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The Russell Davies Song Show

On Sunday 23rd July 2006, the Russell Davies Song Show on BBC Radio 2 reached Dorothy Fields in its series of shows devoted to the 20 Greatest Lyricists.

As he always does, Russell Davies has unearthed some unfamiliar recordings and offers interesting background information and opinions.

You can hear it online for up to a week i.e. until 30th July at this link.

Also visit his Greatest Lyricists webpage.


A Fine Romance: K.T.Sullivan and Mark Nadler

This new CD devoted to the songs of Dorothy Fields is due to be released on January 24th 2006.

The songs are performed by cabaret artistes K.T.Sullivan and Mark Nadler, and it follows the highly praised show they performed last year in honour of the Dorothy Fields centenary. (See reviews of that show at the AAAArtistes International site.)

As well as several of the best known songs, this recording also includes some songs which are very rarely recorded such as I'll Try, You Wanna Bet, and Don't Mention Love To Me.

This is a DRG Records release and more information may be found at their site.


Ladies Don't Write Lyrics: Mark Steyn

Writer Mark Steyn spends most of his time launching witheringly contemptuous attacks on anti-war activists, environmental campaigners and others he believes guilty of sloppy and sentimental thinking.

When he turns his critical pen to the musical stage and the great American songwriters he is an original, thoughtful and very entertaining commentator. For Dorothy Fields' centenary he has produced a 48-page booklet which can be bought at his site. The booklet is cheaply produced but has lots of illustrations. Most importantly it's full of great insights, starting with a short general section and followed by pieces on 20 of her songs. The price includes a copy of the CD An Evening with Dorothy Fields.



Rerelease of Debbie Allen Sweet Charity recording

The cast recording of the 1986 production of Sweet Charity, starring Debbie Allen and Bebe Neuwirth, has been out of print for some time.

It was rereleased on November 22nd 2005.

A review will follow.



New Sweet Charity Recording

The new cast album of Sweet Charity was released on 12th July 2005. It includes six bonus tracks, mostly of Cy Coleman singing demos of the songs three years before the show originally opened on Broadway. More details are to be found on the Playbill site.

A review will follow.


Smart Girls Sing Dorothy Fields

A new cabaret show Smart Girls Sing Dorothy Fields can be seen at the Encore in New York in May. More details below:

Smart Girls Sing Dorothy Fields
Sunday, May 8th 7:30 PM
Friday, May 20th 7:30 PM
Wednesday, May 25th 9:30 PM
$15 Cover, $15 Minimum
$5 Cover for MAC and Cabaret Hotline

The Encore
266 West 47th Street
Reservations highly recommeded: (212) 221-3960




Sweet Charity takes its time

The new Broadway production of Sweet Charity will finally open on 4th May 2005. In the three years of preparation, numerous actresses have been linked to the starring role.

Originally Jenna Elfman was named as the star, but she backed out in late 2002. Marisa Tomei stepped up for the part and was due to open on Broadway in spring 2003. However halfway through the workshop which finally took place in June 2003, Jane Krakowski took over.

Melanie Griffith expressed an interest in September 2003, but she was probably never a serious candidate.

In October 2003, the producers announced they would still like Marisa Tomei for the role.

However in March 2004 Christina Applegate was confirmed as the star. At the same time it was announced that Wayne Cilento would choreograph and the opening date would be April 2005.

The pre-Broadway tour started in February 2005 in Minneapolis and then moved on to Chicago. On March 11th Christina Applegate broke her foot.

She was replaced by Charlotte d'Amboise for the Boston performances in March. The actresses playing the roles of Charity's best friends were also replaced at the same time.

On March 25 producer Barry Weissler announced that the show would not open on Broadway after all, citing weak sales.

On March 29th he announced that following pleas from Applegate and confirmation that she would be able to perform by 18th April he had changed his mind, and the show would open as planned.

Charlotte d'Amboise will play the first week of previews starting 11th April, with Christina Applegate returning to the role in time for opening night on 4th May.

For more information see the most recent Playbill article .

The production makes some changes to the original. Notably the song I Love To Cry at Weddings has been dropped and two new songs have been added. One song, If There Were More People Like You is from the unproduced show Eleanor. It was sung by Dorothy Fields herself in her Lyrics and Lyricists concert and recorded in An Evening with Dorothy Fields. In the new production it is sung by Charity's friends at the end of the show. (Note: by the time the show opened on Broadway If There Were More People Like You was dropped and I Love To Cry at Weddings was restored.)

The other song, A Good Impression is a new song for Oscar. Apparently is an unused Fields lyric set to a new melody from Coleman, which he finished a few days before his death.

It has been announced that a cast recording will be made on May 16th and released on June 24th. See Playbill article.


Cy Coleman dies

Cy Coleman died on 18th November 2004. He was the last of Dorothy Fields's greatest cowriters. Read an obituary by Christopher Hawtree.



Decca puts Up in Central Park / Arms and the Girl on general sale

In October 2003 Decca Broadway released on a single CD the original cast recordings of Up in Central Park and Arms and the Girl. Neither had been on CD before. However the CD was not available in stores, and was only available on the website for three months.

However as of September 2004, the CD has gone on general sale and can be ordered from any retailer.

It's great to hear the remastered CD release of the recorded elements of these two scores. A review by Marc Miller with a lot of interesting background information can be seen at the Theatermania website.

