Author Archive for phayward

News Update….News….News….News….News….News

  • “Chess” – the ENO co-production opening on 1st May at London’s Coliseum is due to star West End legend Michael Ball as Anatoly Sergievsky and  Alexandra Burke as Svetlana Sergievsky. Joining them is said to be Tim Howar (Rock of Ages) as Frederick Trumper, Cassidy Janson (Beautiful) as Florence Vassy and Murray Head, who returns to the show to play The Arbiter, having originated the role of Frederick in the show’s 1986 West End premiere.
  • Young Frankenstein” – Cory English will join the cast of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein at the Garrick Theatre on 12th February as Igor, he will replace Ross Noble , who is set to complete his run on 10th February. English  has played the part before replacing Tony Award nominee Christopher Fitzgerald at Broadway’s Hilton Theatre and also on the US tour.
  • “Assassins” –  the new revival of Stephen Sondheim’s musical, which runs  at Pleasance Theatre from 20th  March – 8th April and is directed by Louise Bakker with Jordan Clarke as MD, will reflect the current political climate in the US.  The company includes Jason Kajdi (Our House UK tour)/Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald, Andrew Pepper (Mary Poppins)/Charles Guiteau, Alexander McMorran (A Little Night Music)/John Wilkes Booth, Abigail Williams (Elegies for Angels Punks & Raging Queens)/Sara Jane Moore, Alfie Parker (School of Rock)/Samuel Byck, Conor McFarlane (The Mikado)/Leon Czolgosz, Jack Reitman (Love’s Labour’s Lost)/Giuseppe Zangara, Peter Watts (Rubber) as Propietor and Toby Hine (The Kissing Dance)/John Hinckley.
  • “Sweet Charity” – runs at the Nottingham Playhouse from 31 August to 22 September 2018 and is directed by Bill Buckhurst. Rebecca Trehearn will star in the title role, joining the previously announced Marc Elliot who will play Oscar. Trehearn’s theatre credits include Floyd Collins (Wilton’s Music Hall), City of Angels (Donmar Warehouse) and Show Boat (Sheffield Crucible and West End) for which she won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. The production is part of Adam Penford’s first season as artistic director of Nottingham Playhouse.
  • “Alexander S. Bermange” – will have his work celebrated next month for a one-off show celebrating his work. Musical theatre favourites will take to the stage at London’s Hippodrome on Sunday 4 March. Lined up to appear on the night are: Adam Bayjou (currently Jean Valjean at certain performances of Les Misérables), Christina Bennington (recently Raven in Bat Out of Hell), Danny Colligan (recently a finalist on BBC1’s Let It Shine), Matthew Croke (currently playing the title role in Disney’s Aladdin), Daniel Hope (recently Michael Wormwood in Matilda), Charlotte Kennedy (currently Cosette in Les Misérables), Rebecca Lock (recently Winifred Banks in Mary Poppins), Suzie Mathers (recently Glinda in Wicked), Kelly Mathieson (currently Christine in The Phantom of the Opera), Haydn Oakley (recently Henri Baurel in An American In Paris), Lucy O’Byrne (currently Maria in The Sound of Music), Hollie O’Donoghue (recently Eponine in Les Misérables), Benjamin Purkiss (recently alternate Strat in Bat Out of Hell), Patrick Sullivan (recently Blake in Bat Out of Hell) and George Ure (recently Zaki in Big Fish).
  • “Motown The Musical” – castingchanges have been announced for the West End production which celebrates its second birthday at the Shaftesbury Theatre where it is currently booking until 5th January 2019. Jay Perry will join the cast as Berry Gordy. He is joined by Natalie Kassanga as Diana Ross and Carl Spencer as Marvin Gaye. 11 year-old Cruz Lee-Ojo also joins the company to share the role of Young Michael Jackson, Berry Gordy and Stevie Wonder with 12 year-old Tumo Reetsang. 
  • “Orpheus – The Musical” – Richard Stilgoe’s musical will be performed by students and alumni from the Arts Educational School at The Other Palace Theatre from 26th-31st March with special guests including Rob Brydon, Bertie Carvel, Patricia Hodge, Miles Jupp, Jim Carter and Jane Asher  making  one-off cameo appearances playing the role of the Greek Chorus on different nights. 
  • Myth: The Rise and Fall of Orpheus” – the rock musical (previously called 27) returns to London with a new title, a revised book and new songs). Again directed by Arlene Phillips and written by Sam Cassidy, it will have 9 concert-style workshop performances at The Other Palace from Saturday 10th – Saturday 17th March 2018. The production will be semi-staged and performed by a live 6-piece band. Casting includes Zoe Birkett (Rachael Marron in The Bodyguard, Thriller Live & Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert original cast in the West End), Joe Burman (Hair – Hope Mill Theatre, Xanandu – Southwark Playhouse), Richard Carson (Sky, Mamma Mia!, West End, 1st Cover Chris, Miss Saigon, West End), Amy Di Bartolomeo (Bat Out Of Hell, London Coliseum, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, UK tour), Lauren Ellis-Steele (Wicked, UK tour), Joel Harper-Jackson (Simon Zealot, Jesus Christ Superstar, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Beautiful, West End),  Jodie Jacobs (27, Cockpit, Crow, Bananaman the Musical and Miss Gardner, Carrie, ), Laura Johnson (Hair, Hope Mill Theatre & The Vaults), Shekinah McFarlane (Tommy, UK tour, Hair and Parade – Hope Mill Theatre), Matthew McKenna ( Bananaman The Musical, Legally Blonde, We Will Rock You, The Phantom of the Opera – West End).
  • “Bat Out Of Hell” –  which opens at the Dominion Theatre in April has just been revealed:  Andrew Polec and Christina Bennington will return to lead the cast as Strat and Raven, alongside Rob Fowler as Falco, Danielle Steers as Zahara with Sharon Sexton as Sloane, Giovanni Spanó as Ledoux and Patrick Sullivan as Blake. Also returning are Emily Benjamin, Georgia Carling, Natalie Chua, Jonathan Cordin, Hannah Ducharme, Isaac Edwards, Aston Newman Hannington, Eve Norris and Courtney Stapleton. (At certain performances, the role of Strat will be played by Simon Gordon or Jordon Gage).

