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It comes in an especially handsome packaging, with a nifty, fold-out set of liner notes.
The quality of the CD is beyond reproach, perfectly well representing the show. Little more need be said about the CD; if you love this production, or Christina Applegate, or both, this is a Charity for you. Poor Charity has proved problematic in revival and on the screen as well , due to a central flaw. Her name is Charity Hope Valentine, and that moniker was not selected accidentally. One of the advantages of being just on the other side of 50 is that — geography permitting — you had a chance to see Gwen Verdon in the role.
But Verdon on stage had an added quality that you might describe as tough-as nails, and lovable beyond belief. Charity Hope Valentine says it all. Sweet Charity has faced a troubled afterlife for a simple reason: No other performer seems to be able to convincingly play both sides of the role.
The present revival has chosen to proceed without the Fosse influence, and I can certainly understand the motivation. He picked the property, an old Fellini movie; enlisted respected songwriters with whom he had enjoyed working on prior musicals; and selected a producer he reasoned would let him call the shots.
As librettist, Fosse fashioned the plot and — more specifically — dictated the song choices to fit both his vision of the show and the multi-talents of his wife. Canny showman that he was, during rehearsals he saw the wisdom of bringing in a new book writer. Fosse readily agreed to withdraw his pseudonymous billing Bert Lewis, as in Robert Louis Fosse , even though sections of his original script presumably remain in the show. This is a decision, I think, that Fosse grew to regret; by the end of his career, he was doing without librettists altogether.
Which, as it happens, spelled doom for his final musical, Big Deal. The point is, Fosse is written all over Sweet Charity — to say nothing of Verdon — and not just in the dance numbers.
You can remove his contributions, you can remove his name. I suppose somebody someday will come up with a new and relevant Sweet Charity, in the same way that someone came up with a new and relevant Cabaret.
One other subject remains to be discussed. The Overture of the present CD starts off with that exciting six-note "Big Spender" blast from the brass, followed by a lone and unexpected finger cymbal.
What a wonderful choice, especially for this show! This is followed by another eight bars in which the "Big Spender" vamp is offset by a counter from the winds; the two themes are interwoven; and the sound builds into a cacophonous string of triplets. Ralph Burns at his best. As the overture slips into "If They Could See Me Now," those familiar with the original will note a drop in intensity.
The Burns orchestration has been replaced with something ever so much blander. Transpositions are unavoidable when you have to adjust to the range of a new singer; but in an overture?
Thereafter, the orchestration switches between new material by Don Sebeskey and remnants of the old by Burns , with Ralph the clear winner.
Elsewhere in the show, the orchestrations seem mostly new, with patches of the old peering through like a double-bright sun on an overcast day. This is not the place to go into a long discussion of orchestration, but it raises a set of fairly simple questions.
If you want to go with an entirely new sound for a revival, fine. But if you wish to maintain the same style and the same sound, the smart choice — when dealing with a show that was well orchestrated in the first place — is to stick to the original.
Yes, adjustments are necessary for different keys, different dance routines and the different number of pit personnel. This is what they did for the recent Gypsy ; they made changes as necessary, but for the most part stayed with the brilliant originals. The revival of Sweet Charity needed some alteration. To begin with, Ralph used four trumpets, three trombones and five winds; economy dictated that this be reduced to two trumpets, two trombones and four winds.
They could have simply done a reduction, but the choice was made to depart from the originals. This Charity seems to be mostly Sebeskey, with sections of Burns occasionally coming to the rescue.
The new charts are pretty much suitable, with a somewhat sixtyish feel; but why not just stick to the originals? Compare the two versions of "Baby, Dream Your Dream. Yes, you can decide to go with an altogether new sound. But the opening of the overture of Charity — the "Big Spender" vamp, as orchestrated by Burns — is the musical fingerprint of the show, and by extension the musical fingerprint of Bob Fosse as well.
Sweet Charity (film) - Wikipedia
Hey, Broadway jobs are hard to come by. Which is not, I presume, the effect desired. DRG has added some worthy bonus material. Coleman sings four of the songs, including the cut "Gimme a Raincheck.
Understandable until you hear the perplexing rendition of the song. Also included is lyricist Dorothy Fields , a couple of years before her death. Her performance of "Big Spender" is a master class in how to perform a song.
Cine y Teatro Musical: Sweet Charity (Noches en la ciudad, 1969)
Listen to the way she spits out the words "pop my cork," perfectly illustrating the disdain and disgust the lyricist has given to these ladies of the Fandango. Following a matinee of Sweet Charity at the Hirschfeld, go over to the Ambassador and listen to Chicago from the same producers and director. Andrews is presently directing a new production of The Boy Friend, now at the Goodspeed Opera House and scheduled to tour in the fall.
Barely two years after the closing, The Boy Friend reappeared Off Broadway — this in a day when musicals were rarely revived. Off-Broadway musicals were just then coming into vogue, and the revival lasted an impressive performances. The two Boy Friends made a strong combined showing, although it should be said that the London Boy Friend — with 2, performances — was the longest-running West End musical since World War I.
This edition was more or less related to the Off-Broadway version, coming from the same director, Gus Schirmer, and choreographer, Buddy Schwab one of the "Safety in Numbers" suitors from the original Broadway production. The revival featured stunt casting, in the person of Judy Carne.
Two of the "Laugh-In" comediennes — the exceptionally talented Lily Tomlin and Goldie Hawn — used the show as a springboard to lasting stardom. She also earned a certain amount of notoriety as the ex-wife of Burt Reynolds. Leaving "Laugh-In" after two seasons, Carne tried the stage with a stock production of Cabaret at Westbury. This seemingly led to the idea of the Boy Friend revival. Carne was, presumably, the element that allowed the producers to raise the money; and it should be admitted that she gave a satisfactory performance in the Julie Andrews role.
Here was Sandy Duncan, as bright and bubbly and attractive and endearing as — well, the young Gwen Verdon.
The general feeling around town was that Duncan was the clear star of the show, and The Boy Friend would have been a winner if only Sandy had been playing the lead. This is a somewhat faulty hypothesis; if Duncan had been playing Polly, she would have lost her exuberant dance numbers.
In any event, we were left with a pleasant Boy Friend, buoyed by a knockout featured performance. Those who wish to write a treatise on Tony Award categories might well examine the race.
Duncan, with her name well below the title, managed a Best Actress nod. Kelly had over-the-title star billing. Duncan, it was her great misfortune to come along with the right talent at precisely the wrong time. Musical comedy struggled mightily through the s and s. Here we are in , and Sandy Duncan has still never had the opportunity to create a role in a new Broadway musical. The original Broadway Boy Friend was somewhat more satirical than the nostalgic British edition, and not to the taste of composer-lyricist librettist Wilson.
During the production period, the author and director were literally barred from the theatre by the New York producers. Even so, they are snappy and happy; Cy Feuer, who produced the original Broadway version and replaced the director , told me that the overture itself stopped the show every night.
The orchestrations, by Ted Royal, Charlie Cooke, Marion Evans and others, sound especially fresh and lively and stereophonic on the cast album. Either way, The Boy Friend is a delightful trifle stocked with a half-dozen irresistible numbers.
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