Monday, May 16, 2011

Revisiting The Hermans! Jerry and Peggy!

Happy Monday! As you know, IF you read my blog yesterday, I went to see Peggy Herman last night at The Metropolitan Room.
(pictured Peggy Herman, Peter Glebo, Alex Rybeck and myself)

Well, I'm here to tell you, the show is genius. Obviously, the talent and the technique are there, but Alex Rybeck's arrangements take Jerry Herman's music to a brand new realm.
Listen to what Ms. Warrick says about Alex's playing when she recently accepted The Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award at last month's Bistro Awards: I also heard these incredible arrangements in BOOM starring The Callaway Sisters, Ann Hampton and Liz. It is no surprise that he won this year's MAC Award! Alex, I want to work with you!

Thanks to Alex's expertise and Peggy's respect for the lyrics, it's as if you are hearing some of these songs for the first time. Jerry, of course, has brought us some of Broadway's greatest women: Dolly Levi, Mame Dennis... even Zaza! But now, Peggy Herman brings us Jerry Herman!
I remember seeing an interview once where Jerry was asked how he felt about I AM WHAT I AM being turned into a Disco anthem!(George Hearn sings "I Am What I Am" from Jerry Herman's 1983 musical "La Cage Aux Folles."
This clip is an excerpt from the highly recommended DVD of the 1993 concert "Jerry Herman's Broadway at Holiday Bowl."
Additional clips are available at He said it thrilled him to see how his songs could be elevated to another level. Here is an example of what I am talking about.
Gloria Gaynor - I am What I am, How can you not be dancing right now?

Alex and Peggy (along with Jered Eagen and Rex Bennicassa) achieve taking Jerry's music to the next realm that to perfection. This year (in July), Jerry will be celebrating his 80th birthday. There are several tributes celebrating this fact. I saw Joan Curto last month (also at The Metropolitan Room)in her wonderful tribute. Jason Graae just performed his tribute, Perfect Hermeny, this past weekend in Los Angeles. Jason Graae, the singing actor whose Broadway credits include A Grand Night for Singing, Falsettos and Stardust, turned his attention to the songs of Jerry Herman May 14 at The Colony Theatre in Burbank, CA.

Out of respect to them (and all others), take a page from Peggy Herman. Make these songs your own. Peggy started the evening mingling with the audience as people were coming into The Metropolitan Room. And it was packed! Another tell tell sign. I only recognized two audience members, Sandi Durell and Magda Katz (who were there to review). Sherry Eaker and Mark Keller joined us.
Mark, book Peggy at The Crest Theatre in Del Ray Beach! I can open for her! HINT!
It was appropriate that Peggy began the evening with the relaxed feel that she did because it was very much like going to Mame Dennis' Number Three Beekman Place apartment. It was a party! A celebration of Jerry's music. But this is not a biographical sketch of Jerry's career. As a matter of fact, I don't recall hearing any of Jerry's "story" coming into play.
No, it was all about Peggy, the former Mrs. Jerry Herman...the carpet salesman! (Peggy Herman, seen here with co-director Peter Glebo. Tommy Tune is Peggy's other director!)
Jerry's songs are about LIFE and LOVE in an upbeat way...never cynical. And it is appropriate that Peggy, who is returning to New York cabaret, after a six year absence is rejoining the human race. Peggy will be on tonight at 7PM and, again, on June 5th...Do not miss this show! It is an exercise in how to do it!
Jerry Herman has been the main through line in my career. I made my debut at the age of 13 in MAME (in the chorus)with The Theatre of The Republic in Conway, South Carolina, my hometown. I had two lines: "Sign here." and "Only thirteen?". But I was so excited that I got to walk on the stage of the Main Street Auditorium for 3 nights and say those lines! It was the beginning for me and I never looked back!

Noel Katz commented: "Mame, the first musical I saw on Broadway, is my favorite Herman musical. I'm inordinately proud of being called "Jerry Hermanish" by a major critic."

