Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#1
Posted: 11/5/19 at 6:29pm

After having seen the wonderful production of 42nd Street on Great Performances, I went back to the OBC recording of 42nd STREET and was reminded of how bad Tammy Grimes sang the role of  Dorothy Brock.

Everyone else was wonderful, but to me she was all wrong for the role....

Hope that the West End production makes a transfer to Bway!

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#2
Posted: 11/5/19 at 6:36pm

Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#3
Posted: 11/5/19 at 6:38pm

I saw Tammy Grimes in 42ND STREET and was she magical. It's true she had an unusual singing voice but it was completely unique and she had real star quality -- there was a strange glamour to her and unlike anyone else I've ever seen play the part she was very, very funny.

Don't ever underestimate the qualities of the original cast of a hit Broadway musical. They usually play a strong part in what made the original production appealing.

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#4
Posted: 11/5/19 at 7:31pm

I saw the original production a few months after it opened (and several times thereafter). Believe it or not I got my ticket on TKTS (Wednesday matinee).

I thoroughly enjoyed Tammy Grimes' performance, and her voice has never bothered me when listening to the cast recording.  Wanda Richert was out that day, but Gail Benedict as Peggy Sawyer was excellent.

The original production was magical.  I also enjoyed the subsequent revival, but preferred Theoni V. Aldredge's "Dame" costumes to those worn in the revival.

Hey Dottie! Did your colleagues enjoy the cake even though your cat decided to sit on it? ~GuyfromGermany
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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#5
Posted: 11/5/19 at 8:04pm
Saw it at the Saturday matinee 11/15/80.
She was sublime; a classic Diva; glorious.
So glad I saw it a few months after opening.
I'll never forget being there.
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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#6
Posted: 11/5/19 at 8:20pm

My first Broadway show was seeing 42d Street in June 1983.  I don't have a playbill and have no idea who was in the cast. (Also saw Dreamgirls and Nine on that trip)

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#7
Posted: 11/5/19 at 8:38pm

I don't know how old you are, but there used to be something (not so much anymore) called star quality. Performers who could hold you in the palm of their hand even if they weren't the most gorgeous or had the best singing voice. Tammy Grimes was among them. Think about Harvey Fierstein-perfect example. Some people transcend delivering a flawless vocal because they are that charismatic. They deliver you something greater. They elevate an audience. 

Today it's all looks and belting your face off (with a mic.) Give me some incredible character actors. Jackie Hoffman and Martha Plimpton are two I currently can put my finger on. Plimpton stole Pal Joey and she isn't a singer. 

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#8
Posted: 11/5/19 at 8:42pm

That west end production was about as bland and miscast as you can possibly aspire to. Boring and the singing was bland and boring. The best that can be said about the production was that the tap routines were neatly and cleanly executed.

Updated On: 11/5/19 at 08:42 PM
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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#9
Posted: 11/6/19 at 9:28am

To echo what Bettyboy says, one of the reasons why Grimes was so wonderful (and ideal) for the role of Dorothy Brock was that she recalled the actual stars of 1920s -1930s Broadway musicals - performers like Gertrude Lawrence, Bea Lillie and Billie Burke, none of whom were great singers but all of whom had a glamour and a star 'quality' that made them appealing in the time.  I suppose, on some meta-level, you could say that Brock represents a brand of entertainer that by the mid 1930s was giving way to more plucky and vocally robust stars like Mary Martin and Ethel Merman and that's a little of what is represented by her being pushed aside for Peggy Sawyer.

But if you want to talk about the correct way to cast 42ND STREET, Dorothy Brock should not be a power-house belter. That isn't authentic to the period the show is set in.

“I knew who I was this morning, but I've changed a few times since then.”
Updated On: 11/6/19 at 09:28 AM
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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#10
Posted: 11/6/19 at 9:45am

behindthescenes2 said: "That west end production was about as bland and miscast as you can possibly aspire to. Boring and the singing was bland and boring. The best that can be said about the production was that the tap routines wereneatlyand cleanly executed."

PREACH!!!

I got see Dolores Gray, again, another example of legitimate "star quality".   So much what made Broadway exciting has been processed out of most shows. 

