The Sound of Music Echoes On…

Today is the 50th anniversary of the American release of The Sound of Music movie musical so stop everything you’re doing and go climb some mountains!

The movie is of course based on the 1959 musical which was the last collaboration of the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein musical dream team, since Oscar Hammerstein II died nine months after the Broadway premiere, of cancer.

An interesting Youtube find was this footage from actors on the set during the making of the movie:

Of course, the Oscars recently commemorated the anniversary of their 1966 Best Picture Winner with a medley performed by Lady Gaga that was an internet sensation.  Proof that the movie and the musical have still got it, all these years later!

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What is Opera, Alex?

We here at Bizarro Twins are huge Jeopardy fans, and always relish the rare opera or comic-themed categories, but opera has burst onto America’s favorite trivia show in a surprising way recently…

If you’ve been watching, the current Jeopardy champ is Elliot Yates from New York, and he’s introduced as an opera producer which is exciting enough on its own…  But in his second chat with host Alex Trebek he talked about a new opera he’s working on about Truman Capote!  Unfortunately, my Googling is not turning up much concrete information about this project, but as always, I’m excited to hear about new operas, no matter how far in the future they may be!

Capote is obviously known as a writer of prose, from short stories to novels to non-fiction, but he did write the book for one musical: 1954’s House of Flowers, about rival bordellos in Haiti…  cheery, I guess.  With music by Harold Arlen, the most enduring song is probably A Sleepin’ Bee, sung here by Diahann Carroll, a member of the original Broadway cast.

Funnily enough, this song was also sung by Barbra Streisand seven years later on her first appearance on American national television, on The Jack Paar Show in 1961:

Now, another interesting tidbit about this forthcoming Truman Capote opera is the fact that Capote’s distinctive voice will be portrayed by a countertenor.  On hearing this, Alex Trebek referenced the British singer Alfred Deller who helped revive the use of the countertenor voice in the mid 20th century.  So now I like Alex even more than before!  Here is Deller singing an Elizabethan love song by Thomas Campion, accompanied on lute as he was wont to be…

All around, not a bad day for opera on national television…

Heres Comes Love Again

To raise money for Typhoon Haiyan relief in the Philippines, the cast of Here Lies Love, the concept album cum disco musical by David Byrne of Talking Heads and Fatboy Slim, will reconvene for one night this coming Monday, Nov. 25th, at Terminal 5 in New York.  Tickets are $58 (including handling fees) and all proceeds go to Doctors without Borders.

Here Lies Love poster

Here Lies Love poster

The show is about Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos and her rise to power and fall from grace, and this reunion benefit concert was apparently suggested by the mostly Philippine cast.  If you missed it the first time, here’s your charitable second chance.

Consider donating to Doctors without Borders or other relief efforts too.

OK! on PBS

1953 Oklahoma Poster

1953 mail order form for Oklahoma! revival (from the NYPL Digital Archives)

The last musical theater installment in PBS‘ Arts Fall Festival is Rodger & Hammerstein‘s 1943 musical, Oklahoma!, in a performance from the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, originally from 1998, featuring singin’, dancin’ Wolverine (aka, Hugh Jackman).  9pm this Friday.

Al Hirschfeld Oklahoma! illustration

Al Hirschfeld caricature of 1969 Oklahoma! revival cast (from the NYPL Digital Archives)

Found this great Al Hirschfeld caricature of the 1969 revival cast on the NYPL Digital Archives, which reminds me that the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has an exhibit on Hirschfeld’s theater illustrations up through January 4th.  Definitely worth checking out, he’s a fun one.

I’ll leave you with the one song I know how to play on the piano which happens to be from Oklahoma!  From the 1955 technicolor movie, with Gordon MacRae:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DLsZHVNOok&w=350&h=300]

Three’s Company

Sondheim's Company 1970 Playbill

Premiere 1970 Company Playbill

The PBS Arts Fall Festival‘s next musical theater offering is tomorrow at 9 pm, and its Stephen Sondheim‘s 1970 musical on bachelorhood Company as performed by the New York Philharmonic in 2011.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_u6L7ZRDG8&w=350&h=300]

The latest news about Company is that Sondheim’s working on a revised version (possibly for the Roundabout Theater Company) that would make the central bachelor, Bobby, a gay man juggling three boyfriends instead of three girlfriends.  Much as I like the man-on-man action, it strikes me as a case of too-much-playing-to-your-audience, and besides, they’d be taking 4 great roles away from women to men…  But I guess it’ll be an interesting experiment if nothing else…

The NY Phil will be presenting another Sondheim musical this season, Sweeney Todd in March 2014, with the curious opera/movie star pairing of Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson.  Get your tickets here.

This Used to be a Fun Home

Fun Home musical poster

Fun Home musical poster

I’d read about this years ago and hadn’t heard about it again until today, but Alison Bechdel‘s graphic novel memoir Fun Home has been adapted into a musical by composer Jeanine Tesori and is now up at the Public Theater.  Don’t know how I missed the premiere a full year ago, but better late than never…  Here’s the latest New York Times review.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Fun Home, Copyright Alison Bechdel

Obviously Bechdel is (or maybe was, before Fun Home) best known for her long-running strip Dykes to Watch Out For, and Tesori is known for musicals like Violet and Caroline, or Change, though also for the Shrek musical and for scoring several Disney animated sequels and prequels…  Here’s a clip of the production of Violet at Endstation Theatre in Virginia:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__oiuVMbqgM&w=350&h=300]

In other Tesori news, the score of Caroline, or Change is now available to stream on Spotify!  Good preparation maybe…

Arlen Hit Parade

Starting this Monday is the start of Off-Broadway Week (actually 3 weeks) in New York, with 2-for-1 tickets to a host of Off Broadway shows.  Among these are some musicals, the popular and long-running Avenue Q and The Fantasticks among them.  An even more classic option is The Wonderful Wizard of Song (warning, site launches into song), a revue of songs written by Harold Arlen.

Here’s a clip of Arlen at the piano, with some special guests, singing through a medley of his many hits.

Get your Off-Broadway Week tickets now!

One of my favorite Arlen songs not included above is Stormy Weather, which I’ve blogged about before…