Sunglasses at Midnight
Russell Link presents a show that focuses on the history of the American Musical Theatre.
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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.
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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.
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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
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Well, I"m back.  After a month off, because of sickness, a bad case of bronchitis, I was incapacitated for about
three weeks; last week in Buffalo was incredible. the winds swept up to 70 miles an hour.  I'm glad to restart my show, even though my voice is not up to snuff.  Today I finish SEVEN LIVELY ARTS with two songs cut from the original production, thanks to Ben Bagley. An Interview with Katherine Dunham, a few songs from SING OUT, SWEET LAND, and a few from Leonard Bernstein's and Betty Comden and Adolf Green's ON THE TOWN with the original cast.  Enjoy!
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1/27/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 193
After Fritz Kreisler's operetta RHAPSODY, which was unsuccessful, Cole Porter's SEVEN LIVELY ARTS opened on December 7, 1944. It wasn't very successful, although it played 182 performances, and starred Beatrice Lillie and Bert Lahr. Critics were quite unkind to Porter, writing that his songs were below his standard. But one of his songs, "Every Time We Say Goodbye", is truly a great ballad, one off his greatest songs. The rest of the score is fine, and even below standard Porter is way above most of the rest of Broadway composers, at least as far as I'm concerned. Bert Lahr's "Drink" and Beatrice Lillie's "When I Was a Little Cuckoo", sung here by Thomas Hampson and Kaye Ballard, are extremely amusing revue songs, and two songs, "I Wrote a Play" and "Dainty Quainty Me", which Lahr refused to sing, are even better than songs that were included. So be it! Porter was not in his best health at the time; he was in great pain because of his accident in 1937. But possibly his greatest show of all, KISS ME KATE, was yet to come. Personally, I love everything Porter wrote. Enjoy!

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1/13/19 MUSICAL THEATRE # 192
Today's program is devoted to Vernon Duke and Howard Dietz's version of John Colton's successful play of
the 1920's RAIN. SADIE THOMPSON was not a success, although Duke and Dietz wrote some wonderful songs, especially "The Love I Long For" and "Sailing at Midnight", and the production was beautiful, with stunning sets by Boris Aronson. The show was originally written for Ethel Merman, who backed out because she didn't like the Dietz lyrics and wanted them replaced by lyrics by her current lover. So be it! So June Havoc got the part. Havoc got some good reviews (I like her very much), but the show failed, closing after 60 performances. The score went into a dark hole, but in 2002 Original Cast Records produced a lively recording of the score, starring Melissa Errico, Ron Raines and Davis Gaines. I've managed today to give you most of the recording. Enjoy!
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1/6/18 MUSICAL THEATRE #191  
Three revivals: THE MERRY WIDOW,  ROBIN HOOD and THE GYPSY  BARON followed BLOOMER GIRL.  I have a medley of MERRY WIDOW songs performed by the star of this revival, Marta Eggerth. From ROBIN HOOD I have a recording of "Brown October Ale" performed by John Charles Thomas.  And from THE GYPSY BARON I have music from a few of the dance scenes.  After these revivals the Vernon Duke and Howard Dietz musical SADIE THOMPSON opened, starring June Havoc.  The show was based on the play RAIN by John Colton and Clemence Randolph, which was based on the short story by Somerset Maugham.  Although the show received several rave reviews it only played 60 performances. Thanks especially to Ben Bagley there are some wonderful songs from the show to hear, as well as Dawn Upshaw's performance of "The  Love I Long For" and Philip Chaffin and Rebecca Luker's perfor-mance of "Sailing At Midnight".  Next week I'll play selections from Original Casts' world premier recording of the complete score, starring Melissa Errico.  Enjoy!

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12/30/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 190
More BLOOMER GIRL. This week will feature more songs from the original cast album, starring Celeste Holm and David Brooks. One of the great songs from the show, "I've Got a Song", sung by Richard Huey, and the Civil War Ballet music, orchestrated by Robert Russel Bennett, will be heard as well as the love lullaby "Satin Gown and Silver Shoe". Thanks to You Tube I've been able to include scenes from the 1956 TV production of BLOOMER GIRL starring Barbara Cook and Keith Andes. If you go to You Tube you'll be able view scenes from the show. Enjoy!

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12/23/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 189
STAR TIME, a vaudeville show, starring Lou Holtz and Benny Fields, opened on September 12, 1944 and played for 120 performances; it incorporated several songs by various composers, from "O Sole Mio" to "Over There", including one of my favorites, "Lullaby of Broadway", which I've included in this program. Right after STAR TIME came a truly wonderful and successful show, 657 performances, Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg's BLOOMER GIRL. A cast recording of the show was produced, starring Celeste Holm, David Brooks, Joan McCracken and Dooley Wilson. You'll hear most of the songs from Act I today, including Arlen and Harburg's superb "The Eagle and Me" in two versions, by Dooley Wilson and Carmen McRae. Enjoy!