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#11
Posted: 11/6/19 at 11:03am
Did anyone see Tammy Grimes and Christine Ebersole? I’m curious how they compare.
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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#12
Posted: 11/6/19 at 11:09am

QueenAlice said: "To echo what Bettyboy says, one of the reasons why Grimes was so wonderful (and ideal) for the role of Dorothy Brock was that she recalled the actual stars of 1920s -1930s Broadway musicals - performers like Gertrude Lawrence, Bea Lillie and Billie Burke, none of whom were great singers but all of whom had a glamour and a star 'quality' that made them appealing in the time. I suppose, on some meta-level, you could say that Brock represents a brand of entertainer that by the mid 1930s was giving way to more plucky and vocally robust stars like Mary Martin and Ethel Merman and that's a little of what is represented by her being pushed aside for Peggy Sawyer.

But if you want to talk about the correct way to cast 42ND STREET,Dorothy Brock should not be a power-house belter. That isn't authentic to the period the show is set in.
"

QueenAlice:

You hit the nail squarely on the head.

She shouldn't be a belter.

Listen especially to Tammy's rendition of You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me.

For all I know, she might've been channelling the way Bebe Daniels performed it in the original film.

 

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#13
Posted: 11/6/19 at 5:44pm

NOWaWarning said: "Did anyone see Tammy Grimes and Christine Ebersole? I’m curious how they compare."

I saw both.  To me, Grimes didn't stand out in the original production; I remember being surprised at how small her role seemed.  She was good, but didn't have a lot to work with.  Ebersole's role was made larger...as I recall, she had several extra songs.  Ebersole won a Tony in a very uncompetitive year...IMO the role doesn't even justify a lead actress nomination, let alone win.  It is a supporting role.

Both were good, Ebersole better mainly because she had more stage time (again as I recall).

 
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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#14
Posted: 11/6/19 at 6:17pm

Jarethan said: "I saw both. To me, Grimes didn't stand out in the original production; I remember being surprised at how small her role seemed. She was good, but didn't have a lot to work with. Ebersole's role was made larger...as I recall, she had several extra songs. Ebersole won a Tony in a very uncompetitive year...IMO the role doesn't even justify a lead actress nomination, let alone win. It is a supporting role.

Both were good, Ebersole better mainly because she had more stage time (again as I recall).
"

I don't know that Ebersole had any additional songs. The playbill lists a song in the original production for Tammy Grimes called "I Know Now." It's not included on the original Broadway cast recording and I think it was eventually replaced with "I Only Have Eyes For You." Ebersole sang that instead of "I Know Now."

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#15
Posted: 11/6/19 at 8:47pm

Personally, I found the telecast of the show from the Drury Lane impossible to dislike! But I agree re the singing of Dorothy Brock's role. Download the cast album of the West End production: Sheena Easton sings the role in head voice and it's a revelation, not only lovely to the ear but dramatically useful in distinguishing between Brock (old school) and Peggy Sawyer (new generation)!

***

As for Tammy Grimes, some performers' talents just don't transfer well to electronic media (be it film, videotape or recording). I worked with Tammy on a show called A MUSICAL JUBILEE, a Broadway revue that flopped and transferred directly to Fort Lauderdale when we lost the rights to PIPPIN.

Tammy was singing alongside "real" singers, including Patrice Munsel, Larry Kert and John Raitt, and I promise you she held her own through sheer star wattage. Her rendition of "I've Told Every Little Star" still haunts me (in a good way). (She was more than bit looney off-stage and we couldn't book the stars in our usual hotel because Tammy and her dog had destroyed a suite there and she was banned.)

She was a classic actor-who-sings-a-little a la Robert Preston, Rex Harrison and Barbara Harris. I agree with the poster above who wrote that musicals were far more interesting with such performers than today's shows in which everyone is trained the same and sounds alike.

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#16
Posted: 11/12/19 at 6:42pm

Thanks for all the insight into Ms. Grimes!

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#17
Posted: 11/12/19 at 7:48pm

Tammy Grimes was unique.  But back then we had mostly unique stars who probably wouldn't get cast in today's rather silly world.  Mary Martin, Judy Holiday, and more - all unique.  With no disrespect to the many fine actresses who've played Dorothy Brock, and I've seen a lot of them, no one got the laughs that Grimes got - no one even came close.  It's one of the failings of people who restage - they simply are not good enough to understand the comedy.  But Grimes could get a huge laugh with tilt of a head.  I was lucky enough to have seen her in a ton of shows and she was never less than brilliant - and FUNNY.  Molly Brown (via the national tour and then a few years later in the round), Rattle of a Simple Man, The Decline and Fall of the Entire World as Seen Through the Eyes of Cole Porter, Private Lives, and more.  I met her many times, and she was meant to be on the Unsung Sondheim album but health problems happened and so that didn't happen.  One-of-a-kind.

