May Each Day of the Week Be a Good Day: Andy Williams and The Osmonds

I know that I haven’t posted on the blog in quite some time, but I couldn’t let a certain person’s birthday pass without mention. On 3rd December, father of the holiday season, Andy Williams would have been 90 years old. Not only was he well known for hits such as Moon River and Born Free, but the Christmas specials of his television show (which ran from 1962-1971) were a sight to behold. Those who grew up in the 70’s are probably au fait with a phomenon known as ‘Osmond Mania’. I may be 17, but recently an admiration for the seven piece family band has overtaken me too. This is thanks to Mr. Williams.

The year was 1962. Andy’s father, Jay, caught wind of a male barbershop quartet that were singing at Disneyland. This style of music wasn’t uncommon within the park, but something about the performers struck a chord with him. It was almost as if there was a familiarity about them. The quartet was made up of four brothers: Alan (aged 12), Wayne (aged 10), Merrill (aged 8), and Jay (aged 6). Their last name? Osmond. The Osmond Brothers reminded Andy’s father so much of The Williams Brothers (a very similar quartet in which Andy started his career), that he suggested that his son give them a one-off appearance on his new variety show. See them make their second appearance here.

“We’re the Osmond Brothers boys quartet, and we’re all tuned up to go!” From left to right: Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

The brothers tight harmonies proved so popular with the viewers that they were asked back time after time. Sometimes they even sang with Andy and his guests! In 1963, another brother was inducted into the act at age 5. His name was Donny. Although he wasn’t consistently featured in the act until 1966, he slotted in perfectly, and gradually the group’s musical numbers became more complex. See Donny’s debut here.

Donny and Andy Williams. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

In 1964, the only Osmond sister, Marie made her debut at age 3. Nevertheless, the name of the act remained The Osmond Brothers. Never fear, Marie would get her time to shine after his show ended. Nicknamed the ‘one-take Osmonds’ by everyone that they worked with, they picked up new gimmicks in a flash. One week they would be tap dancing atop grand pianos, the next performing intricate ice skating routines, all whilst singing in harmony. See Marie’s debut here.

“I’m a little bit country, I’m a little bit rock and roll!” Donny and Marie. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

In retrospect, 1963 was a big year for the Osmond clan. Not only did Donny make his debut, but the family was made complete with the arrival of baby Jimmy. The ninth and final Osmond child made his Andy Williams debut in 1967 at the age of 3. Although he only appeared on the show a couple of times after this, he certainly made his mark. See Jimmy’s debut here.

Jimmy and Donny. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

I think it’s time for a little sibling recap. It should also be noted that there are two other brothers who were not part of the group, as they were born with severe hearing impairments:

George ‘Virl’ Osmond Jr. (19th October 1945)

Tom Rulon Osmond 26th October (1947)

Alan Ralph Osmond (22nd June 1949)

Melvin ‘Wayne’ Osmond (28th August 1951)

Merrill Davis Osmond (30th April 1953)

Jay Wesley Osmond (2nd March 1955)

Donald Clark Osmond (9th December 1957)

Olive ‘Marie’ Osmond (13th October 1959)

Jimmy Arthur Osmond (19th April 1963)

Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, Marie, and Jimmy. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, and Donny continued to appear on The Andy Williams Show until 1970, and the entire group reunited with Andy on various shows throughout the rest of his career. 

Needless to say, I don’t think I need to continue with the rest of this story. We all know how successful The Osmonds were, and continue to be. Donny and Marie have just been booked for their tenth consecutive year in Vegas! Throughout all of their highs (and lows), they have remained loyal and committed to their Mormon faith. Whatever your views on religion, I believe that this is extremely commendable. Also, their love for family is always palpable and this makes me feel deliciously warm inside.

Of course the unwavering support of their parents George and Olive, along with their own talents, has contributed to most of their achievements. But I’d like to take the time to thank Mr. Andy Williams for giving the Osmonds a platform to in which to introduce their talents to the world. I bow my head to you, ‘Mr. Christmas’.

Andy, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny, and Jimmy. Image courtesy of Jimmy Osmond.

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SMB: In the Good Old Summertime (1949)

Now, I don’t usually write posts about films for this blog, but when I saw an opportunity to take part in Blog of the Darned’s Summer Movie Blogathon I took it. Thank you to Chris Sturhann for allowing me to contribute.

I’m here to talk about MGM’s 1949 technicolour marvel In the Good Old Summertime, which stars Judy Garland and Van Johnson. The film is based on a play that was written in 1937, Parfumerie. The play went on to inspire not only this film, but The Shop Around The Corner (1940) and You’ve Got Mail (1998). The 1963 Broadway musical She Loves Me was also inspired by the play.

I won’t venture much into the plot of the film, as I am sure that most of you will have seen at least one adaptation. Long story short, at the turn of the century in Chicago, Veronica Fisher (Judy Garland) is looking for work. She manages to get job at Oberkugen’s Music Store, thanks to her impressive musical ability (who wouldn’t want to hire Judy Garland to tout their instruments?), but constantly butts heads with colleague Andrew Larkin (Van Johnson). Neither Fisher or Larkin have a clue that they are both corresponding with each other via frequent letters, in which they find each other completely irresistible. Andrew realises before Veronica does, and the pair gradually begin to fall in love. The end sequence shows the pair walking in hand in hand with their little girl, in the good old summertime. 

During her career, Judy Garland starred in a total of nine movies that were set in ‘the olden days’, for example the 1900’s. I think this is really interesting, because lots of people watch classic films today as they hark back to a simpler time, and are a form of escapism from the harsh realities of the 21st Century. It seems as though MGM wanted to do the same for audiences in a world that was ravaged by World War Two.

I have to admit, In the Good Old Summertime isn’t my favourite of these films, I much prefer Easter Parade (1948) and especially Meet Me in St Louis (1944). Not to say that this picture doesn’t have any good qualities, but I find the overall plot a tad mundane. Anyway, onto the best moments:

1. Judy Garland’s snide remarks. These are especially entertaining because Judy didn’t have a mean bone in her body. It’s fun to see her poke fun at Van Johnson.

2. The big reveal. At Christmastime, when Andrew reveals to Veronica that he is her pen pal, I swear that my heart skips a beat. The chemistry between Garland and Johnson is palpable. 

3. Liza Minnelli’s screen debut. Yes, you heard me. The little girl walking with Judy and Van in the final scene (which you can see here, along with some home movie footage) is three year old Liza Minnelli. I’m sure that you are all aware that she is Judy’s daughter. Judy was completely against pushing her children into show business, but I think that this was a sweet idea. After all, it’s not like the baby had to do anything besides walk, and she loved to be at the studio. Liza herself told a wonderful story about the shooting of the scene in conversation with the late Robert Osborne for TCM’s Private Screenings:

“I got all dressed up and I had a parasol, and they remembered everything I should wear, it was very detailed. But they didn’t put any panties on me, and all I remember is Van Johnson’s hand on my butt. It was very strange, just vaguely uncomfortable.”

On that note, I think that it is apt to end this post with a small gallery of images that show Liza on set. I couldn’t include them all, because I’m afraid that I would have lost all of my readers from death by cuteness. I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to Blog of the Darned’s Summer Movie Blogathon, and be sure to check out the other posts here.

“While strolling through the park one day…” Image courtesy of Pinterest.

Sharing a snack. Image courtesy of IMDB.

Like mother, like daughter. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

Hooray for Hollywood. Image courtesy of Tumblr.

“In your Easter bonnet…” Image courtesy of gummgarland on Tumblr.

All in the family, Judy, Liza, and Van. Image courtesy of Pinterest.

“Ready for your close up, Miss Minnelli?” Image courtesy of Kansas City Star.

Come to the cabaret: Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland

In my opinion, there is something about the idea of a cabaret that is completely enthralling. I can’t put my finger on why I feel this way. Maybe it’s the intimacy of the venue, or maybe it’s because I know that the audiences are always filled with likeminded people. Everybody knows that I am a HUGE fan of the late, great Judy Garland, so you can imagine my delight when I was given the chance to interview the star of an upcoming cabaret that utilises her songs. What makes this one night only cabaret performance special, however, is fact that the star of the show is male.

 Seth Sikes is well known on the American cabaret circuit, and on 10th June 2017 at 7:00pm will make his London debut at The Crazy Coqs. I love this venue. The Art Deco vibe allows you to really immerse yourself in the action, and harks back to a much more sophisticated time. I asked Seth ten questions, and here’s what he had to say:

1. How do you feel about making your London cabaret debut on 10th June?

London loved Judy. She often went there when she wasn’t having a pleasant time in the States so I couldn’t be more thrilled to be going there on what would have been her 95th birthday, to sing her songs in the city that celebrated her and lifted her up when she was down.

2. What are you most looking forward to doing when you come to London?

 I’m staying an extra week after my concert, so I’m looking forward to seeing a bit of theatre. But I always overschedule my visits in London with too many shows and museums, so this time I mainly want to just hang around the city, reading and roaming and pretending that I live there, because I love it so. 

3. Which is your favourite song to sing in the show, and why?

I really like singing When the Sun Comes Out. It’s Harold Arlen. It’s huge. It’s hopeful. It’s not as well known as the other Arlen songs, because she didn’t sing it at Carnegie Hall. (See Seth sing the song here).

4. I know that your love for Judy goes all the way back to childhood. How has Judy shaped the man that you are today?

That’s what my show is all about! Actually it’s about how her songs, which I’ve listened to all my life, have meant different things to me at different points in life. How they got me into show business, how they got me through a heartbreak, how they got me BACK into show business, how they put me on the cabaret map. It has been a lifelong relationship. She and her songs have been there for me all the way. She also taught me that you have to really mean what you sing, and that too much control is boring.

 5. What is your favourite Garland movie, and why?

I grew up as a little boy in a small, rural town called Paris, Texas. I saw a VHS tape of Judy in Summer Stock. Judy was on a farm, wearing overalls, driving a tractor, and singing a fabulous song. I thought, “Who is that woman?” (I only realized a little later that she was the same lady who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, another favorite.) Anyway, that was the tape I watched over and over again because that’s the only one I had! I was completely obsessed, and I wanted to be like Judy and go on in a show in our barn! I still like it today, not just for sentimental reasons, but because she was so healthy in that movie. She looked great, not too thin; her voice was never richer. And she dances brilliantly with Gene Kelly. I just love it.

Seth Sikes. Image courtesy of Brasserie Zedel.

6. Which of Judy’s songs do you think is most underrated, and why?

There’s a brilliant performance of comedic genius called The Great Lady Has an Interview in Ziegfeld Follies, which I find just hilarious. She’s so funny and elegant and that dress.

 7. What is one myth about Judy that you would like to dispel?

It bothers me when people joke about her forgetting her lyrics. She knew the lyrics to everything! Probably thousands of songs. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I heard she often pretended to forget the lyrics at the same spot in You Go To My Head in order to get a reaction out of the audience.

 8. I know that you also perform a salute to the music of Liza Minnelli from time to time. Do you feel different when you are performing her songs compared to when you are performing the songs made famous by her mother?

Yes! They are different beasts, entirely. For one thing, Liza’s range was freakishly big, and I don’t have that many low notes. Liza’s songs are also more character based. And they’re scary to do because they’re often manic and have a thousand lyrics.

 9. If you could invite any celebrity to one of your shows, who would it be and why?

Liza. I think she would be expecting something else, but would be surprised by the love letter to her mother’s songs that is my show. And maybe she’d do a number with me. One can dream!

 10. How would you describe Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland in three words, and why should people come and see the show?

Exciting, Heartfelt, Tribute. I think people should come out to celebrate the birthday of the greatest entertainer who ever lived by enjoying her music, and maybe even singing along a little.

It really is refreshing to see a male tackle the unforgettable Garland standards in a way that is not imitative. In a world that sometimes forgets to be as accepting as it should be, we need people to challenge backwards thinking by going against the norm. I wish Seth all the luck in the world with his London cabaret debut, and I’m sure that the audience will love him. You can get tickets for Seth Sikes Sings Judy Garland at The Crazy Coqs here.

NEW YORK: (25th October 2016): My First Live Interview: Vince Giordano

On my first trip to New York in October, I was lucky enough to conduct my first live interview with the wonderful Vince Giordano. He was so polite to me, and I will always be grateful to him for steadying my nerves and allowing me to talk to him. We caught up before his show at Iguana NYC on 25th October, and here’s what he had to say. PS: Huge thank you to my Dad for helping me transcribe the interview, and my condolences to the family of the late Rich Conaty, who sadly passed away recently:

1. When and how did your love of music from the 20’s and 30’s begin?

The initial moment when I found out I loved the music of the 1920’s and 30’s was when I discovered a slew of phonograph records from the 20’s in my grandmother’s collection. She had an old wind-up gramophone from 1923 when she got married. That was her wedding present, and at that time I was just listening to regular, what you call popular music on the radio and not too excited about How Much is That Doggie in the Window? and Oh My Papa. You can check those things out later and just see how dismal those things are and were. And I wound up the phonograph and played these great dance records that she had. She was a big fan of Al Jolson. She had a Louis Armstrong record in there called Blue Again, she had a King Oliver record in there, she had some Ethel Waters. For a white lady in Brooklyn she was pretty diverse, and I just fell in love with that sound, that energy, the great excitement that I heard coming off those old scratchy discs. I also had developed an ear for this music because when I was a kid I’d come home from school and they’d run the old Laurel and Hardy movies that had Leroy Shield’s music, which I found out later, the black and white cartoons of Warner Brothers, Max Fleischer. These things were set in the early 1930’s but they still had that feeling of the 20’s, syncopation and jazz. So I loved this stuff and all of the rest of the kids my age could not understand that at all and they would call this music ‘cartoon music’ or they would call it Little Rascals music for the Our Gang comedies. And I said “OK, whatever”, you know, I just put up with it.

2. How did The Nighthawks get started?

The Nighthawks got started actually not by me, by a friend of mine named Rich Conaty who’s got a radio show every Sunday night on WMQZ. You can get that on the web. I was in Italy playing with a little banjo band for a summer and I got a postcard from a friend of mine and he says “You’d better get back here, there’s some fella that’s starting a Paul Whiteman band.” I said “Oh my goodness, this is too good to be true.” So what happened was that Rich, who’s not a musician, wound up getting these Xeroxes of old Paul Whiteman arrangements and he tried to hold these rehearsals where he was going which was Fordham University. It was really hard because number one: the Whiteman orchestrations were twenty-four twenty-five pieces, there was no possible work in sight so there was nobody getting paid. He was trying to put this all together and I came back and it was like four or five guys trying to play these charts, which was not enough guys. We would say “What’s happening here?”, “Well that’s the strings” and there were no strings, “What’s happening here?”, “Yeah, that’s the fifth saxophone”, and we didn’t have five saxophones. So, I had collected these old printed stock arrangements that were done by the publishers and I said “Rich let’s try these because it’s only ten people and you can play with a smaller combination and we’ll still get a sound versus this which is too hard to put together.” So, we did that and we were partners and then Rich got a job in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania doing a radio show there and he left New York. I was here with the music and the band and I said “Well I guess I’m the leader.” That’s how I became the leader, by default.

3. How did you manage to acquire a collection of so many scores?

I acquired all these scores: first I used to hang out with a lot of older musicians and they said “Oh, you really like that old music? Wow, I threw away so much of that stuff, sheet music, music scores, records.” I said “Why?”, “Well because they were old and they were passé, we’re moving on as decades move on.” So I said “Alright, let me write an ad in the musicians paper”. There was a musicians’ union paper here in New York and then one that went out to all the musicians all over the country. And I was just inundated with people calling me up and writing me saying I have all this music in my garage, in my basement, in my barn, closet, just take it or let’s make a deal. So that was going OK but then I decided even to push the envelope a little further. At the end of each of the magazines that come out every month here in New York there was an obituary section. This sounds a little weird but I’ll smooth this out nicely. I hand wrote, because we didn’t have computers back then, and I thought the typewriter might be too formal and I wanted to be just natural and say “I’m really sorry to hear about Mr X’s passing, I didn’t know him (it was the same stock letter all the time), I’m a young musician (which I was, I was in my twenties back then) and I am trying to keep this music alive, trying to keep a band alive and these are the things I’m looking for, and if at any point you consider selling some of this please let me know and here’s a self-addressed stamped envelope and here’s my phone number.” Well, again, people thought this was so great; they had no idea what to do with this music. They weren’t musicians. They’d look at it and it looked like hieroglyphics to them. So I’d go over and either take the stuff or make a deal or some people said “You’re too late because when Mr X was ill we just bundled it up and we put it on the kerb and threw it out.” And then, finally, you’d get some relative of Mr X wire me and they say “This is really valuable stuff, it’s worth like 20 or 30,000 dollars”, So I’d say “OK, I can’t afford that.” And then I cleaned out three movie theatres that, thanks to them, I guess they were lazy. When they stopped using this music in the thirties someone didn’t throw it out. They just left it there; it was in the basement, so I was very happy to clean it out for them.

4. If you could play any other musical instrument aside from the Bass Saxophone which one would it be?

Oh, I play six instruments. I have a bass saxophone. I have a tuba and I have a bass made of aluminium, and I also play banjo, guitar and those are my drums and that’s my piano.

5. What was it like to work with Liza Minnelli on the Sophie Tucker number You’ve Gotta See Mama Ev’ry Night (Or You Can’t See Mama At All) for Volume Two of the Boardwalk Empire soundtrack?

Working with Liza Minnelli was a real thrill. She had come in to see us a few times; she’s great friends with Michael Feinstein. So we met and we talked and, you know, I didn’t get personal with her about her Mom or any of that stuff. I’m sure she gets inundated with all that kind of stuff, so we just talked about stuff and, this is building up into your answer here. One of the things that thrilled me was I asked her “Miss Minnelli, did you ever meet Harold Arlen?” You know he wrote so many things and of course Over the Rainbow. And she said “Oh Harold Arlen came to our house all the time.” And she then proceeds to channel Harold Arlen and she starts talking like him and singing like him. Like whoa! This was really scary. This was at a club where we used to work called Sofia’s. So I tell the people on Boardwalk “You’ll never believe who showed up last night – it was Liza Minnelli.” They said “Really? Do you think she’d want to sing on our soundtrack?” I said “I don’t know.” So I wrote to Michael and they got through the agents and they told her that we needed this Sophie Tucker song. We sent the recording over, the MP3, and she wanted it in a different key than Sophie and I said fine. And she came in with her musical director, a great musician named Billy Stritch, and it was just so joyous. And at the end of the session she said “Who wants to take pictures?” You know, not like a big star, like some of those stars are sort of “Get away from me, get away!” We took all pictures and we all put it up on Facebook. She was so happy to be part of this and we were so happy to work with her.

