Saturday, March 31, 2018

We Dance. Or Try!

Once On This Island,
with music by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens
opened on Broadway in 1990,
with LaChanze as Ti Moune (in red above).
It was based on the book
My Love, My Love, or The Peasant Girl
by Rosa Guy,
and it's set in the French Antilles. 

 Nominated for lots of Tonys, 
but they came home empty handed.
More success awaited the show in the West End,
with an Olivier Award for Best New Musical (1994).
The reviews called it
"half Romeo and Juliet, half Little Mermaid"...
and it's back on Broadway RIGHT NOW!
We'll hear "We Dance".

 And while we're dancing,
let's give Merry Old Finland an opportunity
with the Fisch Schappling Dance
from Monty Python's Spamalot,
Best Musical Tony winner of 2005.
Patti LuPone would have had a problem with 
Spamalot's pre-show announcement
to "let your cellphones and pagers ring willy-nilly"
throughout the evening!

 "Tough Act To Follow"
from Curtains (2007)
with Jill Paice and David Hyde-Pierce
offers a one-on-one dance lesson,
including a big staircase finish.
The music of Kander and Ebb...

 "Shaking The Blues Away",
that's what Ann Miller does in
Easter Parade.
Above with co-star Fred Astaire,
and below in yellow, then red.
Released in 1948, with the music of Irving Berlin,
Parade was both Judy and Fred's 
most financially successful flick.

 Cyd Charisse was slated for the role
of Nadine Hale,
but she had to bow out due to a knee injury.
Ann "took over!" :)
Costumes by Irene.

 We'll also hear Georgia Engel
and Edward Hibbert 
with "Love Is Always Lovely In The End"
from The Drowsy Chaperone (2006).
Yup, Georgette from The Mary Tyler Moore show.
And Edward played the director in
Curtains (small Brdway world!).
Music by the songwriting team of Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison.

Five Tony Awards for this show,
including one for Best Original Score.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

And she can cook, too!

 Even though we'll hear only one Nancy Walker tune
this Sunday,
I found some great pics of her
and couldn't wait.
She was born Anna Myrtle Swoyer in Philly,
but she and her sister grew up "on the road"
touring with their vaudevillian father,
Dewey Barto (his stage name).
Both Nancy and her dad were on the short side, 4'11" tall.
She won her first role on Broadway due to a mix up
with another actress whose name was Nancy Walker...
so Ann became a Walker
for her Broadway debut in Best Foot Forward, 1941.
Nancy also did the movie version just 2 years later.
 Below, on Broadway with June Allyson and Victoria Schools,
in Best Foot.
 Above in the movie version
with June and Gloria DeHaven.

 Subsequent Broadway shows included
a starring role in Look Ma, I'm Dancin' (1948)
and On The Town (1944).

 Below, Barefoot Boy With Cheek (1947)

 Television appearances included
Family Affair with Brian Keith and Sebastian Cabot (above)
and briefly her own series, below, with
Ken Olfson, Beverly Archer, and William Daniels.

 And then her Bounty Paper Towel commercials!

The role of Valerie Harper's mom,
in The Mary Tyler Moore Show
and its sequel, Rhoda,
is how most people knew Nancy come the 1970s:
Ida Morgenstern!

As Yvette, the deaf mute cook in Murder By Death, 1976,
and below with "blind" butler Alec Guiness.

And dancing with a much taller Muppet.
10 movies, over 20 stage plays, and a bevy of television...
Nancy passed away in 1992,
at the age of 69,
after 55 years in the bizness.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Playlist For Sunday, April 1, 2018: Triple Threat!

It's Spring! Sort of. Well, Upstate Spring. Which means muck boots, prehistoric snow banks, winter coats, rock salt, umbrellas, and gray. Lots and lots of gray. However, it's also Easter (which means Easter dresses, worn under those parkas) and patent leather Mary Janes (kept in a bag til you take off those wellies) and April Fool's Day (no explanation needed) and the Jazz 90.1 Pledge Drive! A conglomeration to celebrate/tolerate...and what better way to do THAT than with musicals?

Jazz yourself up with some Dance (and a Fisch Schlapping variety at that!) and some Odes to Spring (with those 7 Brides and Brothers) and some April nuts (Phyllis, Imogene, Jack, and Danny)...if this weather doesn't spark us, we have to DIY-it and Swing, Cook, Box Step, and Shake it (tone down those taps, Ann!) ourselves. I may even wear my Easter Bonnet to the station, and do a live Parade of my own. (For pics, see next week's issue of the Rotogravure.)

But seriously, Jazz 90.1 is the only radio station in Rochester, NY, that actually has a Broadway radio show...2 on the Aisle! They believe in serving those niche-y audiences with unique programs that you just can't tune in anywhere else. Okay, so if you went to Spotify and Pandora, then yes, you'll hear some of the tunes I play (although Alexa knows nothing of Seesaw!!!), but this station offers more. We fill in the gaps, offer you some history on those tunes. Some anecdotal asides, some dirt (when we're lucky enough to dig it up), some embellishments to make your Broadway or Blues or Jazz experience more enjoyable.

