Monday, November 7, 2011

Making Cheery Music with Donald Pippin, Miles Phillips, and Lee Roy Reams!


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.
Jerry Herman

Happy Monday!


What a week I have ahead of me! Tomorrow, I am interviewing Lorna Luft, Meredith Patterson, and the upcoming production of White Christmas at the Papermill Playhouse. Be sure and send any questions you would like me to ask any of them. 
Wednesday night, Danny and I are going to see the 50th anniversary showing of West Side Story


Can you believe I have never seen this movie? I'm going to see it the way it is meant to be seen. 
On a movie screen!

Can't wait. Saturday, my afternoon celebrating the legacy of Jerry Hernan with for the Sheet Music Society is happening. If you've been following my blogs, you know that I've been writing about the panel I have put together for this. I am SO EXCITED! 
Today, I am writing about three men are joining us. 
One of these men has been working with Jerry on EVERY PROJECT he has done since 1966 
(He is even bringing home movies)! A Broadway presence for over half a century, Donald Pippin has worked on some of the greatest hits in musical theater as a conductor, music director, arranger, and songwriter. His celebrated collaborations with Jerry Herman, spanning several decades, include Mame and La Cage aux Folles.
In 1963, he won a Tony® for his work in Oliver!, and in 1986 he was awarded a Drama Desk Special Award for musical direction and commitment to theater.


Miles Phillips is a very special fan who has his own take on Jerry and will be singing two special songs.Miles Phillips is a multiple award-winning actor, director, nightclub vocalist and recording artist with appearances in theaters, nightclubs and concert halls from Honolulu to London. He has countless leading New York and regional theatre roles, numerous film and television appearances, a popular solo album and a score of original and studio cast recordings to his credit.

An award-winning actor, Miles effortlessly jumps from classical theatre to musical theatre to concert halls to the finest nightclubs. He recently starred with some of Broadway’s brightest in The Broadway Musicals of 1930 at Town Hall. Recent critically acclaimed theatre performances include: Arthur in Camelot, Officer Lockstock in Urinetown, Banco in the New York premiere of Ionesco’s Macbett, Bassanio in both The Merchant Of Venice and the world premiere of its award winning new sequel The Doctor Of Rome, Cliff in Cabaret, Captain von Trapp in The Sound Of Music, Garry in Noises Off and Bud in the New York revival of Bill Russell’s Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.

Phillips’ acclaimed directorial ventures range from film to regional companies to New York theatre and cabaret, including serving as Artistic Director for Musical Theatre Renegades and The Hot Spot Theatre Company. Phillips received his graduate training with The American Conservatory Theatre and his MFA from The National Theatre Conservatory.

As a nightclub vocalist, Miles has been honored with multiple MAC Awards and twice honored in the category of Outstanding Cabaret Male Vocalist at the New York Nightlife Awards. His latest solo show “…Reappearing In My Mind” recently played a triumphant engagement at Feinstein’s. His leading man charm, glorious voice and passionate artistry have established him as one of New York's most celebrated male vocalists.

Miles has had a warm spot in his heart for Jerry Herman's music since childhood and has had the pleasure of playing leading roles in many of his shows throughout his career, including playing Julian in the acclaimed Chicago revival of Dear World as well as playing Georges on a new studio recording of La Cage Aux Folles.  He costarred with me and Parker Scott in the hit revue Carol Channing + 2 which was a celebration of the music of Jerry Herman and Jule Styne.(Read about this below)


During the show Miles shared a charming memory about his first production of Hello Dolly while setting up this magical musical moment which has just found its way to YouTube!

(See Below)

Check out Miles' Artist Page on Facebook for many more video and song clips:  https://www.facebook.com/MilesPhillips.ArtistPage



Lee Roy Reams has been working with Jerry since 1978 and will also be singing two very special songs.


 Lee Roy Reams (born August 23, 1942) is an American Musical theatre actor, singer, dancer, choreographer, and director.

Fred Ebb, whose The Rink score was bested by Herman's La Cage Aux Folles at the 1984 Tonys, says in Words and Music by Jerry Herman: "There's craft there…. The use of a word like 'brilliantine,' and 'dime cigars,' and all those wonderful images [in 'Put on Your Sunday Clothes']—that's just wonderful stuff. And I don't think you have to be a lyric writer to know that."They are ALL connected with Jerry Herman on some level. Some more than others. One thing is certain, like Dolly Levi, Jerry has brought us all together.
The man I consider to be a master composer of our time celebrates his 80th year this year. He is a man who has been nominated for five Tony awards, won two, and was presented with a special Tony for Lifetime Achievement in the Theater a few years ago and most recently The Kennedy Center Lifetime Achievement Award. One Broadway song he wrote was recorded by Louis Armstrong in 1964 and it sent the 63-year-old singer soaring to the top of the Top 40 chart before the show even opened, knocking the Beatles from the number one spot in the process.
"He has succeeded so well in his mission that people don't give him credit…to be simple without being cliché is nearly impossible," adds Michael Feinstein. Impressively, this man is the only composer/lyricist – ever – to have three Broadway musicals each run more than 1500 consecutive performances.


