The Broadway Babe’s Favorite Picks of 2020 – Part I
by Randie Levine Miller
In this week’s column, I’ve selected 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!
A Little Night Music
Something I think Tomatoes will love! Sondheim’s “A Little Night Music” produced by The New York City Opera was broadcast on PBS-“”Live From Lincoln Center” in 1990. This excelllent version of one of my favorite shows, stars Sally Ann Howes, Regina Resnik and George Lee Andrews..Directed by Scott Ellis, Choreography by Susan Stroman.. Sondheim’s favorite Musical Director, Paul Gemignani, conducted..Hosted by my late friend and neighbor, Martin Bookspan..
Sidebar: when I was a toddler, my mother and Regina Resnik shared a Manhattan hairdresser….Ms. Resnik was fascinated by this kid’s low and unusual speaking voice, suggesting I might be ripe for show business!
Carol Burnett and Julie Andews
Who of our generation of tomatoes doesn’t adore Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews? 2 major baby booming audience icons! I found this treasure from 1971 of the two of them together on stage at Lincoln Center… you’ll be so glad you “had this time together” with these 2 show business greats!
Stephen Sondheim’s “Passion” is a personal favorite.. professionally videoed, starring the late, (in glorious voice) Marin Mazzie, who as the curtain goes up, is singing, while naked in bed with her lover… played by Jere Shea…. Donna Murphy also stars…playing the love obsessed ”meeskite”, Fosca….And what a brilliant performance she gives..
Sidebar: The first time I met and connected with Donna Murphy was in the ladies room at an event… out of my mouth came “oh my God, you’re so beautiful and yet you play ugly so well”… I caught myself,and said “but then again only a beautiful woman who is a great actress could play against type !” We’ve been quite friendly throughout the years… She was also the best Dolly Levi I’ve ever seen… She stood by for Bette Midler and performed a few performances a week. Bette Midler was Bette playing Dolly Levi, Donna Murphy WAS Dolly Levi!! To me, there isn’t anything that Donna Murphy can’t do!
Paul Anka is one extraordinary entertainer… Truly one of the greatest in person acts I’ve ever seen..A prolific songwriter, he wrote “My Way“, “Having My Baby”, “Lonely Boy”, “Put Your Head On My Shoulder”, “You Are My Destiny”, “Diana”, “Puppy Love”, “Times Of Your Life”, as well as the theme song for the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. I’m certain all of us baby boomer Tomatoes remember him well… And at 79, he still performing and looks great..(I’d like to know who his plastic surgeon is!).. was so delighted to find this incredible concert from 2013 which I think you’ll really enjoy ..
Sidebar: A memory I’ll never forget… My father took me to Puerto Rico on a gambling junket when I was in my teens…I’d hang out with some of the performers in the coffee shop at the old Americana Hotel or the El San Juan after the shows broke…
One night, I took a long walk on the beach, after just having seen Paul Anka perform his show… Who do I bump into on the beach … But Paul Anka ! He looked like a “lonely boy” walking on the sand… I still remember the look on his face even though it was no more than a greeting between strangers.
Mary Martin in Peter Pan
Wow oh wow oh wow!! A return to our childhoods…Mary Martin starring in “Peter Pan” with Cyril Ritchard, and Sondra Lee by Moose Charlap and Carolyn Leigh… additional music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Comden and Green…Unbelievable as it seems, when “Peter Pan” opened at the Winter Garden Theater in 1954 (I can remember as though it was yesterday… seeing my second Broadway show), it only ran for 152 performances….. but it certainly has had many lives, as we know… with several revivals… but this 1960 TV broadcast (in color) in my opinion, was the crown jewel!
Sidebar: Moose Charlap, born Morris Charlap, was named Moose, when he was a camper at Camp Onibar in the 1940’s,by my uncle, Herb Saturn who was his counsellor… In the early 1950’s, Moose became the music counsellor at the all girls Camp Geneva….He composed the weekly shows as well as “Peter Pan” on the same upright piano that Marvin Hamlisch used to compose shows at Geneva in the 1960’s!! Sadly, this most talented man died at age 45…
Sidebar, too: Sondra Lee (Tiger Lilly) in recent years has become a sought out director, in theater and the cabaret worlds… She turns 90 on September 30! Sondra was a regular at my monthly show business “Randie’s Roundtables” luncheons at Sardi’s. When she spoke about her memoir, “I’ve Slept With Everybody”, I immediately chimed in, “we don’t care who you slept with… we want to know who you had sex with!”
Randie Levine Miller is Director of Special Events for The Three Tomatoes, and co-produces and hosts the annual Tomatoes Got Talent show. Known around NYC as a modern day “hostess with the mostess, she has performed in and hosted benefits for the Actors Fund, the Actors Temple, Multiple Sclerosis, and Prostate Cancer Research. Randie’s performance venues have included: The Triad, The Metropolitan Room, the Laurie Beechman Theater, and the Friars Club. For many years, she was special events director for the Drama Desk Awards. Randie also had a successful 30-year career as a public relations consultant and handled several major health and medical technology clients.