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Are there any broadway musicals that pay homage to the 1930s movie musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers?

b741ma
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This guy I watch online was talking about how the Broadway musicals Thoroughly Modern Millie and The Drowsy Chaperone were both homages to the musicals of the 1920s. So I was wondering if they were any broadway musicals which paid homage to the next decade of musicals the 1930s. More specifically the films of dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers who made 10 films together during that time period. The only large scale Astaire-Rogers homage I can think of is the homage/parody High Hat, a sketch on the Carol Burnett Show which you can find on YouTube.

Can you think of any musicals that pay homage to the films of Astaire and Rogers?

 

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CATSNYrevival
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There was a musical adaptation of Top Hat in the West End. They're apparently working on a revised version for Broadway but I haven't heard anything about that recently. There's a cast album out of the West End production.

Updated On: 8/26/19 at 12:18 AM
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joevitus
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I don't know if you want to count this, but when the two male villains in It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman sing "You've Got What I Need Baby" the stage directions mention their doing an Astaire-Rogers movement at one point, and the orchestration on the cast recording support that.

Of course, Ben's "Live! Laugh! Love!" is a clear reference to Astaire's "Top Hat" number.

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musikman
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The musical Never Gonna Dance was based on the Astaire/Rogers movie Swing Time. It was a pleasant but mostly forgettable show. Only ran for about 3 months or so. I think I saw one of the very few -if any- sold out performances
-There's the muddle in the middle. There's the puddle where the poodle did the piddle."
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Susan Stroman's 1992 hit Crazy for You is the closest I can think of. It is based on the 1930 Broadway musical Girl Crazy, whose score was written by George and Ira Gershwin. Although I thought that Astaire was a Broadway star who migrated to Hollywood while Ginger was strictly Hollywood, Rogers played the female lead in Girl Crazy and it made her a star. No, Fred was not in this one. (However Ethel Merman made her Broadway debut here and sang "I Got Rhythm," It made her an "overnight sensation." I can imagine.)

George and Ira wrote the score for one of the Astaire/Rogers films, the 1937 Shall We Dance. Although Crazy for You was primarily kind of based on Girl Crazy, it included three numbers from the film Shall We Dance: "Shall We Dance," "Slap That Bass," and one of Gershwin's best, "They Can't Take That Away From Me." (Gershwin died two months after Shall We Dance was released. "They Can't Take That Away" was posthumously nominated for best song Oscar. It not only didn't win, but lost to "Sweet Lellani" from Waikiki Wedding, proving not only that Hollywood was not sentimental, but also lacked taste.)

So Crazy for You in addition to being generally based on the Gershwin musicals of the 30s, commemorates two dance numbers from an Astaire/Rogers film. After the enormous enthusiasm that greeted the February, 2017 25th anniversary one night concert performance before a star-studded audience at Lincoln Center, it was considered to be on the fast track to Broadway. Susan Stroman workshopped the show in January, 2018 with stars Tony Yazbeck and Laura Osnes (but not with Rachel Bloom, who had appeared in the concert giving it a little more star power), but it never landed anywhere. Not officially dead, but with Stroman out of New York this year on other projects and Yazbeck in a new musical next spring it doesn't look very promising.

Here is the finale and extended curtain call from Crazy for You, 2017.

(On mobile app, return to here after playing of video may be problematical)

(Hit the full screen symbol lower right to view full screen.)

https://youtu.be/jqzxDDW4CGQ


Yazbeck and Osnes have done eight shows at 54 Below (four last October and four this May/June) and a lot of what they do is reminiscent of Fred and Ginger. With a little more work at imitating them, they could probably take Astaire and Rogers on the road for a long time.

Here in their finale they sing "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" (which is IN the film but NOT IN Crazy for You), followed by an upbeat dance and tap to Gershwin tunes.

Shot by me at point blank range so could not get head and feet in the same shot. Opted mostly for heads. There are many other videos of them up on YouTube.

