Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Dance Party: 4th Anniversary

Maybe I need a new hobby.
I can't believe it myself, but the Friday Dance Party turns four years old this week. 
Blame Larry. He's the one in the middle.

Don't blame me.  Blame my old Wayside Theatre buddy Larry Dalke, who created the event on his blog, but almost immediately abandoned it.  I, however, have too much time on my hands, so I stole the idea and gave it a home here.

Tommy Tune's tribute.

How do I pick the clips which appear here every Friday, you may ask?  OK, you're probably NOT asking, but I'll tell you anyway.  Often, I'm inspired by something happening in the news of the week;  for example, our recent visit by Frankenstorm Sandy inspired two weeks' worth of entries, including a medley from the original, aging cast of Grease (Sandy? Grease? Get it?), and the other being a clip from Urinetown, which was reminding me of Staten Island after the waves hit. 
The song from this film popped up during
discussion of Same Sex Marriage.

The recent election inspired several entries as well, including last week's advice regarding gay marriage, and this parody song from Pirates of Penzance.  The flap over Chik-Fil-A's antigay contributions invited a visit from The Muppets, and the Supreme Court's confirmation of the legality of Obamacare reminded me of the Scrubs musical episode.  We had a Blue Moon (that really wasn't one) over the summer, so Harpo Marx handled that controversy, and the use of pink ribbons for breast cancer advocacy inspired us all to Think Pink!

I've never understood the popularity of Shark Week, but that didn't stop me from celebrating MY favorite sharks, and when the DC region's two Baseball teams were in the running to advance to the World Series, we watched Jason play baseball.
My own life inspired a couple of clips from Kiss Me Kate.  I was playing Gremio in Taming of the Shrew at the time, so this clip seemed appropriate, as did this one reminding us to Brush Up Your Shakespeare.
A Facebook meme which traced the number one song on the date of one's birth led to this clip from the film version of Damn Yankees (and questions about the word "erp"), and when the Natalie Wood case was reopened, we enjoyed Christopher Walken's dance moves (Walken was onboard the night Natalie toppled into the bay).   Christmas inspired a visit to Judy Garland's TV show, where Liza danced with "her beau," and Father's Day reminded me of this clip from Working.  (That was not the only visit to Garland's lamented variety show: when her longtime musical director Mort Lindsey died, we had her lovely rendition of "Just In Time.")

A couple of deaths in the past year triggered memories from my own life. When Donna Summer danced her Last Dance, and when Whitney Huston wondered "How Will I Know?", I was immediately transported back in time, to the era when their music served as the soundtrack to my life. 

Nobody remembers Doe Avedon, an actress who
was famous only for being famous. But her life
inspired the Hepburn/Astaire classic Funny Face.

But of course, those were not the only corpses to inspire Dance Parties.  Several composers who passed away this year deserved attention.  Richard Adler's "Shoeless Joe" made an appearance, and when Hal David died, Sean Hayes and Kristin Chenoweth vowed never to fall in love again. When Marvin Hamlisch died, we played his song.  Lee Pockriss was not a household name, but he provided this humorous clip from the Perry Como show.
I still don't know if Robert Sherman wrote music or lyrics, but it really doesn't matter.  His death broke up the Sherman Brothers, who provided Disney with decades worth of terrific music, such as this jazzy showstopper from The Jungle Book.
Several show biz impresarios left us this year, inspiring clips devoted to Dick Clark, Don Cornelius, and Robert Dozier. When director Ken Russell died, I resisted the temptation to use the infamous scene from Tommy in which Ann-Margaret rolled around in a room filled with baked beans, and used this one instead.  But when character actor Bill McKinney died, I could not resist those dueling banjos from his most famous film, Deliverance
I made the blanket claim that Davy Jones was
the first Teen Idol, and backed it up too.

William Duell's death allowed me to visit one of my favorite musicals, 1776, and Celeste Holm's death reminded me that I saw her onstage, twice.  From the world of television, we had the odd conglomeration of Cass Elliot, Ray Charles, and Elton John on Andy Williams's show, and a sweetly melodic entry from Don Knotts and Andy Griffith, when the latter finally stopped whistling. 
Neil Patrick Harris's birthday is never overlooked at the Dance Party. This pic was taken during his opening number at this year's Tonys, but his Dance Party, also featuring Patti Lupone, came from his concert appearance in Sweeney Todd.
Perhaps the oddest corporeal contribution to the Dance Party this year was by Edna Milton Chadwell, whose name is completely forgotten, but whose life as a hooker formed the basis for one of my favorite guilty secrets, Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.
They had a lousy summer. Kristin Chenoweth suffered major injury on the set of The Good Wife, and Kathy Bates underwent radical mastectomies, plus her show was canceled. The Dance Party cheered them both up by sending them to "Easy Street."
You didn't have to die to get onto the Dance Party, there were plenty of birthdays celebrated as well.  Dorothy Loudon gave 100% on her rendition of 50%, and Meryl Streep did the best she could with the yuckiest song of the year. 
Gene Kelly stopped traffic on roller skates, and
here, Madeline Kahn stopped the Sondheim
tribute when she refused to Get Married Today.

When Streisand turned 70, we got an early medley from Funny Girl, and when Mary Tyler Moore turned 75, we enjoyed a dance number in capri pants from her first TV show.  Doris Day was not known for her dancing, but she did a pretty good job here;  I wish I could say the same for Debbie Reynolds, who turned 80 this year (and should have known better than to tackle this hilarity).  Two other performers of note turned 80 this year as well:  we watched a very young, very impish Joel Grey mug his way through his very first TV appearance, on the Eddie Cantor show, and we suffered greatly because of Peter O'Toole's retirement announcement, and because of his disastrous Don Quixote too.
Another important birthday graced the Dance Party this year, my mother's. A clip from  my mother's lookalike Rita Hayworth celebrated it.
And there you have it, 52 musical clips comprising the fourth year of the Friday Dance Party.  If you are seriously disturbed, you may want to access all of them in reverse chronological order, beginning with last week's, here (in fact, you can find all <gulp> 210 clips, from the beginning of the segment, there as well).  But we need one more clip, to begin the 5th year of this pompous segment.  As in past anniversaries, this week's clip features young amateur dancers.  I rarely feature amateurs on the Dance Party, but for the first, second, and third anniversary, I did.  So to kick off the next year of overwritten essays and obscure tributes, enjoy this week's Dance Party: