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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

THE EVOLUTION OF GIRL CRAZY

Girl Crazy produced an amazing list of future superstars.  Few identify this broadway show and subsequent films as products of the Gershwin brothers, George and Ira.  First performed in 1930, 85 years ago, in the Alvin Theater, this musical made stars of Ginger Rogers (who was 19) and Ethel Merman (22, in her debut).  Incredibly enough, the opening night pit orchestra had Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Red Nichols, Jack Teagarden and Jimmy Dorsey, with conductor George Gershwin, who died 78 years ago at the age of 37 from a brain tumor.  Remember, this was the time of our greatest depression, and seats sold for as low as 25 cents.  The average price last year on Broadway was $103.88.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any original recordings nor clips, but here is Ginger Rogers (left) singing Embraceable You nearly half a century later, and But Not For Me, in a 1978 recording.   Ethel Merman (right) with I Got Rhythm on TV, and at the Tonys 42 years after her original performance.  Another popular tune was Bidin' My Time by The Foursome.  There was a quick 1932 movie which lost money.

In 1943 the second film had Judy Garland playing the composite of what Rogers and Merman did on Broadway, with Mickey Rooney, in their ninth of ten pairings, June Allyson, and Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra playing themselves.  Fascinating Rhythm was added.  Judy Garland sang Bidin' My TimeBut Not for MeI've Got Rhythm and  Embraceable You.




Watch the full 1 hr 39 min Girl Crazy online, for free.  As this posting is all about nostalgia, here is an innocent Judy singing Zing Went the Strings of My Heart just before she starred in The Wizard of Oz.


It took just about half a century, but in 1992 the show became Crazy for You on Broadway, winning Best Musical, having added Nice Work if You Can Get It and They Can't Take That Away from Me, the latter from the 1937 Shall We Dance, starring Ginger Rogers with Fred Astaire, their seventh collaboration.  The latest roadshow toured the USA last year.  Cincinnati Music Theater has performances of Crazy for You next month.  They've added Someone to Watch Over Me, originally performed by Gertrude Lawrence in 1926.  There were so many versions, but Frank Sinatra is remembered for his rendition.

One of Susan Boyle's albums was entitled Someone to Watch Over Me.  And if you've never seen her in what has become the most stunning talent performance on TV of all time, you absolutely need to click on THIS, featuring Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan.  How did I get here?  Anyway, all those songs came from George and Ira Gershwin.

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