Following the professional lives of the husband-wife artistic duo, this presentation features a wide variety of materials, including manuscripts, scores, scripts, photographs, sound recordings and video clips from the Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Collection. Kaye, a multi-faceted entertainer, worked his way from performing at summer resorts to starring in feature films and conducting major symphony orchestras. Fine, a composer and writer, went from writing revues at small theatres to composing music for Danny’s studio films and teaching at Yale University.
Walt Disney Concert Hall Sat Aug 24 – Sat Feb 15 2014
Time Out says
Opening at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in the Ira Gershwin Gallery on August 24, this exhibition from the Library of Congress in DC will celebrate the careers of mid-Century entertainer Danny Kaye and his musical wife, Sylvia Fine. The exhibit will feature a wide variety of relics, from music holographs and typed lyric sheets, to scripts, photographs, letters, recordings and more. A series of video stations will show clips from Kaye’s many show-stopping on-screen performances. Free and open to the public, this impressive collection of entertainment history is not to be missed.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 S Grand Ave
between W 2nd & W 3rd Sts
Box office noon-6pm Tue-Sun
Tickets $25-$175; parking $9
Culture vultures. History buffs. Take your parents
Exhibitions. Public art
July 4th on ’40s on 4!
This Independence Day, we’ll strike up the bands… to march, sing, and wave old glory for a star spangled salute to the USA! Also, you’ll hear two debuts. In our new monthly series “Bing’s Basement,” host Arne Fogel steps deep into Bing’s treasure-filled archive to uncover Bing Crosby recordings unheard and preserved for decades. Then, it’s the “Danny Kaye Radio Show!” We’re celebrating the centennial year of Danny Kaye’s birth, in conjunction with his Library Of Congress exhibit in DC which extends through July, and you’ll hear Danny’s 1945-‘46 weekly radio series with newly remastered episodes every Saturday in 2013 at 6 pm ET! Actor, singer, dancer, and comedian… American icon.
Hear the National Anthem every 3 hours starting at 6 am ET
Debut of “Bing’s Basement:” July 4th, 3 pm ET
Debut of the “Danny Kaye Show:” July 4th, 6 pm ET
(CBS News) Even in the golden age of Hollywood, he stood out. Few performers captivated audiences the way actor, singer, dancer and comedian Danny Kaye did.
Throughout the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, he was everywhere — on stage and on the radio, in movies and on TV . . . and all around the world as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
What didn’t he do?
“He didn’t make himself bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches,” said his daughter, Dena Kaye. “I made that for him.”
Dena didn’t have to make much else for her father — he was also an avid chef.
“I used to say that his kitchen was like his private theater,” she told Miller, “and the things he cooked with were not just utensils, they were artist’s tools.”
Her father loved cooking so much, Dena donated his “artist’s tools” to the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and funded a cooking “theater” in his name.
The only daughter of Danny Kaye and composer-lyricist Sylvia Fine, Dena Kaye is keeping her parents’ memory alive, 100 years after they were born.
At the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., a special exhibit honors the legendary couple.
“So, why should people of this generation know your father?” Miller asked.
“He was so much more than a performer,” Dena replied. “He was UNICEF’s first goodwill ambassador in 1954. So he’s a role model. I can’t say Angelina Jolie would say, ‘Oh, I’m doing this ’cause I know Danny Kaye did it,’ but nonetheless, he paved the way for Harry Belafonte, Audrey Hepburn, et cetera.”
The centennial of the entertainer’s birth is being celebrated – not just for his classic musical-comedies and his tuneful collaborations with his wife, the composer and lyricist Sylvia Fine, but also for his timeless contributions to humanitarian missions, such as the United Nations International Children’s Fund.
The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., is hosting an exhibition titled, “Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine: Two Kids From Brooklyn,” which charts the course of their lives and stage and screen careers, from “patter songs” to USO Shows, and to Kaye’s service as UNICEF’s first Goodwill Ambassador.
A gifted mimic and peerless physical comedian, Danny Kaye ranked among America’s most popular entertainers in the years during and following World War II. Rubber-faced and manic, he rose to stardom in film and in television, on record and on Broadway, easily adapting from outrageous novelty songs to tender ballads; for all of his success as a performer, however, his greatest legacy remains his tireless humanitarian work — so close were his ties to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) that when the organization received the Nobel Peace Prize, Kaye was tapped to accept it.