 


After the success of "Hello, Dolly!", Jerry suddenly became Broadway's hottest composer, and soon shows that were having difficulty sought his advice. Jerry had gotten a call from Mark Sandrich, who was the composer of Ben Franklin in Paris.  
The show was in trouble and needed a new ballad. Jerry had already experienced his own trials and tribulations on "Dolly" when Merrick brought in Bob Merrill and Charles Strouse to "doctor" the score of "Dolly" because he didn't exactly trust Jerry on this project. Imagine working on a project and essentially being ambushed on a project by the shows producer. 
Mr. Merrick was never above such tactics. But in the case of Ben Franklin in Paris, and because the request came DIRECTLY from the composer, he went to see the show.  
Anonymously, at the time, Herman contributed "Too Charming" and "To Be Alone With You", of which one critic remarked, "If the rest of the score were of this quality the show might stand some chance."
The experience was serendipitous because working on the score put Herman in contact with conductor Don Pippin, with whom he found he saw "eye to eye on orchestration."
Herman has since never done a musical without Pippin at the orchestra's helm. 
Pippin, its Music Director, began his long association with Jerry Herman, with whom Pippin felt “an instant bonding of musical minds and friendship.”

A few weeks ago, I went to see Jason Graae's INCREDIBLE tribute to Jerry Herman at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. I even blogged about it. It is returning to the Beechman for two night's next month. In that show, he talked about Hello, Jerry!, a musical revue he did several years ago with Paige O'Hara and Karen Morrow. Jerry even made an appearance in that show.  Don Pippin was at the piano for that revue. (visit Jason's website for more info).

In Stephen Citron's great biography of Jerry Herman, Jerry Herman: Poet Of The Showtune, he says that when Jerry first played I AM WHAT I AM (which he wrote overnight!), AND in the SAME KEYS that were used in the New York production, for Don Pippin, with its accompanying figures and tempi, he asked Don if changes were necessary. Pippin replied, "We'll have it orchestrated just as you just played it."

Pippin was praised for conducting that orchestra with "verve and vivacity."

I am such a fan of Donald's and his contributions to Jerry's scores are enormous!
Just listen to his four part choral harmony on Open A New Window in Mame involving the whole cast.
That number still thrills me and when you listen to it, you will see why it brought the house down!
I love when a group of creative people come together to create a piece of art.
Take the following in point. Jerry Herman's catchy title song from MAME, Donald
Pippin's thrilling orchestrations, Ona White's choreography.



It all came together to create the greatest of alchemy.
Throw in Angela Lansbury and you've got MAGIC!



DONALD PIPPIN is one of Broadway's most honored conductors.
His breakthrough came in 1963, when he took his place as Music Director and Conductor of Oliver!, the musical after Dickens’s Oliver Twist that proved a huge success on Broadway, with over 774 performances.
The show won multiple Tonys®, with Pippin snagging one for Best Conductor and Musical Director.
(Sadly this category no long exists as for the Tony Awards!
Let's hope that someone comes to their senses and reinstate this!)
As if that production hadn’t been enough to keep him busy in 1963, Pippin was Musical Director for 110 in the Shade, another hit musical, this one based on N.R. Nash’s play The Rainmaker.
The legendary Bert Lahr (of Cowardly Lion fame) won the Tony® for Best Actor in a Musical in Pippin’s next Broadway outing, Foxy (1964); and in Ben Franklin in Paris (1964).

The next collaboration between Herman and Pippin took place in 1966, when Herman wrote the music and lyrics for the mega-hit Mame (1,508 performances on Broadway) and Pippin served as Musical Director.
The show won scads of Tony Awards® and nominations, with stars Angela Lansbury and Beatrice Arthur walking off with the Awards for Best Actress and Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
Calling her "my Angie," Herman has said "I can't even speak about this woman, I love her so dearly. She has been the most loyal, loving friend on top of all the obvious talent and how much she's meant to my career." 
photo by Adrienne Onofri
Lansbury scored another Tony® for Best Actress in a Musical in the next Herman-Pippin collaboration, Dear World (1969), based on The Madwoman of Chaillot.
This was followed by Applause (1970), a musical by Charles Strouse, Lee Adams, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green. Based on the movie All About Eve, the musical starred Lauren Bacall, who delivered a Tony®-winning performance. Lee Roy also starred in this production.
After working on Seesaw (1973) and Mack & Mabel (1974), Pippin music-directed the  monster hit A Chorus Line (1975), which played for a walloping 6,137 performances (a record at the time) and feasted on a cornucopia of Tonys®.
He is the recipient of the Tony Award for  Oliver, the Emmy Award for Broadway Sings Jule Styne, the Drama Desk Award for "consistently outstanding musical direction and commitment to the theatre" and a gold record award for the original cast album of A Chorus Line.




