Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Dance Party: Seven Year Itch

Just as I attempt to reactivate the Dance Party (only last week, as a matter of fact), I turn the page of my planner (yes, I still use a planner. It's 22 years old and I'll never give it up) and find that this weekend marks the 7th Anniversary of the weekly Dance Party on this site. Yikes.

I used to give an annual shout out to this
guy. Larry Dalke invented the Dance Party
and promptly gave up on it.
He probably saw the monster it would
become in these pages.
In its early years, in fact up until about 2 years ago, I was very conscientious about creating an entry every week. At each year's anniversary, I would congratulate myself by writing a little rundown of all the clips presented that year. Once I fell out of the habit of the weekly entry, the annual review also disappeared.  I hope to continue the Party on a weekly basis, since I actually enjoy the research and the compiling of the entries, I just got lazy.  Allow me to review the relatively few Dance Parties which have appeared in these pages the last few years.

I used to celebrate various holidays with DP clips, but I'm surprise to see that, looking over the past two years, I did that only four times. 
Rita Moreno's turn as a waitress in the musical Working
reminded me of the many Thanksgivings I worked as a waiter. Confession: I actually considered using her song as an audition piece.
For Christmas, I talked about my favorite Christmas carol ("Little Drummer Boy") which The West Wing used to great effect here. 
Independence Day was celebrated with a very revolutionary
outfit, courtesy of Christine Ebersole.
As almost always happens, New Years rolled around a week later, so I wrote about the great Frank Loesser song which he meant to be sung in springtime, but which has now become a New Years Eve perennial.  And the 4th of July last year gave me the chance to showcase one of the great Broadway stars of our generation, Christine Ebersole.

Speaking of Broadway, the Tony Awards inspired two entries a year ago.
Tony winning Jessie Mueller as
Carole King.
Carole King, who was not nominated for anything, came up a winner anyway when her portrayer, my favorite Jessie Mueller, snagged the Best Actress prize.  Sadly, another of my favorites, Tyne Daly, was a big ol' loser that year, so I compensated her with her own entry.

Terrence McNally wrote a play specifically for Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons, for which they each received a Tony nomination. They both lost, and the show closed a week later. The least I could do was give them a Dance Party.
Speaking of the Tonys, did The Sound of Music win any awards way back when? I'm too lazy to look it up, but I do know that the Live presentation on NBC last year, starring a reality TV star turned C/W singer, won derision from critics but ratings so stellar that it triggered a mini-trend. 
Is there anything more frightening than a nun with a guitar? The masses didn't care, as the ratings went through the roof for The Sound of Music Live!. Go here for my report, which included my wish for a future live presentation (complete with Perfect Casting Suggestions)
NBC followed up their Sound of Music Live with a truly
dreadful Peter Pan, starring a somnambulent Christopher
Walken but co-starring current Broadway Stud Christian
Borle, who appeared in last week's Dance Party.
Birthdays and Deathdays have always played a big part in inspiring Dance Parties, and the past 2 years were no exception. When Sondheim (he doesn't need a first name in these pages) turned 85 the same week his hit film Into the Woods was released on DVD, we had to hear from Meryl Streep.  When Jerry Herman hit 83, we enjoyed the danciest party in recent years, imported from Britain.  When Charles Kimbrough turned 78, we got two little clips, a live action song and a cartoon ditty. Neither of them came from his biggest success, Murphy Brown.
Karen Morrow is one of my very favorite belters, so when she
had a birthday, we had to take note.

As I mentioned, Deathdays also inspire entries.  Being dead does not disqualify anyone from the Dance Party. 
Sammy Davis, Jr., as Mr. Bojangles
The anniversary of the death of Sammy Davis, Jr reminded me of his fondness for a particular song about a particular hoofer, which he performed on Flip Wilson's ultra-groovy TV series.  
Moms Mabley provided the most unlikely Dance Party of the past two years, on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
When director Gene Saks went to his maker, I
enjoyed reviewing his illustrious career, but
could no resist capping it with his most
notorious bomb: Lucy as Mame.
Elaine Stritch's death did not come as a surprise, as she had retired due to ill health and advancing age less than a year earlier, but it was a sad event nonetheless. Instead of presenting one of her signature tunes ("I'm Still Here, Broadway Baby, Why Do The Wrong People Travel", etc), I was pleased to showcase her very dry humor with this clip from a Rodgers and Hart classic.

"You can't have New York City without Queens," some wag once said, and it's equally true that you can't have the Dance Party without them either. 
Manilow's gay marriage was met
with shrugs. Show biz types rarely
get much press for coming out
these days.
Two gents got their own entries when they stepped out of the closet. I was pleased to report that both revelations induced more shrugs than shrieks;  show biz personalities revealing their homosexuality isn't newsworthy anymore, all those histrionics are now saved for the instances when sports figures come out. But still, when Barry Manilow married his longtime business manager, he got a cartoon DP, and when octogenarian Joel Grey revealed his sexuality, I discussed how we are practically twins.

There were a handful of Dance Parties which were inspired by nothing much. Angela Lansbury has made frequent appearances here over the years, so when she was Damed by the Queen, we took a peek at one of her very early film musicals. When I saw a local production of The Threepenny Opera, Pearl Bailey and Dinah Shore dropped by for a duet
Jane Lynch channeled Madonna when I
wrote a bit about Glee's finale.
Though I'm not a huge fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein, I had to admit that their Stepsisters' Lament is a real hoot, and always has been: two versions, starring three of my favorite character actresses, proved the point.

When the Dance Party first appeared in these pages, it was envisioned as a way to enjoy pure dance. That concept fell by the wayside pretty quickly, and the majority of entries over the years (a whopping 276 of them!) have featured musical performances which did not necessarily feature dance. But in keeping with tradition, the Annual Review Dance Party presents a clip starring amateur youngsters displaying enthusiastic talent. Here are a couple of teens who love to boogie.