Friday, January 04, 2008
words & music by jerry herman

There was a WONDERFUL Documentary on PBS here in Los Angeles, on Tuesday night...What a glorious way to begin 2008! There were many wonderful things about this documentary, not the least of which some of the beautiful songs that were sung by some of the theatre greats...
people like Carol Channing and Angela Lansbury and George Hearn.....And the fabulously uplifting music that was played.....

Jerry Herman's an amazing composer. And here is a very interesting fact: He does not know how to actually "write" a note of music....that is, he is not able to write down on paper any of the music he writes! Someone else must 'notate' that for him....And his music is very sophisticated and complex in many ways....He has written some very popular and hugely successful shows: "Hello Dolly", Mame", and "La Cage Aux Folles"....all Tony wining 'successful' Broadway shows which are still performed all over this country and throughout the world, and I am sure one or more of them are playing right this moment as you read this, somewhere in the world! No small thing.

Many years ago, the S.T.A.G.E. Benefit (The Event I was Co-Chair of for over twenty years) honored Jerry Herman with an evening of his songs, raising over $300,000. for AIDS related organizations....I had the privilege of writing out or 'notating' some 8 bars of three different songs, which he signed at the bottom of the large piece of Art Paper I had written each one out on. We then framed them very elegantly. (All donated, by the way) and auctioned them off to our Audience---adding to the coffers of this annual fund raiser.....It looked similar to this one above, only much bigger, in every way, and all written out with a red pen, including his signature....He couldn't have been sweeter about it. He was still living in his very beautiful home in Bel Air, at the time. (I only mention this home because it is the only other house besides my own I have seen in the 47 years I have lived in Los Angeles that I felt I could live in....A peaceful serene home with generous sized rooms...comfortable and beautiful in every way....) I had to bring them to him so he could sign them, and then, take them from there, right to the framer, the wonderful Jerry Solomon....I don't remember which songs they were now----I did this two different years, so it is difficult to recall, cause that made a total of six.......


But, two of the ones I did of the six were
"I WON'T SEND ROSES" and "TIME HEALS EVERYTHING", both from a wonderful show named, "Mack & Mabel"....about Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand---two very important 'Silent Screen' people. Here below is a very sweet pairing of these two songs as sung by Michael Ball and Ruthie Henshall, those of you across the pond will know these two very talented people....The character of Mack was unable to express the love he had for Mabel....he was a very self involved man, so the story goes....and was just incapable of expressing the deep love he felt, he sings "I Won't Send Roses'....Mabel, sings...."Time Heals Everything" which is rather self explanatory....Here they are....

.
"La Cage Aux Folles" was very ground breaking because it was about two men who love each other, yes, two Gay Men...It was the first musical ever to appear on Broadway where two men held hands....One of the men is a Female Impersonator and the other has a son born from an early marriage---but they, have brought this boy up as their own....The son is getting married and the family he is marrying into is terribly conservative so they don't want them to meet 'Zza Zza'....This is terribly hurtful to him and he tries very hard to act "macho"...but it is just not in him. At the end of the first act, he sings this next song...."I AM WHAT I AM".....the fantastically talented George Hearn won a Tony for his performance as 'Zza Zza'....Here he is, in a stunning performance in 1994 at a special tribute evening to Jerry Herman, at The Hollywood Bowl, here in Los Angeles. This song and what it means could be sung by anyone and it is a great reminder to be who you are....and just say, 'this is me'.....George Hearn, here rendering these brilliant and touching lyrics....


And here is Davis Gaines....Best known for playing "The Phantom", in "Phantom Of The Opera", but who can do so much more, and does....Here he is singing "SONG ON THE SANDS", also from "La Cage"...a beautiful love song if there ever was one, sung very movingly by Mr. Gaines.....

There is so much more to Jerry Herman and his music...this is just a little sampling. The theatre is such a wonderful way to be moved and changed, if you will....the theatre can do things that legislation cannot do...It can open up your heart to the truly larger issues and enlighten in ways that no other medium can....If you get a chance to see the documentary "Words & Music by Jerry Herman" on your PBS Station....settle in for a wonderful stirring, delightful and touching experience....I promise you, you won't be sorry.....I for one am so grateful to PBS for these fabulous films of the Great Great Broadway composers like Jerry Herman......More, please....More......and, here....there will be.....






More To Come........







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24 Comments:
had this to say:

It's only me :-)

I'll be back later to listen to the music, 'cos videos don't work on our works computers.

But I wanted to say - look at how magnificent Angela Lansbury looks as Mame - what a woman!

I've always had a soft spot for Angela.

'See' you after work!

cq

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 1:24:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Oh yes, he writes such wonderful musicals and I have had the honour of working on one or two of them backstage.

I couldn't agree more when you say how stirring the theatre can be, how it can transcend legislation and politics to get across a message, and yet at the same time be such an uplifting and entertaining experience. I also see you found some footage of Michael Ball singing. As you can imagine, he made a wonderful Giorgio in 'Passion'. Thanks for posting these, a musical experience is very welcome on this dreary winters day :)

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 3:51:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Naomi, I DID see that show; happened on it by accident, really, and I am so glad I did. It was fascinating. I saw another one on Monday night about great early people on TV (Gleason, Danny Thomas, Lucy Ball, MTM and Dick Van Dyke, etc.) It was a great show!

Thanks for the visit. I also saw Elizabeth on Oprah twice and that's what made me want to read the book. It was so much better than I ever thought it would be!

