Mitzi Gaynor's still got some 'Razzle Dazzle'
Ed Sullivan once said he tried for years to get movie and nightclub star Mitzi Gaynor on his Sunday night variety show.
In late 1963, the glamorous singer-dancer finally said yes to an appearance to be broadcast live the next February from Miami Beach's Deauville Hotel.
Gaynor, who will be receiving the BOB HARRINGTON LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD at THE BISTROS on April 13th at Gotham Comedy Club in NYC, recalls asking Sullivan who else would be on the telecast.
``From Liverpool, The Beatles, a rock-and-roll group,'' Sullivan told her. ``I said, `Ed, an English rock-and-roll group? OK.' That was October 1963.
Then the world stopped. But I got top billing over The Beatles.''
Best known for starring in the 1958 film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, Gaynor, now 78, is one of Hollywood's most enduring stars. She downplays being cast as World War II nurse Nellie Forbush in South Pacific.
``I got it because I was, No. 1, the right age,'' Gaynor says. ``And I sang all the songs in the same key that [original Broadway star] Mary Martin did.''
Gaynor, whose roots trace back to Hungarian nobility, starred in other '50s film hits including Anything Goes with Bing Crosby, The Joker is Wild with Frank Sinatra and Les Girls with Gene Kelly.
Gaynor's ``most important picture'' as a contract player at 20th Century Fox: 1954's all-star There's No Business Like Show Business, opposite two other legends, Ethel Merman and Marilyn Monroe.
``Ethel would say, `All right, where's the blonde?' '' Gaynor recalls. ``She was always late. Then she'd come in and say, `I can't find my motivation,' '' Gaynor says doing a breathy Monroe impersonation.
``Ethel said, `What the f--- is motivation?' I said, `Hell, I don't know. Mine is money.
[Merman] said, `Now, you're talking!' ''
After film tastes changed, Gaynor worked steadily through the '70s on television and in Las Vegas.
Bob Mackie has designed her sequined gowns since the early '60s.
She resumed her stage act after the 2006 death of her husband and longtime personal manager, Jack Bean.
``It came to me in a vision that Jack wanted this more than anything,'' she said of her comeback. ``If I can't be with him, the only time I'm really happy is when I'm entertaining people.''
-- (SOURCE:STEVE ROTHAUS)
Mitzi Gaynor, Elaine Stritch, Michael Feinstein (http://www.michaelfeinstein.com) to be honored at 2010 Bistro Awards in New York City
I am co-producer of the 2010 Bistro Awards (along with Sherry Eaker),
More than 20 of cabaret's brightest stars will be honored at the 25th Annual Bistro Awards which will take place on Tuesday, April 13 at Gotham Comedy Club. Legendary singer-dancer-actress Mitzi Gaynor, star of such films as South Pacific, Les Girls, Anything Goes, and a longtime headliner in Las Vegas and the nightclub circuit, making her first NY night club appearance in years in May at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, will be honored with the Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award.
Elaine Stritch, the uniquely sensational actress and singer and star of stage, film, and TV, will be recognized in the category of Extraordinary Cabaret Artist, noting her recent conquests of the cabaret stage.
The evening, under the direction of Eric Michael Gillett, will feature performances from most of the Bistro-winning artists and shows and will feature guest presenters singer-actress Klea Blackhurst, comic Jim David, and actress-comedienne Marilyn Sokol.
Celebrating its Silver Anniversary of awards presentations to the cabaret community, and the first-ever award in the industry, the Bistro Awards will this year honor three individuals for their 25-plus years of artistic
accomplishments: multiple-award-winning actress-singer Tovah Feldshuh, musical director-arranger and conductor Paul Trueblood, and singer-pianist-songwriter Ronny Whyte.
The ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Outstanding Duos goes to Michael Feinstein and co-stars Cheyenne Jackson, Christine Ebersole, and David Hyde Pierce, with whom he appeared in separate shows at the cabaret venue that bears his name, Feinstein's at Loews Regency. For Outstanding Director, the BMI Award will go to Peter Napolitano, a BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop participant.
