Archive for Featuring the Archive

Let’s Take A Look At Australia With Musical Theatre Melodies

“Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 16th January will feature a 30th Anniversary tribute to Martin Armiger, George Dreyfus, David King, Tim Robertson, John Romeril and Don Watson’s Manning Clark’s  “History of Australia” – The Musical, (inspired by the histories of Professor Manning Clark), from the 1988 original Australian cast recording starring Ivar Kants, Terry Bader, Jonathan Biggins, Terry Brady, Tina Bursill, Darryl Emmerson, Michele Fawdon, Geoffrey Jenkins, John McTernan, Linda Nagle, Helen Noonan, Ingrid Silveus, Greg Stone, Carmen Tanti, Kate Turner, Jenny Vuletic and Ross Williams.
 
This will be preceded by a ‘live’ telephone interview with composer/lyricist, writer and Australian Musical Theatre historian* Peter Pinne from Brisbane discussing the background history of the musical.
 
The programme will conclude with an interview with Australian performer and composer/playwright Bradley McCaw discussing the recent studio cast highlights recording of his musical Becoming Bill.
Also you can take a listen here –

ITUNES: http://apple.co/2iTQAGK
SPOTIFY: http://spoti.fi/2n88MAG
 
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.

 

Happy 120th Birthday to our Gracie (1898 – 1979)

We mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of Gracie Fields by delving into our archives and retrieving this Christmas broadcast from 1941.

It was recorded in Vancouver, Canada whilst Gracie was on a North American tour and it was produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in conjunction with the BBC for broadcasting across the Empire.

CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE BROADCAST

 

60 Years Ago – How London’s Theatreland looked in Jan 1958

London’s Theatreland in January 1958 had a very different mix of shows from what’s on offer today. There were fewer musicals, more drama and the last remnants of revue. The Christmas pantomimes didn’t open until Boxing Day, rather than early December, and would run through January and some into March. The musicals running included three British greats , The Boy Friend, Free As Air,  Salad Days as well as Grab Me A Gondola; the only Broadway contribution was Bells Are Ringing.

Dramas and comedies occupied the stages of the Winter Gardens (became the site for the New London), Aldwych, Saville (now the Odeon Covent Garden), Palace, Cambridge, Adelphi, Piccadilly, Phoenix, Strand (now the Novello), Garrick, Theatre Royal Drury Lane and Her Majesty’s while revue played the Apollo (Shaftesbury Ave), Fortune, Prince Of Wales, Comedy (Harold Pinter) and Victoria Palace.

Other theatre changes from 1958 are Globe Theatre became Gielgud, New is now Noel Coward, the Princes is once again the Shaftesbury, Scala and Westminster have long since been demolished (although The Other Palace has been created as part of the reconstruction of the Westminster site), Whitehall has become the Trafalgar Studios, Windmill a casino, the only additions are those from the Gaumont cinema circuit Apollo Victoria (New Victoria cinema), Eventim Apollo Hammersmith (Gaumont cinema) and Dominion as well as Prince Edward (London Casino – Cinerama), Peacock (from the Royalty Kingsway cinema) and then the reopening of the Lyceum Theatre in Wellington Street and the Playhouse Northumberland Avenue and new venues such as Barbican, Donmar Warehouse, Menier Chocolate Factory, Southwark Playhouse, National Theatre and most recently the Bridge as well as a myriad of fringe venues.

Below are the Theatre Listings for the week of Monday January 7th 1958.

 

 

Illustrations taken from the Overtures Archives

Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty’s RAGTIME marks its 20th anniversary

“Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 9th January will feature a 20th Anniversary tribute to Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s “Ragtime”, (based on the novel by E. L. Doctorow), from the 1998 original Broadway cast recording starring Marin Mazzie, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald, Peter Friedman, Judy Kaye, Mark Jacoby, Lea Michele, Lynnette Perry, Steven Sutcliffe, Jim Corti, Mike O’Carroll, Larry Daggett, Alex Strange and Tommy Hollis.


