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November 26, 2000

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Thanks for the Turkeys

Sometimes bad shows happen to good songs. Our Leftover Turkey special brings you some pretty respectable songs that fond themselves stuck in shows that didn't exactly light up the sky. We also talked with Teresa Doggett, director of the West End Players Guild production of Three Days of Rain, which opens a two week run on December 1st.
Selection Source Performer(s) Comments
You Took Advantage of Me Shaking the Blues Away (1992) Rob Fisher and the Coffee Club Orchestra By Rogers and Hart, from Present Arms (1928), which ran for 155 performances; not a major flop, but hardly a big hit.
The Lorelei Songs by Ira and George Gershwin (1978) Joan Morris, Bill Bolcom (piano) This is from George and Ira Gershwin’s flop Pardon My English (1933), which closed after only 46 performances. Part of the problem may have been the book, which was apparently fairly witless. It had some star performers, however, including the popular comic singer/actress Lydia Roberti. Both this song and the next were performed by her in the show.
My Cousin in Milwaukee From Gershwin’s Time (1998) Gertrude Nielsen, Eddie Duchin and His Central Park Casino Orchestra Recorded 1/18/1933, also from Pardon My English. Ira Gershwin would later recall this show as “a headache from start to finish”.
Let ‘Em Eat Cake From Gershwin’s Time (1998) The Rondoliers Quartet, Emil Coleman and His Riviera Orchestra Recorded 10/16/1933, from another Gershwin brothers flop, Let ‘Em Eat Cake (1933), a failed attempt to write a sequel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning political satire Of Thee I Sing (1931). Let ‘Em Eat Cake opened October 21, 1933 at the Imperial Theatre in New York and ran for 89 performances.
K-ra-zy for You Crazy for You (OC 1992) Harry Groener Crazy For You, billed as “the new Gershwin musical”, is actually a reworking of an earlier Gershwin hit Girl Crazy (1930), with lots of additional Gershwin songs from other sources. “K-ra-zy For You” originally appeared in Treasure Girl (1928), which lasted only 68 performances.
She Touched Me Jason Graae Live at the Cinegrill (2000) Jason Graae From Drat! The Cat! (music by Milton Schafer, book and lyrics by Ira Levin, who is better known as the author of thrillers like Deathtrap, Rosemary’s Baby and The Boys From Brazil). The show starred Elliott Gould and Leslie Ann Warren and had the misfortune to open on October 10th 1965 - in the middle of a New York newspaper strike. It ran for eight performances. Barbara Streisand (then married to Gould) was a backer of the show and recorded this song. Graae performed in a 1997 studio cast recording of the show.
Who Will Love Me As I Am? Back to Before (1999) Kim Criswell, National Symphony Orchestra cond. by Kevin Farrell From Side Show (1997) with music by Henry Krieger and libretto by Bill Russell (whose new show Everything’s Ducky was presented as the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis earlier this year). The show tells the based-on-truth story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, identical twins joined at the hip, who performed in show business in the early years of the 20th century. It ran only 122 performances (including 31 previews) and lost $7 million but has developed quite a cult following since.
It Would Have Been Wonderful Jason Graae Live at the Cinegrill (2000) Jason Graae From Annie Warbucks (music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin), the sequel to the team’s wildly successful Annie (1977). It went through innumerable out-of-town tryouts but never made it to Broadway. It got as far as the off-Broadway Variety Arts Theatre where it opened on August 9th, 1993 and ran for 200 performances - not a stinker, but hardly another Annie, which ran for 2, 377 performances and has been filmed twice.
Everybody Says Don’t Anyone Can Whistle (OC 1964) Harry Guardino Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. A satrical and original fantasy with a book by the noted playwright Arthur Laurents (The Time of the Cuckoo, Gypsy, West Side Story), Anyone Can Whistle opened April 4th, 1964 and closed after nine performances. The show has since become a cult favorite, particularly among Sondheim fans.
What More Do I Need? I Wish It So (1994) Dawn Upshaw, orchestra cond. by Eric Stern From Sondheim’s Saturday Night (1954), which has yet to be produced in New York, although it did run for a little over a month (December 17, 1997 to January 24, 1998) at London’s Bridewell Theatre.
I Remember Sondheim - A Musical Tribute (OC 1973) Victoria Mallory, orchestra cond. by Paul Gemignani From Evening Primrose (1966). Never produced on stage, the musical was written for the ABC TV series Stage 67, an ambitious series of original hour-long musicals and dramas for television. The series tanked; network TV was already a vast wasteland.
Anyone Can Whistle Sondheim - A Musical Tribute (OC 1973) Stephen Sondheim The title song from Anyone Can Whistle, performed by the composer as part of a tribute concert on March 11th, 1973.
You Don’t Know This Man Way Back to Paradise (1998) Audra McDonald, orchestra cond. by Eric Stern From Parade (1998), music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. Parade is the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man who was wrongly convicted of the murder of thirteen-year old Mary Phagan. It ran only two and one-half months (December 17, 1998 - February 28, 1999) and got tepid reviews.

Acronyms and other mysteries defined:

OC: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Cast recording of a Broadway show, along with the date.

OS: Unless otherwise indicated, the Original Soundtrack recording of a film, TV show, etc.

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