Sunglasses at Midnight
Russell Link presents a show that focuses on the history of the American Musical Theatre.
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8/18/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 217
ONLY one show today, Rodgers and Hammerstein's ALLEGRO. Not a successful show , short of a year, 9 months, although it had a huge advance box office. A show by Rogers and Hammerstein, which came after the huge success of OKLAHOMA AND CAROUSEL, with dances by Agnes De Mille, who had great success with BLOOMER GIRL and BRIGADOON, should have been greatly successful, but it wasn't. Was it ahead of its time or behind its time? It remains a noble experiment, song, speech, dance and choral responses to main characters, way out of line with current musical theatre. Perhaps the story told was too sentimental for the elaborate production, and perhaps the songs weren't good enough, but the show remained a favorite for both R&H and they hoped a successful version could be put together before they died. It didn't happen. and t took until 2009 for the first complete recording to be made by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. Enjoy!
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8/11/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 216
The 1947-1948 season opened with three not too succesful shows, LOUISIANA LADY, MUSIC IN MY HEART, and UNDER THE COUNTER, but then a wonderful show HIGH BUTTON SHOES, with song by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, opened for a 727 performance run. It starred Phil Silvers, Nanette Fabray and Jack McCauley. But the highlight of the evening was the acclaimed comic ballet by Jerome Robbins. It got rave reviews and probably kept the show running for all those hundreds of performances. Enjoy!
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8/4/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 215
Gian Carlo Menotti's operas THE TELEPHONE and THE MEDIUM opened Mat 1st, 1947 at the Ethel Barrymore theatre, played 212 performances, brought opera to Broadway, had 4 rave reviews, 1 favorable, 1 mixed and 3 unfavorable reviews, and failed to make money for the investors.  Opera on Broadway?  Even  PORGY AND BESS didn't do too well when it first opened.  Apparently, for those who could deal with opera as drama, or as melodrama in the case of THE MEDIUM, enjoyed the thrillingly chilling piece of theatre,  After THE MEDIUM and THE TELEPHONE a revival of UP IN CENTRAL PARK, Sigmund Romberg and Dorothy Fields operetta played 16 performances at the City Center Theatre.  I have two beautiful performances by the great Barbara Cook, "Close As Pages in a Book" and "April Snow".  Enjoy!
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7/28/19 MUSICAL THEATRE #214
Today one show, and a beauty it is, Lerner and Loewe's BRIGADOON. I have three songs from the original 1947 cast, David Brooks, Marion Bell and Lee Sullivan. And more songs from the 1993 complete score recording, the EMI recording with Rebecca Luker and Brett Barrett, conducted by John McGlinn. There are so many lovely songs in this show, by the composers of MY FAIR LADY. I've included some of my favorites, "Come to Me Bend to Me", "From This Day On" and "The Heather on the Hill", but also some of the great dance music, dances choreographed by Agnes de Mille. Enjoy!
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7/21/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 213
Two revivals and one star performance in between. And FINIAN'S RAINBOW and BRIGADOON bracketing thee shows. One revival, starring Bobby Clark, was somewhat week successful. Victor Herbert's 1909 SWEETHEARTS. Lovely music and, of course, nothing to with Bobby Clark, whose performance probably was what made the revival somewhat successful, 289 performances. CHOCOLATE SOLDIER, the other revival was not as successful, although it has some beautiful songs and a libretto based on George Bernard Shaw's ARMS AND THE MAN. Maurice Chevalier had a one man show rather pleasantly placed between these revivals, entertaining theatre goers for 46 performances at the Henry Miller's Theatre. Next week BRIGADOON, Enjoy!
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7/14/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 212
One show today. E. Y. Harburg and Burton Lane's FINIAN'S RAINBOW, but three CDs containing complete scores, the original 1947 cast recording, with Ella Logan and David Wayne, the 2009 revival, with Cheyanne Jackson and Kate Baldwin, and the Irish Repertory Theatre revival, with Melissa Errico  and Malcom Gets.  This is a great score.  The first act contains five great songs, one after the other, including "old Devil Moon", "How Are Things in Glocca Morrra",  "Look to the Rainbow", "Something Sort of Grandish" and "If This Isn't Love".  Enjoy!
