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Celebrating Sondheim: 70s Summer Stock Style

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In celebration of Stephen Sondheim's 90th birthday today, Sunday, March 22, 2020, I just published a new page on my "Memories of Melody Top" website about a 1976 production of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC that starred Earl Wrightson (Fredrik) and Lois Hunt (Desiree). Supporting roles were filled with a rich gallery of actor-singers: David Holliday (Count Carl-Magnus Malcolm), Holland Taylor (Countess Charlotte Malcolm), Zoya Leporska (Madame Armfeldt), Alice Cannon (Anne), David Gary (Henrik) and Susan Rush (Petra). A very young Cris Groenendaal played Frid. In addition to production photographs and newspaper reviews, I will be sharing one song per day – today through Friday, March 27 – from a live recording made via the sound system at Melody Top Theater. I cannot think of a better way to honor the man who elevated the quality of musical theater for these past 64 years than to sit back, relax and enjoy a vintage Sondheim score. Because of what is happening in the world right now, I have decided not to release the first-act duet written for the characters of Charlotte and Anne at this time. You'll still get to hear Holland's singing voice when a clip of "A Weekend in the Country" is released on Tuesday. Please remember to visit the page each day around noon for a new audio clip!

A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (1976) at "Memories of Melody Top"

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The second audio clip, "You Must Meet My Wife" sung by Earl and Lois, is now available for listening...

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"A Weekend in the Country" is now released. Remember to refresh your browser if you visited my site in the past!

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"It Would Have Been Wonderful" is now online.

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Today's audio clip is "The Miller's Son" sung by Susan Rush. Right before A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, Susan became a Melody Top legend when she took over the female lead in BELLS ARE RINGING. Rita Moreno, who had been playing Ella Peterson in BELLS ARE RINGING, was released from her contract early so she could fly back to California to tape a television pilot. On Sunday evening, August 1, 1976, with only one formal rehearsal earlier in the run, Susan Rush played Ella opposite Tab Hunter's Jeff Moss. The audience burst into an ovation at the announcement of Miss Rush's name. Apprentices gifted her with roses. The theater's board of directors sent her a huge basket of fruit. And producer Martin Wiviott celebrated Susan with a post-performance party. Critic Jay Joslyn reported the following: "A belter who has created the image of a ball of fire in her 40 roles at the Top over the last seven seasons, Miss Rush gave the love-filled answer service girl an enchanting, Chaplinesque quality. Her slightly cartoonish interpretation perfectly fit Jule Styne's often Looney Tunes kind of music. She came on a bit stronger than the winsome Miss Moreno and, consequently, gave the lovely, warm role its proper, bigger-than-life size." FYI: Before leaving her performing career for teaching at the college level, Susan appeared in the Broadway revivals of GUYS & DOLLS and GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES during the mid-1990s.

Updated On: 3/26/20 at 08:12 AM
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Bravo!

FindingNamo
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Thank you for this thread. It was a pleasure.

 

Can you hear me now? Twitter: @NamoInExile
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Thank you for visiting my site. Please come back to it tomorrow for the grand finale: Lois Hunt's very lovely take on "Send in the Clowns."

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"Send in the Clowns," the final audio clip from A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC at Milwaukee's Melody Top, is now available for your listening pleasure.

Updated On: 3/27/20 at 08:15 AM
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OMG!!! What a blast to hear Holland Taylor in this! That unmistakable voice! Haha! Thanks for this!!!

<-- Tevye, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, March 2018
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You are very welcome! Here is one of the best anecdotes from a friend who worked at Melody Top during the run of A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC: Director-designer Stuart Bishop let Lois Hunt design her own dress for the "Send in the Clowns" scene. It was black -- an elaborate design -- with mesh sleeves. He said it looked like "something that June Allyson would wear to Van Johnson's funeral."

Updated On: 3/28/20 at 04:33 PM