Broadway Babe: Phantom, Stritch, Hollywood Palace, Comedy Hour
Our Broadway Babe, Randie Levine-Miller is somewhat of a theatrical excavator… With “Phantom of the Opera” getting ready to end It’s Broadway run after 35 years, she’s dug up a 1988 press reel with the original Broadway cast; has posted the perfect video of the multiple award winning “Elaine Stritch at Liberty”; A video of the Hollywood Palace TV show with Bing Crosby, George Burns and Sid Caesar; as well as an old kinescope from 1956, “The NBC Comedy Hour.”
“Phantom of the Opera”
After 35 years, “Phantom of the Opera” is closing this coming Sunday, April 16 — so in honor of this passage, I’ve posted the press reel along with rehearsals with the original 1988 cast, as well as clips from the Phantom 2021 reopening night performance. This is really great footage. Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, Judy Kaye, Steve Barton and all the originals are here. This is perfect viewing for Phantom fans and includes seeing Hal Prince directing his cast.
Sidebar: The original Broadway production had problems opening because Actors Equity was extremely strict with bringing British actors across the pond to Broadway. They originally did not want Sarah Brightman to play Christine…but obviously, it worked out!
“The Hollywood Palace”
From September, 1966, “The Hollywood Palace” hosted by Bing Crosby. His guests include: George Burns, Sid Caesar, Lola Falana, and The Mamas and the Papas, with the Mitchell Ayres Hollywood Palace Orchestra. The show includes commercials, which are so nostalgic and fun to watch. “The Hollywood Palace” was ABC’s version of “The Ed Sullivan Show.” These variety shows were very popular and attracted major stars to appear. They were all family oriented shows — pure entertainment in an every sense of the word. The show always had first class production numbers.
Sidebar: When George Burns appeared, he was only 70… And still had another 30 years to go. He never retired from show business!
“Elaine Stritch At Liberty”
From 2002: “Elaine Stritch At Liberty”, her autobiographical one-woman show, is a perfect find for musical comedy fans and more specifically, fans of Elaine Stritch who was definitely one of a kind ! She had so much heart yet was so tough at the same time. She was a true star in every sense of the word. She takes us on her journey throughout her life and career and we are right there with her, and it feels as though it’s in real time. This is a perfect video of the complete performance of “Elaine Stritch At Liberty” which won virtually every theatrical award that year. It’s hard to believe that this bigger than life talent is no longer on this planet. Enjoy every moment of this extraordinary show!
“NBC Comedy Hour”
This is a true television dinosaur, from 1956 … A kinescope of the “NBC Comedy Hour.” Not the greatest looking video but it is part of television history 101! Gale Storm (“My Little Margie”) hosts and sings. Featured talents include Groucho Marx, Jonathan Winters, Ben Blue, Stan Freberg, Tom D’Andrea. Commercials are included —Never heard of the main sponsor, Crosley and Bendix who made home appliances.
The program was in constant turmoil from the moment it went on the air. It started out as a showcase for new talent, along with old pros featuring various kinds of comedy. The series was under great pressure to draw viewers way from the “Ed Sullivan Show,” and it couldn’t. Six months later, it was replaced by the “Steve Allen Show” which did a lot better competing against Ed Sullivan, especially when he featured Elvis Presley on his second telecast!
Randie Levine Miller is Director of Special Events for The Three Tomatoes, and co-produces and hosts the annual Tomatoes Got Talent show. Known around NYC as a modern day “hostess with the mostess, she has performed in and hosted benefits for the Actors Fund, the Actors Temple, Multiple Sclerosis, and Prostate Cancer Research. Randie’s performance venues have included: The Triad, The Metropolitan Room, the Laurie Beechman Theater, and the Friars Club. For many years, she was special events director for the Drama Desk Awards. Randie also had a successful 30-year career as a public relations consultant and handled several major health and medical technology clients.