 6. What is your favourite event/venue that ‘The Nighthawks’ have ever played at?

Mmm, that’s hard because we’ve played so many events that really moved me so much. I’ll say one of the most favourite events was when we did the 90th anniversary of the Rhapsody in Blue. We did it here in New York City at Town Hall which is a big, beautiful theatre. Believe it or not we almost didn’t do it because we had forgotten that the date was coming up. So we went to the Town Hall with this wonderful conductor Maurice Peress. They said there was no-one using the hall that night. It was only three weeks away and they said “We love the idea, we love you guys, but I think it’s a little crazy. It’s only three weeks, how you gonna do this?” I said “Well look, if Gershwin wrote the Rhapsody in Blue in two weeks we’re gonna do our darndest to get the word out.” We got on the radio. Late at night when symphony orchestras were letting out I had an old newspaper boy cap and sunglasses and I was shamelessly handing out our cards, our Paul Whiteman cards with the little picture of his face, and the cartoon. We sold out, we sold 1400 seats! His music, Gershwin’s music, was so wonderful and it was very moving. Everyone just cheered when we came on the stage. We had to tell them to stop! It was nice, but we had to start the concert. That was a really great feeling. Sometimes, in contrast we’ll play a job, maybe here tonight, and the audience may be two or three times louder than us and there’s nothing I can do about it.

7. Who is your idol, and why?

Oh that’s so hard too, that’s really hard. People are always asking me what’s my favourite composer, what’s my favourite band leader, what’s my favourite singer? I can’t answer that because the list would be too long. I love so many bands: American bands, British bands. I love Bing Crosby; I love Al Bowlly; I love Ethel Waters, Bix Beiderbecke, Nat Gonella. I mean it just goes on and on and on. So I truly can’t fairly answer that, I’m sorry.

Myself and Vince Giordano.


8. Which of your forays into the motion picture/television soundtrack business has been your favourite?

Well, I guess probably Boardwalk, because it lasted five years which was nice. It was nice to be employed and have my own little time machine. Because, you know, there is no time machine that I’ve found yet. They wanted us to play the music in the proper way, not jazzing it up or rock ‘n’ rolling it up, as other film projects, which I’m not involved with, have done. They made sure they had the right clothing on everyone. It was just done proper. They were real nit-pickers too. If a song was from 1925 and it was supposed to be 1924 they said “No, you can’t do that.” I said “Who’s going to know?” They didn’t want any people writing in saying you’re off by a year. And we had some of those people too. “I don’t think that song was that popular back then.” I’d say “Jeez, you know?” But Boardwalk was a real wonderful experience. To do so much work with different singers and all the repertoire we went through. So, it was great.

 9. Do you have any tastes in music that may surprise people?

No. I’m pretty obvious. It’s music of the 20’s and 30’s. I mean I could go back a little bit to the ‘teens, and I might go a little bit forwards. I’ll listen to it and I’ll tolerate it, but it’s not really where I’m at. This is where the water sits.

10. Is there any medium that yourself and The Nighthawks have yet to experience, but would like to delve into?

Well, you know, believe it or not we’ve made everything from a cylinder to a CD. We made a cylinder called The Moon and You. We haven’t made a 78, which is hard to do these days. But I imagine there’s somebody out there that’s doing it. I mean, this one fantasy that I have is to do something like a radio show or something that we can do more often to spread the word. Getting back to Boardwalk, that’s another important part. We won a Grammy for the soundtrack. That was nice, but the most important part of Boardwalk for me was that it exposed lots and lots of people to this music in one fell swoop. A lot of young people heard it and it started a renaissance of a lot of young musicians taking up the styles of the 20’s and the 30’s. So that was great, I was always looking for something like that. You know, when I was young we had a movie called The Sting. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that? It was set in the 30’s and they used Scott Joplin music which technically really wasn’t appropriate. Ragtime was dead, but it worked because it was a good storyline, the acting was great. So this Joplin music had a wonderful resurgence and renaissance. Boardwalk wasn’t as big as The Sting. It wasn’t in movie houses, it was on certain television networks like HBO which a lot of people don’t have here in the States.

11. Do you think that it’s important to expose today’s generation of young people to heritage music such as this? If so, why?


Yeah, I think young people should be exposed to a lot of different kinds of music. classical music, jazz, popular music, even country and western and some latin. Young people today only know about a certain genre of music which they find on their own or with their peers. I look at music like a big buffet table, and you have so many wonderful things to experience on that buffet table. Why would you want to go and keep eating the doughnuts and the candies, try some protein, try some greens. Try and get some real substance. I think if more young people had the experience to hear some classical music they’d be more well-rounded.

12. What is your favourite piece to play?

I’m sorry, I carry 25 hundred pieces of music here in all these boxes, and I have 60,000 charts. Tonight we’re gonna sight read which means for the very first time we’re gonna pass out two pieces of music. And it keeps changing which is why I could never do a Broadway show or stuff like that where I would be doing the same exact tunes every day or night. I like to vary it. I like to play all kinds of music: popular music, novelty music, jazz music. We have a little semi-symphonic music we try to play from time to time.

13. The Nighthawks recently contributed to the score of Woody Allen’s new film Cafe Society. I know you have collaborated with Allen on quite a few projects, but was there anything about this experience that was different for you?

Yeah, I started, my first film for Woody Allen was called Zelig which is a really funny film. I was just part of an orchestra, the wonderful Dick Hyman, who you could look up; he’s a genius, he’s almost 90 going on 20. He hired me to be a tuba, bass sax and string bass player in that, and everything was kind of set, you know, with those films. This last one Cafe Society Woody’s people called me and said would you like to be part of it? I said “Sure!” and they said “It’s set in the 30’s” and I said “Great!” and they said they’d like a 16-piece ensemble and I said “OK, we can do it, normally we’re eleven, we can add some strings, add another piano and some more brass and saxes”. Then they called me back and said “Well that’s too expensive”. I said “Well you asked for it”. Then they said “What’s the smallest Big Band you could put together?” I said “We can take a trumpet and a trombone as a brass section, and we add an alto and a tenor as a sax section and then four rhythm. That’s eight, that’s half what you got.” And they said “Great!” And then five, eight days passed by and they called back and they said “Here’s your band: piano, guitar, bass and drums and a lady singer.” I said “We went from 16 people to four? They said “Are you still interested?” I said “Sure, I’m still interested, I’m a little disappointed, you know because my forte is working with big bands.” So we put together different arrangements for a four-piece ensemble which, to be honest, was kinda hard, because it wasn’t too much variation to do. We didn’t have any bass solos or drum solos because they really didn’t do much of that in those years. So it was a piano solo or a guitar solo and that was it. One number I think I did a little bass stop-time and one number we had a little drum stop-time. And they said “Oh, make these songs long.” And I said “Oh God, long?” So I wound up changing keys. It was all Rogers and Hart, which was great, it’s all good music. And that was the story there. We filmed in Brooklyn, most of my filming, believe it or not, is in Brooklyn. I don’t know why, it just happens to be that way. I live in Brooklyn so that makes it nice and I don’t have to commute that much, and it’s just always good to be part of it because it’s part of history. Hopefully these films do OK then more people can appreciate this music. I know I’m not much of a classical person but when the film Amadeus came out many many years ago, probably before your time, it was kind of a Hollywood version of Mozart, it was a big hit. I was in theatre and I turned around and the place was just packed. Every seat was taken and it made me feel good. I had nothing to do with that film but I was so pleased that everyone was there and they had to listen to Mozart and be exposed to Mozart’s music. That was so great.