Born David Daniel Kominsky on January 18, 1913, in Brooklyn, NY, he dropped out of high school at the age of 14 to hitchhike with his friend Louis Elison to Florida, where the duo sang for money. Upon returning to New York they teamed in an act dubbed Red and Blackie, later working as “toomlers” (i.e., creators of tumult, or all-around entertainers) on the borscht-belt circuit in the Catskills. In 1933 he joined the Three Terpsichoreans’ vaudeville act, performing for the first time as “Danny Kaye”; after touring the country in the stage revue La Vie Paree, the troupe sailed to the Orient in 1934. In Japan and China, Kaye developed his pantomime and face-making techniques; he also began singing in gibberish, allowing only the occasional word to be rendered intelligible. After returning stateside in 1936, Kaye worked with comedian Nick Long, Jr., and toured with Abe Lyman’s Band before journeying to London to play the city’s cabaret circuit. The trip proved unsuccessful, and soon Kaye was back in New York; there he met pianist and songwriter Sylvia Fine, who became not only his performing partner but also his wife. Fine wrote many of Kaye’s best-known songs, including “Stanislavsky,” “Pavlova,” and “Anatole of Paris”; much of the material he then performed on Broadway in The Straw Hat Revue, which opened in 1939. Kaye subsequently appeared in Moss Hart’s The Lady in the Dark in what became a star-making performance; he then moved on to Cole Porter’s Let’s Face It! before touring in support of the war effort, where he sold about one million dollars in bonds over a period of just six months.
Kaye made his feature film debut in 1944’s Up in Arms. The following year he began hosting his own CBS radio program, launching a number of hit songs including “Dinah,” “Tubby the Tuba,” “Minnie the Moocher,” “Ballin’ the Jack,” “Bloop Bleep,” and “Civilization”; “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts,” his lone U.S. chart hit, was released in 1950. In 1947 he starred in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, arguably his definitive screen role; following an appearance in 1948’s A Song Is Born, he made a triumphant return to London, appearing in a series of record-breaking performances at the Palladium as well as several Royal Command performances. Kaye then went to Canada in 1950, becoming the first solo performer to star at the Canadian National Exhibition, before returning to Britain in 1952 for a tour of the nation’s provincial music halls. Amid this flurry of activity Kaye continued his film career, and after completing 1951’s On the Riviera he began work on Hans Christian Andersen, one of the most successful motion pictures in the history of MGM Studios; two of its Frank Loesser-penned songs, “The Ugly Duckling” and “Wonderful Copenhagen,” reached the Top Five on the U.K. pop charts. In 1954, Kaye appeared in both Knock on Wood and White Christmas; after 1956’s The Court Jester, he starred as 1920s cornet player Red Nichols in 1958’s The Five Pennies, appearing with Louis Armstrong. From 1963 to 1967, he hosted his own television variety program, The Danny Kaye Show, before returning to Broadway in 1969 in The Madwoman of Challiot. A year later, he starred in the Richard Rodgers and Martin Charnin musical Two by Two.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Kaye regularly conducted classical orchestras; he also appeared frequently on television, winning an Emmy for 1975’s Danny Kaye’s Look-In and the Metropolitan Opera, produced for CBS’ Festival of Lively Arts for Young People series. He also starred in small-screen productions of Pinocchio and Peter Pan. From the early ’50s on, however, much of Kaye’s time was spent in support of UNICEF, and he served as the charitable organization’s ambassador-at-large for 34 years. Awarded a Special Oscar in 1954, he also received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1982. After suffering a heart attack, Kaye died on March 3, 1987; he was 74 years old. ~ Jason Ankeny
Paramount Home Media Distribution (PHMD) announced today that four beloved films starring the incomparable Danny Kaye are available on iTunes for The First Time ever in celebration of The Danny Kaye Centennial.
Fans can now download the Oscar-nominated biopic The Five Pennies (1959), the musical comedy On the Double (1961), the period comedy The Court Jester (1955) and the hilarious caper Knock on Wood (1954), all quintessential family-friendly films that everyone can enjoy for Father’s Day. This year marks the 60th anniversary for Kaye as a UNICEF ambassador as well as the 60th anniversary of both the Knock on Wood and White Christmas releases.