Some of the shows honored pay tribute to musical styles. Sarah Rice reflects on songs from old Hollywood (Outstanding Theme Show), the New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players puts a twist on operettas (Special Award), Loli Marquez-Sterling puts the accent on the Latin Big Band sound (Outstanding Entertainer), while Lee Summers delivers standards and classic R&B (Outstanding Entertainer). Singers such as Liz Callaway (Outstanding Major Engagement), Nicole Henry (Outstanding Jazz Vocalist), and Anne Steele (Outstanding Vocalist) croon various musical styles in their shows.
The Bistro Awards Committee has named two recipients in the Outstanding Recording category: Alan Cumming for his "I Bought a Blue Car Today" CD, and Julie Reyburn for her "Live at Feinstein's" recording. The Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award, given to an outstanding performer on the rise, and named after Back Stage's co-founder, co-publisher and first cabaret critic, goes to Danielle Grabianowski.
The gala event will be held on Tuesday, April 13 at Gotham Comedy Club,
208 W. 23rd Street. A champagne reception for the Bistro recipients and Premium ticket holders begins at 5 pm, followed by the awards presentation and show starting promptly at 6:30 pm. Producer Sherry Eaker will be hosting the annual event, along with members of the Bistro Awards Committee.
The Bistro Awards Committee comprises Elizabeth Ahlfors (Cabaret Scenes, CurtainUp.com, and BistroAwards.com), David Finkle (Village Voice, HuffingtonPost.com, and BistroAwards.com), Rob Lester (Cabaret Scenes, NiteLifeExchange.com), Erv Raible, executive/artistic director of the Cabaret Conference at Yale University, Roy Sander (BistroAwards.com), and Sherry Eaker, formerly the Editor in Chief of Back Stage.
The Bistro Awards are sponsored by ASCAP and BMI, with additional sponsorship from Branson B. Champagne and StageBuddy.com, and media sponsorship from Back Stage.
Ticket prices are: General Admission at $45.00; $75.00 for a Premium seat, which includes a pre-show Champagne reception and preferred seating. There is a two-drink minimum. A food menu is also available. Details and ticket information about the After Bistros party will be posted on Bistro Awards website. To purchase show tickets, go to www.bistroawards.com, or for more information, call: 917-239-5467.
A complete list of the winners follows:
THE BISTRO SILVER ANNIVERSARY AWARDS FOR ONGOING ARTISTIC ACCOMPLISHMENT/ Tovah Feldshuh; Paul Trueblood; Ronny Whyte
ANNE STEELE/ Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room
NICOLE HENRY/ Jazz Vocalist/ The Metropolitan Room
DANIELLE GRABIANOWSKI/ Ira Eaker Special Achievement Award/ The Metropolitan Room, Don't Tell Mama
LOLI MARQUEZ-STERLING/ Entertainer/ The Triad, The Metropolitan Room
LEE SUMMERS/ Entertainer/ The Triad
LIZ CALLAWAY/ Major Engagement/ The Metropolitan Room
GRETCHEN REINHAGEN, "Special Kaye: A Tribute to the Incomparable Kaye Ballard"/ Tribute Show/ The Metropolitan Room
SARAH RICE, "Screen Gems - Songs of Old Hollywood"/ Theme Show/ Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café
MICHAEL FEINSTEIN and...CHEYENNE JACKSON; CHRISTINE EBERSOLE; DAVID HYDE PIERCE/ ASCAP Great American Songbook Award for Duo Shows/ Feinstein's at Loews Regency
CELEBRITY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: In Their Own Words, created by Eugene Pack/ Comedy Series/ The Triad
I'VE GOT A LITTLE TWIST, conceived, written, and directed by David Auxier, musical direction and arrangements by Mark York, produced by Albert Bergeret/ Special Award/ The Triad, Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Café
THE CONCERTS AT TUDOR CITY GREENS/ Special Award/Created and produced by Raissa Katona Bennett
PETER NAPOLITANO/BMI Award for Director (Mark Janas, Robert Bartley, Peter Napolitano)
THE SALON/ Special Award/Created and hosted by Mark Janas / The Algonquin Hotel, Etcetera Etcetera
