I’m about to blog about Kitty Carlisle Hart and thought this 1993 clip from PBS might be a nice way to introduce her. Conductor is American musical theater archivist John McGlinn, who died in 2009 at too young an age (55). Also featured in this program are Judy Kaye (On the Twentieth Century) and Rebecca Luker (The Sound of Music, 1998 Broadway revival). Thanks to McGlinn, this is the original Hans Spialek orchestration from the 1937 show Babes in Arms. I’ve always preferred Rodgers & Hart to Rodgers & Hammerstein; this was one of my audition pieces. (Starts at 46:30.)
How long ago has it been, only nine months? So I don’t think he’s totally forgotten about it yet. If I could actually sit down with John over a bo’le a’broon and be assured of some kind of honest answer, there are two questions I’d ask him:
1) How old were you when you first heard Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in its entirety and what were the circumstances?
2) What in the name of God possessed you to use the original, unchanged 1943 Robert Russell Bennett orchestration for a staged concert of Oklahoma in a venue seating over 5500 people???
Is your figure less than Greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?
But don’t change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay, little valentine, stay!
Each day is Valentine’s Day.
He’s peaky, scrawny, blinky, his gray-green eyes lack luster; he’s got a facial tic, lousy posture, and hands like a hod carrier’s; his ears turn pink in the sun; his nose is an equilateral triangle; his famous cleft chin—supposedly his best feature—always looks to me to be slightly askew; his ultra-short mousy hair can’t conceal the fact he’s already going gray; he sweats like a stevedore on the podium; for the past few years he’s taken to wearing nerd glasses; and to top it all off, his lofty pronouncements on The Great American Songbook make me want to smack the back of his head like the whippersnapper he is and send him home with a note.
So tell me, how is it that this man has hit my heart with a bolt of lightning?
Is it his humanness that brings me to the music—or is it the music that brings me to his humanness?
(By the way, Herr Doktor Wilson: You say you like songs so much, but the words aren’t important? Don’t insult Larry Hart like that again.)
More later. This one’s a doozy.