Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Playlist for Sunday, August 5, 2018: Let's!

Let's have another cup of coffee, kiss and make up, step out, misbehave, face the music, have lunch, call it off and/or just do it. (Lithuanians and Letts do it! Why not 2 on the Aisle?) Yes, this Sunday's show is LET'S-full. Not Let Us. No, that doesn't work. Too formal, too "bow our heads"...For Cole and Ira and Irving, it was always LET'S. Apostrophes, like clipboards, can be powerful in the right hands.

Plus The Drowsy and The Rotten: two parody-full musicals (like parrots, but with larger beaks and fewer feathers), packed with Georgia Engels and Brad Oscars and bards and show offs and lushy chaperones.  Then the Jets and Sharks will dance in and go all "Cool" on us, bringing the temp in that gym way up (my high school proms in a gym were never THAT hot!).

Such is the range of B'way.

Lines to listen for:
No more money in the bank, no cute baby we can spank. (???)
You must love chocolate, everybody loves chocolate, say you do, say it.
I'm in training for the priesthood.
Keep your eyeball on the highball in your hand.
Gimme 10 minutes, I wanna finish my clam chowdah.

See what I mean? Let's do it. Let's go Broadway. :)

Let's Misbehave (Eileen Rodgers, Kenneth Mars, Anything Goes)
A Musical (Brad Oscar, Bryan d'Arcy James, Something Rotten!)
Hard To Be The Bard (Christian Borle, Something Rotten!)
We See The Light (John Cariani, Kate Reinders, Brooks Ashmanskas,
      Something Rotten!)
Let's Misbehave (Helene Yorke, Brooks Ashmanskas, Bullets Over Broadway)
Let's Misbehave (Irving Aaronson & His Commanders)
Let's Step Out (Kim Criswell, Fifty Million Frenchmen)
Let's Face The Music And Dance (Fred Astaire, Follow The Fleet)
Let's Call The Whole Thing Off (Mathew Broderick, Kelli O'Hara, Nice Work
      If You Can Get It)
Let's Have Another Cup Of Coffee (Judy Kuhn, Howard McGillin, Kevin
      Chamberlin, Face The Music)
Let's Put Out The Lights And Go To Bed (Rudy Vallee and The Connecticut
Let's Call The Whole Thing Off (Fred Astaire, Shall We Dance?)
America (Chita Rivera, Ken LeRoy, Ensemble, West Side Story)
Cool (Tucker Smith, Ensemble, West Side Story)
Dance At The Gym (Instrumental, West Side Story)
A Boy Like That/I Have A Love (Patti LuPone, Don't Monkey With
Hello (Bob Martin, The Drowsy Chaperone)
As We Stumble Along (Beth Leavel, The Drowsy Chaperone)
Toledo Surprise (Jason Kravitz, Garth Kravitz, Ensemble, The Drowsy
Show Off (Sutton Foster, The Drowsy Chaperone)
I Remember Love (Georgia Engel, Edward Hibbert, The Drowsy Chaperone)
As We Stumble Along, Reprise (Company, The Drowsy Chaperone)
Let's Do It (Rudy Vallee)
Let's Go Fly A Kite (David Tomlinson, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins)
Let's Kiss And Make Up (Fred Astaire, Funny Face)
Let's Go Home (Joanna Gleason, Barry Bostwick, Nick & Nora)
Let's Take An Old-Fashioned Walk (Eddie Albert, Miss Liberty)
Let's Do It (Mary Martin)
Let's Have Lunch (Kevin Anderson, Ensemble, Sunset Boulevard)
Let's Not Talk About Anything Else But Love (Terence Mann, Nathan
      Lane, Keven Chamberlin, The Addams Family)
Let's Twist Again (Chubby Checker)
Trip-Lets (Ensemble, Forbidden Broadway)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Look Sharp, Feel Sharp, Be Sharp: The Other Gillette

Anita Gillette
was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1936,
and attended the Peabody Conservatory.
After that, it was Broadway this and Broadway that!
Gypsy, All American, Carnival, Don't Drink The Water,
They're Playing Our Song, Chapter Two...
the 1960s were a busy Broadway time for her. 
She is quoted as saying,
"At that point, it was either Susan Watson, Nancy Dussault,
or me...we could all play the 
and we could all sing."