ALAN CUMMING/Recording, "I Bought a Blue Car Today"
JULIE REYBURN/ Recording, "Live at Feinstein's"
BRETT KRISTOFFERSON/ Songwriter
RICHARD EISENBERG/ "Two Again"/Special Material
ELAINE STRITCH/ Extraordinary Cabaret Artist
MITZI GAYNOR/ Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award
With one of the greatest pedigrees in broadway history, Lee Roy Reams won critical acclaim as Roger DeBris in the First National Tour of Mel Brooks’s musical hit, “The Producers” as well as Lumiere in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” Albin/ZaZa in “La Cage Aux Folles,” Cornelius Hackl in “Hello Dolly!” and Henry Spofford in “Lorelei” (both starring Carol Channing), Duane Fox in “Applause” starring Lauren Bacall, Will Parker in Richard Rodgers’s revival of “Oklahoma!” Bob Fosse’s “Sweet Charity” starring Gwen Verdon, and “An Evening With Jerry Herman.” His regional theatre roles include Captain Hook in “Peter Pan,” Toddy in “Victor/Victoria,” Alfred P. Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” and Phil Davis in “White Christmas.” On Broadway, he directed “Hello, Dolly!” (Tony Nomination/Best Revival) and “An Evening With Jerry Herman.” He also directed “Anything Goes” starring Chita Rivera and productions of “Hello, Dolly!” starring Madeline Kahn, JoAnne Worley, Michelle Lee and Nicole Crosille in Paris.
Reams is also the resident director of “Theatre Guild’s Theatre at Sea” whose stars include Patricia Neal, Gena Rowlands, Rosemary Harris, Zoe Caldwell, Ed Asner, Cliff Robertson, Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson among others. His television credits include: “Jerry Herman at the Hollywood Bowl” (PBS and Bravo), “Showboat” (PBS), “In Performance at the White House” (PBS), three Tony Award Shows, “Night of 100 Stars II,” and “The Tonight Show.” Concerts and Cabaret have taken him to the White House and around the world: Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, Brazil’s Manaus Opera House, The Istanbul Hilton, New York’s Carnegie Hall (New York Pops and Cincinnati Pops), New York’s Town Hall, Tennessee Williams Fine Arts Center, London's Palladium, Manhattan’s Firebird Cafe and Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow & Stars. He’s had the honor of performing for four U.S. Presidents: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush and Bill Clinton.
The Magic Castle offers yet another great Broadway star to the stage of Cabaret at the Castle with Lee Roy Reams. The man who columnist Liz Smith called “Broadway’s Darling” and the New York Times hailed as “Broadway’s song and dance man nonpareil” is scheduled to appear for one night only. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Sealed With A Wish Foundation, Inc. sealedwithawish.org
Tuesday, April 13 - Doors 7 p.m. - Show 8 p.m.
The Inner Circle at the Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, Calif. 90028
$35 for reserved tables $30 for non-members, Call 323-851-3313 x434
The Magic Castle is the showplace for some of the greatest magicians from around the globe. The magnificent Hollywood landmark known today as the Magic Castle recently celebrated in centennial.
LIZA MINNELLI JUST CELEBRATED HER 64th BIRTHDAY AT BIRDLAND!
By the time Liza Minnelli took the stage at Birdland, just after midnight, the party was in full swing: Michael Feinstein hugged the Broadway legend and a bubbly, upbeat crowd sang happy birthday to her.
Parker Posey performed a wild, gyrating dance to “Fever,” as TV and movie stars Judith Light (“Ugly Betty”) and Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”) cheered from their tables. Miranda, the Internet singing sensation, closed out the three-hour bash with an atonal rendition of “Orange Colored Sky.”
“Good night, folks, it’s just another night at ‘Cast Party,’ ” said host Jim Caruso, with a deadpan smile. “We’ll do it all again next Monday.”
