Broadway Babe: Nostalgic Entertainment Finds
Our Broadway Babe, Randie Levine Miller has unearthed some amazing finds from the YouTube vaults. Broadway musical fans will love this video of Gretchen Wyler. There’s a fabulous interview called, “The Creative Process” with Liza Minnelli with and John Kander & Fred Ebb. And another video with these two greats John Kander and lyricist, Fred Ebb performing their songs in a sold out concert, at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. And a rare TV classic from 1955, “Mary Martin and Noel Coward: Together With Music.” Enjoy.
Musical Comedy Star Gretchen Wyler
Most of my sister Tomatoes never heard of her, but Gretchen Wyler was a musical comedy star of the 50’s and 60’s, known mostly as a “replacement” or “understudy”, though she originated the leading role on Broadway in Cole Porter’s “Silk Stockings”(after the star and her understudy left the show out of town). She replaced Gwen Verdon in “Damn Yankees” and replaced Chita Rivera in “Bye,Bye,Birdie”, as well as Juliet Prowse in “Sweet Charity (in London). She was truly an incredible singer, dancer, actress…. as you’ll see in this video of clips of her performing on TV. A must-see for Broadway musical fans.
Sidebar: I saw Gretchen Wyler as Rose in “Bye Bye Birdie”, after she replaced Chita Rivera, and in my opinion, after seeing both actresses in this leading role, she was absolutely as fabulous as Chita. As a kid, I “second acted” all the shows that I loved seeing first time around, especially “Bye Bye Birdie”.(There were dozens of us, hanging out in Shubert Alley after Saturday matinees.) I did this for several years, and never got caught! What a thrill it was in those “innocent” days.
A Rare Gem: Liza Minnelli, John Kander & Fred Ebb
A rare gem from1974, “The Creative Process: with Liza Minnelli, John Kander and Fred Ebb”, was recorded at the Library for the Performing Arts. They discuss the development of their 3-way collaboration which started when Liza made her Broadway debut at age19 in their “Flora, The Red Menace”, and continued with Kander and Ebb’s film adaptation of their Broadway hit, “Cabaret”, Minnelli’s 1972 TV concert, “Liza With a Z”, “Chicago” (when Liza filled in for Gwen Verdon for a month), “The Act”, and “The Rink”. This videoed discussion happened after having recently completed “Cabaret” and “Liza With a Z”, and a few months before her going into “Chicago”. You can see this was a mutual admiration society. They all adored each other, and continues between Liza and John Kander. (Fred Ebb died in 2004)
The Songwriters: An Evening with John Kander & Fred Ebb
The Songwriters: An Evening with John Kander & Fred Ebb, is a unique and delicious find (from 1978)… a complete “and then I wrote” show with composer, John Kander and lyricist, Fred Ebb performing their songs in a sold out concert, at the 92nd Street Y in New York City… just the two of them! Emcee Fred Ebb proves to be a real showman, singing his own lyrics, though John Kander while playing the piano, gets a few singing solos, too! This was part of the popular and prolific Lyrics and Lyricists Series that still exists to this day. Unfortunately, the greats of yesteryear who would appear live and in person, are no longer with us. The late, great Maurice Levine was the man responsible for launching this legendary series. This is something my sister Tomatoes will truly enjoy!
Mary Martin and Noel Coward: Together With Music
True classic TV, and very rare….From 1955, CBS-TV (Ford Star Jubilee), the black & white kinescope of “Mary Martin and Noel Coward: Together With Music”, makes for fascinating viewing. especially for fans of these two true legends of the theater….This program marked Noel Coward’s television debut and he also directed the show. Each of them does a medley of the songs each is noted for. It got excellent reviews at the time. This was TV history, in the making!