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12/16/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 188
This program is devoted to SONG OF NORWAY, the 1944 very successful (860 performances) operetta based on Edvard Grieg's music. I've got a 1950 Railroad Hour radio program of the show, starring Gordon MaCrea and Irra Pettina (she was in the original Broadway cast). I'm sad that the sound is not all that great, but it's a shortened version of the show and tells the story (not quite historically true) and has a few of the songs. I've also added some music from the 1945 original cast recording, Kitty Carlisle replacing Miss Pettina, and Lawrence Brooks, Helena Bliss and Robert Shafer starring. This sound is not all that great either, but it does have the original cast. So be it! Enjoy!

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12/9/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 187
Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II's operetta THE NEW MOON was revived at the New York City Center for a short run on May 17, 1944. It starred Dorothy Kirsten and Earl Wrightson. I have several songs from Miss Kirsten and "Stout- hearted Men" sung by Mr. Wrightson. Following this revival was a short lived show DREAM WITH MUSIC; although it starred Vera Zorina and had ballets by George Balanchine and a gorgeous production designed by Stewart Chaney and Miles White, it had a terrible book. One critic thought the title should be NIGHTMARE WITH MUSIC. It played for 28 performances. After a short lived revue TAKE A BOW and a successful HATS OFF TO ICE, the hugely successful SONG OF NORWAY opened, playing 860 performances. The score was based on music by Edvard Grieg, adapted by Robert Wright and George Forrest. Today I have the first two numbers of the show, "Prelude" and "Hill of Dreams", based on the A Minor Piano Concerto, and a part of the concerto, played by Artur Rubenstein, to illustrate how the music was used by Wright and Forrest. Enjoy!

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12/2/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 186
Today we have a revival of PORGY AND BESS, revivals of twelve Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, a revival of Offenbach's LA BELLE HELENE (this time in English entitled HELEN GOES TO TROY, and an extremely successful (888 performances) bawdy, rowdy FOLLOW THE GIRLS. This show, which starred Gertrude Niesen and Jackie Gleason, was loathed by the critics but loved by the audiences, especially servicemen on leave. Miss Niesen played a stripper burlesque queen and stopped the show every night with "I Wanna Get Married", in which she bemoaned being left at the altar, singing that she "wanted to get spliced and confettied and riced" and sleep "in pajama tops" and do the things that mom and pop used to spell. Jarmila Novotna, a beautiful soprano who graced the Metropoitan Opera, starred in HELEN GOES TO TROY, and I have her singing "Song of Love", set to Offenbach's Barcarolle (not from LA BELLE HELENE, from his TALES OF HOFFMAN). Enjoy!

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11/25/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 185:
One show today, Cole Porter's MEXICAN HAYRIDE, which starred Bobby Clark, June Havoc and Wilbur Evans. Porter hated the show and thought it was unbearably boring, although he thought the sets, by George Jenkins, and the costumes, by Mary Grant, were superb. But the critics liked the show and it eventually ran for 481 performances. Decca put out a cast recording including eight of the nine songs used; Porter wrote an additional nine songs which were not used, and thanks mostly to Ben Bagley and his Revisited Series published by Painted Smiles we have several of those unused songs. One of Porter's truly great songs, "I Love You", was very successful and was on top of the Hit Parade for several weeks. Porter's favorite song was "Sing to Me Guitar", sung by Corrine Mura. Enjoy!
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11/18/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 184
I've got several more performances from CARMEN JONES and two from CARMEN. The CARMEN JONES performances are from the 1954 film version, starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte, although they did not sing. Although I should know who did sing I don't know their names. Sorry about that. There are at least two recordings of this show, the original cast version and the film version. I don't own them but You tube has quite a few cuts, including the entire 1954 movie. After CARMEN JONES a Vernon Duke and Howard Dietz musical JACKPOT opened, but did not succeed. It starred Nanette Fabray, Alan Jones, and Betty Garrett and had some truly excellent songs, but the book wasn't very good and so the stars and songs could not save the show. Duke and Dietz had been unsuccessful the previous year (1943) with a show that closed in Bostonj and starred Mary Martin, DANCING IN THE STREETS. Duke wrote many excellent songs, but wasn't very successful in his choice of collaborators, CABIN IN THE SKY being about his only successful show. But thanks to Ben Bagley and two CDs, YOU CAN'T PUT KETCHUP ON THE MOON and LIFE'S A FUNNY PRESENT, I have quite a few songs from these two shows. Enjoy!
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11/11/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 183
Two shows today, Moss Hart's WINGED VICTORY and Oscar Hammerstein II's CARMEN JONES, based on Bizet's CARMEN.  WINGED VICTORY was really a drama with music, and it used songs such as "The Pennsylvania Polka" (sung here by the Andres Sisters) and "Chica-a-Chica Boom Chic"(performed by Susannah McCorkle) as scenes in a Christmas show on a South Pacific island.  But there were also "The Army Air Corps" and "Winged Victory"  for the Air Force Men to sing.  It played for about a year and was produced by the U. S. Air Forces for the benefit of the Army Emergency Fund.  CARMEN JONES was quite successful, playing 503 performances and after touring came back to Broadway.  It starred Muriel Smith, June Hawkins and Luther Saxon and was made into movie starring Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte.  I have Miss Smith singing "Dat's Love" and Maria Callas singing "Habenera", the Bizet aria from which Hammerstein derived "Dat's Love", a fascinating comparison.  I have also La Verne Hutchinson, singing for Belafonte in the film, performing "Dis Flower".  Enjoy!

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