 Two pics from All American,
in which Anita played the coed
who pines for a "Nightlife"
(above center and below with her understudy, Lori Rogers).

 In 1962, Anita had the chance to work with Irving Berlin,
in what would be his last musical,
Mr. President.
Above, recording the cast album:
Irving, Nanette Fabray, Anita, Robert Ryan and
ubiquitous producer...Goddard Lieberson.

 If you were a Broadway star
(like Anita and Alan Alda)
in the 60s,
you were game show fodder...
above, Anita with Jim Backus and Arlene Dahl on
What's My Line?

 Along with game shows
(below, on the Match Game),
Anita became Johnny Carson's go to guest,
appearing on the Tonight Show over 50 times,
and tons of television appearances,
including soap opera roles
on The Edge Of Night and Search For Tomorrow.

 Two television series in the 1970s...
Me & The Chimp (with Ted Bessel)
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
(with Robert Urich, below)
didn't last long.
(And no, that's not Ted Bessel she's holding! :)

 Loved Anita in Moonstruck,
playing the mistress of Vincent Gardenia's character.
And there's Cher, being Cher. 
She also played Tina Fey's mother on 30 Rock,
(a passel of mothers, actually)
and Jack Klugman's wife on Quincy.

Anita is still performing in her own one-woman show:
"Me & Mr. B",
a tribute to Irving Berlin.
She'll be at Birdland
on October 3, 2018.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Great One

 John Herbert Gleason
was born in 1916 in Brooklyn, NY.
His father abandoned the family when Jackie was 9;
Mae, his mother, supported the family
working for the BMT subway line.
Jackie dropped out of school early,
and began a long line of "careers",
including carnival barker, pool hall hustler,
stunt man, and finally... master of ceremonies at a theatre.
He soon put a comedy act together with a friend
and booked his first paying gig
($19 a week)
at a club in Reading, PA.
It began his professional career!

From club dates, it was a short jump to movies,
including Tramp, Tramp, Tramp,
All Through The Night,
and Springtime In The Rockies.
4F on account of his weight, Jackie did not serve inWWII, 
and he didn't make a great impression in Hollywood, either.
Television was a different story;
his success in Cavalcade of Stars in 1950
led to his own variety show (1952-1970).
Take Me Along in 1959
brought him to Broadway,
although he had debuted there in 1940 with 
Keep Off The Grass. 
He won a Tony for his portrayal of Sid Davis,
bon vivant salesman.

Great pics of "Sid" in Take Me Along.
And yes, that's a young Robert Morse
at the table,
no doubt taking notes!

With other Tony winners of 1960:
Mary Martin (for The Sound Of Music),
Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker),
and Melvyn Douglas (A Thurber Carnival).

Irish writer Brendan Behan
backstage with Jackie
after a Take Me Along performance.

The Honeymooners began in 1955,
and would be resurrected for The Jackie Gleason Show
in the 60s.
Pert Kelton, Elaine Stritch, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows,
Sheila McRae and Joyce Randolph had their turns as
character actors in the series.
Ralph and Alice's address, 328 Chauncey,
was Jackie's home address, growing up in Bed-Stuy.

The Hustler,
(released in 1961) with Paul Newman,
allowed Jackie to use his pool hall experiences to the utmost.
He played Minnesota Fats
to Paul's Fast Eddie,
along side George C. Scott, Piper Laurie,
Vincent Gardenia, and as a bartender, Jake LaMotta.

Smokey And The Bandit (1,2 and 3)
had Jackie playing Texas Sheriff Buford T. Justice...
Burt Reynolds insisted that Gleason be hired for the part,
and gave him free rein to improvise, 
and boy did that sumbitch do just that!

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Jackie also produced albums
for Capitol Records,
"mood music" with a jazz flavor.
Although he couldn't read music, 
he managed to translate his ideas to others who wrote
for him (often without credit)...
His goal was to make
"musical wallpaper that should never be intrusive," 
and said that if Clark Gable needed music to make love,
a guy in Brooklyn must be desperate!
His first album, Music For Lovers Only,
still holds the record for the
 longest stay on the Billboard Top Ten Charts (153 weeks);
his first 10 albums sold over a million copies each.

With Ed Sullivan, 
and golf sweaters.

Jackie and Lucille Ball
in a TV special called Tea For Two
done in 1975.

Arnold Palmer (at left)
was one of Jackie's favorite golfing buddies.

Jackie was nominated for an Emmy 3 times,
but never won.
When Gleason hosted the 1976 Emmy Awards,  
Paul Lynde was awarded an Entertainer of the Year Emmy 
 for being voted the funniest man of the year, 
which Lynde immediately turned over to Gleason, 
citing him as "the funniest man ever." 
Jackie died in 1987, at the age of 71,
His creative works: 
Literally hundreds of TV appearances,
30 films, 9 Broadway shows, and
58 albums (40 made into CDs).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Playlist For Sunday, July 29th, 2018: That Terrific Rainbow

I don't know about you, but I can't handle one more thing. Everyday lately it seems like one more straw added to the bonfire pile and any moment now, Kerflume! (I don't think that's a real word.)...I tend:
a.) to take on too much
b.) to do that "much" with too much
c.) to screw up everything else, because I'm doing too much. Of the other things.

Ever have that happen? In the past month, I lost my insurance (don't ask), my cell phone went extinct, I backed my car into a rose bush, I got carpenter ants (!!!), and I ran outta coffee!!!! How does anyone run out of coffee? My mind is gone.

Hence Colors. And Rainbows. No unicorns tho...I won't go that far. Lucky for us, there are a lot of lovely colors in Broadway song-dom, and Hollywood, as well. So we can let all these mundane, worldly problems fall away, and just float amongst the ether and relax. Right. Like I'm gonna do that.

Send coffee. Send Xanax. Send a tall Tom Collins...while I paint a rainbow.

That Terrific Rainbow (June Havoc, Pal Joey)
Color And Light (Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Sunday In The Park
      With George)
Mama, A Rainbow (David Fortas, Shelley Winters, Minnie's Boys)
Over The Rainbow (Audra McDonald, Songs From My Living Room,
      Carnegie Hall))
The Red Blues (Leon Belasco, David Opatoshu, Henry Lascoe, Silk
Buddy's Blues (Mandy Patinkin, Follies)
Ain't Where I Wanna Be Blues ( Robert Lonsdale, Darius Campbell,
       From Here To Eternity
You've Got Possibilities (Linda Lavin, It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman)
Nightlife (Anita Gillette, All-American)
I've Got A Penny (Faith Prince, Breakfast At Tiffany's)
Steady, Steady (Michele Lee, Bravo Giovanni)
Little Green Snake (Jackie Gleason, Take Me Along)
Green Finch And Linnet Bird (Harolyn Blackwell, Sweeney Todd)
Somewhere That's Green (Faith Prince, Little Shop Of Horrors)
Entering Grey Gardens (Christine Ebersole, Mary Louise Wilson, Ensemble,
     Grey Gardens)
The Five Fifteen (Ensemble, Grey Gardens)
Will You? (Christine Ebersole, Grey Gardens)
Top Hat, White Tie, And Tails (Fred Astaire, Top Hat)
The Pink Panther Theme (Instrumental, The Pink Panther)
Gold Finger (Shirley Bassey, Gold Finger)
Fire And Ice (Eric Lieberman, Steffanie Leigh, War Paint)
If I'd Been A Man (Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole, War Paint)
Pink (Christine Ebersole, War Paint)
I Used To Be Color Blind (Fred Astaire, Carefree)
Colorful (Sammy Davis, Jr., Golden Boy)
Colored Lights (Karen Mason, And The World Goes 'Round/The Rink)
I'm Always Chasing Rainbows (Debbie Reynolds, Irene)
A Ride On A Rainbow (Judy Holliday, Trouble Is A Man)
Over The Rainbow (Judy Garland, The Wizard Of Oz)

Sunday, July 22, 2018


 "Burlington Bertie From Bow"...
an old parody of an older music hall classic,
"Burlington Bertie",
written by Harry B. Norris back in 1900 
and popularized by Vesta Tilley, who
(like Julie Andrews, in her Star! version above and below)
 dressed as a man in top hat and tails.
The parody came along in 1915,
by William Hargreaves who wrote it for 
his wife, Ella Shields, to perform.

 This is Ella, above, who performed the parody
for the rest of her life (always in male drag).
In this version, Bertie is no longer an "aristocratic wastrel",
just a penniless, likable guy, with a shabby tux.
No "toff", he!
 "I've just had a banana, with Lady Diana..."
 Yup, Mary Martin'll be "Waitin' For The Evening Train"
from Jennie
(above and below with co-star George Wallace).
with music by Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, 1963.
Oodles of problems on the road...
and things didn't get much better once it landed on Broadway.
The Walter Kerr review in the NYTimes:
  "a woeful tale of some woeful people told in a woeful way."
There ya woe.

 A 21 year old Angela Lansbury
in Til The Clouds Roll By,
a music-packed, Hollywood-ized (Hollanderized?)
version of the life of Jerome Kern.
Jerome wrote "How'd You Like To Spoon With Me?" 
for The Earl And The Girl,
back in 1905, with Edward Laska.

 Nope. Not Broadway. Not at all.
But pretty damn wonderful...Jo Stafford,
 "Ridin' The Gravy Train".
Interesting side note:
Jo worked behind the scenes on the movie 
A Damsel In Distress,
doing arrangements and back up vocals (with her sisters)
on "Nice Work If You Can Get It."
The arrangement had to be simplified, supposedly,
Fred had difficulty with the syncopation
(hard to believe, right?).
But in Jo's words,
 "The man with the syncopated shoes couldn't do the syncopated notes".
 Below a great pic of Jo with Ann Sheridan,
Brown Derby-ing.

 The best "ship" in the fleet,
as sung by Joel Grey and Sutton Foster
in AND out of costume
for Anything Goes, the revival done in 2011.

Cole Porter wrote that song originally for
DuBarry Was A Lady (1939)
in which it was sung by Bert Lahr and Ethel Merman (below).
Would love to have witnessed that "ship!"

 In 2009,
Rupert Everett, Angela Lansbury and Christine Ebersole
performed in a revival of Noel Coward's
Blythe Spirit,
and tho the Times called the production "bumpy",
I say a hearty PSHAW to that!
Christine was inspired to record several Coward songs,
for use as incidental music between acts,
and that resulted in an album
of those marvelous songs.
We'll hear "When My Ship Comes Home."

Friday, July 20, 2018

Complicated Carnival Rides...and where's that effing gold ring?

 R&H's 2nd musical was Carousel,
produced in 1945.
It starred John Raitt, Jan Clayton and Susan Watson
(right to left in the photo above),
and it was based on a play by
Fernenc Molnar...Liliom, which had a Budapest setting
and a tragic ending.
Richard and Oscar transplanted it to
(of course) Maine (???), which was Richard's epiphany.
Oscar wrote of this possible change of scene:
" I began to see an attractive ensemble—
sailors, whalers, girls who worked in the mills up the river, 
clambakes on near-by islands, an amusement park on the seaboard, 
things people could do in crowds, 
people who were strong and alive and lusty, 
people who had always been depicted on the stage as thin-lipped puritans—a libel I was anxious to refute .."
And yes, the ending was changed to a more hopeful,
"maybe Billy doesn't go to Hell in a hand basket" one.
Even Molnar approved of that!
 The first preview ended at 1:30am,
so the creative team sat down to cut 5 scenes and 2 songs,
but left Agnes de Mille her 40 ballet, which brought down the house. 
This original production played for 2 successful years on

 The movie with Gordon McCrae and Shirley Jones
followed in 1956,
 released just months after the film version of
which had the same stars.
Comparisons were inevitable,
and Oklahoma! came up the winner with audiences.

 There were revivals done on Broadway in 1957
and 1994,
the latter one starring Audra McDonald
and winning a Best Revival Tony.
This latest one stars Jessie Mueller and Joshua Henry,
and though it garnered 11 nominations,
only Lindsay Mendez (below) who plays Carrie Pipperidge
and Justin Peck who created the choreography
walked home with Tonys! 

 Rochester's favorite opera gal
(a Churchville-Chili alumna),
Renee Fleming stars as Nettie,
and gets to sing those classic numbers from the show,
"You'll Never Walk Alone" and "June Is Bustin' Out All Over".
Even though it's July,
we'll be samplin' "June",
as opposed to that (excuse me) over-done anthem. :)