 

The musical had its world premiere in Toronto, where it opened at the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts (later renamed the Toronto Centre for the Arts) on December 8, 1996, produced by Canadian impresario Garth Drabinsky and his Livent Inc., the Toronto-production company he headed. The US premiere was at the Shubert Theatre, Los Angeles in June 1997. The musical opened on Broadway on January 18, 1998 as the first production in the newly opened Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Directed by Frank Galati and choreographed by Graciela Daniele, Ragtime closed on January 16, 2000 after 834 performances and 27 previews. The original cast included Brian Stokes Mitchell, Marin Mazzie, Peter Friedman and Audra McDonald, who were all nominated for Tony Awards.

The production received mixed reviews, with critics noting that the dazzling physical production (with a $10 million budget, including fireworks and a working Model T automobile) overshadowed problems in the script. Ben Brantley’s review in  was headlined “A diorama with nostalgia rampant.” It led the 1998 Tony Awards with thirteen Tony Award nominations, but Disney’s The Lion King won as Best Musical. The musical won awards for Best Featured Actress (McDonald), Original Score, Book, and Orchestrations. According to The New York Times, “The chief competition for The Lion King was Ragtime, a lavish musical.” The New York Times also noted that “The season was an artistic success as well, creating one of the most competitive Tony contests in years, with a battle in almost every category capped by the titanic struggle for the best musical award between Ragtime with 13 nominations and The Lion King with 11.” The Broadway production was not financially successful, and some Broadway insiders consider its lavish production to have been the financial “undoing” of Livent.

Based on the 1975 novel by E. L. Doctorow, Ragtime tells the story of three groups in the United States in the early 20th century: African Americans, represented by Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Harlem musician; upper-class suburbanites, represented by Mother, the matriarch of a white upper-class family in New Rochelle, New York; and Eastern European immigrants, represented by Tateh, a Jewish immigrant from Latvia. Historical figures including Harry Houdini, J. P. Morgan and Henry Ford are represented in the stories.

The programme will feature ab introduction by New York-based theatre critic and Internet columnist Peter Filichia. 
 
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.

 

How Now Dow Jones features in this week’s Musical Theatre Melodies

“Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 2nd January will feature a 50th Anniversary tribute to Elmer Bernstein and Carolyn Leigh’s How Now Dow Jones, from the 1967 original Broadway cast recording starring Marlyn Mason, Anthony Roberts, Brenda Vaccaro, Hiram Sherman, Sammy Smith, Charlotte Jones and Fran Stevens.
 
This will be preceded by an introduction (via Skype) from New York-based theatre critic and Internet columnist – Peter Filichia. 
 
The remainder of the programme will feature further selections from the 1997 London studio cast recording of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein 2nd’s Show Boat, starring Frederica Von Stade, Jerry Hadley, Bruce Hubbard, Paige O’Hara, David Garrison, Karla Burns, Robert Nicols, Nancy Kulp, Lillian Gish and Teresa Stratas, with the Ambrosian Chorus and London Sinfonietta conducted by John McGlinn.
 
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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showboat was THE musical back in 1927 and is the Boxing Day feature

“Musical Theatre Melodies” to be on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 26th December will feature a 90th Anniversary tribute to Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein 2nd’s “Show Boat”, (adapted from the novel by Edna Ferber), from the 1997 London studio cast recording starring Frederica Von Stade, Jerry Hadley, Bruce Hubbard, Paige O’Hara, David Garrison, Karla Burns, Robert Nicols, Nancy Kulp, Lillian Gish and Teresa Stratas, with the Ambrosian Chorus and London Sinfonietta conducted by John McGlinn and will be introduced by New York-based theatre critic and Internet columnist, Peter Filichia. 


 
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.

