Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Playlist For March 4, 2018: Broadway Crack

So I'm full of vim (which used to be a detergent, right?) and vigor (which DIDN'T used to be a detergent) due to a.) something I think is the SUN shining presently thru the crack in my curtains, and b.) 2 new offerings for this Sunday's show: The Band's Visit and Patti LuPone's Don't Monkey With Broadway. It's sorta like being on a Broadway opioid, having these 2 (both wonderful) brand spanking new CDs in my hands. Because let's just say it, every track is THAT good. (*Side note: most CDs I buy (for $22.50 "Like New!") engender disappointment and a side helping of that uncomfortable feeling of rip-offedness...not so this time. Just hurrah!)

The Band's Visit, with music by David Yazbek, really shows the composer's roots: he's Lebanese by way of Italy. Egyptian, Israeli ...the music just makes you want to order falafel takeout. I mean that in the nicest way possible. I was already a fan (Women On The Verge, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty), but now I am a FAN. Tony Shaloub stars, as the conductor in the "Sergeant Pepper Suit", along with Katrina Lenk, and John Cariani. Whisking away to NYC in 2 weeks to see it, that's how much I'm crushing. (That AND Hamilton. Yeah. Go Me. :))

And Patti, in a big Broadway musical tribute that she's touring with. Hie Thee to the Box Office of the Eastman, if you haven't already gotten your tickets for her April 29th performance! Currently reading her memoir, and man. She has Done It All. The CD is a tour of iconic Broadway. You can just sort of climb in, pull up the covers, and dream away.

And I'd be totally remiss if I didn't include a tribute to Nanette Fabray, who passed away just a week ago, so along with hot off the press, we'll honor an actress who did it all back in the day. Did she write a memoir? Please say yes. Still searching.

Vim and Vigor in check, but circling. :)

Please Don't Monkey With Broadway (Patti LuPone, Don't Monkey With
A Wonderful Day Like Today (Cyril Ritchard, The Roar Of The Greasepaint,
      The Smell Of The Crowd)
It's A Lovely Day Today (Walter Charles, Melissa Errico, Call Me Madam)
Ev'ry Sunday Afternoon (Dawn Upshaw, Dawn Upshaw Sings Rodgers And
Not Every Day Of The Week (Bob Dishy, Liza Minelli, Flora The Red Menace)
Waiting (The Residents Of Bet Hatikva,The Band's Visit)
Welcome To Nowhere (Katrina Lenk, John Cariani, Etai Benson,
      The Band's Visit)
The Beat Of Your Heart (Andrew Polk, John Cariani, Alok Tewari,
      George Abud, The Band's Visit)
Itgara'a/Something Different (Tony Shaloub, Katrina Lenk, The Band's Visit)
Louisiana Hayride (Nanette Fabray, The Bandwagon)
How Soon Will I Be Seeing You? (Nanette Fabray)
Sweet Music (Nanette Fabray, Oscar Levant, The Bandwagon)
Triplets (Nanette Fabray, Fred Astaire, Jack Buchanan, The Bandwagon)
Got A Bran' New Suit (Nanette Fabray, Fred Astaire, The Bandwagon)
They Love Me (Nanette Fabray, The President)
Good Morning, Good Day (Daniel Massey, Barbara Baxley, Jack Cassidy,
      Nathaniel Frey, She Loves Me)
That'll Be The Day (Mens Ensemble, The Happiest Girl In The World)
Once-A-Year-Day (John Raitt, Janis Paige, Company, The Pajama Game)
Those Were The Good Old Days (Ray Walston, Damn Yankees)
It's Today (Ann Hampton-Callaway, Liz Callaway, Sibling Revelry)
Come To The Supermarket (In Old Peking)(Barbra Streisand, The Barbra
      Streisand Album)
Muqin (Harriet Harris, Ken Leung, Francis Jue, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
Singapore Sue (Joseph R. Sicari, Company, Dames At Sea)
Give Them What They Want (John Lithgow, Gregory Jbara, Dirty
      Rotten Scoundrels)
Here I Am! (Sherie Rene Scott, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)
Dirty Rotten Number (John Lithgow, Norbert Leo Butz, Dirty Rotten
Island (Sherie Rene Scott, Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown)
Model Behaviour (Laura Benanti, Women On The Verge)
My Crazy Heart (Patti LuPone, Ensemble, Women On The Verge)
If (Patti LuPone, Don't Monkey With Broadway)
Anyone Can Whistle (Patti LuPone, Don't Monkey With Broadway)
Back On Top (Patti LuPone, War Paint)
Give My Regards To Broadway (Patti LuPone, Don't Monkey With Broadway)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Brioche...bagels...it's all gluten to me