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 5:55:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I hope I can find it on our PBS station, I would love to see it. I listened to all the videos and they were wonderful, such good voices. Music does have a way of opening the heart and soul.

Thanks Naomi.

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 7:02:00 AM PST 

Blogger Bud
had this to say:

Naomi, missed the show but will find it somewhere-So where is the video of the bees?--At various times in my career I was cameraman and video editor--probably did several thousand news stories over years--thinking of doing something with it on blog. Hugs Bud

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 11:15:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Powerful lyrics... La Cage Aux Folles is wonderful. Such talent from Jerry Herman and others like him...

His home must have been truly beautiful for you to feel that way, Naomi.

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 12:39:00 PM PST 

Anonymous Lyn
had this to say:

Thanks Naomi...I was entranced watching and listening to these videos, the wonderful drama of the Stage and Jerry Herman's heart and soul Words and Music. It was a rare treat.
Recently I saw a video with guest Betty Harper Fussel who wrote the book "Mabel, Hollywood's 1st I Don't Care Girl" the life of Mabel Normand who died in 1930 at the age of 38. I was fascinated with her life story, so I tried to purchase the book but a hard cover is unavailable and used paperback copies ask a hefty price. I plan to keep looking and hope to find a hard cover copy of this book from the Silent Film era.

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 1:50:00 PM PST 

Anonymous Anonymous
had this to say:

OH, I loved La Cage. Saw it on Broadway and it was fantastic. Also saw the movie and loved it too. Now that's when singing was singing!
Thanks for sharing this.
Terri
http://www.islandwriter.net

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 2:38:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Oh, I wish I'd known that was on! :) They're re-run it soon.
We went to see a very obscur Jerry Herman musical called The Grand Tour staring Jason Graae, and Mr. Herman was sitting behind us! I love his music. He is a master of tuneful melodies.

And I know Michael Ball, and love Ruthie Henshall (one of the only actresses to play both Roxie & Velma in Chicago). And George Hearn is wonderful, and I love that song, as you can imagine. ;)

Fun post as always.
(Rose Parade photos, part 1, are now posted!)
~S

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 3:42:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

That was wonderful. Thank you!

Stay dry this weekend, it's coming down out there, huh?

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 8:45:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

May be a decade ago I walked into Anaheim Stadium for an Angel's game on the Fourth of July. There was a young man in a baseball jacket and jeans singing the National Anthem like I have never heard it sung before or since. No one with me knew who he was. The next day I called their PR department to find out who it was. His name was Davis Gaines. Thank you for posting the clip of him. It would be impossible to hear that voice too much.

Friday, January 4, 2008 at 9:45:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I looked for it on our pbs here and didn't find it.. sigh..

(are you sure you don't know everyone??? hehehe)

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 5:53:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

This may surprise you, but I am a Broadway show tune hound. Mom did a lot of community theater when I was a kid and I helped out a lot. Nothing like a musical to make my day! Thanks for sharing Naomi!

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 7:37:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

Oh yes! I saw it as well. Jerry Herman is an incredible talent, without question. To have created so much beauty in this world and moved people through his craft is incredible.

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 8:55:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I've seen Hello Dolly and Mame on stage but not La Cage aux Folles. I expect it'd be the best suited of the three for the stage. I've seen both movie versions and they were quite entertaining. I didn't realize that Jerry Herman was the composer for all three musicals, Naomi.

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 11:37:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I couldn't resist coming here. I absolutely love the name of your blog!

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 11:41:00 AM PST 

had this to say:

I've never heard of Jerry Herman but loved La Cage.

Gord and I did a tour of a couple theatres this afternoon. Very cool!

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 1:57:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Naomi,
shame om me. We did not have TV or shows like this at that time here in Norway. Pre post War 2.
However, I adore your storyetelling, and I really hope we can meet face to face and hear your extrodinary voice telling about what matters you the most

hugs
Tor and Anna
in Snowy Oslo

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 3:16:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

WONDERFUL x MILLIONS. You always make such unique and fantastic posts!

WELCOME to:

Start The Ship Party!

ALL BLOGGERS ARE WELCOME!!!!

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 3:42:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Thanks for inspiring me to tune into PBS. I've been watching too many of the dish channels and missing out on all the real entertainment!

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 8:04:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I have seen the 3 movies of "La cage aux folles" the french version of course and I think they belong to the best humoristic movies France has ever done ! It is just hilarious ! I also saw the American version but found it very poor compared to the originals. The "gay" actor Michel Serrault just died last year. It had been one of his most important films in his life. Now the humoristic french movies are very vulgar and are of very poor quality. So I don't watch them anymore !
We celebrate The Tree Kings Day today in Belgium.

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 10:04:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

Wonderful post!
Bravo!
Happy New Year!
Have a wonderful day!
*^_^
(=':'=) huggles
(")_ (")Š from
the Cool Raggedy one

Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 10:46:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

I visit quite a few blogs each week, but there's no other blog where I learn so many new things.
I get to learn about and hear and see people I didn't even know existed, thanks to YOU!!
It's amazing to me that Jerry Herman did not know how to write/notate music. I'd say he did pretty well without that knowledge!!
Angela Lansbury is wonderful.

Monday, January 7, 2008 at 9:58:00 PM PST 

had this to say:

That is so interesting to know! I know all those musicals but not about the man.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 6:05:00 PM PST 

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