Musical Theatre Melodies features Meredith Willson’s The Music Man

Sixty years ago a breath of fresh air came to Broadway.  It was brought by a show called The Music Man written by a man of music but one who had no theatre background.  It broke a few theatrical rules and invented new ones and it went on to win the Tony Award for the season’s Best Musical.

This week “Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 19th December will feature a  tribute to Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, from the 1957 original Broadway cast recording starring Robert Preston, with Barbara Cook, Pert Kelton, Iggie Wolfington, The Buffalo Bills, Helen Raymond, Paul Reed and Eddie Hodges. This will be introduced by New York-based theatre critic and Internet columnist, Peter Filichia. Also, the  programme will feature song selections from Meredith Willson’s Here’s Love, (based on Miracle on 34th Street), from the 1963 original Broadway cast recording starring Janis Page, Craig Stevens and Laurence Naismith, with Fred Gwynne, Paul Reed and Valerie Lee. (see bottom of article for broadcast details)
 

The man of music was Meredith Willson whose career had been originally classical based before making his name on radio as an orchestra leader.  He was famous enough to have written an autobiography (or as called a Memento) of his early years growing up in small town Iowa USA.  It was fun, touching and showed insight on ordinary America.  There had been interest from hit show writer Frank Loesser in the book as he saw it had musical possibilities.  Loesser introduced Willson to the producers of his last two shows, Feyer and Martin.  They also saw the possibilities and encouraged Willson to turn it into a musical for which they would have first option to produce.  The book was published in 1948 and it would take nine years to bring to the stage and then with different producers.

Willson’s knowledge of writing specifically for the theatre was non-existent though he certainly knew how to construct a song.  After a few attempts at creating a story line he sought help from Franklin Lacey, a playwright and screen writer, and their collaboration eventually succeeded.  At first they had considered a television version but the stage won.

The central character became Harold Hill, a con man set to make money from selling musical instruments and uniforms for a town band perceived by the brain washed towns folk to be needed to keep their young on the straight and narrow.  A con man may not be the accepted view of a Broadway male lead – indeed the opening number (in lieu of an overture) would leave the audience in no doubt about his morals (or lack of).  What the book cleverly did was to give him a heart that would, we hope, lead him to salvation and a happy ending for everyone concerned.  This was helped by the introduction of Marion, the town’s librarian and a piano teacher who saw through Hill’s plan but eventually saw the positive change in the hopes of the young and the more positive side of her ‘white knight’.

There was no overture and no ballet (a must since Oklahoma!)  but there was a terrific story with all the hope, warmth together with an important insight to American small town life a generation or so before.  There was also the fact that it was perfectly cast. 

Harold Hill was played by Robert Preston, a minor Hollywood leading man known mainly for his cowboy pictures.  He had limited vocal skills but, as see the previous year with Rex Harrison, acting skills could overcome many vocal problems.  Marion, on the other hand, was played by one of the most beautifully sounding voices of all time, that of Barbara Cook. 

The Music Man opened on Broadway on 19 December 1957. 

It was an immediate hit winning five Tony Awards including Best Musical and nods to both Preston and Cook.  The show would run for 1375 performances.  The cast album won the Grammy Award for best Musical theatre Album of the year and went on to become one of the largest original cast selling albums.  All this in the season that also introduced West Side Story, New Girl in Town, Jamaica and Oh, Captain!

 

London saw it with Val Johnson playing Harold Hill and again it was a hit – but only while he remained with the show.  It was not considered suitable to tour the UK. 

There was a successful film version which stayed close to the original show starring Robert Preston but not Barbara Cook – her part was played by Shirley Jones.  It has remained a firm American favourite with successful revivals and a television adaptation. A recent revival at Chichester featured Brian Conley as Harold Hill but didn’t make it to the West End.

The Meredith Willson archive is now available on line via the Great American Songbook web site.  His book on the making of The Musical Man called “But he didn’t know the territory” is out of print.

Musical Theatre Melodies

 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.