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6/30/19 MUSICAL THEATRE #211
One show today, even though it's really an opera, the unsuccessful economically but brilliant STREET SCENE, by Kurt Weill, Elmer Rice and Langston Hughes. I'm extremely fond of Weill and consider this show to be his finest work for Broadway. If you're interested in his earlier European music, Teresa Stratas has two CDs which Nonesuch has produced of many of his works with Bertold Brecht as well as a few selections form later efforts. Tragically, he died at 50 in 1950 only a few years from STREET SCENE's creation. He had yet to write LOST IN THE STARS and was working with Rice on their verssion of HUCKLEBERRY FINN. So be it! We can still enjoy the glorious scores he created for his other musiclals and operas.Enjoy!
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Two shows today, both unsuccessful, but both having excellent scores. TOPLITZSKY OF NOTRE DAME, score by Sammy Fain and George Marion, Jr., and BEGGAR'S HOLIDAY, score by Duke Ellington and John Latouche. One te songs from TOPLIZSKY, "You Are My Downfall" is extremely fine, I think, and most if not all of the songs from HOLIDAY are fine. Of course, Duke Ellington could not write an uninteresting song. And Alfred Drake who played the Macheath, the original Curly of OKLAHOMA, is a superb singer-actor. Enjoy!
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6/16/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 209 From Victor Herbert to Duke Ellington.
This program starts with "Gypsy Love Song" from Herbert's THE FORTUNE TELLER which, along with his THE SERENADE supplied the songs for GYPSY LADY, an unsuccessful attempt by Edwin Lester to produce a show using Melodies by a famous composer of the past, as he did with SONG OF NORWAY using new lyrics and book by Robert Wright and George Forrest. It ends with two songs by Duke Ellington and John LaTouche for an adaptation of John Gay's THE BEGGAR'S OPERA called BEGGAR's HOLIDAY. In between these two shows came Arthur Schwartz and Ira Gershwin's PARK AVENUE, an unsuccessful show with lovely songs, and Gershwin's last Broadway show, and another Katherine Dunham spectacle, with Eartha Kitt of all people. Enjoy!
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6/9/19 :MUSICAL THEATRE #208
Today is the first time for me to use a technique that involves streaming on Facebook as I do my Musical Theatre show. You can watch my face as I talk about the shows and play the music from the shows. I'll also try to show you the books and CDs I use. If you don't want to watch you can still listen to me on if you care to. SO! Today's show concludes my take on ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, Ethel Merman's very successful musical with Irving Berlin's songs, and continues with orson Welles' and Cole Porter's very unsuccessful show AROUND THE WORLD. It had Porter's quite mediocre score, although "Should I Tell You I Love You" is quite good. After ICETIME and TIDBITS OF 1946, Richard Taubner starred in a short lived revival of YOURS IS MY HEART . I give you both the German and English versions of "Yours Is My Heart Alone" sung by Piotr Beczala. Enjoy!
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6/2/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 207
After a revival of Gilbert and Sullivan's THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, Irving Berlin's great show ANNIE GET YOUR GUN with Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton stormed on the Broadway theatre. It received 4 rave reviews and 4 favorable reviews, and played 1,147 performances. It's been revived countless times and still plays today in some theatre someplace. In addition to the original cast recording, a John McGlinn complete score recording with Kim Criswell and Thomas Hampson was produced in 1993. Its most popular song "There's No Business Like Show Business" and many of its other songs have been recorded many times, including Barbara Cook's "I Got Lost in His Arms" which I have included here. Enjoy!