Musical Theatre Historian Dominic Combe looks back at The Lilac Domino

The Lilac Domino is an operetta in three acts by Emmerich von Gatti and Bela Jenbach set to music by Charles Cuvillier. The piece opened at the Stadttheater in Leipzig on 3 February 1912. Success in Leipzig was sufficient motivation for the work to be staged in Budapest at the Nepopea (a private company offering affordable access to ballet, operetta and suchlike) on 5 November 1912; however, The Lilac Domino aroused no further interest in Europe.

Two years later in New York, an English language version was written by Harry and Robert Smith with additional songs by Donavon Parsons and Howard Carr. It opened at the 44th Street Theatre on 28 October 1914, and was produced by Andrew Dippel and his Opera Comique Company. This American version was set in Palm Beach, Florida instead of Nice in France, starring Eleanor Painter as Georgine and Wilfred Douthitt as Andre. An innovative feature of this production was a coloured film of the Carnival at Nice, probably for the Carnival scene in act three. Among others of the Broadway cast were: George Curzon (Vicomte de Brissac), James Horrod (Elledon), rene dettling (Leonie d’Andorcer), John E Hazzard (prosper), Robert O’Connor (Coasimir), Jeanne Maubourg (Baroness de Villiers) and Harry Herrosen (Istvan). The production managed 110 performances.

In London, the British rights to The Lilac Domino were taken up by the energetic Joe Sacks who had produced the revue Three Cheers in 1916. Sacks retained the American lyrics, but had them adapted for the London audiences by Shafto Justin Adair Fitzgerald and interpolated a few songs by the musical director, Howard Carr and the lyricist Donovan Parsons. It opened at the Empire Theatre on 21 February 1918 where it settled in until 22 September 1919. After a short interlude, the production resumed at the Palace Theatre on 23 October 1919, finally closing in December that year after a total of 747 performances.