 Try, just TRY to find better photos of The Baker's Wife.
(And if you can, send them to me immediately!!)
A production that never made it to Broadway
sort of evaporates on the internet,
unless you don't mind images of productions done
at the junior high down the road.
Back in 1952, it was bubble of an idea,
with music by Frank Loesser and a book by Abe Burrows...
the Baker in question would be played by
Bert Lahr.
That didn't happen.
Fast-forward 10 years, they're now trying to get it off the ground,
with Zero Mostel.
Then in the 1970's, Stephen Schwartz entered the picture.
(Don't ask  who's in the photo below...
I think it's the Paper Mill Playhouse version!
Again, try to find it!)

 Carole Demas (fresh off the run of Grease)
was first cast as Genevieve,
THEE Baker's Wife,
but was quickly replaced with 
 Patti Lupone (above)
and Topol as said Baker.
They took the show to LA and then to DC,
but Topol didn't actually work out
(Patti loathed him),
and so HE was replaced mid-tour with Paul Sorvino.
Below, Patti with Kurt Peterson who played Dominique
and below THAT, Patti with Topol
(on a good day, it seems. Well, they WERE acting!).

 The song "Bread" caused problems from the start,
so much so that it became a running (rising?) joke as 
"The Waterloo" of the show.
The director left half way thru the LA run.
They took the only song Patti had away from her
("Meadowlark"), so SHE walked out,
and then things really got bad.
Below, possibly a more appropriate poster for this 1976 production,
the bill for the film it was based on:
La Femme Du Boulanger. 

 Below, a photo of Alun Armstrong and Sharon Lee-Hill
from the 1989 London Company...
which actually made a cast album.

 Another bagel that certainly took its time
reaching Broadway was
Breakfast At Tiffany's.
 Despite a creative team and cast to knock your socks off, 
it was a throw-out-the-book, change-the-title,
cut-5-songs, no-bring-them-back kinda show. 
Mary Tyler Moore was cast as Holly Golightly
(which someone along the way altered to
"Holly Went Badly"),
Richard Chamberlain was Somebody, 
and Sally Kellerman Somebody Else (who liked Coffee). 

They couldn't solve the problems.
David Merrick took out an ad in the New York Times
announcing that it would not open. 
("...rather than subject the critics and 
the public to an excruciatingly boring evening.")

So that was back in 1966.
In 2013, they actually did a version of the thing
on Broadway,
with additional music (Bob Merrill's wasn't enough?)
by Grant Olding.
It lasted a few months, then left on a UK vacation,
where I hear it's having a fine time. :)
 Thanks to a recording done in 2001
with Faith Prince, Hal Linden, and Sally Kellerman,
we can still sample the original songs

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Sunday Gardeners

The Crooning Troubadour,
Nick Lucas,
introduced "Tip Toe Through The Tulips"
in the "musical talkie", Gold Diggers of  Broadway.
It was written back in 1929 by Al Dubin 
and Joe Burke.
Nick topped the charts with "Tip Toe"
for 10 solid weeks;
it had a good beat, and you can dance to it, Dick!

 Andy Rooney,
above with Ann Miller in Sugar Babies,
a very successful 1980s look-back at Burlesque sorta thing.
Mickey's Broadway debut, at the age of 59,
(Ann, 56 btw)!
It ran for 3 years...Carol Channing and Robert Morse
did a short-lived national tour.
We'll hear "Immigration Rose",
a song from 1923 by
Irwin Dash, Jimmy McHugh, and Eugene West.