(On mobile app, return to here after playing of video may be problematical)

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https://youtu.be/n5D2hwCIkIk

Updated On: 8/26/19 at 04:01 AM
Wayman_Wong
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I loved ''Never Gonna Dance'' (2003) and saw it a number of times, because of the dynamic dancing of Noah Racey, who co-starred with Nancy Lemenager. It was such a terrific tribute to the amazing musicals of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and it's ridiculous that Racey wasn't even nominated for that season's Astaire Award, which he should've outright won. Anyway, it got Tony nominations for Karen Ziemba (Featured Actress) and its toe-tapping choreography by Jerry Mitchell.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehnzTDS1xE8

Updated On: 8/26/19 at 03:27 PM
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I think MY ONE AND ONLY is a better representative of Rogers & Astaire than CRAZY FOR YOU.

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joevitus said: "I don't know if you want to count this, but when the two male villains in It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It'sSuperman sing "You've Got What I Need Baby" the stage directions mention their doing an Astaire-Rogers movement at one point, and the orchestrationon the cast recording support that.

Of course, Ben's "Live! Laugh! Love!" is a clear reference to Astaire's "Top Hat" number.
"

If specific moments in shows count (as opposed to only full shows), then the number "A Tough Act to Follow" from CURTAINS fits the bill - a song and dance that is definitely patterned after a Fred and Ginger number. (And was truly charming.)

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GavestonPS said: "I think MY ONE AND ONLY is a better representative of Rogers & Astaire than CRAZY FOR YOU."

Never saw it, except for some highlights. You must have seen more than just the highlight numbers "S'Wonderful" and "Kicking the Clouds Away." In "S'Wonderful" on the desert island they rouse themselves and splash through water independent of each other. "Kicking the Clouds Away" is three minutes performed by the large chorus (not a lot of chorus in Fred and Ginger) and then the two of them in two minutes parade together in simple tap but are not in contact with each other still.

The finale of Crazy for You is the more classic twosome intertwined in graceful movement. That would remind me of Fred and Ginger romantic finales "Let's Face the Music and Dance" and "Never Gonna Dance" and others.

I really wasn't expecting much that night. I had seen one low budget production on PBS that barely held my interest. But that night in the far from intimate Geffen Hall there was just so much energy flowing that it more like being at an NBA playoff game. Perhaps you understand the phenomenon where I don't.

One good thing about not making it to Broadway: eight performances a week it could never live up to all the hype that the anniversary performance is being given. This way those of us who were there can continue to increase its legendary status. (But it was special. Complete strangers who exited the theater together were still talking to each other even after they they got on the subway train.)

 

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Not necessarily just Astaire/Rogers, but Dames of Sea is a classic "parody"-esque of several 30's movie musicals. Some of the numbers do indeed pay homage to the team.

The Coconuts is another 30's adaptation for the stage, which is Marx Brothers material, but has a couple of lovely dance duets.

Most of the "new" Gershwin musical comedies have Astaire/Rogers moments in them, as well as any well-choreographed Cole Porter show. Think of An American in Paris, Nice Work if You Can Get It, Anything Goes' De-Lovely/You're the Top.

 

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Yes, in "Nice Work if You Can Get It" Kelli and Matthew -- well at least Kelli -- do a nice job singing "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," but fail to follow it up with the dance routine on roller skates that Fred and Ginger segue into.

They say that the soundtrack of "Shall We Dance" is the only place that you can hear certain orchestral themes by George Gershwin. I believe that they are reverse engineering the soundtrack and intend to come out with published sheet music within the next 10 or 20 years.

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Dames at Sea was a lovely spoof and love letter to movies of this era, but you all didn't buy tickets for it, huh?

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Dames at Sea was a long time ago and introduced us to Bernadette Peters, didn't it. This is when I get frustrated that there's no way for me to see Dames at Sea or My One and Only.

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Agree with Wayman_Wong on Never Gonna Dance.  I think this was a really underrated and very entertaining show.  Racey was very good, although Nancy Lemenager lacked Ginger's brassy rapport.  The supporting cast was excellent though and the dance numbers outstanding.  But it was hit repeatedly for being too old-fashioned.  Sometimes, you just like something old-fashioned that does not hit you like 18 tons.  This was a nice example of that.

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It's a movie musical rather than a Broadway musical, but I think that La La Land hits some of these marks and pays homage.