As such, The Lilac Domino came out of the shadows where it had lingered for six years and finally joined the ranks of the major hits of the Great War period along with Chu Chin Chow (2,235 performances), The Maid of the Mountains (1352 performances) and The Boy (801 performances). Finally if you accept the Bing Boys are Here, Bing Girls are There and Bing Boys on Broadway as a trilogy, you have another mega hit running to 1196 performances. Among the favourite songs were ‘The Lilac Domino’ (sung by Clara Butterworth, Vincent Sullivan and R Stuart Pigott), ‘What is done you can never undo’ (Clara Butterworth and Jamieson Dodds), ‘For your love I am waiting’ (Jospenine Earle) and ‘All line up in a queue’ (Frank Lalor and chorus). By the end of 1918 The Lilac Domino was on tour in the provinces.

The next obvious step was to take the show to Australia. Starting in Sydney with Jamieson Dodds from London and a local singer, Rene Maxwell, together with Ivy Shilling, Marie Lavarre, John Delacey, Hugh Steyne, William Valentine, George Gee and A B Majilton. This was followed by performances in the Theatre Royal in Melbourne and subsequently in New Zealand.

In Britain The Lilac Domino remained a favourite with amateur music and opera societies until well after the 1939-45 War and in 1953, H F Maltby gave new impetus with a revised English language book returning the action to its rightful place on the French Riviera. A film version was released in the United Kingdom in 1937 and later in the USA in 1940.

This article by Dominic Combe was first seen as part of the booklet accompanying the Palaeophonics CD issue.

For more details contact d.combe@btinternet.com                                                      Illustrations from the Overtures archive.

 

 

Monsieur Beaucaire & The Lilac Domino feature in Musical Theatre Melodies

The next “Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 13th February will feature a Centenary tribute to the London premiere of Charles Cuvillier’s The Lilac Domino, (English adaptation by H.F. Maltby, with additional songs by Howard Carr and Donovan S. Parsons), from a 1969 British radio cast recording with Cynthia Glover, Elaine Blighton, Derek Hammond Stroud and Bernard Dickerson. (See our feature in “From The Collection”)
 
The programme will also feature André Messager’s Monsieur Beaucaire, (based on the novel by Booth Tarkington), from a 1949 3DB Melbourne radio broadcast transcription recording with Robert Simmonds and Peggy Allen, plus additional songs from the score sung by John Cameron from a 1947 Sydney radio broadcast transcription recording.
 
The broadcast will go “to air” between 9 – 11 p.m. EDT local Melbourne time; (= 10 a.m. – 12 noon GMT in Britain; = 11 p.m. – 1 a.m. NZDT; = 5 – 7 a.m. EST New York time; = 2 – 4 a.m. PST Los Angeles time.)

For those listening in via the Internet on 96.5 Inner FM’s website the webpage link for the Inner FM Web Radio player is http://right-click.com.au/rcPlayer2/index.php?c=innerfm or go to the Inner FM homepage at www.innerfm.org.au and follow the links from “Listen Live” on the top menu.

 

February Latest News…..News…..News…..News…..News……

  • “Miss Nightingale” – The WWII musical  is to open at the Hippodrome Casino in March and will run from 21 March to 6 May . The British musical is set in 1940s London during the war and is created by Matthew Bugg. Songs include music hall tunes, ballads and cabaret numbers. It tells the story of aspiring singer Maggie Brown and her best friend George Nowodny who perform at the newest nightclub in town. The theatre in the Hippodrome Casino will offer an immersive WWII experience with themed food and drink being served to cabaret tables. The cast includes Lauren Chinery in the title role, alongside Oliver Mawdsley as Frank, Matthew Floyd Jones as George, Adam Langstaff as Tom, Tobias Oliver as Clifford and Matthew Bugg himself, in the role of Harry.
  • “Working” – an original London cast recording of Stephen Schwartz’s musical will be released on 2nd March, featuring never before released tracks by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The original UK cast album is the first released since the original Broadway cast recording was issued 40 years ago.
  • “Pieces of String” – the world premiere of the new musical developed by non-profit theatre company Perfect Pitch and supported by Arts Council England, The musical drama focuses on three generations of one family and a secret held since the Second World War. With a book, music and lyrics by Gus Gowland (Sick!, Clocks & Teapots), Pieces of String will begin previewing at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre from 20 April ahead of a 27 April opening night, and is due to run until 5 May.
  • “Company” – the Stephen Sondheim’s  musical which Marianne Elliott will direct at the Gielgud has added former Great British Bake Off host  Mel Giedroyc to the cast, joining Rosalie Craig and Patti LuPone.
  • “The Rink” – the  musical which plays at Southwark Playhouse from May 25th-23rd June will feature Caroline O’Connor as Anna Antonelli –  the owner of a fading Coney Island seaside roller rink.
  • “The Last Ship” – the tour of the UK premiere of Sting’s  musical  The Last Ship has announced its cast headed by Joe McGann starring as Jackie White alongside Charlie Hardwick (Peggy White), Richard Fleeshman (Gideon Fletcher) and Frances McNamee (Meg Dawson) are Michael Blair (Yard Worker), Joe Caffrey (Billy Thompson), Matt Corner (Young Gideon & Yard Worker), Marvin Ford (Ferryman & Yard Worker), Orla Gormley (Cathleen & Yard Worker), Annie Grace (Mrs Dees), Sean Kearns (Freddy Newland & Old Joe), Katie Moore (Ellen Dawson), Charlie Richmond (Adrian Sanderson), Parisa Shahmir (Young Meg), Kevin Wathen (Davey Harrison) and Penelope Woodman (Baroness Tynedale).
  • “Titanic” – the UK tour of Titanic the musical which opens at the Mayflower Southampton in April has announced it’s cast of 25 will feature 11 actors from previous Toronto, Southwark Playhouse  and Charing Cross Theatre  productions including Kieran Brown (The Phantom of the Opera)/Murdoch, Devon-Elise Johnson (Half a Sixpence)/Kate Murphy, Claire Machin (The Girls)/Alice Beane, Victoria Serra (Mamma Mia!)/Kate McGowan and Niall Sheehy (Miss Saigon)/Barrett.They will be joined by Alistair Barron/Lightoller , Greg Castiglioni/Andrews, Lewis Cornay/Bellboy/Hartley, Simon Green/Ismay, Emma Harrold/ Kate Mullins, Claire Marlowe/Lady Caroline, Oliver Marshall/Bride, Chris McGuigan/Jim Farrell, Matthew McKenna/Pitman/Etches, Joel Parnis/Fleet, Timothy Quinlan/Edgar Beane, Philip Rham/Captain Smith, Dudley Rogers/Isidor Straus, Judith Street/Ida Straus, Stephen Webb/Chales Clarke  and ensemble members Samuel J Weir, Alexander Evans, Matthew McDonald, Gemma McMeel and  Janet Mooney.

1958’s Oh Captain features on Musical Theatre Melodies

The next “Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 6th February will feature a 60th Anniversary tribute to Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ “Oh, Captain!”, (based on the film “The Captain’s Paradise” by Alec Coppel and Nicholas Phipps), from the 1958 original Broadway cast recording starring Tony Randall, Jacquelyn McKeever, Edward Platt, Susan Johnson and Paul Valentine with Eileen Rodgers.  
 
The programme will conclude with a 70th Anniversary tribute to Hugh Martin’s “Look Ma, I’m Dancin’!”, featuring selections from the 1948 original Broadway cast recording starring Nancy Walker, Harold Lang, Sandra Deel, Bill Shirley and Hugh Martin. 
 
The broadcast will go “to air” between 9 – 11 p.m. EDT local Melbourne time; (= 10 a.m. – 12 noon GMT in Britain; = 11 p.m. – 1 a.m. NZDT; = 5 – 7 a.m. EST New York time; = 2 – 4 a.m. PST Los Angeles time.)

For those listening in via the Internet on 96.5 Inner FM’s website the webpage link for the Inner FM Web Radio player is http://right-click.com.au/rcPlayer2/index.php?c=innerfm or go to the Inner FM homepage at www.innerfm.org.au and follow the links from “Listen Live” on the top menu.

Your Own Thing and other Rock Shows

 

The arrival of Hair on the Broadway – and later London – stage was akin to the arrival of Bill Haley and his Comets on the world of pop music. Broadway took time in recognising that the world of pop music had changed from the days when it had provided many of the pop hits of the day and change only started when it was proven there was an audience for it in main stream theatre. Hair opened the door for musicals with music reflecting the younger set – musical that became known as rock shows.

One of the first rock musicals after Hair was also successful in New York. It was Your Own Thing – an Off-Broadway show that knew its limitations and did not venture to Broadway. It is fifty years since it opened on 13 January 1968 at the Orpheum Theatre where it played 937 performances.