 From The Shoe String Revue, 1955:
Dodi Goodman, above,
with "Someone Is Sending Me Flowers"
(and chocolates by the look of it),
a song that would stop the show every night she sang it.
Written by a young Sheldon Harnick and David Baker.

 Walter Chiari, Barbara Cook and Jules Munshin in
The Gay Life, from 1961...
but by the look and sound,
it didn't stray far from the 1910 play it was based on.
It's been re-christened since then as The High Life!
We'll hear Jules (who played Anatole) with 
"The Bloom Is Off The Rose".

 That "Spanish Rose"
from Allentown, PA,
Chita Rivera who said yes to the role of Rosie
(when Edie Gorme and Carol Haney both nixed it)
in Bye Bye Birdie.

 Merwin Goldsmith (above)
joined Jason Graae and Judy Blazer in 
a studio cast recording of Jerome Kern's
Sitting Pretty from 1924,
with the delightful lyrics of P.G. Wodehouse.
Merwin warbles "Tulip Time In Sing Sing" on Sunday.

 Lee Wilkof as Seymore 
and Ellen Green as Audrey I
in Little Shop of Horrors.
We'll hear "Grow For Me"...and it does!
Below the lady who made Audrey II lithe
and the man who made Audrey II damn ferocious. 
The original voice of A2 was Ron Taylor.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Playlist For Sunday, Feb. 25, 2018: Flour and Flowers, from the Flour/Flower City!

The city of Rochester was once called the Flour City, right? With the opening of the Erie Canal (1825-ish), flour mills spring/sprang/sprung up along the Genesee River and thousands of barrels of the fluffy stuff were shipped out of our port on to Albany, NYC and all points east. (Too much expostion, too boring...get to the point!) But by 1850, our flour industry  declined, and the seed and nursery biz "flour-ished!" A simple respelling, and voila...the Roc was renamed. Flour. Flower. A rose by any other name would be just as chewy!

And of course I had ALL that in mind when I chose our themes for Sunday's 2 On The Aisle. Actually, of course not! The serendipity (Serengeti?) of my themes spring/sprang/sprung from my head, like Athena from the head of Zeus (which is why I have plenty of Exedrin at my bedside), when I realized that my new Betty Buckley CD had a song from the Baker's Wife on it, ANNNNND that another "new" (old/borrowed/blue) CD of Sitting Pretty had a wonderful Jerome Kern tune called "When It's Tulip Time In Sing Sing." Of course I couldn't just do Tulips. And I couldn't do just Bread! Ahhh, but lightly folded...the synergy of the 2 astounds even me. :)

So this is a light, airy, aromatic show, with plenty of gardens (Secret!), growing (I Won't!), roses (Second Hand! Spanish!), bakers (with wives! in diners! equipped with razors!), and an obligatory ballad or 7. It will all make you yearn for a brioche...and a bouquet.

