Sunday, August 27, 2017

Riverside Bandstand

Kicked off a sunny, dry morning with Chocolate Chip Pancakes and the soundtrack to New York, New York. The tale of a singer (Liza Minnelli) and a musician (Robert DeNiro) whose relationship and careers rise and fall in the post-war Big Apple is best-known for introducing the rousing title song. Kander and Ebb also wrote three more original songs, including "Happy Endings," the massive story number that was cut from the original print of the film, but the title song is by far the most famous.

Most of the other songs are standards or classic big band tunes. Of these, Liza Minnelli's "Just You, Just Me" is my favorite. DeNiro and Mary Kay Place also manage a rather nice "Blue Moon."

Work was, to my surprise, the most pleasant it's been in weeks. It was steady, but not anything resembling as busy as Sundays normally are. It's so nice, everyone must have gone down to the Shore. Either that, or they're all waiting for Labor Day Weekend. For once, I had plenty of help doing carts, too. I also gathered baskets, bagged briefly, and shelved the few returns.

Went straight home and into the bath. Ahhh. I needed that. It was nice to relax and soak my sore feet and legs. I looked over Christmas craft and cooking books while listening to George Winston playing Vince Guraldi music.

Worked on writing when I got out of the shower. Chip sees Lance's club, Cloud City, open for cleaning, and wanders in. He's inspecting the neat sci-fi inspired murals when he overhears Lance arguing with none other than Vader of the Imperial Gang. Vader intends to kidnap Leia and Hank at the club and use them to lure Luke into a trap. Chip manages to escape to a near-by phone booth and call Arturro long enough to warn him and Luke away before Vader grabs him.

Broke at 7 for a nice dinner. Made Creole-Seasoned Catfish, sauteed green beans with tomatoes, and roasted potatoes and herbs for dinner. It was such a lovely, cool night, my apartment didn't even get really hot when the potatoes were in the oven! It all came out very nicely, especially the potatoes, which were perfect and just golden-brown enough.

Listened to Bandstand while I ate. This is another original story set in post-war America among big-band musicians, but it's far more upbeat. A former soldier named Donny Novati (Corey Cott) is hoping to resume his career as a jazz musician, but jobs are hard to come by...until he hears a radio announcement about a big contest for jazz bands. He gathers together a group of volatile former soldiers into the Donny Nova Band, then hires the widow of his late buddy (Laura Osnes) to be their singer. Soon, they're heading for the top, and on their way to New York for the finals. But even when they find that the competition isn't what they thought it was, they know they've already won...because they've proved to hundreds of music fans that they're talented enough to rise to the "cream of the crop."

No wonder this one is still going strong at this writing on a crowded and busy Broadway. While I suspect it does lose a bit without it's Tony-winning choreography, the music is lovely enough on it's own, including the stirring "Right This Way" and "Nobody" and the touching "Welcome Home." Corey Cott is especially good as determined vet Donny.

If you're a fan of big band, jazz, or the 40's, or just want to try a lighter modern musical, Bandstand is really sweet and a lot of fun.

Ended the night with a more cynical musical view of the same time period, City of Angels. We cross the continent from Cleveland and New York to LA, where mystery author Stone (Gregg Edelman) is adapting his book City of Angels to the big screen. The adaptation isn't going well. The producer (Rene Auberjonois) keeps demanding more and more changes. He just slept with the producer's wife (Randy Graff). His own wife (Kay McClelland) thinks he's selling out and is furious about his infidelity. Even his creation, Stine (James Naughton), is frustrated with him, to the point of singing about it in his head. Both men seem to be heading for a fall, unless one of them can re-write this into a Hollywood happy ending...

Despite the rather odd cop-out ending, this is one of my favorite musicals of the 1980's. I have very fond memories of seeing commercials for this on WWOR and WPIX from Secaucus and New York in the late 80's-early 90's. The Tony-winning score is fabulous. My favorite numbers are for the ladies. "What You Don't Know About Women," "The Tennis Song," and "You Can Always Count On Me" are witty and hilarious.

Once again, if you're a fan of big band music, the time period, or film noir, this musical deserves to be better-known today and is highly recommended.

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