The Broadway Babe’s Favorite Picks of 2020 – Part 2
by Randie Levine Miller
Here is part 2 of some of my favorite prior postings that I feel Tomatoes will enjoy, especially us Baby Boomers! When the shutdown started, I suggested to head Tomato, Cheryl Benton, that I compile some free theatrical entertainment that can be found online….And with a lot of investigating and unearthing, on YouTube, I became a theatrical “excavator”…and have found shows that you wouldn’t believe are out there..but they are…This research evolved into my Broadway Babe weekly column with behind the scenes anecdotes as well as personal “sidebars” of my encounters with some of the folks involved with these shows. Hope you enjoy!
I loved “Grey Gardens” the musical, prior to its Broadway run which I also thoroughly enjoyed, but there’s something really special about the intimacy of this production….It opened in 2006 at Off-Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons, and starred Christine Ebersole, Mary Louise Wilson, Matt Cavenaugh, Sara Gettelfinger. John McMartin and Bob Stillman.. with a book by Doug Wright, Music by Scott Frankel, Lyrics by Michael Korie; directed by Michael Greif…Christine Ebersole became a bona fide star with this show…I think most Tomatoes will really enjoy… also, the show has a very tuneful score.
This is one of the great NY Philharmonic theatrical offerings … Stephen Sondheim’s “Company”, directed by Lonny Price,this concert version stars Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Colbert and Patti LuPone ….this is a must-not-miss … I heard it was one of the most exciting evenings from people who were there that night ! This is a find… Director, former actor, Lonny Price is one of the greatest and most in demand directors…. and I was lucky enough to work with him on Doug Cohen’s “No Way To Treat A Lady”!
An Evening with Marvin Hamlisch
It’s eight years since extraordinary composer, Marvin Hamlisch died…In “An Evening with Marvin Hamlisch- Up Close and Personal,” Marvin shares some great behind the scenes stories about his many works. This is an excellent conversation with Marvin and the very knowledgeable Michael Kerker, head of Musical Theater at ASCAP that was done at the Kennedy Center..
All of the performers singing Marvin’s songs are the best of the best in musical theater: Karen Ziemba, Liz Callaway and Kevin Early along with much lauded Alex Rybeck musical directing… Marvin was much more than “A Chorus Line”…In the interview, he shares the fact that the New York Times disliked his music for this show…It was also not my favorite score of his, though I liked it, but I know his music going all the way back to camp Geneva in the 60’s!
Judy Garland, Barbra Steisand, Ethel Merman
My heart be still… A plethora of riches… Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand and Ethel Merman… All together… “Who could ask for anything more?”
“The Judy Garland Show” aired on Sunday nights on CBS-TV during the 1963-64 season….. it was canceled after one season …this incredible concert with three of my favorite performers ( and possibly yours,too) aired on October 6, 1963 .. A must not miss!
Sidebar: I used to play the records of all three of these extraordinary divas round the clock in my room and would imitate them in the mirror for hours… Then I’d go to Music and Art, where I was a student, and get up and do my impersonations… to the delight of my classmates, including Laura Nyro (Who was then Laura Nigro)!
Must Not Miss! I was totally mesmerized by this documentary, “The Diviner’s Miss M” about Bette Midler produced by the BBC in 2014, which features Bette in conversation with BBC-TV producer, Alan Yentob, as she traces her beginnings in New York in “Fiddler” and the bathhouses to becoming the uber-star and social activist she is. Lots of memorable clips have her singing “Matchmaker” in “Fiddler On The Roof,” as well as her concert performances..and movies….We see how she evolved into this bigger than life personality on stage and how she developed her style…We also see her first appearance on the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson, as well as her appearance on Johnny’s final show, singing “One For My Baby” to the teary eyed Johnny…..
Sidebar: In 2007, I produced a star-studded musical tribute to Tony Roberts at the Friars Club and Bette decided to show up to see her close friend, Lucie Arnaz perform…Freddie Roman, who was hosting, heard Bette was there…. I begged him not to point her out…she was not dressed for the public – wearing a babushka!….. But, at the end of the show, he “outed” her.. Well the room went crazy… and Bette was surrounded by Friars members… and understandably uncomfortable…. Thank God, my BFF Faye Menken Schneier was my guest, and had shared a dressing room with Bette when they both were in “Fiddler”… 5 foot Faye came to not much taller Bette’s rescue and helped Bette through the gauntlet of people, and managing to avoid the press and escape the crowd… Bette never returned to the Friars Club!