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#18
Posted: 11/12/19 at 8:56pm
I saw her in Blithe Spirit, The Tavern (both with Brian Bedford), In Praise of Love, My Fat Friend (with George Rose), and lastly - and most famously - in 42nd Street; 39 years ago November 15th.
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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#19
Posted: 11/12/19 at 9:07pm

markypoo said: "I saw her in Blithe Spirit, The Tavern (both with Brian Bedford), In Praise of Love, My Fat Friend (with George Rose), and lastly - and most famously - in 42nd Street; 39 years ago November 15th."

I forgot about MY FAT FRIEND. Of course George Rose stole that show, but Tammy was still wonderful and ultimately moving.

BK's mention of meeting Tammy many times caused me to re-evaluate my remark above that she was "more than looney" off-stage. I should have clarified that I meant "looney" as in eccentric (and unintentionally tough to corral for this PA); she was still utterly charming in real life as well.

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#20
Posted: 11/12/19 at 9:13pm

Does anyone who saw Grimes or Ebersole remember if those productions used a wheelchair instead of crutches for Brock's last scene/raprochement-with-Peggy? (It's for no apparent reason the "I Only Have Eyes for You" scene.)

I found it a surprising and sorry choice in the telecast from the West End. Brock is simply seated in her wheelchair, where in the movie Brock drags herself in on crutches a la some Jurassic creature from the swamp! It's a very striking image--both comic and sad (the latter because of her need to be at the center of the action)--which the wheelchair did not allow.

Anybody?

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#21
Posted: 11/12/19 at 9:40pm
It's been almost exactly 39 years, but I think - THINK - that Grimes was in a wheelchair.
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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#22
Posted: 11/12/19 at 10:20pm
Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street

 

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#23
Posted: 11/13/19 at 1:14am

GavestonPS said: "Personally, I found the telecast of the show from the Drury Lane impossible to dislike! But I agree re the singing of Dorothy Brock's role. Download the cast album of the West End production: Sheena Easton sings the role in head voice and it's a revelation, not only lovely to the ear but dramatically useful in distinguishing between Brock (old school) and Peggy Sawyer (new generation)!

***

As for Tammy Grimes, some performers' talents just don't transfer well to electronic media (be it film, videotape or recording). I worked with Tammy on a show called A MUSICAL JUBILEE, a Broadway revue that flopped and transferred directly to Fort Lauderdale when we lost the rights to PIPPIN.

Tammy was singing alongside "real" singers, including Patrice Munsel, Larry Kert and John Raitt, and I promise you she held her own through sheer star wattage. Her rendition of "I've Told Every Little Star" still haunts me (in a good way). (She was more than bit looney off-stage and we couldn't book the stars in our usual hotel because Tammy and her dog had destroyed a suite there and she was banned.)

She was a classic actor-who-sings-a-little a la Robert Preston, Rex Harrison and Barbara Harris. I agree with the poster above who wrote that musicals were far more interesting with such performers than today's shows in which everyone is trained the same and sounds alike.
"

 

Probably being churlish, but Barbare Harris had an excellent singing voice.  Listen to the cast recordings of Apple Treeand On a Clear Day.

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#24
Posted: 11/14/19 at 7:29pm

Jarethan said: "Probably being churlish, but Barbare Harris had an excellent singing voice. Listen to the cast recordings of Apple Tree and On a Clear Day."

I don't think you are even mildly impolite, much less "churlish", Jarethan. But I think you know me well enough to know I have listened to both OBCRs you reference hundreds of times (maybe thousands in the case of CLEAR DAY).

But Barbara Harris was the PRIME example of an "actress who sings" (as opposed to a singer) in the 1960s. It's only fair to note she was being compared to Barbara Cook, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and the like.

I LOVE Harris' performances on record and videotape* and God knows who else could have pulled together the brilliant film NASHVILLE at the end of its story (by singing a gospel song)! But a "singer-singer" (a la Barbara Cook, Barbra Streisand, Inga Swenson and the other Broadway greats of the early 60s) she was not.

* That's what other posters and I have been saying: that Broadway scores sounded more interesting when they included character voices as well as great singers.

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Tammy Grimes in 42nd Street#25
Posted: 11/14/19 at 7:31pm

Thanks to all who shared their memories (and the photo!) of Brock in a wheelchair. I think it's an unfortunate choice, but maybe one dictated by the size of the theater! Perhaps it would have taken an eternity for the actress to get to her mark on one leg...