14. What do you think makes this genre of music so timeless?

Well, someone much older and wiser than me once said that music is a reflection of the times, and the times a reflection of the music. People from those years, particularly the 20’s, late teens, were very optimistic, very carefree, maybe a little silly, maybe a little naïve, but they were really set on having a good time. The Great War was over, World War One, the worst war that anyone had experienced. There was this terrible plague that was about the same time. I don’t know how many it killed, maybe millions. So it was a very grim depressing time. And coming out of the Victorian age. So tempos got faster and people got a little bit more adventuresome in their tune writing. Jazz started to creep in to music, it was known as the Jazz Age of course. So you put all that together and you have this music that was very uplifting. Many times people have come to see us and they told me later, when they were leaving, “You know, I came in, I wasn’t feeling so good tonight, I was kind of depressed or not energised or not feeling well at all. But hearing this music now, I’m in a different place now, I’m in a better place. I’m happier, I’m having more fun and I’m tackling my problems.” And when you watch those films from that time too, you see the people, they’re different from people today. They’re the same as us but they just have that energy. Whether it’s Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton or the way people moved or thought about stuff. It’s how excited they were. The same thing was with the music, it had that whole flavour to it. When people hear it, when they’re exposed to it, many of them come away liking it and coming back for more.

Thank you Vince (and The Nighthawks) for a truly spectacular evening, and I hope I can drop by again soon!

5 reasons why I LOVE Beverly Goldberg (both real and fictional)

If you haven’t seen ABC’s semi-autobiographical sitcom ‘The Goldbergs’ (which is a delightful throwback to the 1980’s for this member of Generation Z), you’re missing out. Adam F. Goldberg has done a terrific job of adapting his childhood for the small screen, and the cast do his anecdotes justice every week. There is one particular member of his family that brings me joy from TVland and in real life, however. His mother, the one, the only, Beverly Goldberg. I’m going to use this blog post to share with you the top five reasons why I believe Bevvy is one of the greatest:

1. Wendi McLendon-Covey, need I say more?

Wendi’s portrayal of our beloved Bev makes me cry (both happy and sad tears) at various points throughout each episode. I struggle to think of any other actress (apart from the late, great Judy Garland) who can transition so seamlessly from transmitting two equally powerful emotions, happiness and sadness, to her audience in a matter of minutes. Hear that, Wendi? A comparison to the great Garland is pretty high praise from me!

2. Real Bev’s Twitter account (@goldilocks405).

If you want a recipe for a delicious dinner, sage life advice, or just someone to share cute pictures of your children with, go and follow the real Bev on Twitter. She always has the nicest things to say about people, apart from those who make fun of her family. But beware, if you follow her, she may rope you into getting Adam (along with Eric and Barry) to call her.

3. Bev’s endless desire to snuggle.

Sure, being repeatedly hugged and kissed  by your mom in a public place would be mortally embarrassing (especially as a teenager), but this is just Beverly’s special way of showing her kids affection. It makes for hilarious TV viewing, and even though I’m 17, I love a good hug now and then, so I’d be perfectly ok with that. As long as it was behind closed doors, and my friends were nowhere to be seen…

4. The Demanding of Excellence.

You definitely don’t want to get on the wrong side of Bevvy. Especially when the matter concerns her children. In many an episode of ‘The Goldbergs’, we see Mrs. Goldberg storm down to William Penn Academy in order to chastise her kids’ teachers for (apparently) not doing their jobs properly. This phenomenon is known as ‘The Demanding of Excellence’. These little ‘meetings’ often conclude with the dropping of a Bev-Bomb. Oh f**k!

5. Bev’s endless love for her children.

This is something that is clearly evident in both the TV show and in real life. Whatever your opinion on Bev’s parenting style (which is rather unorthodox at times), you cannot contest that she (along with late husband Murray) has raised three wonderful sons. Everything she has ever done is for the love of her “schmoopies”.

The two Beverly’s. Beverly Goldberg (left) and Wendi McLendon-Covey (right). Image courtesy of Beverly Goldberg.

Stuck in ‘The Middle’ with you: An interview with Atticus Shaffer

I’m still a little behind on my NYC posts. I was honoured to conduct an interview with Vince Giordano (which is taking a little longer than expected to transcribe), and I have yet to write a review of ‘Holiday Inn’ on Broadway. Life has been pretty busy on this end!

Recently, however, I was able to conduct an electronic interview with actor Atticus Shaffer, who may be most well known for his role as ‘Brick Heck’ on ABC’s ‘The Middle’. It has been such a pleasure to correspond with Atticus. He is not only talented, but professional, mature, and most importantly polite. I hope we can correspond further. Here’s what he had to say:

1. How old were you when you started acting? What was it that fuelled your interest in becoming a performer? 

I was 8 years old when I became an actor. Growing up, my mom and I would always read story books out loud together and do character voices, all simply for the joy of reading and having fun while doing so. Well, when I was about 7 years old, I was given the privilege of being my hospital’s “poster child” for one year. During that time, I would have to go to banquets, make speeches, and talk to a lot of different people of various ages. I never got stage fright, and I actually greatly enjoyed being able to talk to all these different people. The final event I went to, as the poster child, was a charity football game. At halftime I went down to the field and gave a speech in front of all the stadium and my mom was up in the bleachers and said, “There has got to be something more to this.” As the next year progressed, we by happenchance found out the information for a talent manager and my mom and I had a meeting with her. My mom always thought I had a cute voice, and thought, “Maybe he could be a little cartoon character or a book-on-tape reader.” So, we met with her, and she really liked me, but didn’t quite know what to do with me, so she suggested that I sign up for both voice over and theatrical (on camera work) and see what happens. After giving it a great deal of thought, I signed up, and a month into it, I got my first audition for a guest star role on a CBS show called The Class…and I booked it. Then everything snowballed from there.

