broadway".

 A publicity shot from George M!
on his hometown's "TV Guide"
with his co-star in the show, Bernadette Peters.

Liza and Joel
picking up their Oscars in 1973
for their work in the film version of Cabaret.

Above, Joel in The Grand Tour,
a Jerry Herman flop from 1979.
Despite the short run,
Joel still garnered a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for his work.

 Above, Joel as The Wizard of Oz,
and Kristen Chenoweth as Galinda,
in Wicked, 2003.

At the age of 80, 
Joel took on the role of Moon Face Martin
in the revival of Anything Goes,
with Sutton Foster.
He's continued to do tons of television appearances
and films throughout his 65 years of performing! 
 Joel will be 86 years old, come this April!
 His 2nd career seems to be photography,
with 4 books of pics
and an exhibition (or 7!) to his name.