Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Dance Party: You're Still A Good Man, Charlie Brown

Charles Schulz would have turned 93 years old last week, if he hadn't died 15 years ago. His death has not seemed to affect the cultural significance of his Peanuts gang, who are as present in our society as ever.
"Wait for it...INCOMING!" Gary Burghoff might never have been able to repeat those famous words had he not been in the touring company of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown. The show landed in LA while Robert Altman was casting his feature film M*A*S*H; Burghoff snagged the role of  his career, Radar O'Reilly.
It always seems to me that the Peanuts gang become even more present this time of year. 
The gang is back on the big screen, after a
35 year absence. This time they're in
3-D. I haven't seen this one, but the idea of
these folks reaching out of the screen to
touch me is a little frightening.
Perhaps it's my imagination, or perhaps it's the repeated showings of various holiday specials starring our gang which pop up this time of year. There is, of course, the flagship of all Peanuts Specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas, the program against which all others are compared. Its 50th Anniversary this year is getting lots of hoopla.
The only piece of Peanuts memorabilia I own is a commemorative plate with this image. I did not pay much attention to it before buying it, as a short inspection would have revealed its glaring inaccuracies. Ostensibly, this is the final moment of A Charlie Brown Christmas, but as you have undoubtedly recognized, it's been bastardized with the addition of characters not present (or even yet invented) in the special: Franklin, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, and Woodstock. And where the hell are those obnoxious busybodies Violet and Patty?
There are also two Thanksgiving specials, The Great Pumpkin for Halloween, and at least three (!) additional Christmas specials starring our gang. This year, a new feature film has been released as well.
There are two musicals actually created for the stage featuring the Peanuts gang, but the success of A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV was so huge that theaters can now license it as a stage show.
This week's Dance Party doesn't come from any of those pieces.  Instead, we'll feature a clip from the most famous and successful of the Peanuts stage musicals. Yes, there are more than one.
My first knowledge of YAGMCB was this TV
version, shrunk to fit into an hour slot on the
Hallmark Hall of Fame in 1973. That's Wendell
Burton as Charlie Brown; he's primarily known
for costarring with Liza Minnelli in The Sterile
and for getting raped in Fortune And
Men's Eyes
. That's Barry Livingston as Linus,
best known as one of My Three Sons.

The story goes that composer/lyricist Clark Gesner grew tired of writing music for Captain Kangaroo and, in the early 60s, penned a series of songs based on the Peanuts characters. He had no luck getting the rights to perform these ditties from the company in charge of syndicating the Peanuts comic strip, so eventually he leapfrogged those losers and sent his music to Charles Schultz himself. Sparky gave his blessing for a concept album to be produced. It was a bit later that a stage production was planned, which opened in 1967 Off-Broadway in New York.  
The original cast of You're A Good Man Charlie Brown (YAGMCB). You'll recognize the pre-Radar Gary Burghoff on the far right. That's noted character actor and director Bob Balaban as Linus (holding the blanket); his long career has included several Christopher Guest films and a story arc on Seinfeld, playing a lovesick studio head. The top left is Reva Rose, playing Lucy, who became the go-to gal to play harried housewives in commercials of the day. One of the talents behind the scenes was Patricia Birch, who went on to choreograph a little show called Grease.
That first production was a success story, running a whopping 1,947 performances (that's almost four years). The critics loved the simplicity of the show, which is really a series of gently comical vignettes featuring characters we already know. The adult cast played with the openness and innocence of children, and not a hint of irony.  
Some scenes from Off-Broadway.
It was said that after a few minutes, the audience forgot they were watching adults. Gary Burghoff was probably the most recognizable face to come out of this original cast.  After opening the show in New York, he joined the national tour, which landed in Los Angeles in 1969 (future Tony winner Judy Kaye was also in this cast). It was lucky Gary was in LA so he could audition for the role of his lifetime, Radar O'Reilly, which he was to play in the Robert Altman classic M*A*S*H as well as the resulting TV series, for which he won the Emmy.
This was the sequel to YAGMCB, which opened in San Fransisco before landing Off-Broadway in 1975. It was certainly not the embarrassment other musical sequels were (nobody could be proud of Bring Back Birdie or Annie Warbucks), but its run was only 4 months. David Garrison got nice notices as Snoopy, and Peppermint Patty, absent from the original YAGMCB, was played by Sondheim expert Pamela Myers, then by future sitcom star Vicki Lewis, and finally by Lorna Luft. Like its parent Charlie BrownSnoopy is often revived in schools and amateur theaters.
Despite endless tinkering, expanding, and crossing of media, the original Off-Broadway production remains the most successful version of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.  A few months after the Off-Broadway production closed, the show re-opened on Broadway, with a new cast, a bigger orchestra, and a more lavish set. The thing sank under the weight of all those changes, and closed after 32 performances.

