Well, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted three weeks ago ...
And I was--as those of you who followed my column on broadwayonline.com can attest. If you've been wondering what happened, I didn't quit. I wasn't canned. I was laid off by the site, which has released all of its columnists. Which makes me wonder: Given that I got laid off as a columnist, and now that I'm a columnist again, does that mean I just got laid?
Well, no matter. To all TheaterMania readers, I say, "Hello, hello there!" "Hello muddah, hello fadduh!" "Hello, little girl!" "Hello, young lovers!" "Hello, Waves!" (and all other members of our armed forces). As Ethel Merman sang in Happy Hunting, "Gee, but it's good to be here!" And I will be here for the foreseeable future. However, while the Dolan family in On Your Toes did "Two a day for Keith," I'm settling for three a week at TheaterMania: I'll have a new column up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I hope you'll tune in. But just in case you think you won't be able to remember on which days I'll post, allow me to give you a little memory-jogging device.
For Mondays, why not just think of that rousing second-act opener from Purlie: "First Thing Monday Mornin'." Or consider that Mondays always bring new copies of Variety; so too, on Mondays, I'll be dealing with a variety of topics. What shows I saw. What discs I heard. What books I read. Also, what I re-saw, re-heard, and re-read. I'll be asking about what you saw, heard, and read, too, and what your opinions are--perhaps on the greatest performances you've seen, the best one-liners you've encountered in comedies, the finest ballads you've heard in musicals.
To remember that I'll be here on Wednesdays as well, just remember that play from 1964, Any Wednesday. I know, I know, you've never heard of Any Wednesday--even though, when it closed in 1966, it was the 15th-longest running non-musical in Broadway history. Barbara Cook starred in it. Yes, you read that right: Barbara Cook, late of Flahooley, Plain and Fancy, Candide, The Music Man, and She Loves Me, starred in Any Wednesday. Not originally--but, once she was out of work when her musical Something More! (ever heard of that one?) abruptly closed in late 1964, the lady was looking for work. So after original Any Wednesday star Sandy Dennis (who won a Tony for this show) left in February 1965, Cook assumed the role of a millionaire's mistress.
Because Cook was known for her singing, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (her She Loves Me songwriters) penned a song for her called "Any Wednesday," which she recorded on a label hastily assembled for that recording--a label the producers named Any Wednesday. I searched high and low for this record in the spring of 1965. Can you imagine what it was like to go into record stores and ask, "Do you have 'Any Wednesday' by Barbara Cook?" "No," the clerk would inevitably say. "You know the label?" "Yeah, Any Wednesday." The clerk would then flash me a you're-a-moron look and say, "No, the label, not the name of the song." And we'd be off on a minor-league version of an Abbott-and-Costello routine. Anyway, I hope that story helps you to remember to tune me in any Wednesday. And if you run into a copy of "Any Wednesday" from Any Wednesday on the Any Wednesday label, do let me know, will you?
How will you remember my appearing on Fridays? Hmmm, that one's a little tougher. There's no famous play, musical, or song that starts with "Friday." I certainly can't expect anyone to think of "Friday, Friday," the song from the 1971 Off-Broadway musical Drat! (No, not the splendid 1965 Broadway musical, Drat! the Cat!, but Drat!, which got no cast album--probably because it closed on the same night it opened. Clive Barnes, then reviewing for the Times, got into a bit of trouble with some readers when he wrote "Drat! is dreck.")
What a shame that Lend an Ear, the 1948 revue that lasted well over a year on Broadway with Carol Channing and Gene (Follies) Nelson at the helm, didn't get a recording, either--for then you might know its big song, "Friday Night Dancing Class," which might help you to remember to catch my Friday column just before you start your weekend. The pianist for Lend an Ear, by the way, was Dorothea Freitag--whose surname is German for...Friday. Might that help you to remember?
Well, I can only hope that I'll see you the day after tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow after that. To all my readers who have followed me here: So nice to have you back where you belong. I'll be at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you'd care to drop a line. Do! The columnist's life is a lonely one.