Your Own Thing was loosely based on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It had a charming soft rock score and imaginative staging using back projection in place of sets. The music and lyrics were by Hal Hester and Danny Apolinar who also starred in the show. During its run many actors who were to become ‘names’ appeared such as Marcia Rodd, Raul Julia, Leland Palmer and Sandy Duncan.

The London transfer went the way of most Off-Broadway transfers in not being successful. It opened on 6 February 1968 with Palmer, Apolinar and Rodd recreating their New York roles but ran for only 42 performances.

The Beatles brought the centre stage of the pop industry to Britain and it was here that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were experimenting in their revolutionary change in the sound of musical theatre. It is not surprising that Jesus Christ Superstar was at first a concept album and not then even considered as a stage show. It was the American live concerts and then the Broadway production that brought that. Their Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat had been written for children but when recorded with adult actors the album found another audience and the show itself developed again in a modern (rock) mode.

In the States, the take on the Bible was Godspell and that was a deserved hit, again with a score of the day. Both this and Jesus Christ Superstar are still very much with us having made quite an impact on the musical stage. Two others were purely American successes, Salvation in 1969 and Soon in 1971 – both have disappeared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But why has Two Gentlemen of Verona not been revived? This show was successful in New York and London and boasted a score by Hair’s Galt MacDermot and it won the Tony for Best Musical. Another Shakespeare spin-off, it was an inventive, tuneful and had a charm that crept over the stage.

By the early seventies there was an acceptance of popular music on the world stage. Hit shows that could boast of modernity such as Pippin, Promises, Promises and Grease in the States and endlessly popular Rocky Horror Show emerging from London’s fringe. Also shows like the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and I Love My Wife would open up to the new sound as well as the changing sexual attitudes in the world of popular musical theatre. Naturally there would be major failures like Rock Carmen and Catch My Soul.

Musicals of today generally bow to the sounds of today and we have also got used to the juke-box musicals actually cashing in on the musical successes of our time. The revolution has happened and there is doubt that it is here to stay.

A listen to the CD’s of Your Own Thing and Two Gentlemen of Verona is a fond way to remember the start of this musical theatre revolution.

RSB                                                       Illustrations from the Overtures Archive

 

Latest News…..News…..News…..News…..News……

  • “Let It Be – Part II”  – a Celebration Of The Music Of The Beatles  is to set out on a UK national tour this Summer and Autumn; brand new and never been seen before in the UK.
  • “Ruthless!” – casting has just been announced for the UK premiere of Joel Paley and Marvin Laird’s all-female character musical.  Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner will play agent Sylvia St. Croix alongside Olivier Award-winner Tracie Bennett, Harriet Thorpe (Great Britain), Lara Denning (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and Kim Maresca (Ruthless!, off-Broadway).
  • “20th Century Boy” – initial casting has been announced for a new tour which opens at G-Live in Guildford on 8th  March before touring to 27 venues across the UK. George Maguire (who won an Olivier Award for his performance in the Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon) returns to lead the cast as Marc Bolan.  This follows his critically acclaimed performance in the original production  in 2011/12.
  • “Tina – The Musical” –  has extended its West End run to 20 October 2018. The piece, based on the life of world-famous rock star Tina Turner, will open at the Aldwych Theatre on 17 April. The brand new production follows Tina’s origins in Nutbush Tennessee and her transformation into a superstar.
  • Ruthless!” – the off-Broadway hit is to receive its UK premiere at the Arts theatre on 27th March where it will run until 23rd June (previews 16th March). Joel Paley and Marvin Laird’s all-female show, which spoofs Broadway musicals such as Gypsy and Mame, will be directed by Richard Fitch with choreography by Rebecca Howell and musical supervision by Gareth Valentine. It tells the story of a talented 8 year-old who will do anything to play the lead in her school play. The show’s 1992 off-Broadway premiere discovered young performers including Natalie Portman and Britney Spears. The Menier Chocolate Factory will act as executive producer.
  • Myth: The Rise And Fall Of Orpheus” – a rock musical which debuted under the name “27” at the Cockpit Theatre in 2016 is set for a semi-staged production with new book and some new songs at The Other Palace from 10th to 17th March and will be directed by Arlene Phillips.
  • Pippin” – Jonathan O’Boyle’s acclaimed production of the multi-Tony Award-winning musical by Grammy and Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (composer of Wicked!) will transfer to Southwark Playhouse running from 23rd February-24th March 2018. It will be the third production from Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre to transfer to London’s Off-West End in under a year. Their production of Hair has just ended its run at The Vaults. The cast will inlclude Jonathan Carlton reprising his role as Pippin and Genevieve Nicole returning as The Leading Player.

