Broadway Babe: Now Streaming Chita Rivera, Chorus Line Outakes, Raquel Welch, Jerry Herman Salute
Our Broadway Babe, Randie Levine Miller has more wonderful streaming finds for us this week. Some oldies but goodies, and an amazing video of outtakes from the documentary, Chorus Line: The Beginning. And you’ll love Randie’s sidebars, with the inside scoop on shows and show biz people.
Chita Rivera, Kander and Ebb 1980 TV Tribute
Merv Griffin did some of the best tributes to Broadway, when he was doing his TV show in New York. This salute to Kander and Ebb from 1980, features Chita Rivera, still in her prime along with John Kander and Fred Ebb who sings “Maybe This Time”. Chita performs “All That Jazz” with 2 young chorus boys and looks and sounds incredible..At the end of the show, they all sing while seated around the piano with Merv. Merv Griffin was really the “host with the most” who always adored and embraced the theatrical community. Tomatoes will love this trip down memory lane.
Sidebar: In conversation with Merv, when asked what her first Broadway show was, she replied: “Guys and Dolls”, which opened in 1950, when she replaced a principal dancer. This was before she changed her name to Chita Rivera. She turns 89 on January 23!
A Chorus Line: The Beginning
“A Chorus Line: The Beginning” is basically an “outtakes” video that’s on YouTube. The brilliant late director Rick McKay held onto these 25 minutes that didn’t make it into his monumental documentary “Broadway:The Golden Age”, or its sequel.This is authentic theatrical history… the beginnings of “A Chorus Line” which started gestating several years before it became “A Chorus Line”. It eventually grew out of a very long night at a dance studio with 25 Broadway dancers gathered, answering questions that director and choreographer Michael Bennett posed to them. Several of the speeches in “A Chorus Line” came directly from that long session with dialog in the show verbatim from that night….These 25 minutes are so fascinating and so intimate. Quite honestly, I was unfamiliar with several of the dancers interviewed, but they finally have a voice to go with their dancing and they’re haunting and memorable. I was mesmerized watching it, and I think Tomatoes will be, too.
Sidebar: Dear friend, Donna McKechnie shared with me, that the song, “At The Ballet” which Kelly Bishop sings in the original, is really about Donna’s life!
Jerry Herman Salute
From 1993, “Vicki!”, starring Vicki Lawrence, did an awesome salute to the music and lyrics of Jerry Herman, promoting Michael Feinstein’s (then) latest album of Jerry Herman songs. Michael looks and sounds incredible. In addition to Jerry and Michael, this joyful Vicki Lawrence talk show included Carol Channing, Joanne Worley and Lorna Luft, with all of them performing Jerry’s songs. Jerry, of course, played piano while also singing some of his own songs. I’ll never know why Vicki’s show didn’t last as she was such a warm, inviting, homespun host. She even introduces us to Michael’s parents who are in the audience, as well as, Carol Channing’s husband. You can’t have too much Jerry Herman in your life. His songs are so hummable and memorable and so uplifting. He is very missed!
Sidebar: I’ve met Michael Feinstein numerous times over the years, and he hasn’t changed, in terms of his appearance. I suspect his picture is aging LOL. He eats well and lives a healthy life, and is obviously very disciplined. He looks as though he’s in this 30’s, but he’s actually 65!
From Raquel With Love
From 1980, “Raquel Welch—From Raquel With Love” aired as a prime time TV Special on ABC-TV. Raquel Welch produced this glossy special with her then husband, Andre Weinfeld. She had an incredible team of creatives behind her including Peter Matz who was one of the greatest musical directors. (He worked with Streisand and Carol Burnett for years). She also had veteran TV director/choreographer Tony Charmoli to support her, as well as, three legendary actors: Mickey Rooney, James Coco and Douglas Fairbanks,Jr in a fantasy like musical…I got the biggest kick out of seeing her do “Don’t Rain On My Parade” while running up (1980) Madison Avenue and seeing some of my favorite places that are now closed. She obviously was a risk taker as she was not a great singer… But she did sing on key and she was gorgeous, glamorous and a real movie star…
Sidebar: At the very end of this show, Raquel sings an obscure song that Ethel Merman introduced in a flop 1956 Broadway show, “Happy Hunting”,written by a dentist, called “Gee, But It’s Good To Be Here”! It was my opening number at this year’s Tomatoes Got Talent… False modesty aside, I think I did a better version!
Sidebar, too… I was friendly with actor Jimmy Coco who was one of the nicest human beings… A regular guy, I used to schlep with Jimmy and some of his pals to Structure House, the fat farm in Durham, North Carolina …I still remember him carrying my luggage after we landed in Raleigh/Durham. He was one of the most lovable, funniest, kindest actors in show business who died way too young in 1987 at age 56.
On Thursday, October 14, 2021, 12:42:29 PM EDT, Randie Levine-Miller <email@example.com> wrote: