Sunglasses at Midnight
Russell Link presents a show that focuses on the history of the American Musical Theatre.
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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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11/4/18 MUSICAL THEATRE #182
A few more songs from ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, all of were cut from the show.  They were recorded as a bonus to the complete score offered on JAYCD2 1362.  This CD is truly one of the really great Broadway show recordings; not is it sung beautifully, but it contains the complete score.  You can probably get it at  Bruce Yeko's  Original Cast (Google it); has an incredible catalog of show music.  The first Lerner and Loewe show WHAT"S UP? followed a dismal ARTISTS AND MODELS revue.  Thanks to Ben Bagley's Revisited series and Scott Siegel's Broadway Musicals by the year series, I have three songs from that show.  And then came the revival of Rodgers and Hart's A CONNECTICUT YANKEE, starring Vivienne Segal and Dick Foran.  The revival contained quite a few new songs especially written for Miss Segal; I have her and Mr. Foran singing "Can't You Do a Friend a Favor".  Hart's very last lyrics were for "To Keep My Love Alive".  He died five days after the revival opened.  What a career he had. But we can enjoy his many wonderful songs thanks to the enormous amount of excellent recordings available.  Ben Bagley in his Revisited Series has five CD's devoted to his and Rodgers songs.  Most of their shows have CDs, many of which are complete scores.  And countless artists have recorded R&H songbooks, including Dawn Upshaw, Barbara Cook, and Frederica von Stade.  Enjoy!

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10/28/18 Part II of ONE TOUCH OF VENUS #181
Today I'll complete Act I with a recording of a song you've probably never heard, "Dr. Crippen", the story of the real life Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen's  murder of his wife Belle Elmore, a sort of parallel to the Rodney Hatch Gloria Kramer story.  Gloria has disappeared and everybody thinks Rodney has murdered her.  Madness continues into Act II as Venus pursues Rodney and finally seduces him.  Anatolians enter to find the missing statue of Venus and determine to kill Rodney if he doesn't return the statue.  Venus finally realizes that domestic life with Rodney in Ozone Heights is not for her and so she returns to Anatolia, leaving Rodney in despair.  But Venus performs a miracle and a girl resembling Venus (the girl is from Ozone Heights)  appears and she and Rodney walk arm and arm offstage, their eyes never leaving each other.  I've offered you most of the wonderful music Kurt Weill composed and orchestrated for this show (lyrics by Ogden Nash) in this hour and last week's show.  I've used the JAY recording of the complete score (2014) AND THE 1944 DECCA recording, using original cast members Mary Martin and Kenny Baker. Enjoy!

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10/21/18 MUSICAL THEATRE #180 
All ONE TOUCH OF VENUS today.  I'll be using some of the original cast Mary Martin's recordings of "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" and "Foolish Heart", and also quite a few sides from the 2014 CD of the entire score, CDJAY2 1362.  ONE TOUCH OF VENUS was originally written for Marlene Dietrich and several songs were written for, but when she auditioned for Kurt Weill and Cheryl Crawford, the producer of the show, it was apparent that she could not be heard in the theatre without microphone help.  So be it!  That was not going to happen, and the show was then given to Mary Martin.  A wonderful booklet accompanies the JAY recording; it includes many articles about the development of the show as well as all the lyrics to the songs.  It's a wonderful recording, so if it's still available try to get it (try Amazon or Bruce Yeko's PS Classics).  Next week more VENUS.  Enjoy!