For the last seven years, Caruso — a genial, wisecracking emcee who just might be Dick Van Dyke’s lost son — has hosted “Cast Party,” one of New York’s most popular and distinctive open-mike nights.
His weekly show at the historic club presents a sparkling A-list features a jaw-dropping mix of top Broadway, jazz and cabaret talent, plus rising stars and a parade of wannabees whose cringe-worthy acts rival anything on “American Idol.”
It’s a showbiz mecca, a place where the golden era of musical theater lives on.
Now, Caruso is bringing the party to Los Angeles. On April 1, he and pianist Billy Stritch will host the West Coast debut of “Cast Party” at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Although the final lineup is still being put together, Caruso sponsors hope to make the Southern California shows a regular monthly affair.
“There’s obviously a tremendous amount of talent in Los Angeles, and we’re trying to duplicate what we’ve been able to do in New York,” said Caruso, 52, whose ultimate goal is to turn “Cast Party” into a reality TV show. To read it all about it, click on my Sunday Arts & Books article.
(SOURCE: Josh Getlin)
I'm happy to tell you that once again, maestro Billy Stritch and Jim Caruso have put their open-mic act together, and are taking it on the road!
First stop...Hollywood! Swimmin' pools...movie stars! On Thursday, April 1,
they will be at the historic Magic Castle at 8pm! You just can't believe some of
the diverse (read: bizarre) supah-stars who have consented to join them!
there will be some crazy-talented vocalists singing their gorgeous heads off,
too! (Check out Josh Getlin's fantastic feature in Sunday's LA Times
and watch them at the crack of dawn on the KTLA Morning Show with Ally McKay that
Then...on April 16 and 17, they will be hosting the Provincetown Cabaret Fest for
the second time! On Friday night, some amazing local talent will join them at The
Crown & Anchor for a Cast Party to kick off the fun. On Saturday night, Billy
and Jim will perform their duo show that has thrilled dozens all across this great
land of ours!
On May 20 and 21, they will be making their third trip
to the Austin Cabaret Theatre.
(They are both from Texas, don't you know?)
If you're a singer (and who isn't?), join in on the fun with a
terribly upbeat ditty. Bring your sheet music (in the correct key), and you'll
be in show-biz together!
(SOURCE: Jim Caruso)
Every Monday at 9:30 PM:
315 West 44th Street (between 8th & 9th), NYC
"...an extreme open mic!" -- ABC-TV
"Jim Caruso is uber-talented!" -- Entertainment Weekly
"Pianist Billy Stritch is thrilling...guaranteed to send you into orbit."
-- Rex Reed, New York Observer
"A vital pulse point of the musical-theater bloodstream: Every week a star or
standard might be born." -- Time Out New York
"Bassist Steve Doyle gives firm support and swings solidly." -- Jazz Times
BEST OF NEW YORK Issue -- New York Magazine
"Starrier than the Hayden Planetarium... a hotspot where Broadway and Hollywood
tip, twirl and hit the mic. It's become the place to cruise, schmooze, sing and
be seen." -- Playbill
"The Broadway at Birdland series is a talk of the town carnival of talent, and
is like no other happening in Manhattan It's evolved into an integral part of
New York nightlife." -- John Hoglund, TheaterScene.net
Copyright Jim Caruso's Cast Party®, All Rights Reserved, 2006-2008.
Ricky Martin is now publicly gay: “The word happiness takes on a new meaning for me as of today.”
(SOURCE: Greg Hernandez)
Ricky Martin has announced in his Web site that he is a gay man and details some of the process he went through to get to the point where he finally felt comfortable enough to share this with the world.
I feel so happy for him that he’s gotten to this place and that he is publicly acknowledging his sexuality on his own terms. I think he’ll find himself even more embraced by fans gay and straight in a way he never could have been before.
Here is his statement in its entirety:
A few months ago I decided to write my memoirs, a project I knew was going to bring me closer to an amazing turning point in my life.
From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside. Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And thisis something worth celebrating.
For many years, there has been only one place where I am in touch with my emotions fearlessly and that’s the stage. Being on stage fills my soul in many ways, almost completely. It’s my vice. The music, the lights and the roar of the audience are elements that make me feel capable of anything. This rush of adrenaline is incredibly addictive. I don’t ever want to stop feeling these emotions. But it is serenity that brings me to where I’m at right now. An amazing emotional place of comprehension, reflection and enlightenment. At this moment I’m feeling the same freedom I usually feel only on stage, without a doubt, I need to share.
Many people told me: “Ricky it’s not important”, “it’s not worth it”, “all the years you’ve worked and everything you’ve built will collapse”, “many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature”. Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.
If someone asked me today, “Ricky, what are you afraid of?” I would answer “the blood that runs through the streets of countries at war…child slavery, terrorism…the cynicism of some people in positions of power, the misinterpretation of faith.” But fear of my truth? Not at all! On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage. This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things every day. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids where born with. Enough is enough. This has to change.
This was not supposed to happen 5 or 10 years ago, it is supposed to happen now. Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment.
These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.
What will happen from now on? It doesn’t matter. I can only focus on what’s happening to me in this moment. The word “happiness” takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.
I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.
June Havoc, immortalized in `Gypsy,' dies at 97
By BOB THOMAS (AP)
Actress and writer June Havoc, whose childhood in vaudeville as Baby June was immortalized in the musical "Gypsy," has died in Connecticut at age 97, her publicist said Monday.
Havoc, the younger sister of famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, died Sunday of natural causes at her home in Stamford. Her death was confirmed by Shirley Herz, her publicist and friend.
While she never reached the fame of her sister, Havoc had a varied, successful theater career that stretched from 1918 into the next century.
With music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Arthur Laurents, "Gypsy" is considered one of the best musicals ever written. The original 1959 production starred Ethel Merman, and it has been revived several times since. It also became a 1962 movie starring Rosalind Russell, with Natalie Wood as the grown-up Gypsy.
It focuses on the archetypal stage mother, Mama Rose, who ferociously pushes her daughter "Baby June" into vaudeville stardom at age 6 while her older sister struggles to compete.
The play was based on a memoir of the older daughter, Louise, who grew up to be Gypsy Rose Lee. Havoc made no effort to obstruct the show, though she detested it.
"It meant so much to (Gypsy), her precious illusion; it made her into an ingenue at last," Havoc remarked bitterly in 1998. "And I loved my sister, but I loathed her life."
She defended Mama Rose: "Mother was very prim, and she was tiny and lovely with big blue eyes. ... She was endearing and alluring beyond belief. If she had drive and ambition, what's wrong with that?"
Havoc was born June Hovick on Nov. 8, 1912, in Seattle.
(Some sources give other years, but Havoc herself specified that date in 2006.)
Her mother, who had an unhappy marriage, plotted an escape. Her second daughter, June, was cute and outgoing, and at 18 months she was dancing in vaudeville and appearing in movie comedy shorts.
"I earned $1,500 a week when I was 6, and I knew exactly how I got the laughs and applause," she said in 1978.
Mama Rose kept June in vaudeville until she was far beyond her baby cuteness. Frustrated and weary of constant travel, June escaped at 13 by marrying a boy in the act. She gave birth to a daughter, April Hyde Kent, and later divorced. Another marriage to advertising man Donald S. Gibbs ended in divorce. She was married to radio and TV director William Spier from 1947 until his death in 1973.
The early 1930s were a grim period for Havoc, the spelling she adopted from her birth name. Vaudeville was dead and she had entered the "awkward stage" between child actress and ingenue. She competed in seven dance marathons, a Depression spectacle in which couples danced around the clock until they collapsed; the last pair standing won a cash prize.
In 1963, Havoc wrote and directed a Broadway play about her experience, "Marathon '33," garnering a Tony nomination as best director. Julie Harris, starring as a young vaudevillian named June, also picked up a Tony nomination.
Havoc wrote three other plays and two memoirs, "Early Havoc" (1959) and "More Havoc" (1980).
