Friday, October 19, 2012

Glitter and be...Barbara Cook

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Two musical Barb(a)ras held court in New York this past week.

I was out of town for Streisand's return to Brooklyn but happily I was home for Barbara Cook's 85th birthday celebration at Carnegie Hall.

 I fell in love with the music from Candide long before I knew that a very young Barbara Cook had originated the role of Cunegonde on the stage. All I knew was that Glitter and Be Gay was the music on The Dick Cavett Show and I wanted to hear the rest of the score.    ("Wow, Leonard Bernstein. He did West Side  Story.") Hey, I was young.

I wore out albums, cassettes and cds before I had a chance to see Candide, first on Broadway, in 1997 with Jim Dale, Harolyn Blackwell and Andrea Martin (hysterical as the Old Woman who was "so easily assimilated!") and then again in London.

It would be more years before I got to hear Glitter and Be Gay performed by the original Cunegonde. My husband is a big fan so we've seen her a few times. When he asked if I wanted to see her again I thought - again? Really?  Inwardly, I thought I was making a big sacrifice but to paraphrase another Broadway lyric, this is what I did for love

I'm so glad I went!

First off, we should all be as funny, energetic and ready to try something new at 85 as Barbara Cook is. This was not her typical show filled with theatre music - nary a Sondheim tune, sorry to say. It was swing, and jazzy with some totally unexpected songs. House of the Rising Sun? Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks?

After a terrific set which included some standards that I bet the other Barbra also sang, the birthday celebration began with special appearances by opera singer Susan Graham, guitarist John Pizzarelli, Sheldon Harnick and Josh Groban. I left Carnegie Hall feeling like I had just seen a living legend.  I was lucky enough to see Judy Garland a number of times (my mom was a fan) and Pavarotti, but it made me sorry that I had never seen Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney or Elvis Presley live.

Which living legends have you seen or want to see ?


  1. I'd like to see Bob Seger. Love, love, love his music.

  2. Julie London is the singer on my "I wish I'd had an opportunity to see her perform live" list. If you sorted through my collection of albums and singles [yes, I do have a lot of “real” records pressed on vinyl] and the passel of CDs, you’d discover that the vast majority of them are Julie London. For me, no one does it better than Julie did it.

    The Barbara Cook show sounds as if it was amazing.

  3. Love this post Ro! I saw Candide in '74 on Broadway and loved it
    I love the theater so much (just got tickets to Matilda coming to broadway in the spring) and my parents took us to the theatre in LA
    I saw Mary Martin in South Pacific and Ethel merman in Annie Get Your Gun and Robert Morse in How to Succeed In Busuness Without Really Trying
    In NY I saw Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl

  4. Joan,
    Hubby loved Julie London too.
    Mary Martin in South Pacific - WOW. That must have been amazing. i sae EM in Annie get your Gun too, one of the endless revivals where she was way older than the guy (maybe Harve Presnell?)
    Saw The Heiress last week with dan Stevbens (Downton Abbey) David Straithairn and Jessica Chastain. not great, but excited about Glengarry Glen Ross next week with Al Pacino as the older, loser guy and Bobby Cannavale as the young hotshot. Fingers crossed!
    years ago in London I got to see Ralph Richardson, Glenda Jackson Celia Johnson and HH Munro on the stage.

    As legends go, I've still never seen Cher or Barbra Streisand. They're not getting any younger so I'd better get on it!

  5. I'd really love to see Patrick Stewart onstage in Shakespeare. And Richard Chamberlin in anything. Sarah Brightman, any of the great tenors who are left.

    Wish I'd seen Pavarotti, Merman, Garland.

    I saw Raul Julia in Man of La Mancha, Topol in Fiddler, and Carol Channing in Hello Dolly (the second or third time around). Glenn Close in Sunset Boulevard. They were all pretty magic!

  6. I was dragged kicking and screaming to see Frank Sinatra near the end of his touring career, but much enjoyed the show. He forgot a few words, but the voice was still something special.

    Back in the 70s, I hung out in LA area bars where Leon Russell and Michael McDonald played in house bands.