Pippin and Herman were reunited in 1979, when they both worked on The Grand Tour, a musical based on Werfel’s play Jacobowsky and the Colonel. Pippin was also Music Director for Woman of the Year (1981), starring Lauren Bacall, which played for 770 performances.



On television, he has been seen on "Live from Lincoln Center," as part of PBS' "Great Performances" series.
Mr. Pippin has conducted throughout the United States, England and Israel, including The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Florida Sunshine Pops Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Chattanooga, Detroit, Fort Worth, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Naples, National, New Mexico, Pittsburgh and Saint Louis, as well as the BBC and London Symphony Orchestras, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Cardiff Festival Orchestra and Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.
He was also invited by Beverly Sills to be the guest conductor for the New York City Opera's production of The Music Man.

A guest conductor of leading orchestras worldwide, including the famed Boston Pops Orchestra, Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic orchestras.
Mr. Pippin was invited to be music director for An Evening with Alan Jay Lerner as seen on PBS, the gala for the 100th birthday of Cole Porter at Carnegie Hall and London’s Prince Edward Theatre, and Jerry Herman’s Broadway, a starstudded Hollywood Bowl television special. He has also led performances honoring Ira Gershwin’s 100th birthday at the Royal Albert Hall in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He created programs and toured with Marilyn Horne including her performance at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration.

In 1990, Donald Pippin was in London to conduct the 25th Anniversary Gala of Hello Dolly,! with Carol Channing, returning in 1991 to conduct the concert galas celebrating the 100th birthday of Cole Porter.

Cole Porter





This latter program, heard at both New York's Carnegie Hall and London's Prince Edward Theatre, has been released on Teldec records. Another Cole Porter recording, Nymph Errant, conceived and arranged by Mr. Pippin, is available on Angel Records, while Jerry Herman's Broadway appears on RCA Victor. 
His latest releases - A Tribute to Kander & Ebb, A Tribute to Jule Styne and A Tribute to Jerry Herman - are available on the BBC label.


In January 1993, Donald Pippin arranged and conducted Marilyn Horne's performance at President Bill Clinton's Inauguration. Later that year, he made prestigious conducting debuts with the famed Boston Pops Orchestra and at a star-studded Hollywood Bowl performance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a gala event that continues to be seen nationally on PBS. During the summer and fall of 1993, he supervised the musical preparation for Jule Styne's The Red Shoes, which opened on Broadway that December. In July 1994, he conducted Marilyn Horne, Jose Carreras and the National Symphony Orchestra in a gala benefit concert at Wolf Trap Farm Park. 
In the fall of 1996, he returned to London for a 20th Anniversary presentation of A Chorus Line with the BBC Concert Orchestra and a Royal Albert Hall gala marking the centennial of the lyrics of Ira Gershwin. 
CBS aired Mrs. Santa Claus, a made-for-television movie starring Angela Lansbury, for which Mr. Pippin was the vocal arranger and musical director, while PBS telecast An Evening with Paul Sorvino, conceived, arranged and conducted by Mr. Pippin. 
In 1999, he created for Marilyn Horne An Evening of Americana Pop Music, a program that the two artists have performed throughout the United States.

2003 found Donald Pippin at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ Avery Fisher Hall, leading a concert version of Jerry Herman’s Mack and Mabel. Later that year, in December, he was back at Avery Fisher Hall, serving as music director and conductor of a special Holiday concert with soprano Deborah Voigt and the New York Philharmonic. 
photo by Adrienne Onofri
Fall 2008 saw the debut of Words and Music by Jerry Herman, a documentary film by Amber Edwards, featuring Donald Pippin (Musical Director), Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, Charles Nelson Reilly, Arthur Laurents and Michael Feinstein, among other stars; subsequently, the film has been telecast throughout the United States on PBS. In May 2008, he led London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of The Music of Jerry Herman, with soloists and special guests Angela Lansbury, Barbara Cook and Jerry Herman, while, in March 2009, Mr. Pippin led a trio of performances of Jerry Herman’s Broadway with the National Symphony Orchestra at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
As a classically trained pianist, Don Pippin has accompanied great entertainers such as Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Angela Lansbury, Julie Andrews and Tony Bennett.