More details on the two shows involved:

Up in Central Park. Eight tracks from this wonderful score, written with Sigmund Romberg, were recorded in 1945. Four singers were involved: Wilbur Evans and Betty Bruce from the original production, with Eileen Farrell and Celeste Holm helping out.

More on the show

Arms and the Girl. The score for this 1950 show was written with Morton Gould, and the recording features Nanette Fabray, Georges Guetary, and two terrific songs for Pearl Bailey.

More on the show



Dorothy's Side of the Street

The 92nd Street Y is mounting a centennial celebration of Dorothy Fields on March 19-21, 2005. It is to be hosted by Deborah Grace Winer who wrote the On the Sunny Side of the Street biography. More details are available on the 92nd Street Y site.



Centennial events at the New York Public Library

Dorothy Fields' centennial will be in July next year, and it's great news that the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is planning a series of special events in its season leading up to the date.

The series features two concerts - one by Barbara Carroll on 22nd September and another by David Lahm and Judy Kreston on 9th December. There are also two screenings of the film Swing Time.

Full details are at the NYPL website; please click the image below.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

The New York City Centres next Encore series of musicals will include a production of Dorothy Fields' great musical A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

The production will be based on the revised book by Elinor Rensfield which was used at the Goodspeed revival in 2003. Dates are 10th to 13th Feburary 2005, and more details can be found at the Encores site.

CD Release for Dorothy Fields film scores:

Lovely to Look At and Texas Carnival

The CD company Rhino Handmade specialises in releasing "limited editions of otherwise unavailable audio and video goodies from the vast Rhino Archives for sale on the Internet".

This release is particularly welcome - it contains all the music from the 1952 film Lovely To Look At, a new version of the story of the Jerome Kern stage show Roberta.

The songs used have a complicated history. As well as two Dorothy Fields songs written for the 1930s screen version of Roberta, the film used several old Kern songs with new lyrics supplied by Fields.

As a bonus Rhino Handmade has included five tracks (four by Dorothy Fields) from the 1951 film Texas Carnival - a first release.

The CD is not generally available in stores but can be ordered from Rhino Handmade. Click here for my review.

Dina Blade CD

This CD was released in 2002 but has only recently come to my attention.

It contains a series of excellent jazz renditions of the standards by Dina Blade - see my review for more details.

The CD was released by the Seattle-based Nocturne Records. It can be ordered from the CD Bby site.

Dorothy Fields article in UK musicals newsletter

Spotlight on Musicals is the informative newsletter produced by the UK-based Stage Musical Appreciation Society. The September 2003 issue includes an article about Dorothy Fields which I contributed.
If you'd like to know more about the Society or the newsletter, please visit the Spotlight on Musicals site.


Sweet Charity the film - on DVD and CD

Universal Studios Home Video released the film of Sweet Charity on DVD in March 2003. It gets a brand-new 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen remaster and an English Dolby 2.0 surround track. Extras are plentiful and include the featurettes "Sweet Charity: From Stage to Screen" and "Edith Head's Costume Design," plus an alternate ending and the trailer.

Decca Broadway have also released the soundtrack on CD.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at Goodspeed

The Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Connecticut is currently presenting a new production of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn with a revised book by Elinor Renfield in its 2003 season.

Dates are October 10 - December 14 and more details can be found at the Goodspeed site, together with photos of the production and extensive programme notes. You can also download an interesting Study Guide of the show.

I saw the show in October and was very impressed. The subtle changes to the book successfully solve the original problem, whereby Aunt Cissy hijacked the show. In this production the focus is where it should be, on the central love story. There are two strong performances in the leads, namely Deven May as charming but hopelessly unreliable Johnny, and Kerry O'Malley who pulls off a startling but believable transition from girlish romantic to embittered realist. A full review from Marc Miller is at the Theatermania site.

Never Gonna Dance on Broadway

Dorothy Fields is set to be heard on Broadway in a new musical, based on the Astaire-Rogers film Swing Time. This much-delayed project is currently reported by Playbill to be scheduled for a 2003/04 opening.

A Playbill announcement from June 2002 gave more details of the planned production.

A further announcement in July 2003 revealed that "The show opens at the Broadhurst Theatre Dec. 4, 2003, following previews from Oct. 27."

You can also visit the production's own website.

Sweet Charity on Broadway

A new production of Sweet Charity was announced in Playbill Online on 20th October 2002. It is planned for Spring 2003 and will star Marisa Tomei. Full Playbill announcement.

Update: It is now scheduled to open on Broadway in August 2003, with an earlier try-out in Toronto.

Update August 2003: The production has been delayed. In June 2003 it was reported that Jane Krakowski had taken over the role of Charity in the latest workshop. Full Playbill announcement.

Reissue of Redhead on CD

The CD of Redhead has been out of print for some time. Fynsworth Alley have now reissued it (as at 17th January 2003). It contains bonus tracks as follows:

You Love I - Jennifer Piech & Mark Price
Written for Redhead but never used.

It Doesn't Take A Minute - Liz Callaway
Cut in New Haven.

What Has She Got? - Faith Prince
Written for Redhead but never used.

The CD is be available in record shops - online ordering from Fynsworth is the only way to obtain it.

I have reviewed this disc.


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