    I look forward to one day seeing the Jungle Red Players (next Bouchercon?) perform a one-act mystery.

  7. Good question. Most of my living legends are in politics and I've been lucky to meet many in person.

    I adored Patti LuPone as Evita and saw it three times. Never met her in person, though.

    When I was very little I had the choice of meeting Miss Frances (Ding Dong School - anyone else as old as me who remembers that?) or Roy Rogers. We were visiting my grandparents in Massachusetts and they were both appearing at Shoppers World in Framingham. I decided on Miss Frances and I was so excited!

    And yesterday I bet Julia Spencer-Fleming. Made my day!!!

  8. I love Candide, but have never seen it performed. So jealous, Ro!

    I saw Paul McCartney on his last tour--does that count for legends? He was amazing.

    I really, really want to see Hugh Jackman live in a musical. And I want to see David Tennant do Shakespeare.

    I think more theater when I'm in London is just the ticket.

    (Oh, I was treated to a performance of Jeremy Irons as Harold Macmillan by his co-star, Anna Chancellor, at the National Theatre. THAT was a treat.)

  9. Tammy, I saw Patrick Stewart in Tempest and in his one man A Christmas Carol. But bigger thrill - I was working at WNET when he was recording the voiceover for a PBS series and we )accidentally walked to work together 2 days in a row! Be still my heart!

  10. Because Donald and I are both music junkies we've been lucky enough to lots of living legends, including Liza (who I just flat adore), but sadly, I've never seen Streisand.

    Debs, we saw that McCartney concert - wasn't he amazing???

    Legends who are no longer with us that I'm happy to have been lucky enough to see were Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. together - but for an incredibly sad event which came to be called the case of the missing and murdered children of Atlanta back in the late 70s.

    And I got to see Ella Fitzgerald which was incredible.

  11. I have had the great good fortune to see Barbara Cook in concert several times. Watching her sing in her seventies and eighties is like getting to watch Rembrandt paint. She is a genius at work creating masterpiece after masterpiece, telling a story in song in a way that no other sing does. Thanks for sharing your experience of seeing her birthday concert.

    --Marjorie of Connecticut

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  13. Saw Segovia twice in the early 1980s, when I was a classical guitar student. Beyond compare.

  14. As a 21st birthday present, Shelley Winters brought me to the filming of her week on Hollywood Squares. We had lunch with the other squares between Wednesday and Thursday. Jack Palance sang a ditty about my choice of items from the buffet (lox and bagels and pork spare ribs) Does that count?

  15. Really fun post Rosemary! Like Jack Getze, I also saw Sinatra at the end of his touring career. It was at Radio City in 1994. (His last performance in NYC.) He forgot some of the words at my show too. But it was still great to see him. Several years later I saw Tony Bennett perform in AC in 2000. I couldn't believe Bennett's energy at the time. He was on-stage for almost 2hours and didn't miss a beat.

    -Bob D.


  16. I stood against the wall right next to Bruce Springsteen at a college concert at Rutgers and then he all of a sudden bolted from beside me and jumped on stage and sang to us in a very small room.

    He wasn't as famous then nationally, but we were all all swooning already in New Jersey.

    I've seen the Rolling Stones pretty close up, but not when they were young. And a lot - I mean A LOT - of rock n roll that I will never remember and might not as well have paid for.

    I flew down to New York once to see Tony Bennet, but he didn't show up. We got Mandy Patinkin instead. He was pretty good, but the crowd was disappointed and rude.

    I saw The Women (inspiration of Jungle Red) when it came to Broadway last time and there were some famous actresses in it, but damn if I can remember.

  17. Reine -

    that beats my 21st birthday! Sounds like a blast.


  18. Kaye! Kaye Barley said:
    ..lucky enough to see were Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. together Atlanta back in the late 70s.

    I WAS THERE! That is just--heart-stopping. Isn't it??? OH, my gosh, I am imagining it now. We were in the same room at the same concert in in 197xx. Whoa.

