At last My last week of riding this train wreck of a month I devoted to Broadway. Not a bad idea to start but I am quite sick at this moment of listening to showtunes. Also, not to bright of me to leave the works I am less familiar with to the end. Oh well, lets burn thru these. Here is this that I bought for $4, probably to dedicate some space to the subject matter.
And what better way to celebrate a month of Broadway than to pay tribute to its very own bard, George M. Cohan. An Irish American born to vaudevillian parents in 1878, Cohan went on to write and perform in more than three dozen musicals, beginning with Little Johnny Jones in 1904. An early pioneer in the book musical which most of these posts have been celebrating this month, Cohan wrote over 300 songs including “Yankee Doodle Dandy”, “You’re A Grand Old Flag”, “Over There”, “45 Minutes to Broadway’, and “Mary Is A Grand Old Name”.
Perhaps, Cohan is best known today (or last century) by his portrayal by James Cagney in the bio movie Yankee Doodle Dandy. Cagney, who was a former vaudevillian and dancer, was a good fit for the role, although Cohan, an advisor to the film, preferred Fred Astaire. Nevermind that the film was a good old dose of Hollywood bullshit of things that did not happen as true as they are presented. It remains one of my favorites. Cohan himself, who was in ill health, would pass shortly after its release in 1942. As tribute, he has a statue in Broadway.
This production, based on Cohan’s life, opened on Broadway in 1968 and ran for 433 performances. Driven by actor Joel Grey, who was coming off the success of Cabaret, the music, of course was Cohan’s with the book by Michael Stewart, John Pascal, and his wife Francine. The cast also featured Bernadette Peters.
Reviews were mixed. The book was called a mess but the directing work of Joe Layton as well as the performance of Joel Grey were generally praised. Layton won a Tony for choregraphy for his efforts with this and a television adaptation was produced in 1970. Grey was nominated for a Tony but alas did not win. Did you know Joel Grey is the father of Dirty Dancing‘s Jennifer Grey? This is the fun fact I learned with this post.
Could have gone in many directions with this, but ultimatley decided to go with the Epilogue number, which is a medley of some of Cohan’s songs along with an audio of his famous signoff, “My Father Thanks You, My Mother Thanks You…..Etc”.
Not a bad little album. Satisfactory.