Chanson (Jill Martin, The Baker's Wife)
Bread (Ensemble, The Baker's Wife)
Plain And Simple (Alun Armstrong, Sharon Lee-Hill, The Baker's Wife)
Buzz A-Buzz (Alun Armstrong, Company, The Baker's Wife)
Someone Is Sending Me Flowers (Dody Goodman, Shoe String Revue)
Tip Toe Through The Tulips (Nick Lucas And His Troubadours)
Tulip Time In Sing Sing (Merwin Goldsmith, Sitting Pretty)
When You Wore A Tulip (Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, For Me And My Gal)
You Were There (Christine Ebersole, Christine Ebersole Sings Noel
Who Are You Now? (Judy Kuhn, Just In Time: Judy Kuhn Sings Jule Styne)
Love Look Away (Leslie Odom, Jr., Leslie Odom, Jr.)
Both Sides Now (Betty Buckley, Story Songs)
Grow For Me (Lee Wilkof, Little Shop Of Horrors)
When I Grow Up (Adrianna Bertola, Lauren Ward, Matilda)
Come To My Garden/Lift Me Up (Rebecca Luker, The Secret Garden)
I Won't Grow Up (Mary Martin, Peter Pan)
Second Hand Rose (Fanny Brice, The Ziegfeld Follies Of 1921)
Honeysuckle Rose (Ken Page, Nell Carter, Ain't Misbehavin')
The Rose (Ensemble, Breakfast At Tiffany's)
Spanish Rose (Chita Rivera, Bye Bye Birdie)
The Bloom Is Off The Rose (Jules Munshin, The High Life)
I Won't Send Roses (Robert Preston, Mack & Mabel)
Immigration Rose (Mickey Rooney, Sugar Babies)
Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You? (The Buffalo Bills Barbershop Quartet,
      Barbara Cook, The Music Man)
What's Inside (Jessie Mueller, Waitress)
Menu Song (Debra Monk, Cass Morgan, Pump Boys And Dinettes)
Sara Lee (Jim Walton, And The World Goes Round)
What Baking Can Do (Jessie Mueller, Waitress)
A Little Priest (Angela Lansbury, Len Cariou, Sweeney Todd)
I Can Cook, Too (Nancy Walker, On The Town)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Clean Your Glasses, See Forever...plus Funny Faces

 The musical makers/shakers...
Alan Jay Lerner, Barbara Harris, John Cullum and Burton Lane,
in prep for 
On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, 1965.
The critics loved the melodies, if not the book
(reincarnation, ESP...???);
nonetheless, both John and Barbara were nominated for their work,
as was the Lerner & Lane score.

Above, John and Barbara recording the cast album,
and below, Barbara with William Daniels,
who would soon star in 1776!
(I remember him in The Graduate, St. Elsewhere,
and I'm positive he used to be on a soap opera...
The Edge of Night?...but I can't find "evidence!") 

 Judy Garland
in a show-within-a-show...in the MOVIE, A Star Is Born, 1954.
"Lose That Long Face"
was contributed by Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin;
the film also used Rodgers and Hart songs, 
Roger Eden's "Born In A Trunk"
and oldies like "The Peanut Vendor",
"Swanee", and "My Melancholy Baby". 
Judy was nominated for an Academy Award,
but come the night of the presentation,
she was about to give birth to her son Joey...
of course the cameras were ready, hospital-bed-side,
for the moment...
(which moment? the baby or the Oscar? the lady or the tiger?),
but she lost to Grace Kelly in the Country Girl.

 "Were Thine That Special Face"
from Kiss Me, Kate.
Above, Petruchio, as portrayed by Alfred Drake,
and a very suspicious, if not terrified,
Patricia Morison as Kate.
I guess it all works out in the end,
but some of the songs now rankle in a sexist sorta way.
Damn, Cole.

 Oh, to have a Funny Face like that!
Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in the 1957 movie version
of Funny Face.
Music by the Gershwin Boys, of course...
done originally on Broadway in 1927
with Fred and his sis, Adele.
The movie just changed the entire plot,
and dropped all but 4 of the original songs.
But hey...Funny Face! :)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Look at that face. Just LOOK at it.

 A bevy of ballads awaits us on Sunday,
starting off with Betty Buckley
and selections from her recent Story Songs album.
Below, Betty in her Broadway debut in 1969
with William Daniels and Howard DaSilva
in 1776.
She got the job as Martha Jefferson on her 
very first day in NYC.
  Betty has been called "The Voice of Broadway",
with Cats, Pippin, Sunset Boulevard, Promises, Promises and Drood
 and many more under her belt.
But she's also done a ton of television 
(remember "Eight Is Enough"?
Cagney & Lacey? L.A.Law?), and
films (Another Woman, Tender Mercies, Carrie).
Below, in character for Grey Gardens...
Betty played Big Edie with 
Rachel Yorke as the little variety.

Faith Prince, born in Georgia, raised in Virginia,
made her Broadway debut in 1989
in Jerome Robbin's Broadway.
She followed that up as Miss Adelaide in the 1992 revival
of Guys and Dolls (for which Faith won a Tony),
and below, in the revival of Bells Are Ringing.