2. Most people would say that you are most well known for portraying the character ‘Brick Heck’ on ‘The Middle’. Do you think that there are any similarities between the two of you?

While I’m not as fascinated by fonts as much as Brick is, I would say the two of us are very similar. I do enjoy reading, and I take pride in my nerdy tendencies, however, I feel we are most similar in the fact that we both follow the beat to our own drummer. You see, I believe that we are all created to be unique. I mean, how boring would the world be if we were all exactly alike? That’s what I love about Brick. He has an innocence about him and he shows that it is okay to be unique. It’s okay to just be yourself and enjoy what you enjoy doing, in his case, his love for books.

 3. Who has been your favourite guest star on ‘The Middle’, and why?

Hmmm, that is hard to say, as we have been honored with having so many talented actors and actresses on the show. I think for the rest of my days, I will remember how I was able to work with Betty White when she played the librarian in the season 1 finale. She was an incredible person as well as an amazing actress, and she brought with her an amazing energy onto the show that cannot be duplicated. I must say though, as I am a big history nerd, I did have a fan boy moment when we had Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars on the show. He was very cool to work with and had a lot of history themed stories to tell.

 4. It’s always a joy to see Jerry Van Dyke (who, for those that don’t know, was the in-house comedian for 10 episodes of ‘The Judy Garland Show’) make an appearance on ‘The Middle’ as ‘Tag Heck’. Jerry’s brother, the legendary Dick Van Dyke, made an appearance on the show last year. How did it feel to get the chance to work with such an icon?

 It was a huge deal to have Dick Van Dyke on our show. It was so cool, because all of the writers brought their parents, who grew up watching The Dick Van Dyke Show, to the set so they could see Mr. Van Dyke perform, which was an incredible feat to see. Off camera the Van Dyke brothers would often sing together old songs from their past, which was such a treat for the cast and crew to hear. Both Van Dykes are still going strong in the work that they do and we are all so happy that they were a part of our show.

5. Some people may not be aware that you have a genetic disorder known as Osteogenesis imperfecta. I’m sure life with the disorder has its ups and downs. Do you have any advice for those of your fans that may also suffer from a genetic disorder/condition/disability? How do you deal with the hard days?

For those who may not know, Osteogenisis Imperfecta is a genetic condition that affects the collagen in the body, and is most known for causing brittle bones. My mom has always been not only my advocate, but also my champion when it comes to having my condition. She has always taught me two very important things, that I will carry with me forever. She has taught me to, “Never give up” and “Always be myself.” You are correct it is a struggle at times. Sometimes it can be inconvenient. Other times it can be quite painful. But, as I stated previously, I believe we have all been created to be unique. Sometimes that does include challenges. But I believe, that if I didn’t have my condition, I would not be the person I am today. For my condition has taught me so much, about so many different things. It’s helped me to be more compassionate, it’s taught me perseverance, and it gives you such a perspective on how you live your life and what is truly important. My advice for others would be just that. Never give up and always be yourself. If you have a dream that you feel may not come to pass, find a way to achieve it, your way. For example if you absolutely love football, but cannot physically play it, you could become a sports commentator or a sports magazine writer. If you work within your means, you can achieve far more than you think. Do not focus on your disabilities, focus on your abilities. In regards to your question about how to handle the hard days, I am a Christian. Having a condition like OI leads you to searching for a greater purpose in life and a greater comfort which leads you to grow closer to God to depend on Him. I could write a book on the number of situations that had absolutely no resolution, but then suddenly the exact resolution I needed became available and occurred. My faith is very important, but I have also been blessed with a mom and friends who are very understanding, loving, and caring for me, and I could talk to about anything, and have help when necessary, as well. For them, I am forever grateful.

Atticus Shaffer. Image courtesy of The Huffington Post.


6. If you could follow another career path, which one would it be, and why? 

Well, I adore this industry, and I would love to continue to grow in this career, however, if there was some cosmic level event that caused me to change career paths, politics has somewhat caught my eye. During our recent election, here in the United States, I learned a lot about government, our nation’s history, and what it’s like to study policies, propositions and the people themselves. So I would take the path to be, as former president Ronald Reagan said, “a concerned citizen who gets involved.”

 7. What is your favourite book, and why?

Well, in terms of frequency of reading, I read my Bible everyday. However, in terms of a novel, I enjoyed reading my namesake book, To Kill a Mockingbird.

8. If you could make a cameo on any other ABC sitcom, which one would it be?

I don’t get asked this question very often, but it’s always fun when it comes up. This last year, The Middle moved to Tuesday night here in the USA and when that happened we made some promo commercials to publicize it. In one of them, Brick is in the Goldberg’s house because he got, “left behind on Wednesday night.” Well, we went to the actual set of The Goldbergs to film that promo and I got to meet a few of the cast and they were some of the nicest people I have ever met. Very humble, very thankful for their show and the success it has been given. If I could choose any show, I would definitely choose to work on The Goldbergs.

9. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

My hope is, once The Middle is finished filming, to move behind the camera more, and be a director/ writer/ producer. I have quite a few story ideas floating around in my head, and I think they could make great films. Hopefully in 10 years time, I’ll have a couple notches in my belt with them. Otherwise, I’d like to see myself getting stronger physically, growing in my faith, and studying anything of interest.

 10. Describe yourself in three words.

Christian. Son. Artist.

Thank you for a great interview Atticus! Be sure to watch ‘The Middle’ to see him (and the rest of the amazing cast) in action!

NEW YORK: (21st October 2016): ‘Aladdin The Musical’, MY FIRST BROADWAY SHOW! 

On 21st October, I experienced something that will stay with me forever. MY FIRST BROADWAY SHOW! My family and I went to see ‘Aladdin The Musical’ which is currently playing at The New Amsterdam Theatre. The show is based on the 1992 Disney film (with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice), so I don’t feel as though I need to explain the plot. The book and additional lyrics for the musical were written by Chad Beguelin. 

Adam Jacobs and Courtney Reed are the embodiment of their characters (‘Aladdin’ and ‘Jasmine’ respectively), and have the perfect voices to bring their Disney counterparts to life. Hearing their marvellous vocals ring loud and clear into the black abyss of the theatre auditorium is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine. 

