Trash To Gold

Gene Kelly, Michael Kidd, and Dan Duryea as three GIs about to be discharged, set out on a binge and do an incredible dance number with trash can lids. From the film, It’s Always Fair Weather, the last Gene Kelly–Stanley Donen collaboration.

Thanks to YouTuber Peggy Afuta

That Musical About The Two Rival NYC Gangs…

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A delicious parody of West Side Story with Will Ferrell and his SNL compatriots.

Thanks to YouTuber

Fool’s Gold

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The great and idiosyncratic Anthony Newley, singing, in costume, the song from Stop The World, I Want To Get Off! that had him laughing all the way to the bank.

Thanks to YouTuber Anthonay Newley

“Baby You Knock Me Out”

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Monday morning, the extraordinary Cyd Charisse floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee, and schools the boys in boxing lore in this dance clip from It’s Always Fair Weather. Music and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

Thanks to YouTuber Warner Archive Instant

“We Think You’re Just Sensational”

 

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Angela Lansbury in one of her signature roles at the 1975 Tony Awards.

About two-thirds of the way through the clip, Lansbury gets surprised by a guest dancer. Don’t miss it. The look on her face is wonderful. (If you don’t recognize who it is, I’ll post his identity in the comments.)

Thanks to YouTuber kotlicek

 

 

Put On A Happy Face

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Dick Van Dyke and the eloquent Sharon Lerit from the Broadway stage production of Bye Bye Birdie dance up a storm.

Van Dyke learned years later that the producers had wanted to fire him out of town, but Gower Champion had fought hard to keep him. Van Dyke and the show made it to New York and hit it big.

Thanks to YouTuber lee a

Hymn For A Sunday Evening

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Department of Self-Referential Videos Department.

The original Broadway cast of Bye Bye Birdie—including the fabulous Paul Lynde— singing the Ed Sullivan song—on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to YouTuber lee a

If I Were A Bell

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Jean Simmons’ wonderful turn as the Salvation Army worker who just had her first drink in Frank Loesser’s Guys And Dolls. And, of course, Marlon Brando, in one of the oddest casting decisions for a movie musical, as the leading man, gambler Sky Masterson.

Thanks to YouTuber ZSy264

“It’s Just Their Time To, I Reckon.”

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The “bench scene” from Carousel, “If I Loved You,” with the original Broadway cast, John Raitt (father of Bonnie) and Jan Clayton. In my opinion, the best love scene and music that Rodgers and Hammerstein ever wrote. And stay until the end to catch the amazing Jan Clayton in the final  clinch.

Thanks to YouTuber fvydt

“Time Is An Ocean”: Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades

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The short-lived original 1998 Broadway production of The Capeman had a beautiful score by Paul Simon and Derek Walcott. And it was sung superbly by two icons, Marc Anthony and Ruben Blades.

The video above was uploaded last month to YouTube by Blades himself. In this song, Ruben Blades plays the older Salvador Agron, the so-called Capeman murderer, looking back and trying to reach his younger, 16-year-old incarcerated self, played by Marc Anthony.

I hope that someday more video surfaces, as that show really needs to be re-evaluated. It was performed for a few times in the summer at Central Park’s outdoor Delacorte Theatre in 2012, but was not picked up for a longer run. If anyone is interested, I’ll tell a funny story concerning my viewing of that production.

Tappin’ Thru Life: Maurice Hines

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Yesterday, radio station WBAI 99.5 FM in NY aired my interview with tap-dancing legend, Maurice Hines. Together with his brother Gregory, he re-invented tap dance for modern audiences.

Maurice guested on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson over 35 times and had a featured role in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club.  The star of several shows on Broadway, he just opened Off-Broadway in a new autobiographical song and dancer called Tappin’ Thru Life. 

In the show, 72 year old Maurice sings, dances and dishes about the greats he’s worked with, including Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and on and on. I had the pleasure of talking with him in his dressing room a few hours before his Wednesday evening performance.

Click on the grey triangle to hear the warm giving voice of Maurice Hines talking about his life and times.

Let’s Squish Our Fruits Together

The pranksters at Improv Everywhere are at it again, and they need you!

Improv Everywhere is the group of geniuses who created the No Pants Subway prank. They specialize in seemingly spontaneous musical break outs in public places. In the above video you can see one of my favorite of their pranks (or “missions,” as they call them), a real life musical in a grocery store celebrating the mingling of fruits (don’t ask, the video explains all)!

And now you, too, can participate in their next prank in mid-April. If you live in NYC and have one or more of the following skills: ballet, gymnastics, or ballroom dancing, then get in contact with them at the following urls:

Ballet Project

Gymnastics Project

Ballroom Dancing Project

Hey There

Last week I went to a delightful community theater production of The Pajama Game. The songs were written by Jerry Ross and Richard Adler, and the show was a big hit when it first opened in 1954. They followed up a year later with Damn Yankees which also was a big hit. Unfortunately, Jerry Ross died shortly afterward at the age of 29, and Adler, who lived to be 90, never had a Broadway hit again.

The action of the play is the love story between a union leader and a supervisor of the Sleep-Tite pajama company. The love plot is set against the background of an impending strike demanding a 7 and 1/2 cents an hour wage increase. While not politically sophisticated, the story actually celebrates the struggle of union members for better wages, a sentiment you would be hard-pressed to find in today’s popular entertainment.

The score delivered some pop songs that are still standards today. Here’s “Hey There,” sung by John Raitt, who created the lead role in the original Broadway production and the movie. Raitt had one of the great Broadway voices, perfectly suited for the strong leading man tenor roles of Rodgers and Hammerstein as well as The Pajama Game.

Important Advice for a Monday

“In the words of that immortal bard, Samuel J. Snoddgrass . . .” The best movie musical ever? I dunno. But Singin’ in the Rain is certainly my favorite.