  19. And ah..I saw Robert Goulet and Richard Burton and Julie Andrews in Camelot in Chicago. Oh,and Roddy MacDowell as Mordred.

    Oh, gosh, love to have seen MAry MArtin. Sigh.

    I saw The Heiress with Cherry Jones, Ro.

    My Dad, who was music critic for the Chicago Daily News, was there on one of the opening nights of West Side Story. Can you imagine? And Kismet.

    I am terrified of all the people I've seen that I've forgotten. Sigh. I saved all those Playbills--and at one point, just threw them. So silly.

  20. Oh, and we heard The Three Tenors Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras in PARIS! Now THAT was a concert...

  21. Marianne, Patti LuPOne as Evita. Whoa. I bet that was amazing....

  22. HANK!

    I just knew it!

    I "knew" that one of these days we would have one of these "me too!" moments. And I'm betting there are lots more - were you involved with The Arts Festival with Monica K. and Pat Gann?

    Y'all - I remember our Hank when she was on the news in Atlanta - and I have to say this - she is more beautiful now than she was back then. And back then EVERYONE was swooning over her.

    (that was a sad time, wasn't it, Hank?)

  23. Jan Brogan - oh man oh man oh Springsteen. sigh. I've seen him in concert several times and hope to see him a few more. The Stones? three times (two of them I actually do remember!). Clapton, The Who, Rod Stewart, Bonnie Raitt, Willie (more times than I will ever admit too) Nelson, Elton John and several I'm forgetting (including The Village People . . .)

    The end of this month we're headed to Nashville to see the CMAs - going with friends who have VIP seats.

  24. I saw Angela Lansbury in Mame at the Winter Garden Theatre.

  25. My father was in The Persecution and Prosecution of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, so I had to see it.

  26. I saw Man of La Mancha on the road, in Los Angeles.

  27. Oh, Reine, I LOVE that play! (Poor old Marat, they'll hunt you down, the bloodhounds are sniffing all over the town!)

    Kaye, you're so funny--I had no idea you were around then to see the long brown hair. Shhhh. We'll definitely have to compare notes!

  28. I missed Hair. I don't know how I let that happen.

  29. Bonus concert on the Boston Common: I went to see Joan Baez sing. Bob Dylan showed up and they sang together. They were terrific, an exercise in wonderful contrast that I'd never expected could possibly be.

  30. Oh, Hank, yes... I studied the revolution, and it's effect on the religious life of the French, because of that play. I saw it over 100 times.

  31. I saw Marat/Sade on previews in NY
    Blew me away'
    Reine your father was IN it!?

  32. Hi Hallie,

    He was in a few versions... my favorite was, actually, with the Theatre Company of Boston, David Wheeler's (RIP) direction. I used to watch from the light booth and would sneak the spot over to him... kids, y'know?

  33. I've been really lucky, have seen Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, Patrick Stewart, Linda Ronstadt, Kathleen Turner, Alec Baldwin, Jessica Lange, in opera, Pavarotti, Domingo, Fleming, Giorghiu, Nebtrebko, many others, would love to see Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale if he ever did theater!

  34. Hallie, I should've said he was in a few productions. They were all the same version. Wouldn't want a bunch of people going out looking for other versions of Marat Sade.

  35. I have had SUCH a dull life, except that I saw Glenn Close when she sang with Up With People.

    I almost saw Frank Sinatra in person once, but changed my mind about going. Can't remember why.

  36. I should make this anonymous. But I won't. I saw Pat Boone at Blinstrubs. I was veryyoung. That's for all you Boston people.

  37. I would love to see Barbara Cook ~ but I was lucky enough to get tickets to Ms. Streisand last Thursday in Brooklyn - and flew all the way from Portland, Oregon to imbibe. It was a dream come true and I almost pulled out my hairbrush to sing along... ladies, you know what I mean. ~ jane

  38. Wow...Jane, that's further than I've ever flown for a concert! But i was thinking of going to vegas for Streisand. I'll be in LA that weekend so it wouldn't be that far.

    I'd say Streisand, Cher, and Tony Bennett are on my must-see list. uh...Andy Williams recently fell off the list.