She's played Ursula, below,
in The Little Mermaid...

and Miss Hannigan in Annie! 


 And then 3 faces from our
THAT FACE! theme...
above Jack Cassidy in Fade Out - Fade In
(above with Carol Burnett) 
and "My Fortune Is My Face"...
below Cyril Ritchard (here with a young Joel Grey
who replaced Anthony Newley in The Roar Of The Greasepaint,
The Smell Of The Crowd),
with "Look At That Face."

Dick Van Dyke in an early "silly walk" above.
He won a Tony for his performance in Bye Bye Birdie,
in only is second show on The Great White Way.
He had debuted on Broadway just one year before that,
in The Girls Against The Boys.
The next year he auditioned for a small part in Birdie,
threw in a quasi soft shoe at the end of his song,
prompting Gower Champion to give him the lead of Albert.
Dick: "But I can't really dance!"
Gower: "We'll teach you!"
Prior to Broadway, Dick was part of a 2 person act
called "The Merry Mutes" with Phil Erickson, 
doing mime and lip-synching to 78s.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Playlist For Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018: To Scoop or Not To Scoop...or Why Is My Shelf Only 3 Feet High?

A Trivial Week...I mean a week full of trivia! That sounds better, right? While searching/researching this Broadway stuff of dreams, I found the following goodies:

1.) Betty Buckley was Runner Up Miss Texas, back in 1966 (steps away from a Miss America title, and I'm sure her talent wasn't fire baton. Or maybe it was!). And on her very first day in NYC, she scooped the part of Martha Jefferson in 1776. Hate her yet? 

2.) Faith Prince was part of the cast of Scrambled Feet, down at the Village Gate, in 1983. Well, not the original cast, but why split hairs?...and she got to sing the Duck Song. And was chased by the Duck. Seems she couldn't scoop said duck (which she was supposed to do as she exited the stage every night) before it would turn on her. And, appropriately using the same verb, FP also failed to scoop the part of Audrey (I, not II) in the original production (well, maybe she played it later, in like dinner theatre, but why split hairs?) of Little Shop of Horrors. The part went to Ellen Green. I believe the whole disappointing episode comes up in her therapy sessions. I mean, it sounds like it.

3.) Did you ever READ the plot of On A Clear Day? ESP, hypnotism,  reincarnation (Ouija boards? Blithe spirits?), doctors who fall in love with their patients, shipwrecks, plane crashes, and gee I wish I could give up smoking. Wait, this sounds like a Broadway musical! Wish I'd thought of it.

4.) The lyrics of Life of Begins at 8:40 is so crammed with prehistoric references that the liner notes include a "dictionary"...This comes in handy when listening to "I Couldn't Hold My Man", which I'll be playing come Sunday. Here are a few nuggets to help the Unknowing (younger than 75) to understand:

The Five Foot Shelf...."An anthology of classic literature, now known as
       The Harvard Classics" (hey, that will DEFINITELY impress the guys now!)
Lydia Pinkham's....a tonic for ladies' ills.
Hay's Reducing Plan...the fad diet of 1911 (never eat your starches WITH
       your proteins, dahling!) (As Norma Shearer pointed out in
       The Women, "No starch, dear! It's gluten!" Oh, okay, Norma. I'll eat up! ).
Carnegie Clothes...Hattie Carnegie, who was THEE fashion guru of the 20s.
Spud...the first menthol cigarette, which came out in 1925. Kissing sweet?

(BTW, that song seems to have inspired "Nobody Makes A Pass At Me", from Pins And Needles, written just 3 years later in 1937. Hmmmm.....)

Just thought you'd wanna know. Or not. I mean, you could just kick back in your Barcalounger and listen. With or without back story, it's Broadway. Be blithe!