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Christoph, I'm glad to read that I wasn't the only one who enjoyed ''Never Gonna Dance.'' I thought it got a bum rap. If it always intended to be a homage to Astaire and Rogers, how could it NOT be ''old-fashioned''? In a season of ''Wicked,'' ''Avenue Q,'' ''Taboo,'' ''Caroline, or Change,'' I fear it just wasn't ''hip.'' But Racey gave it his all. I could swear I saw Racey do a dance number on TV, which started at Grand Central, but I can't find it on YouTube. All I can locate, besides the Macy's  appearance, is this clip of the show's curtain call. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNXgSPU8b4M

Updated On: 8/27/19 at 06:24 PM
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OlBlueEyes said: "Dames at Sea was a long time ago and introduced us to Bernadette Peters, didn't it. This is when I get frustrated that there's no way for me to see Dames at Sea or My One and Only."

There IS a way to see them, sort of. The Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) has an archival video of the original 1984 production of My One and Only. Unfortunately, Dames at Sea -- the one with Bernadette -- predated the archive's existence, but there is a video of the 2015 revival at the Helen Hayes.

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''Dames at Sea'' was more of a spoof of the Busby Berkeley musicals, but there's a 1971 TV movie version of it, starring Ann-Margret as Ruby, Harvey Evans as Dick and Ann Miller as Mona. There's a couple of clips on YouTube, and here's Ann, in tiptop tap-happy shape, leading ''Wall Street.''

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HXn076djr8

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Until the former jockey passes, we will not see a musical based on Rogers and Astaire, which is unfortunate.  It's still shocking what she did to poor Ginger at the Kennedy Center.  

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Ann Miller or Eleanor Powell? Ann looking younger than expected.

I had competely forgotten about Robyn and Fred. I always had read that his jealous wife had insisted that he keep his distance from Ginger. Well, they both seemed to be happy together. Sweet Mystery of Life.

Ginger was pretty tough. Most probably don't know that she won the Best Actress in a Drama Oscar for Kitty Foyle. She beat Katherine Hepburn (The Philadelphia Story), Joan Fontaine (Rebecca) and Bette Davis.

There IS a way to see them, sort of. The Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) has an archival video of the original 1984 production of My One and Only. 

Is this open to everyone? Do you need credentials?

All I can locate, besides the Macy's  appearance, is this clip of the show's curtain call. Enjoy! 

Thanks for the clip. This is one I would have wanted to see. Swing Time already had a strong score by my guy Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields (including the Oscar winning "Just the Way You Look Tonight" which Rod Stewart did pretty good justice to. Then they threw in a bunch of other Kern songs from various places including "I Won't Dance" from the other Astaire/Rogers film to which Kern supplied the music: Roberta. (Actually Irene Dunne was given top billing and sang the still classic "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."Are there any broadway musicals that pay homage to the 1930s movie musicals starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers?

Maybe audiences had high expectations for Fred and Ginger chemistry that wasn't met.

 

Updated On: 8/28/19 at 03:07 AM
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Not based upon Astaire/Rodgers, but I believe playing tribute to that era, how about the short-lived "High Society." (I know the movie musical is from the 50s, but the source, The Philadelphia Story, is 30s)

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OlBlueEyes said: There IS a way to see them, sort of. The Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) has an archival video of the original 1984 production of My One and Only.

Is this open to everyone? Do you need credentials?


The archive is open to theater professionals and students with a valid reason to view the videos, and they must be viewed in the TOFT screening room at the Performing Arts Library, at Lincoln Center. (As it happens, I work there.) I can add that the "academic" purposes for viewing are not too strictly defined. For instance, if someone wanted to see a particular play because he or she was writing an article or blog post about it, that would be a perfectly acceptable reason. It doesn't have to be for a credited class.

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Cmorrow, thanks for all the great work the Lincoln Center library does, and especially TOFT, headed by Patrick Hoffman. By the way, did TOFT get to film ''Never Gonna Dance''?

Updated On: 8/28/19 at 04:12 PM
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Wayman_Wong said: "Cmorrow, thanks for all the great work the Lincoln Center library does, and especially TOFT, headed by Patrick Hoffman. By the way, did TOFT get to film ''Never Gonna Dance''?"

Thanks for the words of appreciation! And yes, TOFT taped 'Never Gonna Dance' in February 2004.

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Tony Yazbeck seems to have been inspired by Fred & Ginger.