In The Five Pennies Kaye cuts loose with his trademark dramatic and comedic talents in this success-tempered-with-tears biopic of jazz great Red Nichols, which features legendary performances by Louis Armstrong, along with big band icons Bob Crosby, Ray Anthony and Shelly Manne. In On the Double Kaye stars as Ernie Williams, a G.I. with weak eyes, a weak stomach and weak nerves but an uncanny resemblance to British Colonel MacKenzie. Williams is asked to impersonate the Colonel, allowing him to make a secret trip East – but what Williams is not told is that the Colonel has recently been a target of Nazi assassins. The Court Jester showcases Kaye’s variety of talents as he plays kind-hearted entertainer Hawkins who disguises himself as the legendary king of jesters, Giacomo. Hawkins infiltrates the court of the evil villain Basil Rathbone, but when a sorceress hypnotizes him, royal chaos ensues. In Knock on Wood Kaye is a ventriloquist who becomes the target of a spy ring when secret plans are hidden in his dummies’ heads.
The Danny Kaye Centennial, which began in late 2012 and continues into early 2014, is a celebration of events and activities honoring a legendary entertainer and trail blazing humanitarian’s amazing contributions to the arts. The event highlights this uniquely talented man who brought laughter and joy to generations and served as UNICEF’S first Goodwill Ambassador. Kaye received countless accolades during his lifetime including Oscars, Emmys, Golden Globes, The French Legion of Honor, The Kennedy Center Honors and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Beginning in October of 2012 events around the country invited the public to experience the talents that made Danny Kaye one of a kind. These included programs with UNICEF, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, the Paley Center for Media, Sirius XM Radio, Museum of the Moving Image and The New York Pops. The Danny Kaye Centennial will culminate with UNICEF presenting the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award in January 2014.
A few months ago, Turner Classic Movies aired a block of movies starring Danny Kaye in celebration of his 100th birthday. Also part of the programming was an installment of The Dick Cavett Show in which Kaye was interviewed by the show’s host. After the program, one could only wonder: Was there anything in show business that Danny Kaye could not do?
Singing. Check. Dancing. Check. Acting dramatically. Check. Acting comically. Check. Check. Telling stories. Check. Providing voiceovers for animation and narration. Check. Host a TV show. Check. Master chef. Check. Pilot an airplane. Check. Orchestra leader. Check. Baseball team owner. Check. Writer. Check. Mimic. Check. Goodwill ambassador. Check. And I’m sure there was even more.
The “Everyman of Entertainment” was born David Daniel Kaminski on January 18, 1913 in Brooklyn to Ukranian Jewish immigrants. He never graduated from high school, deciding instead to hightail it to Florida with a friend to try to make it as a musical act, with Danny singing. The act was a bust and after a return home, he landed in the Catskill’s Borscht Belt resorts as a tummler.
At the age of 20, Danny adopted the last name “Kaye” and became one of The Three Terpsichoreans, a dancing act that performed in vaudeville and eventually won fans overseas.
After some tough times that saw Danny working in burlesque with legendary fan dancer Sally Rand, he got a part in the 1935 film Moon Over Manhattan. The exposure led to a two-year contract to make two-reelers for a company that also employed June Allyson and Imogene Coca; the company soon folded, however, and he returned to the Catskills. There he met composer, musician and lyricist Sylvia Fine, and they soon married. The two conceived an act for La Martinique, a chic Manhattan nightclub.
Writer Moss Hart was so impressed that he penned Lady in the Dark, and recommended Kaye to join Gertrude Lawrence in the satire on psychiatry. In the show, which featured music by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, Kaye performs “Tchaikovsky,” in which he rattles off the names of scores of Russian composers. Kaye also performed the song memorably on that 1971 installment of The Dick Cavett Show.
The fine reviews led Kaye to get top billing in Cole Porter’s Let’s Face It!, which featured two songs by Fine that Kaye sang. Also in the cast of this musical—about three wives who try to dupe their presumably philandering husbands by inviting three GIs to a Long Island house—were Vivian Vance, Eve Arden and Nanette Fabray. The show was a hit on Broadway and in London, and Kaye was on his way–to Hollywood.
Producer Samuel Goldwyn cast the 31-year-old in 1944’s Up in Arms, a remake of Eddie Cantor’s earlier Whoopee. In fact, Goldwyn’s original intention was to make Danny “the next Eddie Cantor.”
