Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mercoledi Musicale - Marlene Dietrich

Back in 1960 Toronto got a new theatre – the O’Keefe Centre – a huge barn of a place that was meant to be a multi-purpose performance centre. Until then there had only been the Royal Alexandra a lovely Edwardian theatre but limited and limiting in size. It was a heady time - the new venue opened with the out of town premiere of Camelot – Julie Andrews, Richard Burton, Robert Goulet, Learner and Lowe, Moss Hart, Oliver Smith – the list was Broadway’s best. I went to a matinee half way through that six week run and the show was still clocking in at three and a half hours – the old Rudolf Bing comment comes to mind: Half as long a Parsifal but not half as funny.

But that was only the beginning: we got My Fair Lady, Judy Garland, The Paris Opera Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera and Marlene Dietrich. I saw them all that first year. Yes I saw Judy Garland and yes, as a budding Broadway baby I screamed I LOVE YOU JUDY. But ultimately I’ve never been a really big Judy fan.

Marlene now that’s a different story. She wasn’t a great singer – a great actress yes or perhaps a good actress with great directors – yet when she stepped out into the carefully arranged lights in her form fitting beaded gown and began you were immediately transported.

There was one number that she always sang which seemed a little unusual for a sophisticated cabaret artiste but she performed it like no one else, not even its creator Pete Seeger. She spoke-sang Where Have All the Flowers Gone with all the bitterness, wistfulness and heart break of someone who had heard the unheeded warning time and time again. Her anger, frustration and desperation are subtle but compelling.

Sadly it seems they never learn.

5 marzo - San Giovanni della Croce


Buzz Stephens said...

Speaking of Judy Garland, this week over at the Yahoo version of The Judy Garland Experience beloved entertainer from the 20th century, Sammy Davis Jr, takes a crack at the Judy Garland songbook. Sammy sings 'em all, including The Man That Got Away, Over The Rainbow, But Not For Me, and many other Garland classics. He even sings two duets with the great lady herself, as well as one with her daughter Liza.
This kind of show biz, and this kind of entertainment doesn't exist anymore!

Another great file posted over at the Yahoo Judy Garland Experience is a radio program that features an interview with a talkative flight attendant who recounts an adventurous red eye flight she took with Judy and her hairdresser, Orville, back in 1963.
This one is a real hoot!

Other new files over at the Yahoo version of The Judy Garland Experience include two episodes of the Charlie MCCarthy radio show. One is from June 7, 1942, and the other is from December 7, 1941, better known as Pearl Harbor Day.
This nerve wracking broadcast which featured Judy, along with Abbott And Costello ,was constantly interrupted with news of various countries making declarations of war!
Nevermind that Judy rises to the occasion and offers up some great entertainment, this was history in the making!
Even if you are not a Judy fan you might want to check out this broadcast for it's historical significance alone!

And if that isn't enough several parodies of the song The Lady Is A Tramp, as sung by Frank Sinatra have been posted over at the Yahoo experience. Frank salutes his friends Orson Welles, Maureen Starkey, and Spiro Agnew, as well as remarkable duets of the song with the great Ella Fitzgerald which were recorded over the span of 33 years. There is even an ultra rare rendition performed by Frank with Buddy Greco!

There are also tons of other rare audio files by Judy and others.
For those of you who aren't familiar with The Judy Garland Experience it is an exciting group on yahoo that features lively and informative discussions, and the rarest audio, video, and photo files of Judy anywhere! The membership includes Garland family members, people who knew and worked with Judy, other celebrities, authors, film makers, and fans of all levels and persuasions. The only one missing is you.

Please stop by The Judy Garland Experience and check it out. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Doralong said...

Marlene.. they will never be another one like her. Say what you will but she was an original.

sageweb said...

Even when you are feeling sick you manage to give this little rag tag lesbian some culture.

That was the most fasinating version of that song ever. Her face, lips everything was exactly how you described it. I am in love with that

Thanks for sharing.
Get better soon.

Sling said...

I've been a huge fan of this song since Peter,Paul,and Mary covered it back in the 60's!
Who knew Marlene stylized it so well?
Thanks for sharing that willym.

Boy About Town LB said...

At first I was scared, then I was sad...then, around the part where she was singing "where have all the young men gone" the puppy and I got all worked up! She had her hair going, the muscles in her cheeks working! I don't know who she is but I love her!