By 1936, she had evolved into a statuesque blond beauty, and she began appearing in Broadway plays and musicals. In 1940, Havoc portrayed the conniving Gladys Bumps in Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Pal Joey" and her performance brought Hollywood offers.
She played feature roles in 26 films including "My Sister Eileen," "Gentleman's Agreement," "Red Hot and Blue" and "Chicago Deadline." (Her sister also appeared in some films in the 1930s billed as Louise Hovick.)
But Havoc's major work was on the stage. She appeared in more than a dozen productions on Broadway, including Cole Porter's "Mexican Hayride" (1944) and "Sadie Thompson" (also 1944), a musical based on a W. Somerset Maugham short story. Her last Broadway appearance was in the early 1980s, one of the many replacements as the evil Miss Hannigan in "Annie."
In her later years, Havoc helped restore Cannon Crossing, a historic Connecticut village near her home.
Associated Press Drama Writer Michael Kuchwara contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Among all the birthday tributes to Stephen Sondheim this month, there was one from an eminent American radio journalist, who recounted the first time he saw Sunday in the Park With George, Sondheim's musical inspired by a Georges Seurat painting. It opened on Broadway in 1984 to – typically for a new Sondheim – critical division, audience confusion and, from this particular commentator, an experience so profound he had to leave the theatre at the interval, because it was "too much".
It's a telling detail: you don't turn to Sondheim for comfort, or at least for the comforts traditionally associated with musical theatre. "Everybody dies," sings a character in Company, a musical about a single man with commitment issues, and that's pretty much the Sondheim consolation: you get cheered up by facing things, rather than evading them, even if they're dreadful; knowing is all. Like opera, Bergman and the hardcore blue cheeses, you are supposed to grow into Sondheim, not only because the music is choppy and difficult and you don't, at first, know what you are listening to, but because he is so uncompromisingly grown-up. People in Sondheim are sly with unhappiness, neurotic, cutting, self-aware. His lyrics could only have been written in the age of generalised anxiety disorder.
Often overlooked, the humour is so layered with irony that his songs at times seem almost back-combed, their lyrics running against the grain of the melody and vice versa. He is often accused of being too clever, of putting thought before feeling, as if the two weren't connected, and so the biggest surprise when you first encounter Sondheim is the force of it all: he can make you cry more efficiently than Erich Segal. (My friend Julie, the biggest Sondheim fan I know, suggests looking on YouTube for the song Move On, from Sunday in the Park, as it was performed at the Tonys two years ago, if you want "to sob like a baby who was just born".)
You have to know something inside-out before you can subvert it, and so it was with Sondheim, whose early professional years were spent working with the great writing teams of the American musical. As a teenager, he spent a lot of time with Oscar Hammerstein, a family friend and father figure after his parents divorced. After college, he auditioned for Leonard Bernstein and was taken on as the lyricist for West Side Story, and after that for Gypsy (he was originally offered the job of composer, too, but Ethel Merman thought him too green; the job went to Jule Styne).
In the meantime, he developed a style and approach that would, when he began to write shows single-handed, take the principles of the old-fashioned musical and radically modernise them. Sondheim's tricky, compact, dense lyrics work almost like puzzles (he is a big cryptic crossword fan), and draw from his earliest instincts about music and art. He was a maths student at college and only took a course in music because the tutor promised to strip it of romanticism and approach it, said Sondheim, as a "mathematical art". The geometry of things, how they connect and draw attention to their own composition, is a presiding interest, as is technical precision – good pronunciation is all in the work of Sondheim.
He has said the biggest influence on his professional life was the failure of Allegro, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that came after Oklahoma! and Carousel. He worked as production assistant for the original 1947 Broadway production; on its opening night, an actor caught his tap shoe in a track, ripped every ligament in his leg, and had to be carried, screaming, from the stage. It proved that even the best in the business could still make mistakes. As he told Radio 3 last week: "I've spent my life trying to fix Allegro."