My first introduction to this little musical came in 1973, when I saw a TV version produced for the Hallmark Hall of Fame. This was not the musical's only TV adaptation; in 1985, the decision was made to actually animate the musical with the cartoon characters which had become so recognizable to the general public. (CBS also produced an animated version of the sequel to You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown: Snoopy! The Musical.) 

This week's Dance Party doesn't come from any of these productions. Instead, it comes from the most recent Broadway revival, which ran about 4 months in 1999. 

If it weren't for this snow tasting scene in the Christmas show, nobody would remember Patty, an early Peanuts character who was included in the original Off-Broadway YAGMCB. She's now long gone.
This incarnation was again revised and enlarged, with notable changes being made in the cast of characters. The original show featured Patty, an obnoxious secondary character in the strip (not to be confused with Peppermint Patty); she was replaced in the updated musical by Charlie Brown's sister Sally. 
The 1999 Broadway revival of You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown was stolen by these two. Roger Bart as Snoopy and Kristin Chenoweth as Sally snagged all the good reviews and the only Tonys the production won.
The show now featured a multi-cultural cast (Schroeder was black, Linus was Asian) and some new music from Andrew Lippa.  It is one of Lippa's new songs which you can see below, sung with flair by Kristin Chenoweth. (Chenoweth received a Dance Party a long while ago, one of my favorites in fact, go here to enjoy). So, in honor of Charles Schultz and his recent birthday, here we go:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Theatre Droppings: Thomas Nostradamus Invents The Musical

The producers of the musical Something Rotten! (and according to the program, there are about 112 of them) gambled big with their show, and it looks like it has worked out for them.  I saw the show many months ago, during its preview period, when its future was far from secure.
Brad Oscar's soothsayer (left) predicts the Next Big Thing: the Musical.  This sequence occurs about 20 minutes into the first act; the resulting song stops the show cold. I've truly never witnessed a standing ovation for a musical number in the middle of Act One, but apparently it's become a usual occurrence in Something Rotten!. An abbreviated version of the song was presented at the Tonys, but the full effect of this showstopper can only be witnessed in the theatre. (Another of the show's songs was featured a few weeks ago in these pages, go here if interested.)
The show was originally scheduled to premiere in Seattle, where the creators planned to work out any kinks and then, if all went well, move to New York. 
Brian d'Arcy James as Nick Bottom.
When the show's Seattle engagement
disappeared, James chose to withdraw
from Hamilton, where he was playing
George III, in order to lead this cast. 
Those plans went out the window when a theatre suddenly became available on Broadway;  noting the absence of a breakout new musical, they bypassed that out-of-town tryout and opened cold in New York.  This took some major stones, as Something Rotten! is that rare musical which is brand new.  It's not based on any existing work which might provide a pre-sold audience, it was cooked up from scratch.

