Sunday, August 09, 2020

There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This

Kicked off the morning with banana pancakes for breakfast. Listened to Wildcat while I ate. This is the Broadway show Lucile Ball starred in when she appeared on that I've Got a Secret episode yesterday. Ball is Wildcat Jackson, a female prospector hoping to strike oil so she can provide for her disabled sister. She desperately tries everything she can to secure a popular foreman (Keith Andes) to help her find it...even if she has to have him jailed and bail him out. He's leaves after he claims there's no oil on her land and finds out about her lies, but maybe it's not dry after all.

The big song here is the hit march "Hey, Look Me Over!", which Ball and Paula Stewart as her sister belt with gusto in the opening. The rest of the score doesn't come close. There's two good chorus numbers for the oil drillers, "Tall Hope" and "Corduroy Road." Otherwise, the songs are bland and cliched, and Ball is not the world's best singer. She got sick and dropped out after four months, which pretty much doomed the show. Even now, it's really only recommended for fans of her or the songwriters Carolyn Leigh and Cy Coleman.

Wildcat was Coleman's first show. He had far better material to work with five years later in Sweet Charity. Charity Hope Valentine (Gwen Verdon) can never seem to catch a break in love. As the show opens, one boyfriend dumps her in the lake and had used her as a piggy bank. An Italian movie star uses her to make his lover jealous. When she finally meets a genuinely nice guy who likes her (John McMartin), she worries what will happen when he finds out she's a taxi dancer.

My favorite number here is "There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This," a spirited trio for Charity and two of her taxi dancer buddies (Helen Gallagher and Thelma Oliver) as they talk about the jobs they wish they could have. Charity also gets the very cute "I'm the Bravest Individual" when she first meets her guy Oliver while being stuck in an elevator, "I'm a Brass Band," and "If My Friends Could See Me Now" when she's gushing over the film star. "The Rhythm of Life" is really an extraneous number spoofing the hippie guru scene of the time, but it's so catchy that you can (mostly) overlook it.

There's been a couple of revivals over the years, including one with Christina Applegate in 2009, and the movie with Shirley MacLaine is good but cuts songs...but for my money, get this one first to appreciate the music and Verdon's performance.

Headed off to my first day back at work in two and a half months. I'm cashiering again until my arm fully heals. I still don't like it. I may be able to balance a till and say "hi" and be nice to people, but it leaves me drained emotionally, and I don't always know what to say or how to answer people's questions. Thankfully, it was on-and-off steady until about an hour before I left, when it picked up considerably, and only one person gave me any trouble.

Took the long way home down Nicholson Road. While it was cloudy and humid by that point, it also wasn't raining. I spent the last four hours inside and wanted to get out a little. Dodged a lot of Sunday drivers on Nicholson, but by the time I went over the hill and into Oaklyn, things were a lot quieter. Avoided puffing over the big hill by crossing the train tracks and riding down Newton Avenue.

Went straight into writing when I got home. Re-wrote what I did yesterday. Instead of obviously running into Malade, a servant comes up with Brett in her arms, claiming she found her and was looking for him. Charles isn't sure he buys her story...and he's right...

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Added the last of the ratatouille to scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and ladled them into two soft tortillas. Listened to Bells are Ringing while I ate. This is another Broadway vehicle for a popular comedienne, and what would be her only musical stage vehicle. The lady in question is Ella Peterson (Judy Holliday), who works taking messages for Susanswerphone. Her boss (Jean Stapleton) wants her to stop getting involved with her clients, but Ella just can't help wanting to make their lives better. Her favorite client is Jeff Moss (Sydney Chaplin), a handsome playwright who is in the midst of writer's block. She's in love with him, but they never see each other until he asks her to help him with his play. He's so enamored by her, he asks her to a party. She feels out of place among his friends and runs off. Now he has to find her...if only she'd given him her real name...

Despite producing standards in "The Party's Over," "Just In Time," and "Long Before I Knew You," this show hasn't dated well. There's an unnecessary gangster subplot, and the fact that the whole thing hangs on a type of company that hasn't been seen since automated answering machines became more common in the 70's and 80's. Holliday, while still not a great singer, could really put emotion into a tune; witness her aching rendition of "The Party's Over." The cast album is mainly if you love her or 50's musicals. Anyone else will want to look for covers of the three big hits.

Finished the night with a desperately-needed bath, my first bath in my new home. The yellow bathtub is narrower than the sage-green one at Manor, but it's also deeper and a tiny bit longer, with a sloped end that allows you to lean back and relax. It took me 20 minutes (and wasted water) to figure out how the stopper worked. Once I got it, it felt absolutely wonderful, so calming, with George Winston's Cast Your Fate to the Wind: The Music of Vince Guaraldi going in the background.

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