Born in Macon, Georgia, forget Bearegard, he's my favorite Georgia peach!


CAROL CHANNING + 2

Also joining us on Saturday is Miles Phillips (pictured right in pic).
CAROL CHANNING + 2 (pictured right) started out as a one night only event. I contacted fellow cabaret headliners Miles Phillips and Parker Scott, asking if they'd be interested in stepping in and filling out some harmonies and such in the absence of my dancers who were off doing summer stock. Well, everyone involved knew within minutes of the first rehearsal that this was destined to be much more, and CC+2 was born. . . 
The one night only show was a sold-out 
 Standing Room Only smash! 
And we vowed to bring it back. We fleshed out the show to feature even more of Parker and Miles plus more new material for "Carol" (and of course, the 3 of us together) and started our new run in September 2011 . . . then put it on hold while the world got its bearings. But we came back with a vengeance! 
With knockout performances starting in November and raising the roof right through the Holidays - no better way to treat yourself to some genuine joy!
This show was a wonderful celebration of the music of Jerry Herman and Jule Styne, in the spirit of those great old Carol Burnett style music specials (right down to a fantastic 30-songs-in-5-minutes-medley, by our amazing Director/Lyricist,  the late grateJeff Matson and brilliant Musical Director, David Maiocco)! 
This was the genuine article. And it became a multiple MAC award winner as well!
Tom Lynch, in his BroadwayOnline column said: "This is real musical theatre.
The stage at Don't Tell Mama may be smaller than the stages of the Broadway theatres a block east, but the talent onstage is just as large." And Carol Channing herself said: "The first time EVER that I have been shown with so much love!"

Miles joined our friend Julie Reyburn for her 2001 Christmas benefit for BC/EFA - Juletide Cheer.
Christmas music is a big favorite of Miles' and he manages to find time to sing his favorites every year. He is part of the cast of Richard Skipper Celebrates...Christmas! which will play at The Triad December 20th also with Julie Reyburn. 

RESERVE NOW! SAVE THE DATE!!
Presence: The Christmas Songs was Miles' 1997 celebration of the holiday season. He was joined in the merriment by his dear friend and super diva Annie Hughes. 


Their S&M/Moonlight Sonata rendition of Baby It's Cold Outside lives on in cabaret legend. . . . 





 

"Jerry's music is totally identifiable because of its tunefulness, and the joy that comes within oneself when they hear it," Reilly, who originated the role of Hello, Dolly!'s Cornelius Hackl on Broadway, says in Amber Edwards' Words and Music by Jerry Herman. "It's cheerful, it's optimistic—which a lot of people would sneer at, because it's so much safer to be cynical."




I am also thrilled that we have Lee Roy Reams joining us on Saturday. 
I have written about my friend Lee Roy many times, most notably on his birthday but today I want to focus specifically on his association with Jerry Herman.

1st B'wy revival as Cornelius in l978 with Carol.  2nd B'wy revival as director with Carol in l994.  An Evening With Jerry Herman as director and co-star Director of Dolly productions starring Nicole Croisille in Paris, Madeline Kahn in Atlanta & St. Louis, JoAnne Worley in Houston, Randy Graff in St. Louis & Leslie Uggams in Houston.  Cast of Jerry Herman At The Hollywood Bowl.  Many concert evenings, etc. 

It includes extended excerpts from original Broadway productions, as well as such rare footage as a 1955 college revue that Herman wrote,Mary Martin performing Dolly! in Japan (and singing the title song in Japanese), Channing singing "Hello, Lyndon" at the 1964 Democratic Convention, Ethel Merman (who was then playing the title role) celebrating Dolly!'s becoming the longest-running show in Broadway history—and Lansbury in a bikini at Herman's 40th birthday party on Fire Island.

In the film, Herman goes back to his childhood home in Jersey City. He recalls coming home one day from school to a spread of hors d'oeuvres his mother had put out; when he asked her what the occasion was, she said, "It's today." ,which, of course, became Mame's mantra, though, sadly, Herman's mother died of cancer before he made it to Broadway. Herman is also shown coaching performers at rehearsals of Showtune, the 2003 Herman revue presented by the York Theatre Company which I saw and loved. Attendees of the special event on Saturday can enter to win a very special gift package! Jerry Herman writes old-fashioned songs, in the best sense of the term. Even in the 1960s they were old-fashioned, a musical theater style of cheerful music crafted from clever lyrics wrapped in melodies which lend themselves to being sung, whistled and hummed as you leave the theatre.
His work can stand proudly next to the music of the giants of the Great American Songbook: Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Cole Porter.