In Up in Arms, Danny plays a hypochondriac elevator operator drafted into the Army with buddy Dana Andrews, prompting his girlfriend Constance Dowling and her pal Dinah Shore to sign up with the WACs. Complications from mistaken identity ensue for a wild, music-filled ride with Kaye standing out, particularly in songs co-written by his wife: “The Lobby Number,” in which he satirizes the moviegoing experience from the lobby of a theater, and the military-based scat-a-thon “Melody in 4-F.”
Kaye’s screen antics—his energy, likability, talent at dialects, crowd-pleasing persona and rubber-faced appearance—impressed audiences as well as the tough-to-satisfy Goldwyn, leading to a series of elaborate Technicolor musical-comedy excursions for the independent producer. It was also Goldwyn who suggested that Kaye have a nose job for his prominent proboscis; the actor refused, but did dye his red hair blonde instead.
As his star in Hollywood was ascending, Kaye signed on for The Danny Kaye Show for CBS Radio in 1945, in which he shared the microphone with Lionel Stander, Harry James and Eve Arden. An extended tour with the USO eventually put the kibosh on the popular show, although he came back occasionally as a special guest.
At first, Kaye’s film career was something of a question mark because he was so multi-talented.
“Kaye’s greatest obstacle to mass popularity was that he could do too much, too well,” wrote David Koenig in his 2012 biography Danny Kaye: King of the Jesters. “He was impossible to classify. Without a brand, he found it difficult initially to make a name for himself and ultimately to keep that name remembered.”
Later in life, Kaye would say: “Life is a great big canvas; throw all the paint you can at it.”
But Danny’s film career did soar, with Goldwyn leading the charge. In Wonder Man (1945), Kaye took a dual role as a meek librarian and the ghost of his outgoing nightclub entertainer twin brother, who encourages his surviving sibling to hunt down the mobster (a debuting Steve Cochran) that did him in. Virginia Mayo (who would appear in other Kaye vehicles) and Vera-Ellen co-starred in a film noted for Kaye’s classic routine as a Russian singer performing the song “Otchi Chornya” with weird allergic tics.
The Kid from Brooklyn (1946) centers on Kaye’s shy milkman who gets accidentally indoctrinated into the crooked fight game after he knocks out the drunken boxer hitting on his sister. Danny’s “Pavlova,” a nifty poke at the world of ballet—Martha Graham and Gypsy Rose Lee!—puts Sylvia’s wit and Danny expertise at dialect into the spotlight, while Vera Ellen’s song-and-tap dance number with The Goldwyn Girls on “So in Love” was a crowd-pleaser as well. Also in ’46, Warner Brothers cartoons had their own way of saying “Oh, Kaye!” in animator Bob Clampett’s “Book Revue,” with Daffy Duck channeling the entertainer as he sings “Carolina in the Morning” with a Russian accent.
Kaye’s hot streak with Goldwyn continued with 1947’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the screen adaptation of James Thurber’s story about a meek man whose dreams of being a hero become a reality when he gets involved with a mysterious woman (Mayo). Howard Hawks cast Kaye as the main professor in A Song is Born, his musicalized 1948 remake of his own classic Ball of Fire, with Mayo and band leaders/musicians Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong and Charlie Barnet in support.
Kaye would thereafter leave Goldwyn for Fox; he subsequently formed his own company, Dena Productions (named after his daughter) with his wife Sylvia (who also supplied songs and acted as his manager) in a deal with Paramount. He remained a box-office draw into the next decade and beyond, with such films as The Inspector General (1949), On the Riviera (1951), Knock on Wood (1954), filling in for Fred Astaire (then Donald O’Connor) opposite Bing Crosby in White Christmas (1954), Merry Andrew (1958) (with the contagiously upbeat “Everything is Tickety-Boo” number) and On the Double (1961).
Kaye’s cinematic sojourn into drama, playing real-life trumpeter Red Nichols in The Five Pennies (1959), was well-received; the film received four Oscar nominations and won the Golden Globe for Best Musical. He would again later take the serious route in the 1981 TV movie Skokie, garnering a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor for his role as a concentration camp survivor protesting a planned march by Neo-Nazis in an Illinois town.
At time his film career was flourishing, the indefatigable Kaye did lots of live concerts, and was particularly popular in England. “Danny has been practically adopted by the British,” quipped Bob Hope. “I used his dressing room when I was over there. It was a modest affair—just two mirrors and a throne.”