The notion of failure ("the sand in the oyster that isn't a pearl", as he wrote in Anyone Can Whistle) was quickly incorporated as a theme, along with ambivalence, mild irritation, petulance and panic – states and sentiments that traditional musicals shove aside for the bigger, blowsier ones.
"There is someone in this dress, George," huffs Dot, as he paints her that Sunday on the island in the Seine.
In "Company", the chorus, with its superficially cheerful tone, becomes progressively madder and more sinister as it tries to pull Bobby, the single man, into the unhappy life of the couples around him.
The anti-love songs – lines such as "deeply mal-adjusted/never to be trusted"; or, in A Little Night Music, the song Every Day a Little Death – are Sondheim at his best, their music managing, through a grinding chirpiness, to comment on modern life before you even get to the lyrics.
The performers of these songs are of a recognisable type, reflecting the writer's preference for the doyenne over the ingenue.
You certainly wouldn't start a fight with any of Sondheim's leading ladies: Judi Dench, Angela Lansbury, Carol Burnett; the latter's Ladies Who Lunch is a boozier, more desperate affair than Elaine Stritch's more famous version.
Five years ago, Stritch appeared at Sondheim's 75th birthday gala and, fists clenched and grimacing, sang Broadway Baby from Follies, at the age of almost 80. There's a cold fury and a furious delight in Sondheim, the two mingling and shifting.
Ladies Who Lunch, from Company, turns from a slight, frivolous number into a rage against the darkness in a way that puts you in mind of Stevie Smith's poem Thoughts About the Person from Porlock, in which the person from Porlock is not, as one is encouraged to believe in the opening lines, an annoying neighbor, but death itself.
"It's anyone's guess whether the public will be shocked or delighted," wrote a critic in the New York Times in 1984, after the first production of Sunday in the Park With George. People are allowed to be sad in Sondheim and they are allowed to break the rules – most notably to sing up against the ceiling of a note and tip, occasionally, into flatness, as will happen in life – but they are also infused with the essentially romantic American spirit.
The characters might be cynical, but the net result is not cynicism, nor desiccated wordiness, nor mathematics.
"Anything you do, let it come from you, and it will be new," sings Sunday's Dot to her grumpy lover, who, despite his grumpiness, tyranny and solipsism, is motivated by love.
So is everyone else in a Sondheim production – and, as the writer has said himself, so is he.
The response to KT Sullivan and Mark Nadler's new Gershwin show at
the Algonquin has been overwhelming.
People are saying it's the best
show they've ever seen KT & Mark do.
Some are even saying it's the best show
they've ever seen from ANYONE at the Algonquin. There are only two numbers in the show that were in AMERICAN RHAPSODY.
If you haven't seen it yet, please make your reservations PRONTO!!
MUSIC REVIEW | 'GERSHWIN ... HERE TO STAY'
‘The Happiness Stuff’ That Makes Embraceable Music Irreplaceable
By STEPHEN HOLDEN
Published: March 15, 2010
You don’t have to be depressing to be deep. The upside-down notion
that happy, energetic music may be more profound than Mahleresque
harmonic gloom is suggested by a scene from Walter Rimler’s 2009
biography, “George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait (Music in American
Life),” quoted by the piano man Mark Nadler in “Gershwin ... Here to
Stay,” the wonderfully buoyant tribute he is performing with K T
Sullivan at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel.
When Gershwin’s friend Kay Swift observed him playing “dark, doom-
laden chords” and asked him what he was composing, he said: “Oh,
nothing. I was just working off some of the dreary music that lies
near the top of a composer’s mind. Then I’ll dig down to the happiness
stuff, with any luck.”
A similar belief in joy as the artistic mother lode in popular music
drives the show, in which Mr. Nadler and Ms. Sullivan are joined by
the Chicago jazz pianist Jon Weber, whose feathery touch on the
keyboard balances Mr. Nadler’s crunching percussiveness. A high point
on Thursday night was their furiously propulsive four-handed reduction
of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F, embellished with some physical
Immediately after, Ms. Sullivan slipped into a comic vamp mode and
sidled to the piano to sing “Sam and Delilah” in a campy dialect and
tug playfully at Mr. Weber’s ponytail.