Sun On My Face (Robert Morse, Tony Roberts, Elaine Joyce, Ensemble,
On A Clear Day You Can See Forever (John Cullum, On A Clear Day You Can
      See Forever)
Wait Till We're Sixty-Five (William Daniels, On A Clear Day You Can See
What Did I Have That I Don't Have Now (Barbara Harris, On A Clear Day
      You Can See Forever)
Put On A Happy Face (Dick Van Dyke, Bye Bye Birdie)
My Fortune Is My Face (Jack Cassidy, Fade Out - Fade In)
Look At That Face (Cyril Ritchard, The Roar Of The Grease Paint, The Smell
      Of The Crowd)
Cassandra (Betty Buckley, Story Songs)
Heart's Desire (Jessica Molaskey, At The Algonquin)
Someone Else's Clothes (Jason Robert Brown, Wearing Someone Else's
Old Flame (Betty Buckley, Story Songs)
Lose That Long Face (Judy Garland, A Star Is Born)
Were Thine That Special Face (Alfred Drake, Kiss Me Kate)
Let's Face The Music And Dance (Fred Astaire, Follow The Fleet)
Funny Face (Fred Astaire, Funny Face)
How Can You Describe A Face? (Sydney Chaplin, Subways Are For Sleeping)
I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face (Rex Harrison, My Fair Lady)
How Are Things In Glocca Morra (Ella Logan, Finian's Rainbow)
Necessity (Dolores Martin, Maude Simmons, Ensemble, Finian's Rainbow)
Something Sort Of Grandish (Ella Logan, David Wayne, Finian's Rainbow)
Old Devil Moon (Ella Logan, Donald Richards, Finian's Rainbow)
Crossword Puzzle (Faith Prince, Total Faith)
Somewhere That's Green (Faith Prince, Total Faith)
I Couldn't Hold My Man (Faith Prince, Life Begins At 8:40)
The Beauty That Drives Men Mad (Robert Morse, Tony Roberts, Sugar)
We Could Be Close (Elaine Joyce, Robert Morse, Sugar)
When You Meet A Man From Chicago (Company, Sugar)

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Side of Love, Please...hold the dressing!

 Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in
the film version of 
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
A book by Anita Loos,
originally starring Carol Channing as Lorelei Lee.
Below, 2 dames we're supposed to feel sorry for,
"When Love Goes Wrong."
I should be so unhappy.

 Mid rehearsal...love this one!

 Shirley Booth in A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (based on the book
by Betty Smith)
as Aunt Sissy, a part that was substantially "beefed up"
to allow for Shirley's popularity at the time.
In fact, the musical tilted so much in Shirley's favor
that the real story was marginalized
and reviews were disappointing.
We'll hear "Love Is The Reason." 
(And BTW, look at those STOCKINGS!)

 Recording the cast album...
from left, songwriter Arthur Schwartz, David Oppenheim,
Shirley, Goddard Lieberson.
Missing: lyricist Dorothy Fields.

 And 3 connections that Shirley had with Katherine Hepburn:
Above, Shirley in the Broadway production of 
Desk Set,
which Katherine would do with Spencer Tracey, 
Hollywood style.
Below, the staged version of The Philadelphia Story, 1939,
with Katherine at center, and Shirley at right,
in the part of the photographer, Miss Imbrie,
later played by Ruth Hussey.
Note Joseph Cotten to the left of Katherine!

 And one more connection:
Above, Shirley in The Time of the Cuckoo, 1952,
for which she was awarded a Tony...
and which would be made into the movie ( just 3 years later),
starring (of course) Katherine Hepburn. 

 Ah, to be in Scotland. Or not.
Above Gene and Cyd on the MGM sound lot,
a major disappointment for Gene who wanted to move the whole
kit n' caboodle
to film in the Highlands.
The budget (and Dore Schary) said no. 
So the back lot got a paint job.
Below, the Broadway version...and one scary piece of scenery!
We'll here Mr. Kelly's breathy 
"Almost Like Being In Love".

 And a musical that has yet to reach our "sunny shores":
Top Hat,
starring Tom Chamberlain (above) 
and Summer Strallen (below, right).
It debuted in the West End in 2012,
and has had great success touring in the UK.
So perhaps, if we're lucky...
The music is a collection of Irving Berlin goodies from various shows.
Below in purple is Vivien Parry who we'll hear
(with Martin Ball)
perform "Outside Of That, I Love You".