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Robert Goulet, 1933-2007 November 1, 2007

Posted by Jeff in In memoriam, Musicals, Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers, Theater.
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Robert Goulet and Barbara Cook, from a 1962 Bell Telephone Hour, performing songs from that season’s Broadway hits, including Goulet’s best-known role, Lancelot in Camelot.

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“I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” October 27, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1946 through 1960, Comden and Green, Dance, Fred Astaire, Movies, Musicals, Theater.
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From The Band Wagon (1952), four Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz musical numbers for the price of (n)one …

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Three loverlies October 12, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1961 through 1989, Movies, Musicals, Theater.
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Almost from the moment his studio announced they had purchased the movie rights to My Fair Lady, Jack Warner started stepping in one bad publicity mess after another.

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“Where the devil are my slippers?” October 11, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1961 through 1989, Legit, Movies, Musicals, Theater.
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When Gabriel Pascal, the producer of the 1938 movie of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, first showed their movie to GBS, he was understandably nervous. Although Shaw had insisted on co-credit for the screenplay (as a result of which he won an undeserved Oscar), in fact he had not had a hand in the writing or the production. Shaw’s play ended with Higgins and Pickering sharing a good laugh at the realization that Eliza was, indeed, going to marry Freddy. Shaw wrote a prose epilogue (lengthy even for him) in which he explained that Eliza started a flower shop with Higgins and Pickering’s assistance.

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The new small talk October 10, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1961 through 1989, Movies, Musicals, Theater, Trivia questions.
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My Fair lady cover

Of those of us who have actually heard of George Bernard Shaw (the answer to yesterday’s question), the image at left is most likely what we think of when we think of him.

When I saw the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady, I was young enough that I remember equating Al Hirschfeld’s image of GBS in the clouds, with the strings tied to his fingers, with my image of God. This proved an even more appropriate metaphor as I grew older: by high school, my two favorite playwrights were Shaw and Bertolt Brecht.

Other children acquire their spirituality from church, or their parents. I got mine from the cover of a Lerner & Loewe album. Ah, but I was a strange child …

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You saw the original cast??!!” September 27, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1990s to present, Movies, Musicals, Theater.
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“The Cell Block Tango” from the 2002 movie version of Chicago, featuring Renée Zellweger, Taye Diggs and the Six Merry Murderesses Of The Cook County Jail: Susan Misner (“pop”), Denise Faye (“six”), Deirdre Goodwin (“squish”), Ekaterina Chtchelkanova (“uh-uh”), Catherine Zeta Jones (“Cicero”) and Mýa Harrison (“Lipschitz”).

I can stop conversation at any conclave of Broadway musical fans with the following three facts:

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The genesis of a Broadway number September 25, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Harold Arlen, Musicals, Theater.
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Truman Capote’s novella, House Of Flowers, is the story of Ottilie, a young girl who works in a Haitian bordello under the name of Violet, and how she finds true love. In 1951, Capote recorded this excerpt:

Three years later, Capote wrote the book and lyrics to a Broadway musical of the same name, with music by Harold Arlen. When they started the collaboration, Capote was stuck in Rome with John Huston, rewriting the script for the movie Beat The Devil, and he and Arlen collaborated by mail. At one point, Arlen sent Capote the following recording, with an idea he had for the scene we just heard:


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Little Miss Britten September 10, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Folk, German, Music, Musicals, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Theater.
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From the video of the final West End performance of Beyond The Fringe, Dudley Moore performs his interpretations of songs by Benjamin Britten and Kurt Weill. Introduced by Jonathan Miller.

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“Nothing’s impossible, I have found …” September 4, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Fred Astaire, Jerome Kern, Movies, Musicals.
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The other best remembered dance number from Swing Time (1936), a movie originally titled Never Gonna Dance. And it certainly seems that way; here were are almost half an hour into the movie and believe it or not Fred and Ginger haven’t danced yet.

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La belle, la perfectly swell romance September 2, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Fred Astaire, Jerome Kern, Movies, Musicals.
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From Swing Time (1936), a movie that was originally going to be named after this number — “Never Gonna Dance”. A dance to a song about not dancing, a love duet by two people who have just broken up.

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Okay, that’s a beguine! August 31, 2007

Posted by Jeff in Jazz, Music, Musicals, Swing, Theater.
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Answering yesterday’s question, it’s a dance from the island of Martinique (you know, where the heat wave blew into town from last week …)

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And just what is a beguine? August 30, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Dance, Fred Astaire, Movies, Musicals.
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Broadway Melody of 1940 DVD cover

Happy birthday, Joe!

This was the last of four MGM musicals with Broadway Melody in the title, following the 1930 Oscar winner for Best Picture, today best known for the title song featured in the Singin’ In The Rain dance sequence. Unlike most such series, the last is far and away the best.

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“Dancing In The Dark” August 26, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1946 through 1960, Comden and Green, Dance, Fred Astaire, Movies, Musicals, Theater.
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Band Wagon Poster

“I don’t think a dancer should smoke,” says Gabrielle Gerard (Cyd Charisse) to Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) early on in The Band Wagon (1952). And, indeed, Astaire chain-smokes through the movie. But by the end, Gabrielle is in love with him — and bumming smokes off him as well.

I am a huge fan of backstage stories — my screenplay Equity is proof of that — and I can think of few as fun and as realistic as this one. With music by Arthur Schwartz and lyrics by Howard Dietz (yes, “Dancing In The Dark” does have lyrics), the title and several songs come from the last Broadway revue Fred did with his sister Adele before she retired in 1931. And here he is, at the age of fifty-four, keeping up with dancers some of whom are less than half his age.

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An American In Paris August 25, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1946 through 1960, Art, Dance, George Gershwin, Movies.
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T-L Chocolat

Left: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

For the sequence in my screenplay Tabula Rasa in which Lucy escapes from her father to a movie theater, I originally intended for her to see Lust For Life, the Van Gogh biography starring Kirk Douglas and directed by Vincente Minnelli. But when I went to the video rental store, they didn’t have Lust For Life, and they did have this by the same director. A better choice for Lucy’s palette, as it turned out …

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