Monday, June 14, 2010

And She Was Beautiful... (and still is)

Thank you to 42nd Street Moon's new intern, William Gaines, for this fun posting.

Who watched the Tony Awards Sunday night? If you’re reading this blog then chances are that is a superfluous question.

My favorite moment of the telecast, and a moment which only the most cold-hearted, ruthlessly ageist could take issue with, was the appearance of, and the ensuing standing ovation received by, legendary star Angela Lansbury.

I would venture that there isn’t a person who hasn’t been touched by Angela Lansbury.  I know at least a few of you reading this  grew up enjoying Angela as Jessica Fletcher on Murder She Wrote, eschewing your academic duties and missing meals in order to watch Angie solve a murder on TV every Sunday night. I know others of you must be obsessed with her Academy Award Nominated performance as Mrs. Iselin, the mother from hell, in The Manchurian Candidate, or her almost too adorable, deliciously cockney Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast. Is there any self-respecting musical theatre fan that didn’t cut their teeth on the cast albums of Angela’s legendary Broadway shows: Mame, Sweeney Todd, Dear World and Gypsy? Raise your hand if you ever threw on a feather boa, borrowed momma’s pearls, and stomped around the house lip-synching to Angie’s recording of “If He Walked into my Life.” Yup, that’s a lot of hands.

What some of you Angela fans may not know, is that in the 1940’s -- before the five Tony awards and the long-running, heavily syndicated TV series -- Angela was under contract to MGM and appeared in two of their most delightful musicals.

In George Sidney’s 1946 classic, The Harvey Girls, a 19 year-old Angela Lansbury plaid the bitchy showgirl, Em, the vinegar to Judy Garland’s sweet as honey portrayal of Susan Bradley. The film, a thrilling entry from the Golden Age of the movie musical, is perhaps best remembered for the much-lauded production number ”On the Atchison, Topeka, and The Santa Fe,” but rest assured that the entire film is a complete delight, with Angela vamping it up and Judy singing her heart out, throughout. 

Till the Clouds Roll By, a 1946 musical bio-pic of legendary composer Jerome Kern, featured a who’s who of MGM’s brightest stars, from June Allyson and Kathryn Grayson, to Lena Horne and Cyd Charisse, singing some of Kern’s most beautiful music from Roberta and Show Boat.  In the film, Angela, looking as youthful and glam as she was ever allowed, performs a delightful rendition of “Spoon with Me,” replete with a red feathered hat, a relative army of dancing boys, and a few well placed swings.

If you love Angela in these classic musical films, if you are even the least bit nostalgic for the great music that Hollywood produced in the 1940’s, come down to the Alcazar Theatre on June 21st to see some of your favorite Moonies perform the most celebrated tunes from the Golden Age of the Hollywood musical in 42nd Street Moon’s annual fundraising gala Kiss the Boys Goodbye. It is an evening you won’t want to miss.  For tickets click here or call (415) 255-8207.

William Gaines is a proud resident of San Francisco and a drama major at Vassar College in New York. He has always loved musical theatre--whether that be as a performer, an audience member, or as a 42nd Street Moon's newest intern and sometimes blogger.

No comments: