Broadway Up Close and Personal: Frank Loesser

May 4, 2010

Oops, I almost missed the Broadway Up Close and Personal tribute to Frank Loesser at the Kennedy Center last night.  Thankfully, I remembered it yesterday afternoon.

This series is one of the best bargains that the KC offers.  For the $18 ticket there’s an informative program about a major writer, with really classy artists presenting a selection of the works.

In this case, moderator Michael Kerker was joined by Loesser’s widow, Jo Loesser with the terrific Don Pippin at the piano, as well as Susan Egan, Noah Racey, Ron Raines, and Emily Loesser.

There is one Frank Loesser mystery that I’m dying to have confirmed — his role in writing the songs Hey, There from The Pajama Game and My White Knight from The Music Man.  Although there was no mention of that factoid in last night’s show, it was mentioned that the writers of those other shows were proteges of Loesser’s.

Here’s what people sang:

  • Frank Loesser Overture – Don Pippin
  • Once in Love with Amy — Noah Racey
  • Joey, Joey, Joey – Ron Raines
  • Happy to Keep His Dinner Warm – Susan Egan
  • Slow Boat to China – Noah Racey
  • Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year – Jo Loesser
  • Baby It’s Cold Outside – Susan Egan & Noah Racey
  • They’re Either Too Young or Too Old – Susan Egan
  • My Time of Day / I’ve Never Been in Love Before – Ron Raines & Emily Loesser
  • You Understand Me — Jo Loesser & Emily Loesser
  • Somebody, Somewhere – Susan Egan
  • Luck Be a Lady – Ron Raines

Up Close to Marvin Hamlisch

November 18, 2009

Monday night the Broadway Up Close and Personal series at the Kennedy Center saluted Marvin Hamlisch.  The evening featured an interview with Hamlisch by Michael Kerker of ASCAP and performances of his music.

Hamlisch is quite a raconteur, and obviously has decades of amazing anecdotes.  The most inspiring message he had in the evening is the necessity to keep persevering in one’s chosen endeavors, because you never when the breakthrough is going to come, citing the soft drink creator who gave up after creating “Six-Up.”   

Alex Rybeck provided his typically-superlative music direction for the Liz Callaway, Karen Ziemba, and Kevin Early selections listed below:

  • Liz Callaway
    • The Music and The Mirror
    • Nobody Does It Better
    • The Way We Were
  • Karen Ziemba
    • What I Did For Love
    • Nothing
    • Ice Castles
  • Kevin Early
    • I Cannot Hear the City
    • Fallin’
    • Ordinary Miracles

Kennedy Center Salutes Cy Coleman

October 10, 2008

The Kennedy Center presented an ASCAP-sponsored tribute to songwriter Cy Coleman Tuesday night.  The evening was part of the center’s education outreach program and featured Michael Kerker of ASCAP and David Zippel, a Coleman collaborator, talking about Coleman and then various performers singing Coleman songs. 

There were even a couple of film clips of Coleman singing his own work.  My favorite of these was Coleman singing Witchcraft.  I especially love the interlude that I’ve never heard before:

The information given about Coleman and his work seemed fairly basic.  The most interesting moments were Zippel describing working with Coleman on City of Angels.  And they didn’t even discuss the fact that Coleman killed cabaret legend Sylvia Syms*.

The performances were a mixed bag.  The highlights were Billy Stritch with an impassioned version of It Amazes Me, and Lillias White reprising her showstopper from The Life: The World’s Oldest Profession.  David Zippel was terrific performing I Know What I Like, a song about musicals from the point of view of an acerbic critic and he re-wrote the lyrics to You’re Nothing Without Me as a trio for Jason Graae, Lillias White and Judy Blazer.  Otherwise, as tends to happen at these events, it seemed very clear what songs performers have had in their repertoires and what was specifically learned for the occasion.

Here are the songs that were performed:

  • You Fascinate Me So (Jason Graae)
  • Nobody Does It Like Me (Judy Blazer)
  • Don’t Ask a Lady (Lillias White)
  • Museum Song (Jason Graae)
  • It Amazes Me (Billy Stritch)
  • The World’s Oldest Profession (Lillias White)
  • With Ev’ry Breath I Take (Blazer)
  • You’re Nothing Without Me (Blazer, White, Graae)
  • The Best Is Yet to Come (Stritch)
  • I Know What I Like (David Zippel)
  • Pleasure of Pain (Blazer, Graae)
  • Those Hands (White)
  • Hey, Look Me Over (Blazer)
  • Real Live Girl (Graae)
  • If They Gould See Me Now (Stritch)
  • The Colors of My Life (White)
  • It’s Not Where You Start (Company)
  • It Started With A Dream (Company)

Chris Marlowe served as music director and Billy Stritch accompanied himself on It Amazes Me and The Best Is Yet to Come.

*OK, he didn’t really kill her.  But he was int he audience when she had the heart attack onstage at the Algonquin that ended her life.