Musical Theatre Melodies Salutes Patricia Routledege

“Musical Theatre Melodies” to be broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 30th January will feature a 50th Anniversary tribute to Jule Styne and E.Y. Harburg’s “Darling of the Day”, (based on Arnold Bennett’s “Buried Alive”), from the 1968 original Broadway cast recording starring Vincent Price and Patricia Routledge with Peter Woodthorpe, Brenda Forbes, Teddy Green, Mitchell Jason, Marc Jordan and Charles Welch. Read more here – http://overtures.org.uk/?p=14799 . This will be introduced by New York-based theatre critic and Internet columnist* – Peter Filichia. 
 
The programme will conclude with selections from the 1973 recital album “Presenting Patrica Routledge” featuring songs by Rodgers and Hart, Jones and Schmidt, Ivor Novello, Noel Coward and Cole Porter. Read more about Dame Patricia Routledge here: – http://overtures.org.uk/?p=14554 
 
The broadcast will go “to air” between 9 – 11 p.m. EDT local Melbourne time; (= 10 a.m. – 12 noon GMT in Britain; = 11 p.m. – 1 a.m. NZDT; = 5 – 7 a.m. EST New York time; = 2 – 4 a.m. PST Los Angeles time.)

For those listening in via the Internet on 96.5 Inner FM’s website the webpage link for the Inner FM Web Radio player is http://right-click.com.au/rcPlayer2/index.php?c=innerfm or go to the Inner FM homepage at www.innerfm.org.au and follow the links from “Listen Live” on the top menu.

 

Look Ma, I’m Dancin’! onto Broadway Seventy Years Ago

Seventy years ago on 28 January 1948 at the Adelphi Theatre on Broadway a new musical comedy called “Look Ma, I’m Dancin’!” opened. It received rather mixed reviews and only managed a run of 188 performances and has hardly been seen or thought of since. But it is well worth re-visiting when considering the people involved with it. The great George Abbott produced and directed it and the choreographer was Jerome Robbins who also ‘conceived’ it. Add to this a book by Robert E Lee and Jerome Lawrence, a score by Hugh Martin and a cast that included Nancy Walker and Harold Lang.

Jerome Robbins had come from the world of ballet to Broadway mainly due to his Fancy Free ballet that became the inspiration for the Broadway hit On the Town. He had gone on to win a Tony for his work on Best Foot Forward and to be involved with a flop (Billion Dollar Baby). The idea of a musical with a ballet background had been with him for many years and he had started to work on the idea with Arthur Laurents but that earlier planned production fell through.

George Abbott was originally contracted as the director but when the show came back to life he became the producer as well. Robbins was behind the signing up of Robert E Lee and Jerome Lawrence who, at that stage had no Broadway schooling (they were to go to be very successful playwrights and it was they who brought Jerry Herman’s Mame to the musical stage).

Jerome Robbins wanted to show the cut throat world of International Ballet and to explore again ballet on the Broadway stage. The show was to be about a mixed nationality ballet company on the road and it was to be almost biographical in that the lead dancer would have much of the young Robbins about him. The book that brought this together invented a young lady – a remarkably rich young lady – who so wanted to be a ballet star that she was willing (with her Father’s money) to pay for the cross-country tour.

The young lady was Lilly Molloy from Milwaukee played by comedienne Nancy Walker. Walker had been in the original company of On the Town. The main dancer and choreographer who sees in Lilly a way of funding his ballet innovations (think Robbins) is the brash Eddie Winkler played by Harold Lang. Lang was himself from the world of ballet and he was beginning to build a Broadway career. What had been the surprise was that fact he could sing – his previous shows had mainly shown his dancing skills. Lang would soon revive Pal Joey, another story about a not too pleasant a character, with huge success.

