27 March 2009

Festival Sanctus

Consider this a Palm Sunday/Easter-related post (if you're into that kind of thing). This is a song I used to sing (in a treble arrangement) in my choir boy days. I *believe* the first time I sang it was in Carnagie Hall. Seriously. For years after that Barb--the precocious perfect one who has since become a music teacher--would play this at the piano and everyone who knew it would gather around and sing it. It's such a fucking happy song. I'm always looking for a satisfying YouTube incarnation, and stumbled accross this one, which uses a orchestra (or ensemble of instruments...a pit?). The under-tempo beginning does bother me, and, for sentimental reasons, I miss the piano, but it is posted below for you amusement and easy reference.

25 March 2009

1979 Was Awesome

Because Luci Arnez and Robert Klein were in a Broadway musical with music by Marvin Hamlish and a book by Neil Simon. It was just about their two characters (a lyricist and composer respectively), though each had a trio of alter-ego back-up singers. God I hope there were some fun surprise entrances. Love me one of those. Anyway, this was Luci's star-making moment and I think she's fabulous in her way. And Robert Klein (who you've seen in everything) is kinda adorable. But there is something fascinating and bizzare about this number. So tacky and cheezy but yet genuinely amazing. Like Ms. Arnez's legs. Watch below or here.

Also, see this commercial from a little later in the run (when Tony Roberts and Anita Gillette take over).

22 March 2009


Here's a video (courtesy of bluegobo) of "You Are Never Away" from some 1950s R&H tribute (the kind that was sponsored by General Foods and on broadcast television because people in the 1950s were into that. Sigh.) If slower and not nearly as fun as Partrick Wilson's version, it was interesting to get a little more context into that song and a hint of ALLEGRO's ambiance. (I'm assuming choreography is reacreated or borrow's heavily from Ms. DeMille's. Sho' looks like it).

21 March 2009

The Biggest Thing You Probably Haven't Heard About...

...There is a new Complete Recording of ALLEGRO!!!!!!!!!!

You might not initially share my excitment, or even realize the import of this recording. ALLEGRO is the most notable and ambitious of Rogers and Hammerstein's 3 flops (the other two being PIPE DREAM and ME & JULIET). The show was a bit of an expieriment, to follow it's protagonist from birth through middle age, in which he goes to college, marries the girl next door, moves to The City, becomes jaded, returns home. The story is told using a Greek-style chorus (with a lot of that silly talking in unison business), and about 37 different ballets (thanks to Director/Choreographer Agnes DeMille) and comes off as being hoplessly old fashioned and pretentious simultaneously. And bleak. And hateful of modern society. Really, I'm not surprised it didn't catch on when it was new, nor am I surprised no brash and bold young director (or even wise and experienced old director) has been able to truly ressurect this corpse. That being said, it's a corpse with R&H's name on it, so every now and then it's worth a detailed look, which is precisely what this recording does.

If you are not interested in the historical inplications of ALLEGRO, this recording still has merit as it assembles the most perfect musical theater vocalists of our time to sing a frequently wonderful R&H score with a lush orchestra and Robert Russell Bennet orchestrations. In layman's terms, it sounds really good. Actors performing on this recording:
Patrick Wilson
Audra McDonald
Nathan Gunn (one of those devestatingly handsome Opera stars they're making these days)
Liz Callaway
Judy Kuhn
Norbert Leo Butz
Laura Benanti (who is sadly wasted as the "girl next store" who for whatever reason never gets a big musical moment of her own)

Some musical highlights (click on links to listen/download):
A Fellow Needs a Girl--a duet between Joe's parents, overheard by Joe. Sung by Audra(!), and Nathan Gunn.
You Are Never Away (and Encore)--Happy music! Patrick Wilson is awesome. The encore is basically the same thing, but with a fun choral arrangement thrown in for the (Greek) Chorus.
The Gentleman is a Dope--The most (i.e. only) famous song from the show. You've probably heard it before. Sung my Liz Callaway who has a pretty perfect voice...almost a little too perfect for my taste. But a great song nonetheless.
Allegro--the title song, and the most unusual of the lot. Features Callaway and the always amusing Norbert Leo Butz as they criticize the phony upper-crust society around them.

All in all, this is a pretty exciting, important recording that seems to be flying under the radar. Can I blame this on the economy?

