Sunday, July 10, 2011
Hello, Jerry! A celebration of Jerry Herman on his 80th birthday...with a nod to his first leading lady, Dody Goodman!
My favorite composer is celebrating his 80th birthday today and I want to celebrate him.
I agree with Jerry. I don't want the theatre I grew up with to die. As those of you who know me already know, I made my debut in a Jerry Herman show. Performing as Carol Channing, I've been singing Jerry Herman's songs probably more than anyone composer.
AND I love it! I never tire of singing Jerry's songs! I never tire of listening to them. At the end of the album for Jerry's Girls, Jerry sings, "For listening to my songs, thank you..." Jerry, THANK YOU!
In the wonderful book, Jerry Herman: The Lyrics, A Celebration by Jerry Herman and Ken Bloom,
" To have as talented a songwriter as Jerry write a score especially for you is a thrill beyond words."
Dolores "Dody" Goodman (October 28, 1914 – June 22, 2008) was an American character actress known for her playing the mother of the title character (played by Louise Lasser) Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Her high-pitched voice could be heard announcing the show's title at the beginning of each episode.
Born Dolores Goodman in Columbus, Ohio, Goodman was notoriously secretive about her age, successfully shaving off 15 years (giving a birth year of 1929) for many years before the discrepancy was publicly debunked.
Goodman gained a measure of newspaper column space for her dancing solos in such Broadway musicals as High Button Shoes (1947), and Wonderful Town (1953). In 1955, she stopped the show in Off Broadway's Shoestring Revue with the novelty song "Someone's Been Sending Me Flowers."
She also headlined Off-Broadway in the Jerry Herman musical revue Parade in 1960 with Charles Nelson Reilly. She returned to Broadway in 1974 to appear in Lorelei with Carol Channing.
Adopting the guise of a fey airhead, Goodman was good for a few off-the-wall quotes whenever she submitted to an interview. She came to the attention of nighttime talk show host Jack Paar who, after becoming enchanted with her ditzy persona and seemingly spontaneous malaprops, invited her to become a semi-regular on The Tonight Show.
As Goodman's fame grew, she became difficult to handle on the show, and Paar was not happy with her upstaging habits. Commenting on another guest one evening, Paar quipped "Give them enough rope." "And they'll skip!" ad-libbed Goodman brightly. Dropped summarily by Paar in 1958, Goodman spent the next decade showing up on other talk programs, game shows and summer stock as a "professional celebrity."
Following Mary Hartman, Goodman's career gained momentum with regular appearances on TV's Diff'rent Strokes and Texas, movie roles in Grease 2 and Splash, and cartoon voiceover work on Alvin and the Chipmunks and its movie The Chipmunk Adventure.
Goodman posed for photographs by Cris Alexander in the Patrick Dennis mock-biography First Lady, as Martha Dinwiddie's sister Clytie, who in the story married a European Count Przyzplätcki (pron. "splatsky") and perished on the RMS Titanic. She also helped produce another book with Alexander's photography entitled Women, Women, Women!
She died on June 22, 2008 at the Englewood, New Jersey Hospital and Medical Center, after having lived at the Lillian Booth Actors Home, since October 2007.
I have been fortunate enough to become friends with two of Jerry's leading ladies, Carol Channing and Dody Goodman and I've heard wonderful anecdotes over the years. I don't think I've ever heard one bad thing regarding Jerry Herman.
Same of all that have worked with him: Lee Roy Reams, Sondra Lee, Charlie Karel, Marge Champion, David Hartman, etc. Ms. Lansbury says, "Having Jerry's friendship is an added bonus."
I have a lot of friends who get up most mornings and go to jobs they absolutely hate.
I don't think that's what life is about and I'm so fortunate that I actually love what I do.
I'm trying to bring a new generation into the musical theater and to create a new audience.
(Jerry Herman and my designer Glen Charlow, who contributed many pictures with this blog)
The multi-Tony-award-winning composer and lyricist of the classic Broadway musicals:
Hello, Dolly!, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles, Dear World, Mack & Mabel, The Grand Tour, Milk & Honey and much more..
When I first heard that Peggy Herman was doing a new show after A VERY LOONNNGGGG absence, I was thrilled! I saw Peggy many years ago at Eighty-Eight's and became an instant fan.
Then she disappeared. She got married, left New York, lost a LOT of weight!She came back a few months ago with an incredible tribute to Jerry Herman, directed by Peter Glebo and Tommy Tune and musical directed by Alex Rybeck. Here is a glimpse into that incredible show!
I can guarantee that as I write these words, somewhere in the world, a woman is descending stairs in a red gown and a feathered headdress, a woman is wearing bugled beaded pajamas and blowing a bugle, and some man is putting an a little more mascara!
