Saturday, 28 December 2019

If music is no longer lovely

"There is never an evening when, somewhere in the world, the music and lyrics of Jerry Herman are not being sung by a lady in a red headdress, or a lady with a bugle, or a middle-aged man in a wig and a boa."

As producer and playwright Bill Rosenfield put it:
Whether it is sentimental (Song On the Sand) or triumphant (Before the Parade Passes By), Jerry Herman’s music is about optimism. And that is as it should be, given the fact that the first Broadway show he saw, and the one that changed his life, was Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun starring Ethel Merman. Seeing that show with its unparalleled parade of great songs and featuring a larger-than-life musical comedy heroine (and star), Jerry discovered a passion for the theatre and for “showtunes.”

The clarity and joy that is the hallmark of an Irving Berlin song is clearly Jerry’s greatest influence. Songs such as It Only Takes a Moment or If He Walked Into My Life are remarkable for the directness of their emotions, and have lyrics and melodies that are at once dramatic and musical. That musical thrust of a clean, pure melody is what Jerry Herman does best...

...for his work in the musical theatre he has won Tonys, Grammys, Gold records, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Award, three Variety Critics Awards, and the Johnny Mercer Award. Louis Armstrong’s recording of Hello, Dolly! is the most popular number ever to come out of a show. Jerry was also elected into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and the Theatre Hall of Fame.
His first Broadway show was Milk and Honey in 1961, followed by Hello, Dolly!, Mame, Dear World, Mack & Mabel, The Grand Tour, La Cage Aux Folles and Jerry's Girls), as well as a Christmas television spectacular (Mrs Santa Claus) featuring Angela Lansbury, and, notoriously (as I featured way back in 2008), the Vegas-extravaganza-that-never-was Miss Spectacular.

Madam Arcati and I went to a BBC gala in his honour in 2007, and en masse "our gang" saw the Menier Chocolate Factory production of La Cage Aux Folles not once but twice in 2007-8, and the Open Air Theatre production of Hello, Dolly! in 2009. We're still waiting for someone to revive Mack & Mabel or Mame in London.

Mr Herman has always been "up there" in the pantheon of our house favourite musical theatre maestros alongside the likes of Mr Sondheim, Mr Cy Coleman or Messrs Kander & Ebb, and his is a very sad loss - who's left now to create the magical world of razzmatazz and va-va-voom we so adore?!

Like this...

If music is no longer lovely,
If laughter is no longer lilting,
If lovers are no longer loving,
Then I don't want to know.

If summer is no longer carefree,
If children are no longer singing,
If people are no longer happy,
Then I don't want to know.

Let me hide ev'ry truth from my eyes with the back of my hand,
Let me live in a world full of lies with my head in the sand.
For my memories all are exciting.
My memories all are enchanted,
My memories burn in my mead with a steady glow;
So if, my friends, if love is dead,
I don't want to know.

RIP, Gerald Sheldon "Jerry" Herman (10th July 1931 – 26th December 2019)

Monday, 23 December 2019

People I employ have the impertinence to call me Myrna Loy

As we (shockingly) failed to celebrate The Master Noel Coward's 120th birthday last week, I thought I'd make up for that fact by "rediscovering" some research I featured over at my other blog Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle back in 2013 about one of his most famous and enduring works, Mad About The Boy...

From BytesDaily blog:
Noël Coward wrote the song for a 1932 London revue, Words and Music. The song concerns the unrequited love of the singer for a film star and, as originally written, it was sung by four different women who are queued outside a cinema, all pining for the matinee idol. For the New York Broadway version, Coward wrote additional verses that referred to gay feelings, effeminacy and conversion therapy. The verses ran foul of censorship laws and were never performed, references to homosexuality being forbidden.

The original lyrics are:

Mad about the boy
I know it's stupid to be mad about the boy
I'm so ashamed of it but must admit the sleepless nights I've had
About the boy

On the silver screen
He melts my foolish heart in every single scene
Although I'm quite aware that here and there are traces of the cad
About the boy

Lord knows I'm not a fool girl
I really shouldn't care
Lord knows I'm not a school girl
In the fury of her first affair

Will it ever cloy
This odd diversity of misery and joy
I'm feeling quite insane and young again
And all because I'm mad about the boy

So if I could employ
A little magic that will finally destroy
This dream that pains me and enchains me
But I can't because I'm mad...
I'm mad about the boy

One of the verses in the "straight" version is

Mad about the boy,
It's pretty funny
But I'm mad about the boy.
He has a gay appeal that makes me feel
There's maybe something sad about the boy.

The word “gay” did not become synonymous with homosexual for another three decades but, according to the Encyclopaedia Of Homosexuality, the phrase "gay cat" meaning "a homosexual boy" first appeared in print in 1933. It is therefore likely that the use of the word gay for homosexual was already in use and that the straight lyrics include in-jokes by Noël Coward.

The lyrics to the banned version are:

Mad about the boy
I know it’s silly
But I’m mad about the boy
And even Dr Freud cannot explain
Those vexing dreams
I’ve had about the boy

When I told my wife
She said
“I never heard such nonsense in my life!”
Her lack of sympathy
Embarrassed me
And made me frankly glad about the boy.