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10/14/18 MUSICAL THEATRE #179
More revues and revivals between OKLAHOMA! and ON TOUCH OF VENUS.  BLOSSOM TIME and PORGY AND BESS were two more revivals; CHAUVE-SOURIS OF 1943, LAUGH TIME, MY DEAR PUBLIC (called a revusical by its producers, sort of a revue with a very slight story line), BRIGHT LIGHTS OF 1944, TROPICAL REVUE, and HAIRPIN HARMONY were the revues.  These productions starred many great performers, such as Ethel Waters, Ethel Shutta, Frank Fay, Bert Wheeler, Nanette Fabray, Todd Duncan, James Barton and Katherine Dunham.  There were not really any songs for these shows that became classics or anything near a classic, but very successful songs from the past were used, such as "Am I Blue?', "Stormy Weather" (sung by Ethel Waters in LAUGH TIME) and "The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers" were used.  Even Moussorgsky's "The Song of the Flea" appeared in CHAUVE -SOURIS 1944 was performed, not by Paul Robeson whose performance you'll hear in this program.  And I've included part of an interview with Katherine Dunham, the great dancer choreographer who appeared in TROPICAL REVUE.  Enjoy!
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10/7/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 178
Between OKLAHOMA! and ONE TOUCH OF VENUS there were quite a few revivals, revues, and one book show, EARLY TO BED, with music by Fats Waller and lyrics by George Marion, Jr.  The show ran for 382 performances but it didn't get good reviews.  Waller was not too happy with the experience and even tried to get himself removed from the show.  The songs were not regarded as well as many of his earlier songs, such as "Honeysuckle Rose".  But thanks to Scott Siegel and his Broadway Musicals by the Year Series and to Ben Bagley and his Revisited Series, I have four songs from the show; you can make up your mind about the songs yourself.  I like them very much, especially "Hi De Ho High".  The ZIEGFELD FOLLIES OF 1943" ran for 553 performances and starred Milton Berle and Ilona Massey, but it too did not get very many good reviews and Ray Henderson's songs were not up to his standards.  But Scott Siegel  gives us "Hold That Smile"  sung by Jason Graae.  From the revivals of THE STUDENT PRINCE, THE VAGABOND KING and THE MERRY WIDOW I have performances by Mario Lanza, Gordon MacRae, Placido Domingo and others to listen to.  Enjoy!
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9/30/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 177
Today's program is devoted to OKLAHOMA!  I've given you some original cast recordings last week; today I'm using recordings from the movie version, starring Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae, as well as performances from some of the many revivals of the show, including an exciting performance of the relatively unknown "Lonely Room" by Martin Vidnovik and Hugh Jackman's performance of "Oklahoma!".  Some other not so well known songs include "The Farmer and the Cowman", "Poor Jud Is Dead", and "It's a Scandal!  It's an Outrage!".  And finally, from the original 1943 cast, Celeste Holm and Lee Dixon singing "All Er Nothin'".  I've also included two performances that I love very much: Barbara Cook's "The Surrey With the Fringe on Top" and Philip Chaffin's "Out of My Dreams".  Enjoy!
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9/23/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 176
After SOMETHING FOR THE BOYS a Dance Vaudeville FOR YOUR PLEASURE played for only 11 performances; the show included songs from different sources (no composer or lyricist was hired to do a score).  One of my favorite songs "Darktown Strutters' Ball" was included, so I give you a recording of Alberta Hunter singing the song just because.  Also "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" was included, so I give you Dinah Shore's version.  Next up was a revival of LADY IN THE DARK with Gertrude Lawrence but without Danny Kaye. And then came OKLAHOMA! which played for 2212 performances to over 4,500,000 people, including 44 performances just for servicemen, no admission charge.  I have several songs sung by original cast members Joan Rodgers, Alfred Drake and Celeste Holm.  This was Rodgers and Hammerstein's first show together. The two came together after Lorenz Hart's tragic death, commencing perhaps the greatest songwriting team in Broadway history.  Enjoy!
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9/16/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 175
Cole Porter's SOMETHING FOR THE BOYS, a big hit, 422 performances, starred Ethel Merman and Bill Johnson.  AEI produced an LP (I don't know what year) that must have been based on recordings made in the early 1940s, and then released a CD of that LP in 1985.  It includes performances by many of the original cast, but excludes Paula Lawrence and Betty Garrett.  Merman loathed Lawrence and so Betty Bruce performed the show stopping "By the Mississinewah"; Merman liked the song that Garrett sang in the show, "I'm in Love with a Soldier Boy", so she sang it on this recording.  Incidentally, Lawrence and Garrett made a recording of "By the Mississinewah" which I will play next week.  Bill Johnson had a truly wonderful baritone voice and his recordings of "Could It Be You" and "Hey, Good Lookin' " are standouts.  I've tried to get all the songs from this show on this program today in the order they were performed in the original production.  I'll have a few more next week as well as some songs  by other performers.  Enjoy! 
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9/2/18 MUSICAL THEATRE # 174
The show after the revival of ROSALINDA was a revival (but not successful) of Offenbach's LA VIE PARISIENNE.  Next on the boards was an English version of Rossini's IL BARBIERRE DI SIVIGLIA, a very unsuccessful (only six performances) ONCE OVER LIGHTLY.  Igor Gorin was the Figaro.  Gorin had a particularly beautiful voice, as well as impeccable diction; therefore, I decided to give you a concert he gave for the radio's Firestone Hour.  After another unsuccessful revue NEW FACES OF 1943 and an even more unsuccessful show based on Gus Edwards life ("By the Light of the Silvery Moon" and "School Days"), Ethel Merman and Bill Johnson (pictured next to my FB comments) opened in Cole Porter's SOMETHING FOR THE BOYS.  It was quite successful, 422 performances, although Porter received less than rave reviews for his songs. But I like them very much,
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