The Bottom Brothers want to be on top. Something Rotten! is at its best when it's sending up the theatrical culture which it also celebrates. Shakespeare and musicals take the brunt of the kidding. There is a plot here, concerning two brothers who scheme to create something new while in the shadow of that Elizabethan horndog, the Bard.
Because nobody had ever heard of this thing, tickets were available for a song during the preview period, so I picked one up.  They were offering seats to their first few previews for only 20 bucks;  I can no longer afford to attend Broadway shows, even ones on the half-price board, but this was too good to pass up.  I saw the show's 3rd public performance, which included scenery bumping into itself and a couple of mangled lines. 
John Cariani and Kate Reinders play roles meant to provide
some romance. I recognized Cariani from his many TV
appearances, notably a recurring role of a forensics nerd in the
Law and Order franchise. He is also a playwright; his
Almost, Maine has become one of the most frequently
produced plays in recent years.
In one scene a platform slid in from stage left (it's called a wagon, but it isn't one, it's simply a flat platform that moves). Clearly it was supposed to land center stage and stop, but it hooked itself onto a standing flat and was stuck. There were a table and chairs on the wagon, where our two heroes were to play their next, interior scene. 
Heidi Blickenstaff plays Bea Bottom (the show is peppered with names like that). She's perhaps the only true belter on Broadway today (ok, there are a couple of screamers over at Wicked, but is that belting?). Heidi first caught my attention years ago when I attended the abysmal Addams Family musical during the final week of a very tired run. She was a replacement for  Mrs Beineke, and stole the show from stars Roger Rees and Brooke Shields. She is Something Rotten's voice of reason, and she gets to do a little Shakespearean crossdressing as well.
Brian d'Arcy James and John Cariani simply glanced at each other, shrugged, and moved the furniture off the platform and placed it on the flat stage where it was supposed to land. 
Christian Borle won the Tony
playing Shakespeare as an
ego-driven rock star. He was
the show's only Tony winner.
Of course, anytime something like this happens, the audience eats it up, particularly if the actors handle it with humor and professionalism (as these guys did). They were faced, however, with the problem of what to do with this furniture once the scene was over, since the wagon could not return to the stage to remove it. James took the lead and, while continuing the dialogue of the scene, simply slid the table, then each chair, off-stage. Thunderous applause.
In a fairly convoluted plot twist, Shakespeare disguises himself as an itinerant player and auditions for the Bottom Brothers' show. At the preview I attended, Christian Borle mangled his "audition speech" pretty badly, but gamely went back to correct himself with the ad lib "Let me do this again. I really want this job." The house roared approval
Who cares about such mistakes, particularly at a preview?  Our audience surely didn't. Despite the various mishaps, the cast was clearly having a ball, so we did too. Something Rotten! is not the greatest musical out there (it runs out of steam a bit in Act Two), but is certainly great fun and deserves a long, healthy run.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Dance Party: The Last Time I Saw Paris

Everyone's minds and hearts have been on Paris this week. I can only obsess on such tragedies for a while before my mind goes a little berserk. I think it's a coping mechanism. The mind wanders, stream-of-consciously, bringing other, happier, thoughts about Paris to the fore.
I spent four days or so in Paris as a teen-ager, and have always had the intention of going back.  My memories of the city are sketchy, as my visit was so many decades ago, but until I finally get back there, I revel in the various artistic depictions of the City of Love.
This week's Dance Party comes from an unusual little film which presents quite a stylized picture of Paris.

In 1962, the scrappy independent animation studio United Productions of America, or UPA, released an artsy cartoon feature which set a bit of a precedent. 
It was highly unusual, at that time, for established stars to lend their voices to animation. The thinking, I suppose, was that producers did not want audiences picturing famous people when watching their cartoons.  It's commonly done now, of course, and in fact, it's difficult to find ANY animated feature film these days which does not brag a boatload of stars voicing the characters.  Back in 1962, this was quite unusual.
Gay Pur-ee placed two stars in its two leading roles, and two other stars as featured players. Judy Garland was in the midst of (yet another) comeback, and Robert Goulet, fresh off his breakout performance in Broadway's Camelot, was at the height of his celebrity. Character actors Red Buttons and Hermione Gingold were enlisted to support these headliners, together bringing a lot of star power to this animated flick.
Gay Purr-ee's story was definitely overshadowed by its score, which includes one of Garland's favorite songs, "Little Drops
of Rain." The tune made its way into Judy's subsequent acts (she also sings it on the Christmas episode of her variety series). The clip below is not that song, but showcases the stylized animation of the film, as well as Garland's flawless vocal performance.
Director Abe Levitow used the paintings of Monet,
Cezanne, and others to create the film's very
unusual look.
At Garland's suggestion, UPA enlisted Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, the songwriting team famous for, among other pieces, a little thing called The Wizard of Oz.  They provided a musical score which was much more sophisticated than was usually heard in animated films.  They made very good use of their stars; Garland and Goulet both sound fabulous on the film's soundtrack.
UPA's technique of "limited animation"
allowed the product to be completed in
record time. The studio moved into TV,
creating one of my favorite series as a kid.

