|Patricia Routledge as Alice Challice in Darling of |
the Day, the 1968 musical that won her a Tony Award.
What most people don't realize is that Hyacinthe Bucket was a trained singer and that many of her early stage appearances were in musicals. And most people don't realize that in 1976 she also starred in Alan Jay Lerner and Leonard Bernstein's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue playing every American First Lady from Abigail Adams to Eleanor Roosevelt. The show was a legendary flop but opening night Routledge stopped the show with Duet for One where she played both Julia Grant and Lucy Hayes on the day of Rutherford B. Hayes's inauguration. With a simple re-angling of her bonnet and a slight change of accent she switched from one to the other in a brilliant display of her musical and dramatic abilities. Bernstein would not allow an original cast recording so unfortunately only a less than perfect pirated recording of that opening night performance exists.
Several years before that virtuosic performance she recorded an album of show tunes and romantic ballads released by RCA in 1973 under the title Presenting Patricia Routledge. Unfortunately the orchestrations are the lush arrangements of the period that swamped many a lesser voice; the simplicity of her singing and delivery ride over the throbbing violins and cut through the saccharine to the heart.
Many standards of the time are included along with the occasional lesser known piece such as this lovely song from Jerry Herman's Dear World.
I was one of those people who resisted the cloying Gallic charm of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg and I was never that fond of its hit song I Will Wait For You - even if it was mouthed by Catherine Deneuve. I'm trying to think of a single singer of the time that didn't cover Michel LeGrand's song but not many gave it quite the same operatic treatment as Routledge does here. Still can't say that I'm fond of it but she does a fine job and its the only other cut from this album I've been able to find.
And somewhere out there in the ether there must be a copy of her singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the 1994 revival of Carousel at the National Theatre. Her Nettie was universally praised in a highly praised production but unfortunately she didn't accompany the show on its transfer to New York.
And by the way yesterday (February 18th) was her 85th birthday and she seems to still be going strong.
February 19 - 1674: England and the Netherlands sign the Treaty of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. A provision of the agreement transfers the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to England, and it is renamed New York.