05 March 2009


Pizza Poety

One of my "responsibilities" at work is coordinating the weekly Pizza Friday, which involves order the pizza and sending out an officewide e-mail saying when it is coming and whether it us from Waldy's or Patsy's. (Really, it could be from Patsy's every week, but people seem to appreciate my switching it up.) Soon pressure mounted to "top" myself with each weekly e-mail (hard to do when the information is slight and varies only nominally). Lately I've been playing with different forms of poetry: first a Haiku, then a Limerick, then a Double Dactyl, and, this week, a Sonnet. Surprisingly

I found iambic writing not too hard.

Anyway, I thought I should share my Ode to Friday:

A lunch upon which dreams and wishes hang
Awaits those seated on the seventh floor.
This food of which the angels often sang,
Of which mere mortals can but yearn for more.
Its mozzarella, provelone, and parm
And toppings rich with savory appeal
May cause the arteries some short-lived harm,
Yet makes a most rejuvenating meal.
It fends of winter’s harsh and bitter chill,
Returning warmth to hearts thought strained and cold,
And makes us think things can get better still,
Despite the warnings by Right-Wingers told.
For in these times of economic woe,
We look to noon, and Patsy’s golden dough.

Good Time Fun

In these tough times, you need 5 minutes of joy, free of guilt. This certainly qualifies, "But Alive" from APPLAUSE (the musical version of ALL ABOUT EVE). If any gay bar was actually like this, I would max out a credit card and go.

03 March 2009

DAMN YANKEES: Thoughts/Predictions

Last week HOLLYWOOD, no doubt feeling somewhat responsible/guilty about Prop 8, gave all little homos a gift: Jake Gyllenhal and Jim Carey in a "contemporized" remake of DAMN YANKEES. Apparently the big wigs are waiting for a script before searching out directors/Lolas, and I feel like this might never take off. But Jake would be a dreamy Joe Boyd (or anything), and Jim Carey is pretty idea for the devil. As for the rest? Let's ponder:

Cotemporize?--I don't really know what this means. I guess some of the songs will get new arrangements or something. Most of them will probably get cut. The only songs I am confident will make it into the new version are "Goodbye Old Girl", "Heart", "A Little Brains, A Little Talent", "Whatever Lola Wants" and "Those Were the Good Old Days." "Two Lost Souls" will probably make it in because it's a pretty fierce song. "Six Months" and "Shoeless Joe" are major numbers for anyone who likes the show, but they're pretty hokey, golden-age stuff and might not make it to the silver screen this time around. Young Joe's numbers with his wife ("A Man Doesn't Know" and "Near to You") are also up in the air--they were cut from the original film version, but have basic, pleasant melodies that could be updated. Dramatically, they're probably the most interesting in the show (young stud in love with Matron who doesn't realize she is talking to the young stud version of her husband). Perhaps some new song will be written. I can say with 99/9% certainty that we will not hear the phrase "who's got the pain when they do the mambo". I also wonder what baseball team Joe will play for? Certainly not the Washington Senators. A fictional team perhaps? I suppose if they were going to make up a team, they could keep it as The Senators, and we could imagine they still exist.

CASTING!--This is the fun part. The more I think about it the more abvious it is to me that Beyonce IS Lola. Simply having her perform would instantly update her numbers, she can dance it, sing it, and generally use her bootyliciousness to erase any memories of Gwen Verdon, but in a respectful way (because you can't eliminate Gwen Verdon). I honestly can't think of anyone else who would actually be exciting in this part. I am praying with every fiber of my being it isn't Reese Witherspoon. Or Renee Zelwiger. ::shudder:: If the number "Shoeless Joe" stays in, I expect Christine Baranski to sing it. Though the part may be too "small" for her, I actually think Meryl Streep would be the perfect Meg (and would provide good reason not to cut her songs). The part is always overlooked but one of the most interesting and unique in musical theater--the dowdy housewife who gets the man. Faith Prince would also be perfection, but probably isn't enough of a name. Christine Baranski could also fit in here, but seems a waste of her comedic talents. Who would play old Joe? For some reason, all I can think of is Alec Baldwin. Burt Reynolds also comes to mind for some reason.

Let's just hope this actually happens, even if it is a total shit-show. Until then, we have NINE to look forward to!