My doctor can’t advise me
He’d help me if he could
Three time he’s tried to psychoanalyse me
But it’s just no good

People I employ
Have the impertinence
To call me Myrna Loy
I rise above it
Frankly love it
‘Cos I’m absolutely
Mad about the boy
We have, here at Dolores Delargo Towers, a cover of the "gay" version by the late Peter Greenwell on CD, but unfortunately no recording appears to be "out there" by The Master himself.

I have featured Miss Washington's version before, and Miss Lyngstad's (at the link above to my 2013 blog), and, earlier this month, Mr Gallavin and his "ladies".

So we'll have to make do with these...

...and... Mr Brynner in DRAG?!

Sir Noël Peirce Coward (16th December 1899 – 26th March 1973)

Saturday, 21 December 2019

The breath of night like death did flow beneath the sinking moon

Lines: The cold earth slept below
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The cold earth slept below;
Above the cold sky shone;
And all around,
With a chilling sound,
From caves of ice and fields of snow
The breath of night like death did flow
Beneath the sinking moon.

The wintry hedge was black;
The green grass was not seen;
The birds did rest
On the bare thorn’s breast,
Whose roots, beside the pathway track,
Had bound their folds o’er many a crack
Which the frost had made between.

Thine eyes glow’d in the glare
Of the moon’s dying light;
As a fen-fire’s beam
On a sluggish stream
Gleams dimly - so the moon shone there,
And it yellow’d the strings of thy tangled hair,
That shook in the wind of night.

The moon made thy lips pale, beloved;
The wind made thy bosom chill;
The night did shed
On thy dear head
Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie
Where the bitter breath of the naked sky
Might visit thee at will.

It's Midwinter's Day again. The longest night of them all.

However, that means that it is uphill all the way from here on - and Spring will be here before we know it...

Friday, 20 December 2019

Back then we had frolics and oom-pa-pah!

Party season is in full swing - or should that be "swish"?

Needless to say - we have the whole 1964 album The Queen Is In The Closet, from whence this came, in our collection here at Dolores Delargo Towers.

Monday, 16 December 2019

A Camp Advent Calendar, part 2

Heino (born 13th December 1938)

Patty Duke (14th December 1946 – 29th March 2016)

Cindy Birdsong (born 15th December 1939)

Sir Noël Coward (16th December 1899 – 26th March 1973)

Paul Cadmus (17th December 1904 - 12th December 1999)

Betty Grable (18th December 1916 – 2nd July 1973)

Edith Piaf (19th December 1915 – 10th October 1963)

Irene Dunne (20th December 1898 – 4th September 1990)

Thierry Mugler (born 21st December 1948)

Patricia Hayes (22nd December 1909 – 19th September 1998)

Esther Phillips (23rd December 1935 – 7th August 1984)

Ava Gardner (24th December 1922 – 25th January 1990)

Kenny Everett (25th December 1944 – 4th April 1995)

Quentin Crisp (25th December 1908 – 21st November 1999)

[Part 1 here]

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

A Camp Advent Calendar?

Bette Midler (born 1st December 1945)

Maria Callas (2nd December 1923 – 16th September 1977)

Little Richard (born 5th December 1932)

Agnes Moorehead (6th December 1900 - 30th April 1974)

Zeki Müren (6th December 1931 - 24th September 1996)

Hermione Gingold (9th December 1897 - 24th May 1987)

Dorothy Lamour (10th December 1914 – 22nd September 1996)

Vampira (Maila Nurmi, 11th December 1922 – 10th January 2008)

Liz Smith (11th December 1921 – 24th December 2016)

Rita Moreno (born 11th December 1931)

Connie Francis (born 12th December 1937)

Thursday, 5 December 2019

And our mystery guest is...

...none other than cosy breakfast-telly hostess and "national treasure" Miss Lorraine Kelly - transformed into her Drag Queen alter-ego "Morning Glory"!

The occasion was a photo-shoot for the new edition of Attitude magazine - "Activists and Allies special".

She also showed her true "gay icon" status by answering ten questions in the "Gay Slang Challenge":

She's so fab!

You can order or download a copy of the January edition from the Attitude website.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Simply the Best

Miss Tina Turner is 80 years old today...

...all hail!

Rather than rely on what "the expected" by way of a tribute, let's try a lesser-known performance by the great lady...

Congratulations, Ma'am.

Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock, 26th November 1939)

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Grace and favour

“I would like to be remembered as a person who did her job well. An understanding, kind and decent human being.”

“I’ve been accused of being cold, snobbish, distant. Those who know me well know that I’m nothing of the sort. If anything, the opposite is true. But is it too much to ask to want to protect your private life, your inner feelings?”

“The idea of my life as a fairy tale is itself a fairy tale.”

“I'm basically a feminist. I think that women can do anything they decide to do.”

Princess Grace of Monaco would have celebrated her 90th birthday today. One of the most beautiful faces in Hollywood, taken away too soon.

Grace Patricia Kelly (12th November 1929 – 14th September 1982)