Rexton S Bunnett                                                                                             Illustrations from the Overtures archive

Me And My Girl – the 80th anniversary – on Musical Theatre Melodies

“Musical Theatre Melodies” to be broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 12th December will feature an 80th Anniversary tribute to Noel Gay and Douglas Furber’s “Me and My Girl”, from the 1985 London revival cast recording starring Robert Lindsay, Emma Thompson and Frank Thornton, with Susannah Fellows, Robert Longden, Roy Macready and Ursula Smith and will be introduced by London-based musical theatre historian, archivist and author, Rex Bunnett. 
 
The remainder of the programme will feature recordings by the original 1937 London cast members, Lupino Lane, Teddie St. Denis and Wallace Lupino plus a selection of Noel Gay songs from stage and screen sung by Evelyn Laye, Cicely Courtneidge, Jack Hulbert, Flanagan and Allen and George Formby, amongst others.
 
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.

Overtures Fond Memories of Sheila O’Neill (1930-2017)

Sheila O’Neill, dancer and choreographer has died at the age of 87.  She was born on 5 May 1930 and died on 16 October 2017.  Her long career spanned classical and jazz dance, revue, musicals, cabaret and film.

Sheila trained in classical dance but sought a career on the musical stage.  Impresario Jack Hylton chose her to play the small part of Yvonne Sorel and to be one of the principal dancers in his London production of Paint Your Wagon.  

Again for Jack Hylton she was given the part of one of the three dancing Princesses of Abadu in the original London production of Kismet in 1955.  Sheila so impressed Hylton that she was given featured billing in the new Crazy Gang revue Jokers Wild at the Victoria Palace.

 

Having found a voice to match her dancing talent she went on to appear in many other fifties and sixties revues such as Six to One starring Dora Bryan, One Over the Eight with Kenneth Williams and the less successful Chaganog.  There was also the Lyric Hammersmith musical How Now Brown Cow which unfortunately disappeared quickly.

Sheila was a regular dancer / performer on television and also in the world of cabaret appearing all over the world and including New York and Cunard.  She made a few films, notably Dream Maker and Half a Sixpence with Tommy Steele and Summer Holiday with Cliff Richard.

When Matt Mattox came to the Palladium Sheila became his dancing partner.  Mattox could boast of dancing with Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and as one of the brothers in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

She returned to the West End stage to feature in original London production of Sweet Charity and eventually took over the lead role.  There was also a return to Kismet in its 1987 revival in which she again played a Princess.  Her last West End show was Applause.

At this stage in her career she became a choreographer for the 1970 Kiss Me Kate revival. The King and I and The Beggar’s Opera in Chichester.  She was the National Theatre’s adviser in movement for a number of years.  

Sheila met her husband, Don Lawson, during the run of One Over the Eight.  Don was a hugely successful modern jazz musician.  He died in 2015 after a marriage of fifty years.

RSB

 

Musical Theatre Melodies features Androcles And The Lion

The next Musical Theatre Melodies broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 21st November will feature a 50th Anniversary tribute to Richard Rodgers’ “Androcles and the Lion”, (based on the play by George Bernard Shaw), from the original 1967 U.S. TV cast recording starring Norman Wisdom, Ed Ames, Inga Swenson, Brian Bedford, John Cullum, Patricia Routledge and Noel Coward.
 
This will be followed by orchestral selections from Richard Rodgers’ score for the 1952 NBC-TV documentary series Victory at Sea, arranged and conducted by Robert Russell Bennett.

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.

 

Frank Wildhorn’s The Scarlet Pimpernel is this week’s Musical Theatre Melodies

“Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 7th November will feature a 20th Anniversary tribute to Frank Wildhorn and Nan Knighton’s The Scarlet Pimpernel”, (based on the novel by Baroness Orczy), from the original 1997 Broadway cast recording starring Douglas Sills, Christine Andreas and Terence Mann, with Gillies Chiasson, David Cromwell, Tim Shew, Sandy Rosenberg, Pamela Burrell, Melissa Hart and Alison Lory.  This will be  introducted from New York by the Tony and Grammy Award nominated composer* – Frank Wildhorn. 