The film was written by Dorothy Webster Jones and her husband, Chuck Jones, who was a giant in the cartoon industry. He actually worked on the film in violation of his contract with Warner Brothers, an act which caused his dismissal from the studio which had benefited from his prestigious work with Bugs Bunny and his crowd. (Mel Blanc, the major voice artist for Warner Brothers animation, was also involved with Gay Purr-ee).
I did not see Gay Purr-ee in the theaters, and once it hit television, I did my best to love it. I find it more admirable than lovable.  Even watching it as an adult, I find it difficult to get through in one sitting.  Cloying character names like "Mewsette" and "Meowrice" don't help.
The villains in Gay Purr-ee were voiced by Hermione
Gingold and voice-over legend Paul Frees.
UPA pioneered a new process called "limited animation," which reused backgrounds much like live action films use stock footage. This technique drastically cut down the amount of time it took to create animation, and was a direct contrast to the prevailing Disney style of super realism.  The technique also gave the finished product an unusual stylized form which, to me, looked cheap.  Well, what did I know? It was less expensive, but it could also be used in imaginative ways, which was certainly the way it was used in Gay Pur-ee.  This week's clip illustrates the point.
Unfortunately, the story containing these artsy images is a pretty lousy one, concerning a country cat who, longing for the excitement of the big city, escapes to Paris, where she is seduced by evil forces and is ultimately rescued by the love she left behind.
UPA only produced two feature films, and was known primarily as the studio which brought us Mr Magoo. (I was never a fan of Magoo, but UPA also produced a pretty slick Dick Tracy series of which I was quite fond).  The same year Gay Pur-ee was released, UPA created a Christmas classic for television when it presented Mr Magoo's Christmas Carol
Like Gay Pur-ee, this one hour version of Dickens's story featured an established songwriting team.  Jule Styne and Bob Merrill were working on their score for Funny Girl while writing the tunes for this project, which is in fact the first animated Christmas special ever produced for television. It received its own Dance Party here.
UPA's newer, faster animation technique was well suited for the pace necessary for television production, and it was adopted by other studios, most notably Hanna-Barbara, who had great success using it for their Flintstones and Jetsons franchises. UPA itself ceased producing cartoons in the early 70s and became known as the American distributor of Japanese movies such as Godzilla.

Here's Judy Garland singing an ode to Paris. It's a pretty torchy number, perhaps the only of its kind sung by an animated cat, but this clip gives a very good illustration of the style of this unique film. It's not much solace for the horrors of the past few week, but it makes me feel a little better. 

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.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Dance Party: Mad About The Borle

As this site lurches uncertainly back to life, we pay tribute to my favorite Broadway Go-To Guy. He first attracted national attention more than a decade ago, in this fun commercial below.  Who IS this guy??

I confess I don't remember ever seeing this commercial, but it is fondly remembered by most fans of Christian Borle (and I am one of those).

Broadway musicals do not usually appeal
to the MTV audience, even one based on a
tweenie movie, so the network's broadcast
of Legally Blonde still confuses me.
The first time I ever saw Borle's work was probably in the stage version of Legally Blonde, though I didn't know it at the time. In 2007, MTV made the unusual decision to air the original Broadway production in its entirety. I did my best with it, but could not get through the thing, mostly due to the unending commercial breaks inserted. So I know I saw Borle, who played love interest Emmett (and who earned a Tony nomination for his work), but frankly, I don't remember him.
As Bert in Mary Poppins
Borle held his own among comic
experts Hank Azaria, Tim Curry,
and David Hyde Pierce in Spamalot.
Legally Blonde was Borle's first Tony nod, but not his first Broadway appearance. He had replaced actors in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Mary Poppins, and originated several roles in Spamalot (including everyone's favorite Not Dead Fred). I had heard Christian Borle's name tossed around theatrical circles for quite a while before I actually saw the guy, and it wasn't onstage at all. 
On stage he's often flamboyantly
theatrical, but in Smash, Borle gave
a nuanced and unassuming
He gained national attention with his leading role in Smash, NBC's noble attempt to musicalize episodic television. The show ran two seasons, and Borle's character was a major presence throughout. (Smash had its own Dance Party a while back, go here.)

