BWW TV: Sneak Peek at Rehearsals and Behind-the-Scenes of I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
Producer Corky Hale's I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU - The Life and Lyrics of Al Dubin, features lyrics by Al Dubin, most music by Harry Warren, a book by Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner, and musical direction by Gerald Sternbach. The production is directed and choreographed by Kay Cole. BroadwayWorld TV's own LA on-air Host Michael Sterling was invited to take a sneak peek at rehearsals last week and interview some of the show's stars and creative team.
Jared Gertner (Olivier nominated as Elder Cunningham in The Book Of Mormon) stars as Al Dubin. Possessed of enormous talent and equally outsized vices, Dubin, primarily with Warren, still managed to write such classics as "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "About a Quarter to Nine," "42nd Street," "We're in the Money," "You're Getting to be a Habit With Me," "September in the Rain," "South American Way," "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "I Only Have Eyes For You," and "Lullaby of Broadway" which won the Academy Award for Best Song in 1935.
Producer Corky Hale said, "Few Hollywood songwriters have hit the same heights as Al Dubin. The entire country was singing his songs, and when we think of the hits of his era, his are the lyrics that we hear. The man himself however lived a drama that was larger than the plot of any film that included his songs - and it is a fascinating and captivating story about a guy who had everything that life has to offer - and who couldn't resist his addictions."
Hale, who has had a lifelong fascination with Dubin, knows about the American popular song. She is a pianist, vocalist and harpist, who began with the bands of Harry James, Ray Anthony, and Jerry Gray, and went on to perform with Billie Holiday, Mel Tormé, Peggy Lee, Judy Collins, Liberace, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand (soloing at the famous Happening in Central Park), George Michael, and Björk. She is married to Mike Stoller of the legendary songwriting team of Leiber and Stoller.
In addition to Jared Gertner, the cast of I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU features Nikki Bohne as Helen Dubin, Constantine Rousouli as Harry Warren, Kayla Parker as Ruby Keeler, Justin Wilcox as Al Jolson, Renee Marino as Carmen Miranda, Elijah Rock as Cab Calloway, Valerie Perri as Minna Dubin and Robert Pieranunzi as Busby Berkeley. Featured in the ensemble (in alphabetical order) are: Julian De Guzman, Daniel May, Jeffrey Scott Parsons, Dominic Pierson, Kim Louise Taylor, Katherine Tokarz and Karl Warden, and Penny Wildman.
ABOUT AL DUBIN AND HARRY WARREN Al Dubin is the lyricist of one of the most storied catalogs in American popular music. His songs have been heard continuously in over 600 films and television shows from when he was one of the first songwriters to be engaged for talking pictures in the late 1920s to present day. Early in his career he wrote songs with composer Joseph Burke including "Tiptoe Through the Tulips," "Painting the Clouds With Sunshine," and "The Kiss Waltz." Then in the 1930s, Dubin teamed with Harry Warren, with whom he wrote the songs for a series of musical films, most directed by Busby Berkeley. Berkeley was a film innovator, who expanded what talking pictures could achieve in terms of size and visual splendor, especially with kaleidoscopic overhead shots. Dubin and Warren's songs created a sound and a lyric sensibility that that defined the era - among them "We're in the Money," "42nd Street," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me," "I Only Have Eyes for You," "About a Quarter to Nine," and their 1935 Academy Award winner, "Lullaby of Broadway." Other songs with Warren include "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," "Lulu's Back in Town," and "September in the Rain." Dubin was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1891 and immigrated to the United States when he was two. His parents, a medical doctor and a research scientist, discouraged him
from music, but as an early teen, he cut classes to go to Broadway shows and spend time on Tin Pan Alley (West 28th Street), where music publishers had their offices. Following his schooling, he became a staff lyricist at the Witmark Music Publishing Company. In 1916, he had his first hit song "'Twas Only an Irishman's Dream," written with Rennie Carmack. After a stint in the Army during World War I, he returned to songwriting. Witmark was purchased by Warner Bros., which inherited his services. In addition to Joseph Burke and Harry Warren, Dubin also worked with Jimmy McHugh ("South American Way"), Wilhelm Grosz ("Along the Santa Fe Trail"), and Duke Ellington ("I Never Felt This Way Before"). In 1919, Dubin provided the lyrics to the song "Indian Summer," set to music written by the great composer Victor Herbert, who died in 1924. Dubin's schooling included time at a seminary, which would have been unusual for a Jewish boy, and medical school; he was expelled from both. His excessive eating, drinking and drugs led to health issues; he died of pneumonia in 1945. Audiences today know many of the songs by Al Dubin and Harry Warren from the hit musical 42nd Street. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical in 1981, it is the 14th longest running show in Broadway history; a production is currently on tour in North America.
Harry Warren wrote more than 800 songs in a career than spanned four decades. He began in the 1920s with "I Love My Baby (My Baby Loves Me)" and "Where Do You Worka John," and then wrote songs for Broadway shows in the early 1930s including "I Found a Million Dollar Baby (In a Five and Ten Cent Store)" from Crazy Quilt and "You're My Everything" from The Laugh Parade. Warren, considered the first major American songwriter to work primarily in film, moved from New York to Hollywood in 1933 to work on the film 42nd Street with Al Dubin. Following his collaboration with Dubin, Warren worked with Johnny Mercer ("Jeepers Creepers" and "You Must Have been a Beautiful Baby"), then went to 20th Century Fox, where he wrote with Mack Gordon. Their hits include "Chattanooga Choo Choo" (which became the first Gold Record in history), "Serenade in Blue," "I Had the Craziest Dream," "There Will Never Be Another You," "You'll Never Know" (his second Oscar winner, from Hello, Frisco, Hello), and "The More I See You." Later, when Warren was at MGM, he won a third Oscar with Johnny Mercer for "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe" from The Harvey Girls. In the 1950s Warren moved to Paramount - where he composed his last hit "That's Amore" with lyricist Jack Brooks, which became Dean Martin's signature song. Later Warren wrote dramatic scores for films including An Affair to Remember and Separate Tables. Warren passed away in 1981.
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU has assembled an award-winning design team. Set Design is by John Iacovelli. Lighting Design is by Brandon Baruch. Sound Design is by Cricket S. Myers. Costume Design is by Debra McGuire. Wig, Hair and Make-up Design is by Judi Lewin. Casting is by Michael Donovan, CSA. The Stage Manager is Art Brickman.
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU began previews Tuesday, May 10, and has its official press opening on Friday, May 13. Performances will continue through Sunday, June 12 at the Montalban Theatre, 1615 Vine St. in Hollywood. Following previews, performances are Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm; Sundays at 3pm. Tickets are available now at www.flavorus.com or by calling 1-323-461-6999.