Saturday, March 15, 2014

Welcome back the TV Musical

Cinderella is proof that a pair of shoes can change your life...
Cinderella (1965) - Rodgers and Hammerstein's

Pack your bags, we're going to Neverland!

When I was a kid, there were several things that I looked forward to.

They were the annual showings of TheWizard of Oz, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella (the 1965 Lesley Ann Warren version), and, from time to time, the Mary Martin version of Peter Pan.I am excited that efforts are being made to revive this art form.

Cinderella originally aired on February 22, 1965 This was the second incantation of the televised version of this beloved musical that Rogers and Hammerstein penned.
This telecast garnered a 42 share, making it the highest rated television show in 1965.

Lesley Ann Warren was only 18 at the time of this production and her co-star, Stuart Damon, was 28. Stuart Damion went on to play Dr. Alan Quartermaine on General Hospital for the next 30 years. This particular version of Rogers and Hammerstein Cinderella is far and away the most loved and cherished version of them all, rivaling even the Disney animated version.

Warren approached her
character with a childlike sense of innocence, making her transgression toward becoming a princess even more rewarding.

I actually remember seeing this version the first time it aired. I was four at the time.
I can actually see the original commercials running through my mind.
At that age and actually until Judy Garland's death in 1969, I thought all these actors got together every year to recreate the magic. How precise and magical they all were!
How excited that Cinderella returned year after year. I remember the day that I discovered the Julie Andrews' soundtrack at our local Conway Library. Now you can listen to the soundtrack on Itunes.
I rushed home to listen. It was all familiar, but it wasn't MY version...the one I looked forward to every year. THEN, it stopped airing. I think it was 1971. I searched year after year. As a matter of fact, when I auditioned for my first show, I sang A Lovely Night from Cinderella!
Shortly after moving to New York, I discovered the Rodgers and Hammerstein's archives at Lincoln Center.

Once I discovered there was a soundtrack recording, from time to time to get my "fix", I would stop by to listen.
I even got the courage to look up Celeste Holm in the phone book and call her! She, of course, was Cinderella's Fairy Godmother.She couldn't have been more gracious. It wasn't long after that that she appeared at St Malachy's, the Actor's Chapel, as part of a series hosted by Broadway producer Harold Kennedy.
I still remember her as vividly as if it was yesterday. She was dressed in lavender from head to toe and as stunning as ever. I introduced myself and she remembered my phone call.
We discussed Cinderella and she said she had no idea why CBS stopped airing it, especially after the
Celeste became a great friend
success of the show. I got the idea to call CBS. I was told at that time, circa 1982 or 1983, that it was "old hat" and that newer audiences would not be interested.
Every time I have heard that my entire life, I cringe. Entertainment is entertainment, period.
I know what I like and what I don't like. It's interesting that there was yet another TV remake starring Brandy and Whitney Houston. Although there have been many variations on the "book", the score with one or more additions has been performed around the world in various incarnations with various theatre companies. I saw it at Lincoln Center several years ago with Ertha Kitt as a fabulous Fairy Godmother. I also saw it at Paper mill Playhouse in Milbourn, New Jersey.
Angela Gaylor and Paolo Montalban in Cinderella, Papermill Playhouse
The Paper Mill Playhouse's production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella starred Angela Gaylor in the title role and Paolo Montalban as her Prince Charming. He had also played the Prince in Brandy's version.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella has been playing to capacity houses on Broadway for well over a year.
When my mom came to visit for my birthday last year, THIS was the Broadway show we took her to see. It was familiar and safe. It is currently starring Fran Drescher as the Stepmother. I think this show can run forever with a rotating cast a la Hello, Dolly!

Which brings me to today's cultural landscape. Have you noticed that most shows on TV today are
Stuart Damon and Lesley Ann Warren
celebrating bullying?
Most sitcoms are no longer about the situation but rather about putting each other down with offensive one liners. Comedians now say the most offensive things about others and because it falls under the guise of "comedy", it is OK.Every reality show is about putting someone down. Our political pundits say the most offensive atrocious things to each other and it makes for great TV. It has infiltrated into every aspect of our culture: music, television, film, stage, even our advertising. How did everyone become an expert?
I've noticed with several upcoming Broadway shows that there seems to be so much angst in the style of songs that are being sung. What happened? This current aspect of the entertainment world is in dire need of reforms and structural changes.
When it was announced that The Sound of Music was going to be presented as a LIVE broadcast earlier this past year, there was a LOT of excitement within the industry. However, with all of that excitement came a lot of negativity. For every person praising the powers that be in terms of making this a reality, the negativity was doubled or even tripled.
I wonder of Rodgers and Hammerstein would have survived under the intense negative scrutiny of their production of Cinderella in 1957.
The Sound of Music LIVE! was one of the highest rated shows in many a year. Therefore, Neil Meron and Craig Zaden have already moved forward on their next production, haters be damned!
They are embarking upon another beloved classic, Peter Pan.
Although Peter Pan came from the Broadway stage, it was in television that it found its largest audience.
Peter Pan is, of course, a musical adaptation of J. M. Barrie's 1904 Peter Pan and Barrie's own novelization of it, Peter and Wendy. The music is mostly by Mark "Moose" Charlap, with additional music by Jule Styne, and most of the lyrics were written by Carolyn Leigh, with additional lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.The original 1954 Broadway production, starring Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook, earned Tony Awards for both stars. It was followed by NBC telecasts of it in 1955, 1956, and 1960 with the same stars, plus several rebroadcasts of the 1960 telecast. The show has enjoyed several revivals onstage.
One of my biggest regrets is that I did not see Sandy Duncan as Peter Pan. Also, a big regret is that this was not filmed for television. As athletic as she is, Cathy Rigby did not touch my heart the way Mary Martin did. I'm hoping our Peter Pan for the next generation does!
Here's hoping that the bar is raised even higher in the next 12 months.  

Mary Martin as Peter Pan
My hope is to see more shows that uplift and are less destructive and violent.

Let's start celebrating artists again rather than tearing them down. TMZ has done nothing to add to our cultural landscape.
Thank you ALL of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!



 With grateful XOXOXs ,







Check out my site celebrating the FIRST Fifty years of  Hello, Dolly!

MY Prince, Stuart Damon, today


I desire this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!
If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at Richard@RichardSkipper.com.

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!



Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
              
Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!



  
Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!



                                                                  Keeping Entertainment ALIVE!
                                                                   Richard Skipper Celebrates

TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
 






1 comment:

  1. "Which brings me to today's cultural landscape. Have you noticed that most shows on TV today are celebrating bullying? Most sitcoms are no longer about the situation but rather about putting each other down with offensive one liners. Comedians now say the most offensive things about others and because it falls under the guise of "comedy", it is OK.Every reality show is about putting someone down. Our political pundits say the most offensive atrocious things to each other and it makes for great TV. It has infiltrated into every aspect of our culture: music, television, film, stage, even our advertising. This current aspect of the entertainment world is in dire need of reforms and structural changes."

    Bravo, Richard, and even more prevalent is the crass profanity, sexual innuendo and scatological "humor" that has infiltrated almost every corner of our cultural landscape. Even so-called children's or family movies have to have "edgy" content that would never have been included even 30 years ago, well after the demise of the Code. I wish I could hold out hope for the entertainment industry to clean up its act at least somewhat, but unfortunately, I have a very dim view of that ... :(

    ReplyDelete