And, of course, performing Carol Channing for over 20 years, I sing Jerry's lyrics and music every time I walk on stage as Carol!
And Jerry was there the very first time I performed for Carol Channing!
Angela Lansbury, in JERRY HERMAN: THE LYRICS, A CELEBRATION by Ken Bloom and Jerry Herman says, " Some of the greatest moments of my life in the musical theatre were spent on stage at the Winter Garden Theatre singing the brilliant songs of Jerry Herman."
In 1966,she was offered the title role in what would become the enormously successful Mame,Jerry Herman's musical adaptation of the novel and subsequent film Auntie Mame,which had starred Rosalind Russell. Mame opened at the Winter Garden Theater in May 1966 and Lansbury received her first Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.Additionally, Lansbury's recording of the play's song "We Need a Little Christmas" has become widely popular,and receives substantial airplay each Christmas. Lansbury won her second Tony Award for her performance in Dear World (1969), also Jerry Herman.
"Once Mary Martin had turned down the title role in Mame, some 40 other actresses had to be eliminated before the part went to Angela Lansbury - who quickly established herself as one of the reigning queens of Broadway." [Stanley Green]

In May 1973, the first revival of Gypsy opened in London's West End and played for 300 performances.
Lansbury played Rose,the infamous stage mother (originated on Broadway by Ethel Merman).In September 1974,the same production opened at Broadway's Winter Garden Theatre.Lansbury received her third Tony for her performance in Gypsy. In her acceptance speech, she thanked Ethel Merman for creating the role of Rose in the original 1959 production.Angela Lansbury giving one HELL of a performance as Mama Rose in the 1974 B'way revival of 'Gypsy.' This woman is SO amazing. Features "Some People," "Together Wherever We Go," and "Rose's Turn." Rex Robbins as Herbie, and Zan Charisse as Louise.

No copyright infringement intended. I didn't film this. For entertainment purposes, only.
Now there's talk that Barbra Streisand is going to do yet another movie adaptation! We'll see!!

Angela Brigid Lansbury is one of the most talented, versatile, best known and well-respected actresses of our time, has enjoyed a successful and enduring career lasting over six decades long. She is a triple threat, having demonstrated great talent in not just one area of acting, but three: the movies, theater, and television. She was born on October 16th, 1925, in London, England, the daughter of Irish actress Moyna MacGill and granddaughter of British politician George Lansbury.George Lansbury (21 February 1859, Halesworth, Suffolk – 7 May 1940) was a British politician, socialist, Christian pacifist and newspaper editor. He was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1910 to 1912 and from 1922 to 1940, and leader of the Labour Party from 1932 to 1935.

Angela's early education at the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art was interrupted in 1940 when Moyna moved the family, which included Angela and her twin brothers Bruce and Edgar, from England to the United States to escape World War II. She did not become an actualized American citizen until 1951.
After exiting a short-lived first marriage to Richard Cromwell, Ms. Lansbury married Peter Shaw in 1948. Their long-lasting marriage, a rarity in Hollywood, lasted until Peter’s death in 2003. They had two children, Anthony and Deirdre, as well as Peter’s son David Shaw from his previous marriage.
Jerry, you certainly did/do deserve The Kennedy Center Honor!
I haven't really thought about this till now, but perhaps I AM one of Jerry's Girls!
I think part of the long running appeal of the original run of "Dolly" was that each of these women brought their own stamp to the role. It is common knowledge, I think, that Jerry wrote "Hello, Dolly!" with Ethel Merman in mind. When she declined, Carol Channing came into the role making it her own and Jerry changed the timbre and sound of Dolly.
To learn more about Jerry Herman, please visit:
Take Jerry home with you!Available at Amazon: (I have this cd and I LOVE IT!)

All you have to do today is bask in the LOVE and talent that surrounds you!
Go see Peggy Herman tonight at The Metropolitan Room!
(Thanks to Wikipedia as my main source for information in this blog)

Tomorrow's blog will be YOU TELL ME...the first three suggestions I receive!

Richard Skipper,

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