Raised in Jersey City by musically inclined parents, Herman learned to play piano at an early age, and the three frequently attended Broadway musicals. His father, Harry, was a gym teacher and in the summer worked in the Catskill Mountains hotels. His mother, Ruth, also worked in the hotels as a singer, pianist, and children's teacher, and eventually became an English teacher. After marrying, they lived in Jersey City, New Jersey and continued to work in the summers in various camps until they became head counselors and finally ran Stissing Lake Camp in the Berkshire Mountains. Herman spent all of his summers there, from age 6 to 23. It was at camp that he first became involved in theatrical productions, as director of Oklahoma!, Finian's Rainbow and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
(Jo Anne Worley was Carol Channing's original stand-by in 'Dolly'. She never went on!)
At the age of 17, Herman was introduced to Frank Loesser who, after hearing material he had written, urged him to continue composing. He left the Parsons School of Design to attend the University of Miami, which has one of the nation's most avant garde theater departments. He was also a member of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity.
After graduation from the University of Miami, Herman moved to New York City, where he produced the Off-Broadway revue I Feel Wonderful, which was made up of material he had written at the University. It opened at the Theatre de Lys in Greenwich Village on October 18, 1954 and ran for 48 performances.
It was his only show his mother was able to see; shortly after it opened, she died of cancer at the age of forty-four, and Herman spent the next year in deep mourning.
In 1957, while playing piano at a New York City jazz club called the Showplace he was asked to write a show to replace one that had transferred (that show was Little Mary Sunshine). As well as supplying the music, Herman wrote the book and directed the one-hour revue, called Nightcap.
He asked his friend, Phyllis Newman, to do movement and dance and it featured Charles Nelson Reilly (who later co-starred in Hello, Dolly!).
The show opened in May 1958 and ran for two years. The off-Broadway scene in the 1950s was a wide-open world of possibilities.
There was talent itching to show its stuff and sense of experimentation and freedom in a surprisingly non-elitist community of artists and craftspeople.
Herman next collected enough original material to put together a revue called Parade in 1960. Herman directed with choreography by Richard Tone. The cast included Charles Nelson Reilly and Dody Goodman. Dody Goodman's distinctive voice was once described as sounding like "a tweetie pie cartoon bird strangling on peanut butter".
It first opened at the Showplace and, expanded, moved to the Players Theatre in January 1960.
During 1960, Herman also met playwright Tad Mosel and the two men collaborated on an Off-Broadway musical adaptation of Mosel's 1953 television play, Madame Aphrodite. The musical of the same name, which starred Nancy Andrews in the title role, opened at the Orpheum Theatre on December 29, 1961, but closed after only 13 performances. No cast album was recorded, and the show has never been performed since.
In 1960, Herman made his Broadway debut with the revue From A to Z, which featured contributions from newcomers Woody Allen and Fred Ebb as well. That same year producer Gerard Oestreicher approached him after seeing a performance of Parade, and asked if he would be interested in composing the score for a show about the founding of the state of Israel. The result was his first full-fledged Broadway musical, Milk and Honey (starring Molly Picon), in 1961. It received respectable reviews and ran for 543 performances.
Here is another blog about Jerry Herman today!
(Carole Cooke did the FIRST Australian tour of Dolly!)
Also, check out this.
I even played Dolly!
In 1964, producer David Merrick united Herman with Carol Channing for a project that was to become one of his more successful, Hello, Dolly!. The original production ran for 2,844 performances, the longest running musical for its time, and was later revived three times. Although facing stiff competition from Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly! swept the Tony Awards that season, winning 10, a record that remained unbroken for 37 years, until The Producers won 12 Tonys in 2001.
In 1966, Herman's next musical was the smash hit Mame starring Angela Lansbury, which introduced a string of Herman standards, most notably the ballad "If He Walked Into My Life", the holiday favorite "We Need a Little Christmas", and the title tune.
Although not commercial successes, Dear World (1969) starring Angela Lansbury, Mack & Mabel (1974) starring Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters, and The Grand Tour (1979) starring Joel Grey are noted for their interesting concepts and their melodic, memorable scores.
Herman considers Mack & Mabel his personal favorite score, with later composition La Cage aux Folles in a close second. Both Dear World and Mack & Mabel have developed a cult following among Broadway aficionados.
In 1983, Herman had his third mega-hit with La Cage aux Folles starring George Hearn and Gene Barry, which broke box-office records at the Palace Theatre and earned Herman yet another Tony Award for Best Musical. From its score came the gay anthem "I Am What I Am" and the rousing sing-a-long "The Best of Times."
La Cage aux Folles won the Tony Award for Best Musical (1983), is the only musical to win the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical twice (2004 & 2010), and therefore is the only show to win a Best Musical award for every staged Broadway production.
Thank you Jerry! Your music IS the soundtrack of my Life!
Hello, Dolly! is a musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder's 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers, which Wilder revised and retitled The Matchmaker in 1955.
I have utilized Wikipedia, Jerry Herman: THE LYRICS, A CELEBRATION by Jerry Herman and Ken Bloom, Blogs (cited above) and Glen Charlow as the sources for this blog. Thank you all in helping to celebrate Jerry Herman!
I own nothing, no copyright infringement on anything included in this blog intended.
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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED JULY!
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com