In the plot Eddie is able to extend his ballet company to none classical works of his choice including a bedroom farce ballet ‘Mademoiselle Marie’ that, because of her money, would star Molloy. The ballet is a surprise hit but Eddie has made himself so unpopular that he loses his girlfriend. It is Molloy who steps in and manages to get him to see sense.

Nancy Walker was to receive excellent reviews for her comic ballet stints and as an all-round comic actress. So too was the choreographic element of the show – again Robbins had shown his talent. What was a disappointment was the score – a fact that Hugh Martin recognises. While the numbers for Nancy Walker work others do not ignite. Martin blames himself for being lazy and Abbott was disappointed as he so wanted a song to match ‘The Trolley Song’ (a past Martin hit for Judy Garland).

Songs from the score were recorded prior to the show starting its out-of-town try-out because of the strike planned by the Musicians Union. So the original 10” 78 box set and later the 10” LP are not quite the show that Broadway saw in content or deliverance. But it still worth listening to for the comic attributes of Miss Walker and to hear a young Harold Lang.

There is a later recording issued by Original Cast Records of a rare revival by the Musicals Tonight! Company in 2000.

RSB                                        Illustrations from the Overtures Archive

News…News…News

  • Ruthless!” – the off-Broadway hit is to receive its UK premiere at the Arts theatre on 27th March where it will run until 23rd June (previews 16th March). Joel Paley and Marvin Laird’s all-female show, which spoofs Broadway musicals such as Gypsy and Mame, will be directed by Richard Fitch with choreography by Rebecca Howell and musical supervision by Gareth Valentine. It tells the story of a talented 8 year-old who will do anything to play the lead in her school play. The show’s 1992 off-Broadway premiere discovered young performers including Natalie Portman and Britney Spears. The Menier Chocolate Factory will act as executive producer.
  • Myth: The Rise And Fall Of Orpheus” – a rock musical which debuted under the name “27” at the Cockpit Theatre in 2016 is set for a semi-staged production with new book and some new songs at The Other Palace from 10th to 17th March and will be directed by Arlene Phillips.
  • Pippin” – Jonathan O’Boyle’s acclaimed production of the multi-Tony Award-winning musical by Grammy and Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (composer of Wicked!) will transfer to Southwark Playhouse running from 23rd February-24th March 2018. It will be the third production from Manchester’s Hope Mill Theatre to transfer to London’s Off-West End in under a year. Their production of Hair has just ended its run at The Vaults. The cast will inlclude Jonathan Carlton reprising his role as Pippin and Genevieve Nicole returning as The Leading Player.
  • The King and I” – Tony Award winner, Ruthie Ann Miles is to reprise her Tony winning role, Lady Thiang, alongside previously announced stars Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe in the West End transfer of the Broadway production which opens at the London Palladium in June and has just extended its booking period to 8th September.
  • Bob Carlton – the creator of The Tempest-inspired “Return to the Forbidden Planet”, has died following a battle with cancer. The writer and director who created the award-winning ‘jukebox rock‘n’roll musical (Winning the Olivier Award for Best Musical in 1989/90 ahead of both Miss Saigon and Buddy) during his tenure as artistic director of London’s Bubble Theatre, went on to make his mark as artistic director of the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, holding the post for 17 years before stepping down in 2014.
  • Calendar Girls” – the critically acclaimed musical which ran in the West End under the shortened tile “The Girls” has announced it’s cast for the tour and will include Denise Welch (Celia), Sara Crowe (Ruth), Lorraine Bruce (Cora), Fern Britton (Marie), Anna Jane Casey (Annie), Rebecca Storm (Chris), and Ruth Madoc (Jessie). It will open at the Leeds Grand Theatre on 15th August 2018 before going on an extensive tour of the United Kingdom.
  • All The Way” – Producers Ambassador Theatre Group, Stewart Till and Frank Sinatra Enterprises, along with Edward Walson have announced that Emmy Award-winning writer Danny Strong has been commissioned to write the book for a highly anticipated new musical based on the life of the legendary singer and actor Frank Sinatra. The show, which is planned to open in early 2020, will feature a number of timeless hit songs from Sinatra’s incredible catalogue recorded during his illustrious career.