So think about it. Thanks for giving if you already have; if you haven't, gimme a call on Sunday OR jump on anytime...Help us SPRING and DANCE and play the FOOL!

Overture/Tiger Rag (Helene Yorke, Ensemble, Bullets Over Broadway)
Shaking The Blues Away (Ann Miller, Easter Parade)
Mr. Monotony (Judy Garland, Easter Parade)
A Fella With An Umbrella (Peter Lawford, Judy Garland, Easter Parade)
In Your Easter Bonnet (Judy Garland, Easter Parade)
We Dance (Ensemble, Once On This Island)
Shall We Dance? (Fred Astaire, Shall We Dance?)
Shall We Dance? (Gertrude Lawrence, Yul Brynner, The King And I)
I Could Have Danced All Night (Julie Andrews, My Fair Lady)
Spring, Spring, Spring (Ensemble, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers)
It Might As Well Be Spring (Andrea McArdle, State Fair)
You Must Believe In Spring (Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Callaway, Sibling
Fisch Schlapping Dance (Ensemble, Monty Python's Spamalot)
Second Chance (Daniel McDonald, Karen Ziemba, Steel Pier)
A Tough Act To Follow (David Hyde Pierce, Jill Paice, Curtains)
Dance A Little Closer (Len Cariou, Liz Robertson, Dance A Little Closer)
The Nuttycracker Suite (Instrumental, Thoroughly Modern Millie)
Getting Married Today (Beth Howland, Steve Elmore, Company)
I'm Calm (Jack Gilford, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum)
The Court Jester (Danny Kaye, The Court Jester)
Later Than Spring (Elaine Stritch, Sail Away)
The Spring Of Next Year (Ensemble, Dear World)
Springtime For Hitler (Ensemble, The Producers)
Love Is Always Lovely In The End (Georgia Engel, Edward Hibbert,
      The Drowsy Chaperone)
I Was A Shoe-In (Phyllis Newman, Subways Are For Sleeping)
She's A Nut (Ensemble, On The Twentieth Century)
Swing! (Rosalind Russell, Wonderful Town)
I Can Cook, Too (Nancy Walker, On The Town)
Office Krupke (Ensemble, West Side Story)
Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You (Vincent Pastore, Helene Yorke,
      Bullets Over Broadway)
Let's Misbehave (Brooks Ashmanskas, Helene Yorke, Bullets Over Broadway)
The Hot Dog Song (Helene Yorke, Jim Borstelmann, Bullets Over Broadway)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ode to Bob.

 So much Bob Fosse,
so little time...
above with Gwen Verdon 
who he met while working on Damn Yankees.
They married in 1960,
and despite "flings", stayed married until Bob's death in 1987.

 Bob as Hortensio in the movie version of Kiss Me Kate,
with Carol Haney in their duet "moment"
of "From This Moment On"...
appropriately enough, it was Bob's moment to shine.

 As you can see, this is totally out of order...
cuz now we're in the 1970s and Cabaret, with Liza,
or below in the fantasy set from All That Jazz.

 A young Bob in Pal Joey...
the 1952 revival.
Bob was the understudy for Harold Lang,
Joey Number 1.

 After Gwen, there was Ann Reinking,
above in All That Jazz...
below, working on the film of Sweet Charity,
the "Big Spender" number.

 From Dancin',
a revue of Fosse's work, produced in 1978,
and below "Rich Man's Frug"
from Sweet Charity.

 Above from The Little Prince,
with Bob as The Snake.
Despite Richard Kiley, Gene Wilder, a screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner,
and music by Frederick Loewe,
they just could not jive up Antoine Saint-Ex!

 Circa My Sister Eileen, released in 1955,
with Bob playing opposite Janet Leigh.
Also starring Jack Lemmon, Betty Garrett,
and Tommy Rall (an alumni from Kate) who Bob got to do a 
fabulous routine with.

 In 1974, Bob directed Dustin Hoffman in Lenny.
Maybe Liza invaded the set...

Nice grouping.
Gwen, Bob and Joseph Cotten.

Robert Louis Fosse,
actor, choreographer, director, 
1927 - 1987

Friday, March 23, 2018

Playlist For Sunday, March 25, 2018: FOSSE Rewind

This blog is waaaaay late due to:
a.) a visit to the REAL Broadway, not just the one you cue up, and
b.) a visit that was extended an additional day due to Winter Storm Toby. Which sounds like a stuffed bear wearing white fluffy earmuffs and a cute pair of snow shoes. It doesn't inspire fear. And neither did the "storm"...6 inches in NYC equals 6 feet in upstate NY. It's sorta like a metric conversion, without decimals or frostbite, but with plenty of canceled flights and empty seats at Hamilton! (Which I saw. Which was insanely wonderful. Quote of the night from the "old"-er lady in the seat behind me to another, "Do you know what's actually going on?")