Herman’s music is marked by a distinct sense of optimism and enthusiasm, as is the man himself. There’s no problem that can’t be faced by pulling one’s self up by the boot straps and forging ahead. “Put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out / Strut down the street and have your picture took / Dressed like a dream / your spirits seem to turn about…” he writes in Hello Dolly!
In ANY language, it works!

Herman has always said he creates music to entertain people, to lift them up.
Jerry Herman has been accused of writing songs that are made from simple sugars – is life really as sweet as he says it is?
But there’s a complexity that lies beneath his enthusiasm. Behind the wit and carefully turned phrases, he’s able to reveal a good deal about perseverance, humanity, love, us:
How often is someone concerned
With the tiniest thread of your life?
Concerned with whatever you feel
And whatever you touch?
Look over there…

When your world spins too fast,
And your bubble has burst,
Someone puts himself last,
So that you can come first.


We hope that you will join us Saturday afternoon as we celebrate Jerry Herman!
Nov 12
1:45pm
LOCAL 802 MUSICIAN'S HALL, 322 West 48th Street, NYC
An Afternoon Celebrating The Legacy of Jerry Herman
I host with an AMAZING PANEL Klea Blackhurst, Ken Bloom, Marge Champion, Amber Edwards (Words and Music, the award winning documentary on Jerry Herman), Sondra Lee (Hello Dolly!'s original Minnie Faye), Miles Phillips, Donald Pippin, Lee Roy Reams with John Fischer on piano. $10 non members of the Sheet Music Society.

I have been fortunate enough to call among my friends several celebrities. The one thing that I've gleaned from them beyond their bodies of work is their humanness.


Thank you to all of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you ALL have given to the world!


REMINDER:
Nov 15
6pm
ARTS COUNCIL OF ROCKLAND, 185 North Main Street, Spring Valley, New York 10977

BEYOND THE THREE F's
Join the Arts Council and critically acclaimed, multi-award winning performer/director Richard Skipper for this 'how to' workshop on building audiences and creating a following for performers, visual artists, writers and any other individual or group looking to expand their fan base and reach beyond their borders. Skipper, a career consultant and co-producer of the 2010 and 2011 Bistro Awards brings years of experience to this workshop.
Beyond the 3 F's (friends, family, fellow performers/artists) will focus on how to get you the attention that you need. Topics include how to use the Internet to your advantage in marketing; how to get your name "out there"; cold calling; creating a contract specific to your needs; how to create a press kit that shows you to your best possible advantage and more! Attendees are surveyed before the workshop to determine their needs. Richard customizes the workshop so that each participant gets their questions answered.
The workshop is free for members of the Arts Council and $25 for non-members. Space is limited. Reservations can be made by calling 845-426-3660, e-mailing info@artscouncilofrockland.org or by visiting www.artscouncilofrockland.org.
The Arts Council strives to be a fragrance-free workplace. Attendees are asked to please refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes or other strong scents. This event is co-sponsored with Arts in Orange and made possible, in part, with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency and with a generous grant from KeyBank.

Thank you for joining me on these nostalgic journeys! I've added a new aspect to my blog.. I am now answering a question on video that YOU send to me. You can ask me ANYTHING and I will answer your question on video within my blog. Send your questions to
Richard@RichardSkipper.com



"Richard, for supporting the ARTS and calling attention to the STARS of yesterday. You are a STAR in your own right!! With admiration and friendship"
Arlene Dahl





Thank you to all who have encouraged me! Thanks to all who have tried to stifle my art. I have learned from ALL of you! Here's to an INCREDIBLE day for ALL!


GO SEE A LIVE SHOW TONIGHT


Become A Facebook friend of mine!
Follow me on Twitter

If you've seen one of my appearances/shows, add your thoughts to my guestbook at www.RichardSkipper.com

Tomorrow's blog will be A Celebration of John Fischer, The Sheet Music Society, and Marni Nixon! I'm open to suggestions!





Please contribute to the DR. CAROL CHANNING  AND HARRY KULLIJIAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS


                               TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED WEEK!
                                               Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com


Sources for this blog: Showtune by Jerry Herman
Jerry Herman: Poet Of The Showtune by Stephen Citron
Jerry Herman: The Lyrics A Celebration by Jerry Herman and Ken Bloom
Before The Parade Passes By by John Anthony Gilvey
Wikipedia
Masterworks/Broadway


No comments:

Post a Comment