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Monday, June 5, 2017

Yet Again, The Return Of Dr. Rothman, Tune Detective.

It's been a while.
I hope I've been missed.
Let me get right to it.
"Hello, Dolly!" has been a landmark musical.
It is wonderful on so many levels.
The score, in general, is gorgeous.
Jerry Herman is perhaps our greatest living melodist, and he outdoes himself with "Dolly".
Louis Armstrong's recording of the title song is perhaps the greatest recording of all time.
With the exception of Streisand's movie soundtrack, which was overblown, underblown, and let's face it, simply blows, there have been several cast albums that are more or less wonderful, and completely capture that which is wonderful about the show.
Thus, it is with great sadness that I must report that the new Bette Midler cast album recording  is eminently avoidable.
I have most often been a fan of Ms. Midler, but there is a fatal flaw in this recording.
All of her vocals are set in a key that is too low for her.
She does not allow herself to soar to the wonderful high notes that are there within her grasp.
Instead, she goes under them, as if afraid to approach them.
The effect is dismal.
Could it be that she has lost the upper end of her pipes?
Is that why she gives up Tuesday nights to Donna Murphy?
Also, the original orchestrations have been jettisoned for what seems to be those that are far more rinky-dink and shoddy in nature.
It's like they went out of their way to save money on instruments.
None of it is lush.
It demands lush.
The Original Cast Album, with Carol Channing, gets the most out of what can only be described as
an unusual voice.
It's easy to see how fistfights can break out about Channing's talent.
Some might call it an acquired taste.
Well, I've acquired it, and am utterly charmed by it.
Also, she has the best supporting cast on her recording.
David Burns as Vandergelder, Charles Nelson Reilly as Cornelius, and Eileen Brennan as Irene Malloy.
I just re-listened to it and it holds up great.  Loaded with charm and fun.
Pearl Bailey then did her all-black version, which at first I thought had no reason to live.
I thought it was complete fantasy that there were all those upscale blacks going to fancy restaurants in New York in the 1890s.
But there were, and they did.
So you are left with Pearl, probably the most talented performer, and easily the best singer to perform the role.
She infuses so much of her great personality, particularly in the title song, where she essentially kibitzes with the waiters, adding her usual asides.
Cab Calloway plays Vandergelder and it's on one level: to show how cute he can be.
He's not about playing his character.
Emily Yancy is wonderful as Irene Molloy, and sings great.
The others all sing great too but don't leave that much of a character impression.
Pearlie Mae more than makes up for it.
They made a cast album of Mary Martin's London company.
She's just fine, and never gets too cutesy.
Marilyn Lovell is an asset.
The rest of the cast is a bunch of foreigners who occasionally let their English accents slip.
But it's very pleasant.
The only production I actually saw was in the original Broadway production, when Ginger Rogers
took over for Channing.
I found her to be rather stiff, going through the motions.
But she did keep moving forward, and her skirts were so long that I couldn't see if she was wearing high heels.
That's at least better than working with Fred Astaire.
Back to Midler, David Hyde Pierce plays Vandergelder, and doesn't seem to add much.
They resurrected a song that was dropped from the original tryout.
A very trivial song called "A  Penny in My Pocket", which describes how Vandergelder acquired his wealth.  It was dropped because they realized that nobody gave a crap about that.
Also, this song is a more rhythmic, less jazzy version of Sinatra's "Learning The Blues".
You know---"The tables are empty, the dancefloor's deserted". That song.
Now that it's resurrected, there could be a successful lawsuit.
It's much closer to "Learnin' the Blues" than "Sunflower" was to "Hello Dolly".
And there, Jerry Herman settled out of court.
Okay, so you've been warned.
But who knows?  She certainly doesn't sing the hell out of this show, but maybe she acts the hell out of it.
At this point, she already has to play catch-up.  At these prices, that's a lot to ask for.

My books, "Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have since been removed from the blog.
So this is the only way you can find them.,
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not e-books.
But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.


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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."