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 Yorktime; = 2 – 4 a.m. PST Los Angelestime.) 

N.B. Melbourne is now on Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time, while Britain and the U.S. have reverted to Standard Time, hence the earlier starting times elsewhere.

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 https://right-click.com.au/rcPlayer2/index.php?c=innerfm or go to the Inner FM homepage at http://www.innerfm.org.au/ and follow the links from “Listen Live” on the top menu.

Overtures Takes You Into The Woods with Musical Theatre Melodies

The next “Musical Theatre Melodies” broadcast on 96.5 FM on Tuesday, 31st October will feature a 30th Anniversary tribute to Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods”, from the original 1987 Broadway cast recording starring Tom Aldredge, Kim Crosby, Ben Wright and Bernadette Peters. It will be introduced by New York-based theatre critic and Internet columnist* – Peter Filichia. (see bottom of article for listening details) Here we set the scene:


 

Into the Woods, is one of Stephen Sondheim’s more generally successful shows, especially in the United States.  It opened on 5 November 1987 at the Martin Beck Theatre where it ran for 765 performances.  Its London premier was not so popular.  It opened at the Phoenix Theatre on 25 September 1990 where it ran for only 197 performances covering the Christmas period.  It was Imelda Staunton’s first Sondheim venture and it won her the Best Actress in a Musical Olivier Award.

Broadway’s star was Bernadette Peters playing the Witch but, it was Joanna Gleason playing the Baker’s wife who won the Tony (the part that Staunton played in London).  London’s Witch was Julia McKenzie and she was given a new song, ‘Our little world’ sung with her daughter Rapunzel.  London’s production was a much darker piece.

Into the Woods had first seen the light of day at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California where it ran for a fifty performance season starting 4 December 1986.  It proved the piece to be workable and the next few months were spent in preparation for New York.  James Lapine wrote both the book and directed the piece so the whole was very much a collaboration between Lapine and Sondheim.

New York saw a major revival in 2002, again directed by Lapine and starring Vanessa L Williams as the Witch.  It ran for 279 performances. 

London down sized it for a season at the Donmar Warehouse in 1999 and another in the Linbury Studio at Covent Garden Opera House in 2007.  Three years later there was a six week season at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.  This production was replicated in New York in Central Park as part of the Public Theatre’s free summer theatre programme.

The show’s inspiration may show the reason why London has always been slower on this particular Sondheim show than his others.  It is a combination of many Brothers Grimm and other fairy stories, the area laid claim to by the British pantomime and therefore always associated with the Christmas period.  In particular the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and the lesser known Rapunzel tale.  It was the later that introduced the childless Baker and his wife wanting to start a family.  In the show it is this tale that has the other stories inter-wound.  Perhaps the decision to make the original London production a darker piece that it was in New York was again a way to stop it being compared with a pantomime.

Both the original Broadway production and London’s Regent’s Park production were filmed and issued on DVD.

Judi Dench’s voice has twice been used as that of the Witch both in the Broadway revival and that at Regent’s Park.  Glen Close did the honours for the Central Park version.

The subject matter brought interest from Walt Disney Pictures and James Lapine adapted it for the screen with Sondheim agreeing to changes and cutting songs and changing certain lyrics to follow the altered book.  To fit the Disney mould violence was lessened and sexual indications omitted.  It was filmed at the Shepperton Studios directed by Rob Marshall.  Meryl Streep played the Witch.  It was released in 2014 and was well received taking $213 million at the box office.   Although nominated for Oscar Awards it did not receive any.

Rexton S Bunnett                                                                                            Illustrations from the Overtures Archive

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; = 6 – 8 a.m. EDT New York time; = 3 – 5 a.m. PDT 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.