Christian's costar in the current Something Rotten!, Heidi Blickenstaff, hosted a video blog for a while, an entertaining look at the backstage shenanigans. Borle was regularly seen sitting in his dressing room clutching a book (he spends more time offstage than just about anyone else in his cast). "Book Nook" became appointment viewing among us Borlites.
During this period, Borle was also heavily involved in Peter and the Starcatcher, an unusual little play-with-music which was an impressive Off-Broadway hit.  
The show transferred uptown and Borle went with it, opening the Broadway production during his hiatus from Smash. He won the Tony for his efforts, an award I can attest he deserved, as I saw his energetic performance.
As Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatcher. The show isn't exactly a prequel, but is rather an imagining of how the Peter Pan myth may have begun. Finding Neverland, a giant show currently on Broadway, is also Pan-adjacent, though it covers the supposed inspiration for the writing of the original story. What the hell is it about Peter Pan that attracts people, over and over again?
Smash did not survive its second season, but that did not stop our hero, who has maintained a television presence in recurring roles on The Good Wife and Masters of Sex.
I'm a big fan of The Good Wife, so I'm delighted when Christian shows up to play one of Alicia's many nemeses.
Impressively, Borle has given satisfying performances in both of the live productions of Broadway musicals with which NBC has had such ratings success during the past two holiday seasons. His stage cred came in handy as Max in The Sound of Music, opposite stage vet Laura Benanti (I wrote about that production here). He was happily back when NBC's Peter Pan took flight (or rather, floundered), playing Mr. Darling and Smee.
Arms and the Man. Borle began working out during his Smash days, when bedroom scenes revealed a slender physique. Boy has that changed. His appearance as a pirate in Peter Pan Live ignited major interest in his huge arms. Some viewers suspected they were faked for the show, but no, it's really him. These days, Christian's biceps even have their own twitter account (which our hero claims he does not run).
Though neither of these live shows received much critical praise, they were ratings winners, and one would think Christian might be a good luck charm worth keeping (as far as I can tell, he is the only performer to appear in both The Sound of Music and Peter Pan live productions).
Before the big Borle Bicep Bulge, our hero starred
in a prestigious revival of Angels in America,
opposite Zachary Quinto. This guy does not need
song and dance to excel.
It was announced a while back that this year's event would be The Music Man, which is a show I dislike but one which might have given Borle the MUCH deserved leading role he has earned. I'd love to see how he handled conman Harold Hill. Soon after that announcement was made, it was rescinded. Instead, The Wiz will be easing on down the road, live, this Christmas. If the producers really want to insure ratings success, they should consider putting Borle in blackface to play one of Dorothy's cohorts. EVERYBODY would watch THAT, if only to complain about racism in Hollywood!

I have a hunch Borle is a bit of a hound
around the ladies, but why not? He was
married to his college sweetheart until
their individual careers really took off.
Yes, that's Sutton Foster, the former
Mrs. Borle. He's been linked to others
of his costars as well; who could resist
that wide, toothy grin?
Well, we finally come to our Dance Party, which features Christian singing one of his songs from his current hit, Something Rotten! (Look for my thoughts on seeing this show soon, as I attempt to get back in the habit of updating these pages. I saw the show months ago, early in its preview period.) 
The principal cast of Something Rotten!
This show is populated with many of Broadway's current creme, but when the show opened last spring, Borle was the face most recognizable to a network audience (due to his Smashing appearances), so there are several clips out there of Christian performing on the various morning/talk shows.
Instead, please enjoy this little video which the team produced themselves, to showcase the show's only Tony winner (did I mention Borle won his second Tony with this performance as Shakespeare?). It's a fun little number capitalizing on Christian Borle's comic timing. And of course, his arms.

As I watched this music video below, it occurred to me: isn't there a Popeye musical out there, just waiting to be put on the stage? Arms And The Man, indeed.