A decade ago Ms. Sullivan and Mr. Nadler performed another, more
conventional (and uneven) Gershwin tribute, “American Rhapsody,” that
ran off Broadway for nine months. In the 10 years since, they have
grown exponentially in confidence and mutual understanding. The show’s
astute musical pairings include “Who Cares?” with “They All Laughed”;
“Sweet and Lowdown” with “Shall We Dance?”; and “’S Wonderful” wound
around excerpts from “Rhapsody in Blue.” Their rendition of “How Long
Has This Been Going On?,” the Gershwin ode to delirious, nonplatonic
kissing, is one of the few I’ve heard that emphasizes what the song is
Mr. Nadler’s exegesis on how the internal rhythms and syntax of the
chorus of “Embraceable You” express an image in the verse of the heart
skipping a beat, is another example of the show’s microscopic focus.
Only once, in a climactic “I Got Rhythm,” did Mr. Nadler allow his
hammy impulses to run amok.
K T Sullivan and Mark Nadler perform through April 10 at the Oak Room
of the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, Manhattan; (212) 419-9331.
Support THE ARTS! LIVE THEATRE! Go see a show this week! Send me your reviews and suggestions and I will put them in my next blog coming out next Friday! Here's to an ARTS-filled week! Don't forget to contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING & HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS: http://www.carolchanning.org/Foundation.htm
With grateful XOXOXs for your support!
Richard SkipperFollow me on Twitter @RichardSkipper
HERE IS WHAT AUDIENCES ARE SAYING ABOUT MY WORK:
Richard, thank you so much for the opportunity to sing (and dance with you!) tonight at the Iguana. You and Dana make the night so fun and full of laughter -- you really ARE the Steve and Edie of 54th St.! xoxo Jennifer Pade, http://www.jenniferpade.com
Thanks so much for a terrific show last night! All of us girls had a wonderful time. Wish there were a night of just Richard and Dana!!
Thank you Richard for a fun-filled night of entertainment, I didn't want it to end. How wonderful to see so many talented people in one evening. Kudos to you and Dana.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NYC Now a night out in NY to see a show at a VERY AFFORDABLE price!
Dana Lorge and I have put our OWN spin on the variety show format and are now hosting every Wednesday night in NYC at The Iguana VIP Lounge (http://www.iguananyc.com) in the heart of NYC (240 West 54th Street 8-11PM/with an intermission).
Cover: $12 - no food or drink minimums – but remember – the food is great!
NOMINATED FOR TWO 2010 MANHATTAN ASSOCIATION OF CABARETS AND CLUBS AWARDS (MAC) FOR OUTSTANDING VARIETY SHOW AND OUTSTANDING HOSTS!
For more info, please call 845-365-0720 or visit _www.RichardSkipper.com_
RESERVATIONS A MUST!!!!!!!!
No one admitted before
TOMORROW NIGHT: March 31st: JENNIFER PADE returns after wowing the audience last week! Frank Basile (seen here with Celeste Holm) , Deb Berman, Annie Dienerman, Stearns Matthews, Allegra Thieman ...
April 7th: Wear BLACK & RED as we celebrate Helena Grenot's Birthday!Esther Beckman Group, Sina Lewis, Cindy Marchionda, RJ Shaw, Susan Winter
April 14th: Naomi Miller, Karen Oberlinjoins us!
April 21st: Anaiza, Henry Dee, Rita Ellis Hammer, Jim Speake, Susan Eichhorn Young
April 28th: Hector Coris, Kecia Craig and Frank Stern!
May 5th: Anton Van Der Merwe and Julie Reyburn
May 19th: Adrienne Haan, Barbara Gurskey returns.
May 26th: Michelle Collier
June 2nd: D'Yan Forest and Tod Hall
June 16th: 2010 Julie Reyburn, Lisa Raze returns!
May 19th: Michelle Collier, Barbara Gurskey
TILL NEXT WEEK...HERE'S TO A MUSICAL APRIL!