However, the person who really makes the show is Mr. James Monroe Inglehart, who plays ‘Genie’. The man’s comedic timing and amazing tap skills give the character a whole new lease of life. Trying to fill the shoes of the late Robin Williams is no mean feat, but he does it with ease. Inglehart’s immense degree of showmanship is on full display during the flashy ‘Friend Like Me’ number, so much so that you just don’t want it to end. The character reminds me so much of ‘Donkey’ in ‘Shrek The Musical’. The trusty sidekick who is always there in times of upset and peril. In fact, am I the only one who notices the similarities between ‘Somebody’s Got Your Back’ and ‘The Travel Song’? James won a Tony for his performance back in 2014. In my opinion, the award was throughly deserved. If someone wrote a show called ‘Genie: Starring James Monroe Inglehart’, I’m pretty sure I would have to make the theatre my home for the entirety of it’s run.

Jonathan Freeman plays the role of the devilish ‘Jafar’ to perfection, but it certainly doesn’t come as a surprise. Was I the only one who wasn’t aware that he voiced the character in the film? He manages to amuse the audience with every swish of his cape, caressing them in a blanket of black-hearted wit.

Not only is the show a pleasure for the ears, it is also a feast for the eyes. Bob Crowley (Scenic Design), Gregg Barnes (Costume Design), Natasha Katz (Lighting Design), and Ken Travis (Sound Design) are a creative dream team, who have found a way to make ‘Aladdin The Musical’ as aesthetically pleasing as it ever was on film.

Seeing classic Disney films reimagined on stage always fills me with a sense of nostalgia. Many of the films that are created by Disney today rely heavily on CGI. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (look at the success of ‘Frozen’), but I miss the days of hand drawn animation. When classic films such as ‘Aladdin’ are brought to life in the theatre, it allows me to sleep soundly at night knowing that these masterpieces will never be forgotten.

I am truly honoured to be able to say that ‘Aladdin The Musical’ was my first Broadway show, and I urge you to attend a performance whilst you still can.

Tickets are available here: http://www.aladdinthemusical.com/tickets

Gershwin, Garland, and Glazier: ‘From Broadway To Hollywood’.

Recently, I virtually ‘sat down’ with pianist Richard Glazier, whom specialises in Gershwin, to ask him about his new PBS special ‘From Broadway To Hollywood’. Here’s what he had to say:

1. What can people expect to see when watching ‘From Broadway To Hollywood’?  

The show combines great music from Broadway shows, classic movies and television with interviews by fascinating people who are connected to the music. As an example, they’ll see Patricia Morison, who was the star of the original Broadway production of “Kiss Me Kate”. She talks about her friendship with Cole Porter and working with him on the show. After her interview I play “So In Love”, the hit song of the show. In another segment we hear from Daniel Mayer Selznick, son of David O. Selznick and grandson of Louis B. Mayer. He talks about what it was like to visit MGM as the grandson of Mr. Mayer, and remembers the first time he saw “Wizard of Oz”, and how moved he was watching “this beautiful girl with red hair, singing her heart out.” Then I play “Over the Rainbow”. I also talk to Lalo Schifrin who wrote things like the theme for “Mission Impossible.” I play his theme for “Mannix”. I also play music from the film “Vertigo”, written by Bernard Herrmann. So there’s a very wide variety of music in the show.

2. Which was your favourite segment to film? And why? 

 My wife, Jan, and I did all the interview videography ourselves—a two person team—and we filmed in the homes of our subjects. It was wonderful to meet and talk to these amazing people in a relaxed atmosphere. We loved all of the interviews, but we were especially touched by our time with Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Jan and I were both big fans of his long-running classic television shows, “77 Sunset Strip” and “The F.B.I.”, so we were thrilled to find out what a warm and wonderful man he was in real life. In addition to his acting career, he was also very involved in music, as a composer and the son of two of the 20th century’s biggest classical music stars. We felt instantly at ease with each other and had so much to talk about, including a mutual friendship with Ira Gershwin. For months after the interview we exchanged letters and phone calls with Efrem. In fact, we received a wonderful handwritten letter from him two days before died. He was 95, he was still handsome and he loved life, even played golf up to the time he died. He was a great man and an inspiration. 

3. I know you were only young when you discovered your passion for the Gershwin brothers. How old were you, and what did your friends think?  

I was nine when I saw “Girl Crazy” and fell in love with the Gershwins’ music and Judy Garland. I was lucky to have family members–my mom and my aunt–who supported my interest. I don’t remember ever telling my friends, to be honest. They were just kids and not into “old things” like I was. (I guess I was a strange little kid!) 

4. What was it that sparked your interest in the duo?  

I loved watching Judy sing their songs in “Girl Crazy”. I told my aunt about it and she took me to the library to check out books about the Gershwins, and she showed me sheet music and told me about the people on the covers, like Fanny Brice and Al Jolson. She’d also take me to the Goodwill store where I found 78 recordings of Gershwin music that I still have in my collection today. I had been taking piano lessons for a couple of years at that point and I told my teacher that I wanted to start learning Gershwin songs. I’ve been learning and playing them ever since.

5. Which was the first Gershwin song you learnt to play?

“Embraceable You”. I started corresponding with Ira Gershwin when I was nine years old. When I was 12, I was invited to meet him in Beverly Hills. I played “Embraceable You” for him on George’s piano. Ira sang his lyrics as I played. (Listen to Richard play the piece here.)

Richard Glazier.

6. Who is your favourite vocalist to hear sing a Gershwin song? 

Judy Garland, of course. Hers was the first voice I heard singing Gershwin and no one else has ever come close. Although Fred Astaire is wonderful, too, and so many of the Gershwins songs were written for him.   

7. Which do you think is the most underrated Gershwin song?  

“By Strauss” is a great song with one of Ira’s cleverest lyrics. You don’t hear it very often but it was used in the movie “An American in Paris”. Really, there are a lot of great songs they wrote for shows that are long forgotten.  

8. Do you have a favourite?  

“Love Is Here To Stay”. It was the last song the Gershwins wrote together, my wife and I consider it “our song” and it was my mother’s favorite song, too.  

9. How important do you think it is to expose today’s generation to the music of the Great American Songbook?

 
This music is part of our heritage and our history. It represents what America is all about—a melting pot of cultures—and it certainly showed where our hearts were when it was written. It’s about beauty and love and things that make us feel good. It reflects a world that’s very different than the one we live in now. In a way it’s our gift to the world and we need it now more than ever.  

10. And finally, why should people watch ‘From Broadway To Hollywood’?

It’s full of fascinating show business figures with great stories to tell and there’s fabulous music in it. If people like to be entertained they will love it! 