But I'm back to reality in The Roc now, and it's Fosse Time. I had a request to do a repeat of an earlier Fosse-themed show, and I didn't really need my arm twisted. And it IS pledge drive time, and these shows ARE pretty classic, so it was a nifty match. With the appropriately included "Big Spender" leading the parade.

It's late, and I have laundry and bills and other reality-based stuff to catch up on. Later for trivia on the FOSS! And the Verd, and the ssssSnakes in the Grass. :)

Big Spender (Ensemble, Sweet Charity)
Overture (Instrumental, Kiss Me Kate)
Tom, Dick or Harry (Ann Miller, Tommy Rall, Bobby Van, Bob Fosse, Kiss Me
From This Moment On (Tommy Rall, Ann Miller, Bobby Van, Bob Fosse, Kiss
      Me Kate)
Steam Heat (Carol Haney, "The Box Boys", The Pajama Game)
Hernando's Hideaway (Carol Haney, Ensemble, The Pajama Game)
Whatever Lola Wants (Gwen Verdon, Damn Yankees)
Who's Got The Pain?(Gwen Verdon, Eddie Philips, Ensemble, Damn Yankees)
Roll Yer Socks Up (Ensemble, New Girl In Town)
It's Good To Be Alive (Gwen Verdon, New Girl In Town)
Flings (Thelma Ritter, Mara Landi, Lulu Banks, New Girl In Town)
If My Friends Could See Me Now (Gwen Verdon, Sweet Charity)
I Love To Cry At Weddings (John Wheeler, Ensemble, Sweet Charity)
The Rhythm Of Life (Ensemble, Sweet Charity)
The Right Finger Of My Left Hand (Gwen Verdon, Redhead)
Pick Pocket Tango (Instrumental, Redhead)
She's Not Enough Woman For Me (Richard Kiley, Leonard Stone, Redhead)
Look Who's In Love (Richard Kiley, Gwen Verdon, Redhead)
Magic To Do (Ben Vereen, Company, Pippin)
Extraordinary (John Rubenstein, Pippin)
Simple Joys (Ben Vereen, Ensemble, Pippin)
Say Liza (With A Z) (Liza Minnelli, Liza With A Z)
Bye Bye Blackbird (Lisa Minnelli, Liza With A Z)
Mein Herr (Liza Minnelli, Cabaret)
Maybe This Time (Liza Minnelli, Cabaret)
A Secretary Is Not A Toy (Ensemble, How To Succeed In Business Without
      Really Trying)
Take Off With Us (Ensemble, All That Jazz)
sssssSnake In The Grassss...(Bob Fosse, The Little Prince)
Razzle Dazzle (Jerry Orbach, Chicago)
He Had It Coming (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ensemble, Chicago)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Well, I've never actually TRIED to succeed in business...

 The story was based on a real one...
Back in 1936, Shepherd Mead got a job with Benton & Bowles,
one of THEE advertising firms of the day.
His first job (of course) was as a mail clerk,
but he eventually worked his way up to a vice presidency.
So this is a (satirical) tale worthy of 
a.) a book! A best seller in fact...written in 1952 in
Shepherd's spare moments away from "adverting",
with the subtitle "The Dastard's Guide to Fame and Fortune,"
and b.) a very successful musical (1961) and movie (1967).
Above is Shepherd now...
I mean, Robert Morse, as J. Pierrepont Finch
 (called "a rumpled, dimpled angel with a streak of Lucifer").
 Evidently coffee was as big back then as it is now:
Charles Nelson Reilly, as the original Bud Frump,
and below, mid throes-of-anguish,
with Claudette Sutherland as Smitty.
Having worked in advertising for all of 1.75 years in the early 80s
(the boring pharmaceutical kind),
I can tell you these coffee trucks existed even then,
and were just as revered! 

 Rudy Vallee was chosen to play 
the president of the World Wide Wicket
(hey, the first www?) Company,
J. B. Biggley.
All went well til Rudy wanted to add some of his hit songs
to the score. 
Music-meister Frank Loesser nixed that,
as did director Abe Burrows.
 For a good memoir read, btw,
try Burrows' "Honest Abe"...

 Robert and Charles both won acting Tonys for their performances,
plus 5 more for the show, including Best Musical.
(And don't forget the Pulitzer Prize for Drama!)
Great quote from Walter Kerr, of the New York Herald Tribune:
"Not a sincere line is spoken in the new 
Abe Burrows-Frank Loesser musical, 
and what a relief that is...
How to Succeed is crafty, conniving, sneaky, cynical, irreverent, 
impertinent, sly, malicious, and lovely, just lovely."

 In revivals, the show has been called dated
("all the romantic brouhaha with moony secretaries is beyond retro")
and episodic.
Above the "Secretary Is Not A Toy" number,
from the movie,
and below "No Coffee"
which was unfortunately jettisoned.
Choreography by Bob Fosse,
who worked on the staged production as well,
but chose not to be credited with such
(long story!).