Sunday, June 29, 2014

Red, White, and Dolls

I spent a quiet, warm morning sleeping in. When I got up, I made delicious Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes while listening to three original cast albums that revolve around vacations, summer, and beach trips in the early part of the 20th century. No No, Nanette is the smash 1971 revival of the popular 1925 Broadway musical. The title ingenue (Susan Watson) gets mixed-up with her guardians (Jack Gilford and Ruby Keeler), Gilford's "proteges," and some nifty tap numbers in 20s Atlantic City and New York. I love the CD cast album I bought for this show from the Borders near the Hamilton Mall in college. In addition to the originally deleted "Peach On the Beach" number for Nanette and the chorus, we have the charming "Only a Moment Ago," performed by Keeler and Gilford, perfectly describing what nostalgia means to many people.

By the Beautiful Sea was a vehicle for comedienne Shirley Booth. We stay in New York, but move back to the early 1900s and head to Coney Island to visit with Booth, a popular vaudevillian who falls for a handsome singer (Wilbur Evans). Sea was old-fashioned even when it came out in the early 50s. The book was a problem even before the show hit Broadway; the liner notes for my Angel CD indicate that it had a lot of re-writing before they made it to New York. Though Booth gets a nice comic number, "I'd Always Wake Up By Myself," and Evans has a lovely ballad, "Alone Too Long," most of the songs are dance routines for the chorus that have absolutely nothing to do with the story.

Steel Pier returns to Atlantic City, but skips ahead three decades to the gritty Great Depression. A dancer (Karen Ziemba) takes part in a dance marathon at the title pier, but her partner, a handsome pilot, isn't what he seems. One of Kander and Ebb's last shows also ran into book problems. There's too many characters and too much plot in this attempt to combine realistic Atlantic City grit (many real AC locations are mentioned) and supernatural fantasy. It was a little bit much for most audiences and wound up being a rather big flop. Too bad, as there's some excellent music in the score, including Ziemba's "Willing To Ride" and the death defying "Two Little Words" in an early appearance by Kristin Chenowith.

I dressed the American Girl dolls while the CDs were on. All of the dolls now wear either red, white, and blue and/or patriotic outfits for the 4th of July and the summer. (I left Felicity in the white and blue floral dress she was wearing.) Samantha now sports her sailor-style Middy Dress and her black and white high-button boots with black Springfield Collection stockings. Molly wears her Camp Gowanigan uniform. Josefina sports her striped Indigo Skirt and white camisa. Jessa just wears a simple red t-shirt, hand-made jean shorts from a craft booth, and the white Springfield Collection espadrilles I bought for my birthday in April. Whitney's a bit flashier in the white tap dress with the red and blue sequin trim and the red star that was originally made for the AG Circle of Friends stage shows, the matching red tap shoes, the ruffled petticoat from the poodle skirt outfit I bought on eBay for extra flair, and a red ribbon in her curls.

I had a really quick lunch, then changed and headed to work. Work was very busy through most of the afternoon, up until around 5 or so. After that, it died pretty quickly. We had plenty of help, especially later. I shelved candy between customers. It was so quiet by 7, I was able to leave without a relief.

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