Glazier is a very talented guy. I urge you to watch ‘From Broadway To Hollywood’ while you have the chance. It’s sure to be a real treat!
Check Richard’s website for TV listings: http://www.richardglazier.com
The DVD is out now:
http://richardglazier.com/index.php/videos-for-sale/

BIRMINGHAM: (23rd May 2015): They’ve got rhythm, they’ve got music, they’ve got Judy, who could ask for anything more?

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend the matinee of ‘Judy: The Songbook Of Judy Garland’ at The New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham. The touring show stars Lorna Luft (Judy’s youngest daughter), Ray Quinn, Louise Dearman, Rachel Stanley, Darren Bennett and Georgina Hagen, along with ‘The Boyfriends’: a group of all male backing dancers.

The cast perform some of Judy’s most cherished numbers such as: ‘A Couple Of Swells’, ‘The Trolley Song’, ‘For Me And My Gal’ and ‘Get Happy’ in front of a striking backdrop of red and black. Judy herself makes a video appearance or two.

One particularly moving moment is seeing Judy sing ‘Lorna’ to an 11 year old Lorna Luft on ‘The Judy Garland Show’ which ran on CBS from 1963-64. Judy had ‘Lorna’ specially commissioned for her daughter (using the theme from her show and lyrics by Johnny Mercer), after not being able to find a ‘name song’ to sing like she had for her other children.

Speaking of Lorna, the lady is on top form. She could have easily performed without a microphone. What a set of pipes! Her rendition of the iconic Judy Garland/Barbra Streisand ‘Get Happy’/’Happy Days Are Here Again’/’Hooray For Love’ Medley’ with Louise Dearman is something else. She talks to the audience with ease and great comical timing (who did she get that from, I wonder?), saying: “I’ll never need a psychoanalyst, when I have you to tell everything to.”

If you manage to see the show, I advise that you take tissues. I really do. I don’t think I’ve ever been so emotionally invested in a theatre production. 

Some of the show’s promotinal artwork.


  

The theatre may not have been full, but that didn’t stop the entire cast giving an A1 show. The quality of performance was astounding. One can’t forget to give praise to Lorna’s husband, Colin Freeman, for his great ivory-tickling abilities. Also, considering that there wasn’t a live orchestra apart from piano, drums and bass (a slight shame, but that’s to be expected with a touring show), the pre recorded orchestrations sounded wonderful. The creative direction, set design, costumes and choreography gave the show a really clean, professional look.

We were sitting next to an old lady, and we were speaking to her during the interval. “It brings back all of the memories of songs I used to sing when I was young. I think I must have seen every one of her movies. Judy is my favourite.” She said. Doesn’t that say it all? Isn’t that the main aim of the production? To celebrate the music of a lady that gave, and continues to give, so much to so many? 

‘Judy: The Songbook Of Judy Garland’ is a touching tribute to the woman that so many love, led by one of those who loves her most. If you have doubts, well then, you’re missing out!

LONDON: (4th April 2015): “Curtain up! Light the lights!” on Jonathan Kent’s phenomenal West End Revival of ‘Gypsy’

There are certain experiences in life that you know you’ll never forget. This was one of them. Jonathan Kent’s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Gypsy’ is not to be missed.

The story is suggested by the memiors of world famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, and details her rise from a lonley childhood career in Vaudeville in the 1920’s (when her name was ‘Louise’) to headlining at Minskey’s World Famous Burlesque. Gypsy’s Mother, Rose Hovick, is determined to see her children become stars. She focuses her energy on Gypsy’s younger sister June, but what will happen when June gets tired of this and elopes?

Imelda Staunton really brings her best to Sondheim’s classic score as the character of ‘Momma Rose’, especially in numbers such as ‘Some People’ and ‘Rose’s Turn’. With regards to her acting, she is able to evenly balance the comedy aspects of ‘Rose’ with the bitter and somtimes psychotic. This show was the only one I’ve ever seen where the audience ‘Ooo’ed with fear.

Peter Davidson (otherwise known as ‘The Fifth Doctor’ in BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’), plays the role of ‘Rose”s long suffering love interest ‘Herbie Sommers’ to a T. His mix of loyalty and power towards the character of ‘Rose’ is really something.

Lara Pulver (‘Louise/Gypsy’) and Gemma Sutton (‘Dainty June’) command the stage in their performances. Lara strives to make the audience feel for shy ‘Louise’, and it’s amazing to watch her blossom into the sexy and outgoing ‘Gypsy’ in the second act. Gemma’s portrayal of ‘Dainty June’ is a real piece of acting. Her cheesy onstage presence in her act is hilarious, but her resentful monologue before ‘If Momma Was Married’ gives you chills. Speaking of that number, the vocal talents that are demonstrated in the duet are amazing. The harmonies are marvellous.

Dan Burton takes the role of ‘Tulsa’, one of the boys in the act, who eventually runs away with ‘Dainty June’. His performance of ‘All I Need Is The Girl’ is truly something. Even without the tap (he does it in a more soft shoe style), he really makes it his own.   
The ‘You Gotta Get A Gimmick’ number which is performed by washed up strippers ‘Electra’ (Julie Legrand), ‘Tessie Tura’ (Anita Louise Combe) and ‘Mazeppa’ (Louise Gold) is enough to make you split your sides. And they know it!

When handing out all of this praise, one can’t forget the youngest members of the cast, the actresses who portray ‘Baby Louise’ and ‘Baby June’. The roles are shared by Scarlet Roche/Isla Huggins-Barr (‘Baby June’) and Lara Wollington/Holly Hazelton (‘Baby Louise’). I’m not sure which pair I saw, but both girls were fantastic. ‘Baby June’ was the most hammy little performer I’d ever seen. She was perfect!

The show’s promtional poster.

It’s not just the performers that make a show, however. Anthony Ward’s designs are incredible. The authenticity of the sets do so much. Most of the sets are individual rooms that get brought on accordingly. Also, it was refreshing to hear Sondheim’s score with new orchestrations which were devised by Nicholas Skilbeck and Tom Kelly. I can’t wait for the release of the cast album!

After a 42 year absence from the West End stage, Jonathan Kent’s stunning revival of ‘Gypsy’ is a great welcome back to the show that some would call the pinnacle of American musical theatre. It doesn’t matter when, it doesn’t matter how, pick up a ticket and go and see ‘Gypsy’ at The Savoy Theatre London!