Then there were the children’s records; a TV variety show in the 1960s; a one-time shot emceeing the Academy Awards; appearances as a guest panelist on “What’s My Line?,” introducing the annual broadcast of The Wizard of Oz on CBS; appearing in several TV specials, like a TV movie version of Pinocchio as Gepetto, opposite Sandy Duncan as the wooden boy; and a musical Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Peter Pan, in which he played Captain Hook to Mia Farrow’s Pan; touring the world and entertaining children as a spokesperson for UNICEF; and playing Noah on crutches and in a wheelchair (after breaking his foot) on Broadway in the hit Two by Two with music by Richard Rogers. All this and being a partner in the Seattle Mariners baseball club.
The Court Jester, released in 1955 by Paramount, remains, arguably, Kaye’s most popular and best-loved film, even though the expensive production—billed as the costliest comedy of all-time upon its release—disappointed at the box-office. Set in medieval England, The Court Jester stars Kaye as Hubert Hawkins, a minstrel for a Robin Hood-like hero attempting to restore the throne to its rightful heir, a baby with a hidden birthmark.
The colorful, high-spirited spoof of swashbucklers is filled with plot complications galore, songs by Sammy Cahn and Fine, and frenetic silly dialogue fashioned by Kaye with writers-director Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, including the classic line “The pellet with the poison… the pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the true that is brew…”
Wrote Variety in their mostly favorable review: “Costumed swashbucklers undergo a happy spoofing in The Court Jester with Danny Kaye heading the fun-poking. Norman Panama and Melvin Frank drag in virtually every time-honored, and timeworn, medieval drama cliche for Kaye and cast to re-play for laughs via not-so-subtle treatment.”
Just how popular was Danny Kaye in films? The statistics are pretty impressive. According to box office analyst David Bleiler, Kaye sold over 320 million tickets over his career, which translates to nearly $2.5 billion in today’s dollars. His most popular film was White Christmas, which took in the 2013 equivalent of $470 million. Based on statistics for 17 films he was in, Kaye’s movies averaged a nothing-to-sneeze-at $145 million in adjusted dollars per movie.
Depending on which account you believe, the private Danny Kaye was either a mensch, or a self-absorbed creep with a possible case of clinical manic-depression. There have been some behind-the-scene stories about his personal life that certainly remain perplexing. Shirley MacLaine claims that she had an affair with him, and there are rumors he had trysts with such co-stars as Martha Hyer, Barbara Bates and Eve Arden, Princess Margaret and journalist Glenys Roberts. A widespread rumor that he and Laurence Oliver shared a bed for years has been floating around since Donald Spoto’s biography of Laurence Olivier was published in 1992.
In his book “American Prince,” Tony Curtis wrote American Prince: A Memoir, Tony Curtis wrote: “To my way of thinking, Danny was a very mean and bitter man, and almost everybody seemed to agree with me…he would belittle me all the time. He once asked me, ‘Where did you learn how to fence –the Bronx?’ I don’t know why Danny had it in for me. Maybe it was because we both came from New York. Maybe it was because we were both Jewish, and he struggled with that in himself. Or it might have been some complicated sexual feeling.”
Of course, Kaye also had his critics. Pauline Kael, writing about Hans Christian Andersen, opined: “Lavish, cloying, pseudo-whimsical monstrosity, contrived by Moss Hart and directed by Charles Vidor, under the aegis of Samuel Goldwyn. It’s the conceit of the movie to make Andersen (Danny Kaye) a simpleton bordering on active idiocy… The drippy songs are by Frank Loesser.”
And film critic David Thomson’s assessment of Kaye in The New Biographical Dictionary of Film is that he “is one of those people who was a wonder once but who looks frantic and alien now.” He also adds that “now one can pick up the feeling he has inhuman energy on screen, somewhere between child, machine and rogue cuckoo clock.”
Along with many of my generation, my experiences watching Danny Kaye movies when I was a kid were warm and fuzzy. I recall catching a short segment of The Man from the Diners’ Club, his last starring effort, on Super 8mm. The condensed section of the 1963 film directed by Frank Tashlin (and never, oddly enough, available on VHS or DVD) featured an early version of a primitive computer, “a gigantic electric brain,” and hundreds of little papers flying around an office. Kaye plays a clerk who gets involved with a gangster (Telly Savalas) and his moll (Cara Williams) after he approves a credit card for the hood. In the segment’s brief running time, Kaye performed some impressive slapstick routines, and my first impression was “This guy is funny.”