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5/26/19 MUSICAL THEATRE #206
I give you one more song from SAINT LOUIS WOMAN, "I Had Myself a True Love", in a wonderful performance by Barbara Cook, my very favorite Female vocalist. I know I use that word frequently, but Barbara is indeed a great performer. If you've never seen her perform, she's gone now, but there are several DVD's available, you're in for a great treat. After another revival of CARMEN JONES, Oscar Hammerstein's version of Bizet's grand opera CARMEN, Harold Rome's CALL ME MISTER opened to rave reviews and played over 700 performances. It starred former service men and women as well as those who entertained the troops. Betty Garrett, Jules Munshin, Bill Callahan, Lawrence Winters were the biggest stars in the show and went on to Broadway heights. Miss Garrett had the biggest hit in the show, "South America, Take It Away", and Lawrence Winters had my favorite song, "The Face on a Dime", a tribute to FDR. Enjoy!
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5/19/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 205
Today I"m devoting the entire hour to Harold Arlen an Jonny Mercer's show, SAINT LOUIS WOMAN (1946) and Arlen and Andre Kostelanetz's BLUES OPERA(1958), based on the music of SAINT LOUIS WOMAN, Neither was successful. But the music is among the best Broadway offers, with such songs as "Come Rain or Come Shine", "Legalize My Name" and "I Had Myself a True Love". I have some music from the original cast recording (1946), with Pearl Bailey, and the City Center Encores version (1988). I also include Barbara Cook's version of "I Wonder What Became of Me", a song which was cut from the original version of the show, although I can't understand why such a great song would be omitted. Enjoy!
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5/12/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 204
This week is devoted mostly to LUTE SONG Mary Martin's 1946 not too successful musical, only 142 performances. Miss Martin allowed herself to be dressed by Valentina while the rest of the cast was costumed by Robert Edmond Jones, who also designed the sets and received rave notices by the critics. The score, by Raymond Scott and Bernard Hanighan, contained a lovely song "Mountain High, Valley Low" and an amusing "See the Monkey" but wasn't all that exiting, unlike the score Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer wrote for SAINT LOUIS WOMAN, which only played 113 performances. But the songs! I do think the score is one of the best Arlen ever wrote. More next week. Until then enjoy the overture.
to listen (59:49) or click here ......for download right click here
This week I have to catch up with several omissions, one from the show POLONAISE, "The Next Time I Care" sung by Rose Ingraham, and several from THE DAY BEFORE SPRING, "A Jug of Wine", "I Love You This Morning", "This Is My Holiday", and "You Haven't Changed at All", thanks to Ben Bagley and his Revisited Series. I've also included three songs from WINDY CITY, a show that closed out of town, but was praised for its score, by Walter Jurmann and Paul Francis Webster. Jerry Hadley sings "One Alone" from THE DESERT SONG revived for 46 performances at the New York City Center. Enjoy!
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4/28/19 MUSICAL THEATRE #202
One show this week, Betty Comden and Adolph Green's BILLION DOLLAR BABY, with music by Morton Gould. This show, unlike ON THE TOWN, with all the same people involved except Leonard
Bernstein, who wrote the music for ON THE TOWN, was not quite as successful as ON THE TOWN. Bernstein versus Gould?  Who knows.  The songs are not as tuneful as Bernstein's were for ON THE TOWN.  But the dances, Jerome Robbins for both shows, were sensational, and the sets by Oliver Smith, who designed both shows and produced both with Paul Feigay, were superb.  George Abbott directed both shows, but practically everything he touched succeeded.  Personally, I like ON THE TOWN better than BILLION DOLLAR BABY, and the music by Leonard Bernstein really does make the difference.  Anyway, enjoy!  The lyrics are wonderful.  And You can really understand them.
to listen (59:40) or click here ......for download right click here
4/19/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 201
Today we have two revivals and three shows of the period. the revivals are THE GYPSY BARON by Johann Strauss, Jr. and Victor Herbert's THE RED MILL, which was quite successful, 531 performances. A failure followed, THE GIRL FROM NANTUCKET, only four performances, with two sort of failures following, ARE YOU WITH IT? and THE DAY BEFORE SPRING, with songs by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, of MY FAIR LADY fame. Thanks to Ben Bagley and his Revisited Series we have practically all the songs from THE DAY BEFORE SPRING. I didn't get to all of them this week so I'll finish them next week. Enjoy!
