Historic Flashbacks from Broadway Babe include West Side Story, Carol Burnett, Donna McKechnie & the original Sandy from Grease, Carol Demas.
February 3, 2024: Broadway Babe, Randie Levine-Miller has found some entertaining and historic videos, which include the 50th anniversary reunion of the original cast of “West Side Story”; Carol Burnett starring in “Once Upon A Mattress”; Donna McKechnie at Joe’s Pub; as well as Carol Demas, the original Sandy in the Broadway musical “Grease”, singing a song she introduced over 50 years ago. How is it that so many of these women look so great in their 80s?
West Side Story OBC 50th Anniversary Reunion
OMG… What a find! From 2007, the 50th anniversary reunion of the original Broadway cast of “West Side Story”, with Chita Rivera, Carol Lawrence, Mickey Calin, Tony Mordente, Martin Charnin, Marilyn Cooper, Carol D’Andrea, Reri Grist, Grover Dale, Pat Birch, Harvey Evans, George Marcy — which was a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The exciting opening production number may give you gooseflesh.
All these dazzling performers who are no longer the youngsters they were in 1957, were at the top of their game that night. And, of course, the remarkable and ageless Chita Rivera looked and sounded great as she did throughout her 70-year career — until the day she died this past week. There are interviews backstage with cast members, and all praised the brilliant choreography of Jerome Robbins, but also sharing that he was incredibly difficult and lacked people skills.
One of the cast members expresses gratitude to Broadway Cares, and how they took care of Larry Kert, the original Tony, in the last year of his life. A major highlight is the performance of Reri Grist, who sang “Somewhere” which she did as an original cast member in the orchestra pit, but on this night, she was centerstage. She went on to become a major Metropolitan Opera star. This video is of historical significance… And it’s also quite delightful and touching.
Once Upon a Mattress
From 1964, Carol Burnett stars in the TV version of “Once Upon A Mattress” by Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer, which she originated Off-Broadway in 1959, followed by a move to Broadway. Directed by Joe Layton, it was produced by Bob Banner, and Carol’s then husband, Joe Hamilton, who also produced her long running TV series on CBS-TV. This is the young Carol at her most versatile best — singing, acting, and dancing, and chewing the scenery, along with co-stars Jack Gilford, Jane White, Joseph Bova, Elliott Gould, Jack Fletcher, and Shani Wallis. An uncredited Michael Bennett is in the chorus! This Is a delicious show that I guarantee will put a smile on your face!
Carole Demas, the original Sandy from the original “Grease,” the musical, sings “Prom Night” at 54 Below this past Fall, 2023 in Rob Schneider‘s “50 Key Musicals” series, with musical director, Michael Lavine at the piano. In addition to singing this song that she introduced in 1972, she shares some stories and anecdotes about “Grease” to a packed house. Carole is now an unbelievable 83 years old, and, as you’ll see, looks incredible and is truly ageless.
Donna McKechnie at Joe’s Pub
From 2005: “Donna McKechnie at Joe’s Pub”…this is a segment from her one woman show – 10 delicious minutes of Donna, performing her showstopper, “The Music in the Mirror” from “A Chorus Line”, as well as sharing stories about the show, which earned her the Tony Award for best actress in a musical in 1976. Donna returns to Broadway in the hit musical, “Wicked,” on March 4. Not bad for a woman who recently turned 81! Donna is living proof that we are not growing older… We’re growing better!