Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Dance Party: Wooden Anniversary

After 5 years, there are now
(gulp) 254 Dance Parties
archived in these pages.
You mean I've been writing this segment five years, and all I get to call it is "wood"??? Five years should at least have some sort of stone attached to it, even if it's only granite.  Sheesh.  Yes, it's true, the Friday Dance Party turns five years old this week.  Oh, what poor Larry Dalke wrought, when he began playing with the idea on his own personal blog five years ago.  He dropped the idea, and his blog, soon afterward, and went on with his life, bless him.  But not me. 
Larry and our favorite leading lady.

I stole my friend's idea and turned it into this catch-all monstrosity of current events, obituaries, birthday celebrations, deathday celebrations, and other assorted rants and raves.  This week each year, I have to go back and point the finger at good ol' Larry, and blame him.

This 5th year's entrees are a bit different than the previous four, at least in number.  Though this segment is always clearly marked the Friday Dance Party, it has often appeared on other days.  Even worse, it has occasionally not appeared at all. 

It was not all fun and games at the Dance Party. When a verdict was handed down in the Steubenville rape case, I wrote about the culture of rape in our popular entertainment, such as in Carousel (above), and included Sophia Loren's burnished blowout from Man of La Mancha.
This fifth year, time seems to have slipped away from me a bit, and there were more than a few weeks which saw no Dance Party, on Friday or any other day of the week.  So, if you happen to count this year's Parties, don't be concerned, we did not lose 10 weeks this year.  There were in fact only 42 Dance Parties since this time last year.  So sue me.
"Easy Street" has appeared in 3
different versions on the Dance Party.
This year's rendition was plucked
from the feature film Annie.

Our most frequent star this year was Carol Burnett, who is having a bit of a resurgence lately.  She turned 80, an achievement itself, and also won the Mark Twain Award for Humor;  she appeared 3 times on the Dance Party.  Here she longs for Easy Street, which is usually a showstopping number from Annie, and here she is with her gal pal and mentor, Lucy.  And when Jim Nabors quietly married his longtime companion, confirming what everybody already knew, Jim's flame dame Carol popped up on his sitcom, Gomer Pyle.
Tying Carol Burnett's score on the Dance Party, we had yet another Triple Dipper this year. Neil Patrick Harris, who is always welcome in these pages, hosted the Tonys (with the most talked about award show opening of the year, the audience gave it a standing O) and also helped celebrate the birthday of Mad Men's Christina Hendricks (by bedding her in Company).  NPH also starred in one of the more uncomfortable of the clips this year;  the week the Sandy Hill massacre stunned us all, we were in no mood for musical clips, but the following week, this song from Sondheim's controversial Assassins was another reminder of the presence of violence in American lives.
Lucy's second Dance Party this year was from
the disastrous Mame, though her bosom buddy
 wasn't half bad.

Tim Curry was another repeat offender this year;  he co-starred with Burnett in the aforementioned clip from Annie (Bernadette Peters is in that one too), and on his birthday, his iconic performance as Frank N. Furter was examined. 
If I'm accused of supporting a Gay Agenda, I'm probably guilty, at least in these pages.  The 15th Anniversary of Matthew Shepherd's murder had to be commemorated (and who better to do so than that shirtless goofball Davey Wavey, above?).  On a brighter note, when the Supreme Court handed down some decisions which helped further marriage equality, a DC Gay Men's Choir celebrated with a number from Ragtime.  Oh, and when Victor Garber came out, everybody shrugged, which is definitely progress!
But back to birthdays. 
You can be dead and still have a birthday, so Fred Astaire
got a Dance Party and a drum solo.

Yes, I mentioned my own birthday this year, which was celebrated by Jennifer Holliday's memorable Tony appearance, but my favorite birthday this year would have to be Chita Rivera's;  she provided this explosive medley of a few of her dance hits.

The annual controversy over the Washington Redskins (specifically, the name, which many consider racist) inspired my recollection of appearing as a Native American in Li'l Abner.  Other current event-type entrees included a kerfuffle at the Helen Hayes Awards, which led to this clip from The Color Purple.  The announcement that Gigi is being revamped for a new generation inspired last week's clip from the original souffle.

Mary Shelley's birthday was celebrated this year, with a peek at her most monstrous creation, revived musically by Mel Brooks.  Mary's creation also popped up on Halloween, natch, in this tribute to the Bride of Frankenstein, Elsa Lanchester.  I didn't spend too much time celebrating holidays this year, though we spent Christmas with James Taylor and Thanksgiving with Diana Krall.
Young Frankenstein, the musical.
Linda Ronstadt retired from singing and Elaine Stritch retired from acting, so attention had to be paid to both.  And when I finally slogged my way through the film version of Les Miz (it took me multiple tries), I was in the mood for something livelier, which Hugh Jackman graciously provided.
None of the actors from TV's Smash died (as far as I know), but the show itself suffered a slow and painful demise in its second season.  As a true theatre dog, I had to report my findings, and include dueling clips from the two stars of the show
But as usual, it was dead people who provided the most inspiration this year.  We had Broadway babes Jane Connell and Bonnie Franklin both pass away this year, as well as recording star Edie Gorme (whose Dance Party tribute actually included 3 short clips, so maybe that counts toward the weekly score card?).  Another songstress, Patti Page, was still alive when she recorded this version of her biggest hit, but you'd never know it, as it looks like she's sleepwalking. 
A couple of politicos died and provided Dance Parties.  Sen.
Daniel Inouye inspired Bette Midler to jump out of a
clamshell, and Maggie Thatcher's influence over the
plot of Billy Elliot caused this mad dance moment.

Eileen Brennan never slept through anything, and provided proof in this moment with Madeline Kahn and Cybill ShepherdGlee star Cory Monteith got a mention, as did Esther Williams (who turned down a role for which Shelley Winters then picked up an Oscar nod). TV legend Larry Hagman's tribute clip turned him into a supporting player; his mom, Mary Martin, hogged the spotlight. 

Speaking of Oscar nominations,
Charles Durning got one too,
for this moment from
 Best Little Whorehouse in

The most hilariously telling Dance Party this year must be this one, posted when Pope Ratzinger abruptly retired.  He had hosted a team of muscular acrobats, who began their routine by slowly stripping off their shirts.  Now I understand why acrobats may wish to be shirtless while they fling each other in the air, but why they didn't simply ARRIVE shirtless, I don't know.  The striptease went viral, of course.  There was one other "What the Hell...??" moment this year, when I stumbled upon this music video from Sweden, with the cheesiest choreography you've ever seen.  At least the pope wasn't there.
My personal life provided a few hits this year.  

My own blindness (I wasn't wearing
my contacs) caused me to dash right
by Kelli O'Hara while I was playing
Gloucester in King Lear.

A lingering cold reminded me that Faith Prince also caught post-nasal drip, and a truly disastrous audition (really, the worst all year or perhaps of my life) had to be addressed, so I posted my audition song the way it was supposed to be performed (from Pirates of Penzance).

So there you have it, 42 Dance Parties comprising the fifth year of this silly little blog segment. If you are a crazy person with unlimited time to kill, you can access all 42 Dance Parties, in reverse chronological order, here. Actually, the count will be 43, as we must include a new clip for this week.  Keeping with tradition, the anniversary Dance Party really is dance, and really is performed by an amateur.  This is the kind of clip my buddy Larry had in mind when he invented the weekly Dance Party, so at least once a year, it must return to its roots.