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4/14/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 200
I have several shows for you this week, and two continuations, HOLLY WOOD PINAFORE and MARINKA. After MARINKA came MR. STRAUSS GOES TO BOSTON, with the claim that any similarity between the show and actual history is coincidental. It did have a lovely score by Robert Stolz and lyrics by Robert Sour and I play for you one song, "What's a Girl Supposed to Do". After MR STRAUSS came CARIB SONG and then came POLONAISE, with Jan Kiepura and Marta Eggerth. And although the show was panned by all eight critics at the time, it did run for 113 performances. Mr. Kiepura got terrible reviews. Because Earl Wrightson made a studio recording of the songs, based on Chopin melodies, I have five songs and two orchestral pieces. . Enjoy!
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Several shows this week, none of them very successful. But the revival of CARMEN JONES at the New York City Center was only for a two week run. After CARMEN JONES, a show that should have been successful, and was not, starring Ethel Waters, Josh White, (who sang "One Meat Ball") The Hall Johnson Choir, and Mary Lou Williams. Then came two versions of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS PINAFORE, MEMPHIS BOUND and HOLLYWOOD PINAFORE, the former starring Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, the latter starring Shirley Booth. William Gaxton and Victor Moore, with book and lyrics by George S, Kaufmann. After these shows came CONCERT VARIETIES and MARINKA. The latter with music by Emmerich Kalman and lyrics by George Marion, Jr. ENJOY!
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I'm continuing THE FIREBRAND OF FLORENCE this week to let you hear several selections from Thomas Hampton's 1995 recording of Kurt Weill's Broadway music. But CAROUSEL, Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers' 1945 musical, is my main focus today. I only have John Raitt and Jan Clayton's performance of "If I Loved You" from the original cast, but I have several performances from Scott Siegal's Broadway Musicals of 1945 recording. Enjoy!
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3/24/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 197
I'm concluding my traversal of UP IN CENTRAL PARK with "Carousel in the Park" from the movie version if the show which starred Deanna Durbin and Dick Haymes and "The fireman's Bride" sung by Jeannette MacDonald and Robert Merrill from a TV version of the show. Next up after UP IN CENTRAL PARK was Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin's THE FIRE BRAND OF FLORENCE an unsuccessful operetta, only 43 performancce. The only original cast member I have singing for you is Lotte Lenya doing SING MR NOT A BALLAD. But in 2003 Capriccio Records issued the complete score conducted by Sir Andrew Davis with Rodney Gilfry singing Benvenuto Cellini.  Beautiful music and clever lyrics. Enjoy!
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3/17/19 Up in Central Park #196
In1943 and 1944 Cole Porter wrote at least four songs for an unproduced musical MISSISSIPPI BELLE and thanks to Ben Bagley and Paulina Stark in an album entitled UNMINED COLE we have four songs to play for you. But the big musical that opened 1945 was Sigmund Romberg and Dorothy Fields UP IN CENTRAL PARK. It played 504 performances although it was panned by several critics. A somewhat original cast recording appeared in 1945, with Wilbur Evans an Betty Bruce from the original cast, and Eileen Farrell and Celeste Holm. Also a movie with Deanna Durbin and Dick Haymes was made of the show. My favorite song is "April Snow" and I have a lovely recording of the song by Barbara Cook, Enjoy!

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3/10/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 195
This afternoon's program is devoted to music and songs from Leonard
Bernstein"s ON THE TOWN. Betty Comden and Adolph Green supplied the lyrics as well as performed in the show. There are three complete recordings of this musical and today, because I can't find Bernstein's recording (1960) and the latest most complete recording of the latest production on Broadway, I'll be playing selections from Michael Tilson Thomas' recording, starring Thomas Hampson, Tyne Daly. and Frederica von Stade. There was also a movie version of the show, with Gene kelly and Frank Sinatra, but Berstein's score was not used, although some of his songs were used. I am not in my best voice yet, but I hope that will change soon. Enjoy, anyway! The music is great
to listen (57:22) or click here ......for download right click here