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Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile

BrianWilsonFan
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Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#0
Posted: 2/13/06 at 12:43pm
Was anyone lucky enough to go see this 1987 production.
I've been trying to research it but lack of information
prohibits any depth of discovery.

I've heard the title song and Disneyland from the
Broadways Unsung Musicals CD and i really like it. Apparently there
are two other songs available on other CD's in the series.

I understand there was no cast recording, i wonder why?
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#1
Posted: 2/13/06 at 12:44pm
They did record a lot of the score with most of the original cast. I think you get the cd when you perform the show. Also, it pops up on Ebay fairly often.
BrianWilsonFan
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#2
Posted: 2/13/06 at 12:59pm
Thank you very much!

Two Smiles in one life time.
The other one took me twenty
years to track down...

A quick glance at ebay reveals
a Playbill for Smile for $40,
i wouldn't pay for that but
will definately keep an eye out
for the CD, thanks again for the
tip...
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#3
Posted: 2/13/06 at 2:48pm
Yes, I saw the show in 1987. I thought it was terrific, and (at the time) liked it even better than the over-hyped "Les Mis" which opened only a week or so afterward, and it completely eclipsed "Smile."

Ask me anything you want to know! I remember it vividly.

Ashman's staging was terrific. He wasn't just a lyricist, as I'm sure you know. The show's format was VERY unusual, having long extended musical sequences (some 6 to even 20 mintues long), and very few "stop and sing" songs. It was beautifully executed and flowed together well... and the cast was first-rate. A lot of very talented young ladies.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#4
Posted: 2/13/06 at 2:51pm
Best12, since you liked the show, what didn't work about it that made it close so soon. Would this show work today as a revival?
Hey Dottie! Did your colleagues enjoy the cake even though your cat decided to sit on it? ~GuyfromGermany
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#5
Posted: 2/13/06 at 3:10pm
Well, it was "damned with faint praise" when it opened. It didn't receive bomb reviews, but it wasn't embraced by the critics either. They liked it overall, but with a lot of "issues" as I recall. It closed after three months (I think) so it flopped rather slowly and painfully. The MONSTER known as Les Mis hit town, and nobody could see straight.

I personally didn't find anything that didn't work. The book was clever, and the lyrics were fantastic. And Hamilisch's music was SO damn hummable. To this day, I can still hum the last song from Act 1... and I heard it one time, that night in the theatre. I can't say that about too many other songs or shows.

But I don't think the people behind it knew how to market this show. Was it a serious musical? Was it camp? Was it fluffy, glitzy entertainment? There was an "identity crisis" going on behind it. My answer to that question is that it was all three.

I'm not sure if it would work today in a revival because SO much has changed since 1987... America's view of beauty pageants, for one. They aren't anywhere near as popular, so it's almost like it's passe now. Also, as I recall there were MANY '80s-based "current" references in both the book and the lyrics.

You would have to present it as a "time capsule" piece, right down to the '80s hair and costumes... or you'd have to try to update date it, which IMO would trivialize it beyond hope.

I'd love to see it on stage again someday, particularly with Ashman's wonderful staging. I think it could work as a "museum piece" someplace like the Goodspeed, or La Jolla Playhouse, etc.
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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Updated On: 2/13/06 at 03:10 PM
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#6
Posted: 2/13/06 at 3:15pm
Thanks. I'm going to check out ibdb to see the cast list.
Hey Dottie! Did your colleagues enjoy the cake even though your cat decided to sit on it? ~GuyfromGermany
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#7
Posted: 2/13/06 at 3:22pm
I actually had a copy of the recording they did. I loved the music. My favorite song will always be Disneyland.
...this is wrong on so many levels... Diane Lane in "Must Love Dogs" "If you have poo, now is the time to fling it" -- The Monkey's from Madagascar
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#8
Posted: 2/13/06 at 3:38pm
as a differing opinion, I really only liked the score and the young ladies who played the contestants (Jodi Benson, Ann Bobby and Veanne Cox among them), but they ruined a very funny screenplay, imo. The characters of Big Bob and Brenda were dull. I loved Howard Ashman and wish he were still with us, but here he did not impress me either as writer or director. Only the pageant scenes really worked well.
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#9
Posted: 2/13/06 at 3:40pm
"Disneyland" is an amazing song. Jodi Benson stopped the show on Broadway with it. Seriously, they would NOT stop clapping the night I saw it. One of the few times I've seen that happen with my own eyes on the Great White Way.

I remember thinking "who the hell is THAT????" when she finished. And the kick in the pants was that I don't even think the Times review mentioned her. As if she didn't even exist! I was pissed, at the time. I remember that very well. Even if they didn't care for the show, they shouldn't have denied Jodi some "good words."

Then, a couple of years later, I saw her name on screen as the voice of the Little Mermaid (also with Ashman), and the connection made sense. I was glad to see she went on to other things.

(Where IS she today, by the way?)
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#10
Posted: 2/13/06 at 3:52pm
B12B, she did Crazy for You after that.
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#11
Posted: 2/13/06 at 4:15pm
No, I'm well aware of that. I figured I wouldn't state the obvious. Jodi and Harry were stuck in HELL in a run of the play contract. I don't think anyone signs those anymore since then. They BEGGED to be released from it, after 2 or 3 years (something like that). With long runs in musicals happening all the time now, I can't imagine anyone doing that any more.

...But post Crazy For You? I know she still does the Ariel voice, which I'm sure has put a nice chunk of change in her pocket. But will she ever grace the Great White Way again?

(by the way, I thought her voice was not so great on the Gershwin material... to strident and OH, that vibrato!) But she kicked butt in "Smile" and as the Little Mermaid.

...And I can see your point about the Jeff McCarthy and Marsha Waterbury parts being reduced... but that was to beef up the girls parts. They were the main focus of the stage show, not the "adults."
"Jaws is the Citizen Kane of movies."
blocked: logan2, Diamonds3, Hamilton22
Updated On: 2/13/06 at 04:15 PM
BrianWilsonFan
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#12
Posted: 2/13/06 at 4:40pm
Wow, i really envy you chaps that you saw this,
thanks for your insights!
AuditioningWaitress
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#13
Posted: 2/13/06 at 4:45pm
There was a great thread on SMILE here that discussed the differences between the show and the Samuel French Recording

https://www.broadwayworld.com/board/readmessage.cfm?thread=867704#1423010
BrianWilsonFan
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#14
Posted: 2/13/06 at 4:55pm
Thanks so much AuditioningWaitress, i'm off to
Samuel French right now!
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#15
Posted: 2/13/06 at 4:57pm
No problem, you might PM BroadwayDoc, I think his father had something to do with the show.
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#16
Posted: 2/13/06 at 5:02pm
I hear what you're saying about beefing up the girls parts, but the real story is the Big Bob and Brenda angle against the backdrop of the pageant, imo.

That said, I always like Jeff and Marsha in other things (I saw her do Audrey and Goblin Market.) They had nothing to play here. He wasnt smarmy enough (we know he can play that!)
"Carson has combined his passion for helping children with his love for one of Cincinnati's favorite past times - cornhole - to create a unique and exciting event perfect for a corporate outing, entertaining clients or family fun."

"In Oz, the verb is douchifizzation." PRS

BrianWilsonFan
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#17
Posted: 2/15/06 at 6:07pm
An interesting side note as a result of this thread. I approached Samuel French in the hope of getting their CD demo guide of Smile. This request was then transferred to their London office who emailed me saying the CD was not allowed to be supplied to anyone in England at the expressed wishes of the authors. They don't want any kind of production of Smile staged in the UK. How wierd is that? Wow...

If anyone has this disc and is in any mood to share it please PM or email me.
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#18
Posted: 2/15/06 at 6:42pm
My sister has the full recording, and it's wondrous. I've always loved and wondered about this show! I especially love Until Tomorrow Night, and Young American Miss... Thanks for the insights, best12bars!
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re: Hamlisch/Ashman's Smile#19
Posted: 2/15/06 at 8:02pm
I liked the show. I saw it on Broadway and an earlier workshop of it. My friend was in the workshop. It starred Maureen McGovern. Grover Dale played the choreographer. Jane Krakowski was one of the contestants! I sat next to Estelle Parsons whose daughter was in it. Maybe Encores will do it one day.

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