THE HAPPY TIME – Robert Goulet’s Tony Award Winner

“Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 23rd January will feature a 50th Anniversary tribute to John Kander and Fred Ebb’s “The Happy Time”, (suggested by the characters in the stories by Robert L. Fontaine), from the 1968 original Broadway cast recording starring Robert Goulet and David Wayne with Michael Rupert, Julie Gregg and George S. Irving. This will be introduced by New York-based theatre critic and Internet columnist Peter Filichia. 
 
The programme will conclude with song selections featuring Robert Goulet from the respective U.S. TV musical versions of Lerner and Lowe’s Brigadoon (1966) with Sally Anne Howes; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel (1967) with Mary Grover and Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate (1968) with Carol Lawrence.
 
The broadcast will go “to air” between 9 – 11 p.m. EDT local Melbourne time; (= 10 a.m. – 12 noon GMT in Britain; = 11 p.m. – 1 a.m. NZDT; = 5 – 7 a.m. EST New York time; = 2 – 4 a.m. PST Los Angeles time.)

 

For those listening in via the Internet on 96.5 Inner FM’s website the webpage link for the Inner FM Web Radio player is http://right-click.com.au/rcPlayer2/index.php?c=innerfm or go to the Inner FM homepage at www.innerfm.org.au and follow the links from “Listen Live” on the top menu.

 

 

50 Years Ago Darling Of The Day opened on Broadway with Patricia Routledge set to win a Tony

Having recently celebrated the musical career of Patricia Routledge and the world of flops on this site it seems fitting to concentrate on a show that starred the great lady and was, unfortunately, to become a Broadway flop. Co-incidentally the show “Darling Of The Day” opened just half a century ago on 27 January 1968 at the George Abbott Theatre.

Arnold Bennett’s class conscious novel Buried Alive was the inspiration for this musical. It was rather a good idea and the novel had previously been made into a play and a film. The plot is very theatrical: a successful painter fed up with the falseness of the art world decides to change places with his butler (who happens to have died) and follow through a relationship his butler had started by letter with a widow. The problem is – he can’t stop painting and eventually gets caught out – but by the time the curtain falls and he has found love and happiness.

Initially the book was allotted to Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall (they would write the book for another Bennett novel turned musical – The Card). While Waterhouse and Hall would go on to write other musicals, at this point they had little or no musical theatre back-ground. The score, however, was to be by Jule Styne and E.Y. (Yip) Harburg. Peter Wood (another Englishman) was to direct.

According to Ken Mandelbaum in his knowledgeable and highly readable book on Broadway flops ‘Not since Carrie’ the original team did not get on and, in particular, Yip Harburg was not happy – so they disbanded. The new book writer was to be S N Behrman and the new director Albert Marre. They did not last long either and then Nunnally Johnson came on board with director Steven Vinaver. By this time the show had been cast and an out-of-town pre-Broadway tour had commenced.

The stars of “Darling of the Day” were Vincent Price and Patricia Routledge (in the part originally cast with Geraldine Page). Price had made his name in the movies and had last appeared on Broadway in 1954 – but he was well known and could be considered a box office draw. The original cast recording shows him to be a quite adequate singer of the material he is given. Patricia Routledge had the reputation of being able to turn iron into gold which she did here but the gold stayed with her more than covering the entire show.

What Price and Routledge, and indeed the rest of the cast, did to keep their sanity during the out-of-town try-out is not documented but they had to deal with the changing of directors and constant re-writes. When the show did arrive in New York there was no billing for the book – the many who had worked on it had run for cover.

No show can survive an inadequate book and a rudderless production. Darling of the Day was no exception. There had also been a title change – in Boston it had been called Married Alive! Yet it did get some critical praise upon its Broadway opening – although the all-powerful New York Times sent its second stringer who did not like it. When their number one critic, Clive Barnes, saw it he was positive but that review was in his ballet column and was too late to save the show. The television and radio reviews were not good although all were ecstatic about Patricia Routledge. It ran for just 31 performances and Miss Routledge was to receive a Tony Award for her performance.

The show was one of the most expensive to be produced on Broadway at the time. The budget was $500k of which $150 came from the record sale to RCA. Luckily, that recording went ahead for it does reveal a score that has many joys.

There have been few revivals and London’s only staged version was at the Union Theatre in 2013 with Katy Secombe stepping into Miss Routledge’s shows. Previously it was seen as a Lost Musical.

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