Nostalgic finds from Broadway Babe include the original “Merrily We Roll Along,” Julie Andrews, Rock Hudson and more.
January 21, 2024: Broadway Babe, Randie Levine-Miller, has come up with some nostalgic theatrical finds including a reunion concert from 2002, with the original cast of “Merrily We Roll Along”; some terrific footage from a gala Chorus Line event; The American Film Institute tribute to legendary star, Julie Andrews; and a TV special from 1959 with Rock Hudson and Tallulah Bankhead… Now how’s that for a combination?
Merrily We Roll Along with the Original Cast
One of my most favorite evenings… Ever! The 2002 benefit concert for Musical Theatre Works was presented at LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts. Jason Alexander, who starred as Joe in the original Broadway mounting, hosted the evening, featuring nearly all of the original Broadway cast, including: Jim Walton, Ann Morrison, Lonny Price, Tanya Pinkins, David Loud, Daisy Prince, Liz Callaway, and Abigail Pogrebin; and was musical directed by longtime Sondheim associate, Paul Gemignani. The concert was staged by Kathleen Marshall, and they used the original 1981 script.
I saw the original “Merrily We Roll Along” in its last preview in 1981 and fell in love with it then and I’m still in love with it now. I think it is one of Sondheim’s greatest musical scores and the overture is on a par with “Gypsy” and “Funny Girl.” This is not the greatest video but I’m so happy that It was posted by producer/ director, Robert Schneider and I’m glad to share. Lonny Price went on to become an award-winning much in demand theater and concert director who also directed the critically acclaimed and delightful documentary about the show called “The Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened” which is a must see for Merrily and Sondheim fans.
Julie Andrews America Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award
From 2022, the award goes to Julie Andrews who at almost 90 is still pretty sensational. Of course, her BFF of so many years, Carol Burnett, also 90, is one of many stars who salute Julie. There are lots of film clips, too, and even an audience sing-along. This is an award that is so richly deserved for this most accomplished and beloved entertainment icon.
“The Big Party” hosted by Rock Hudson
A true treasure of a find… From 1959, “The Big Party” sponsored by Revlon and hosted by Rock Hudson with an over-the-top Tallulah Bankhead being Tallulah, and a gorgeous Esther Williams, being teased by Tallulah…with glamorous and beautifully dressed folks in attendance. The commercials for Revlon with Barbara Britten, are beautifully placed, so that it seems as though it’s part of the party which includes Sammy Davis, Jr. performing and doing great impressions with Matt Dennis at the piano, as well as a young Lisa Kirk performing…It was a swell party with chatter and performance, sort of a precursor to “Playboy After Dark”, but a lot more elegant, with an eclectic all-star lineup of party guests. This TV show was directed by Norman Jewison and was written by such legends as Goodman Ace and Selma Diamond. This program was produced by the legendary Abe Burrows with Gordon Jenkins as the musical director. Interesting nostalgia —and Rock was gorgeous and in his prime.
A Chorus Line: 10 Year Gala
OMG, what an incredible find! Excellent footage of the dress rehearsal of the 10-year gala performance of “A Chorus Line,” with music by Marvin Hamlisch; lyrics by Ed Kleban; book by Nicolas Dante, James Kirkwood and Michael Bennett who also famously directed —with various scenes from this 1983 event at the Shubert Theatre, including its Tony Award winning star, Donna McKechnie, doing her showstopping “The Music In The Mirror,” which is a major highlight… And towards the end of this footage, they show the rehearsal scene of” One”…. This show remains a classic and timeless piece of theatrical history.
Sidebar: dear friend, the ageless and beautiful Donna McKechnie, at 81 is going into “Wicked” this coming March!