But making even a bigger impact on me was seeing Danny on TV in Hans Christian Andersen. Sure, I knew the stories from when I was a kid. But they came to life enchantingly, with Danny as the Danish fairy tale writer and storyteller. In Samuel Goldwyn’s production, Frank Loesser’s wonderful score helped bring the fairy tales to life. I am pretty certain I saw the film in its first television airing in 1966 when I nine years old. Oddly enough, Danish musician and entertainer Victor Borge was recruited to introduce the film to pad out its running time, so ABC could present it in its complete 120 min. form.
My parents bought me the soundtrack and I played it over and over and over and over, singing and whistling along to the signature tune (“I’m Hans Christian Andersen, I’ve many a tale to tell..”), reiterating the story of “The Ugly Duckling” (“There once was an ugly duckling…with feathers all stubby and brown…”), chirping the praises of Copenhagen (“Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen, friendly old girl of a town…”) and reenacting the saga of Thumbelina (“Thumbelina, Thumbelina, tiny little thing…Thumbelina dance, Thumbelina sing…”) with my index finger inked with a little girl’s face on it.
I think that last one may have had my parents concerned, because my much-used Hans Christian Andersen soundtrack album mysteriously disappeared at some point. It was no longer sandwiched between my copies of Beatles and Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass albums in the dining room etagere.
More About Danny Kaye: Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo & Sam Goldwyn
Thanks, David Daniel Kaminski. And happy 100th, too, anywhere you wander, anywhere you roam.
April 29th, 2013
By Joel Benjamin
What better way to celebrate any occasion, let alone a 30th anniversary than in the company of Jule Styne, Danny Kaye and Frank Loesser? Steven Reineke, the Pops’ Music Director, led an energetic program of the Broadway masterpieces by the two composers performed by a who’s who of stage personalities. A touching video tribute to Danny Kaye, introduced by his daughter Dena, was shown midway in the festivities. This stroll down Kaye’s life only proved what a great man he was and why he will always be missed.
Jule Styne’s Gypsy Overture was a perfect slam-bam opening. It was followed by a medley of songs from that show performed by the youngsters of the Camp Broadway Kids.
Three legendary songs from Funny Girl were sung with extraordinary power by Stephanie J. Block (“Don’t Rain on My Parade”), Betsey Wolfe (“The Music That Makes Me Dance”) and Laura Osnes (“People”). Although, let’s face it, no one can eclipse Ms. Streisand, these three singers came close.
Laura Benanti was tender in “Neverland.” It was a special thrill to hear Leslie Uggams sing the song she made famous 46 years ago, “My Own Morning” from Hallelujah, Baby. If anything, Ms. Uggams sang it with more depth and heart now. She was glorious. Megan Hilty repeated her Encores! role from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in an applause milking “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”
The second half of the program featured the music of Frank Loesser, beginning with a sweetly tender “Inchworm” sung by Kelli O’Hara with the help of the Ronald McDonald House Rockin’ the House Band and Chorus. Donna Murphy was equally touching singing “The Ugly Duckling.”
More upbeat was the “Fugue for Tinhorns” from Guys and Dolls given a humorously tough guy interpretation by three Broadway stars: Nick Adams, Will Chase and Max von Essen. Keeping up the light mood was Liz Callaway who was absolutely hilarious in “How to Succeed/I Believe In You” wittily using an iPhone to bring the songs up to date. (You had to be there!)
The Most Happy Fella, Loesser’s major operatic achievement, of course, had to be represented. Kelli O’Hara sang “Somebody, Somewhere” in an operatic voice that was both surprising and thrilling while Anthony Warlow’s “Rosabella” caused many tears to flow with his moving interpretation. Not to be over-shadowed, the great Marilyn Maye took “Joey, Joey, Joey” and made it her own, a quiet anthem to a wondering soul.
Maestro Reineke chose to end the program with Victor Herbert’s “Festival March” which opened the Pops very first concert 30 years ago, utilizing all the performers to make this an uplifting ending to a great concert.
The New York Pops – 30th Birthday Gala
April 29th, 2013