Song and Dance

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Song and Dance
Songanddance.jpg
Music Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics Don Black
Richard Maltby, Jr. (additional)
Productions 1982 West End
1985 Broadway
2007 Israel

Song and Dance is a musical comprising two acts, one told entirely in "Song" and one entirely in "Dance", tied together by a love story.

The first part is Tell Me On A Sunday, with lyrics by Don Black and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, about a young British woman's romantic misadventures in New York City and Hollywood. The second part is a ballet choreographed to Variations, composed by Lloyd Webber for his cellist brother Julian, which is based on the A Minor Caprice No. 24 by Paganini.

Development[edit]

The Song portion was written specifically for Marti Webb, and presented at the Sydmonton Festival in the summer of 1979. It was subsequently recorded and aired as a one-hour television special by the BBC the following January. The Dance portion was recorded in 1978, and nearly became incorporated into Cats. The opening sequence was utilized as the theme music for London Weekend Television's South Bank Show.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh proposed that the two pieces be combined under the umbrella title Song and Dance to acknowledge the primary aspect of each act, billing the piece as "a concert for the theatre".

Black altered some of the songs from the original album and worked with Lloyd Webber on new material: "The Last Man in My Life", "I Love New York" and "Married Man", the latter set to the same tune as "Sheldon Bloom". A new orchestration of the Variations for a sixteen-piece theatre orchestra was produced from the original symphonic version played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra but Harry Rabinowitz retained the baton for the stage production. "When You Want to Fall in Love", with a tune previously released by Marti Webb and Justin Hayward as "Unexpected Song" which itself was later added to the score, was used at the climax of the dance section to meld the two halves.

Productions[edit]

1982 London[edit]

The musical had its world premiere on March 26, 1982 in the West End at the Palace Theatre, where it ran for 781 performances. Marti Webb performed the Song half; she subsequently was succeeded by Gemma Craven, Lulu, and Liz Robertson. Carol Nielsson, Webb's original understudy took over the role at short notice when Lulu damaged her voice after a foldback monitor failed during a performance. Verity Ann Meldrum, who had been shortlisted for the leading role in the original production of Evita was the understudy to Liz Robertson. A video of the production was recorded with Sarah Brightman in the lead role soon after the show closed on March 31, 1984. The Dance portion was choreographed by Anthony van Laast and featured Wayne Sleep and Jane Darling.

The original recording of the London production was made live at the opening night using a recording studio then built into the Palace Theatre, later used to record Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White in 2004. The album was produced by Martin Levan, who designed the sound system for the show and who went to be one of the top sound designers in the West End.

1985 Broadway[edit]

Director/lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr. was approached to adapt the first act for an American audience, adding more plot. The Broadway production, choreographed by Peter Martins, opened on September 18, 1985 at the Royale Theatre, and closed on November 8, 1986, after 474 performances and seventeen previews. Bernadette Peters starred in Song for nearly thirteen months; she was succeeded by Betty Buckley for the final four weeks. Dance featured Christopher d'Amboise and Gregg Burge.

Singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester starred in a subsequent 6-month US national tour of the show in 1987, starting in Dallas, Texas and ending in Tampa, Florida.[1][2]

The Broadway production received eight Tony Award nominations, with Peters winning as Best Actress (Musical).

Synopsis[edit]

London[edit]

An English girl, newly arrived in New York, stumbles upon her boyfriend in her apartment. She confronts him and decides to break up. She writes to her mother in England about what happened, and that she has met a new man, Sheldon Bloom, with whom she travels to California. Bloom is a Hollywood producer and lives in a mansion named La Bohème. Days pass and the girl finds out how uneventful Hollywood is ("Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad"). She realizes that Sheldon has only been using her as a trophy, and she ends things once and for all. Los Angeles becomes a quick disappointment for her.

The girl meets yet another man, this time a younger one who she finds more fulfilling. Soon, however, it is time for the younger man to go away to work. The girl can't bear to let him go. Her friend later comes over to tell her about the man's infidelity, and she asks him for the truth. The girl walks through the streets of New York, very depressed. This time, she has met a married man. She reflects that the affair is wrong. The married man comes by to confess his love, and she realizes that she has been using him. In the end she decides that it wasn't the end of the world to have no one.

Act Two is the examination of one of the men (presumably the younger one), through the music of "Variations", in a series of dances. At the end, the man sees the girl, and they make up, joining both in Song and Dance.

Broadway[edit]

The revised Broadway musical follows the London version; the girl is named "Emma" and is an aspiring hat designer. Through each of the men Emma becomes involved with she undertakes an emotional journey and learns something about herself. Although she has fallen in love with "Joe", he is unable to commit, and after he leaves her, she takes up with "Paul", the married man. Ultimately she realizes that she has started using men, as they had used her: "I'll be Emma again, If it means being hurt, I'll be hurt, But I'll like myself then..." ("What Have I Done").

Emma is alone on stage in Act 1, and the conversations she has with others and her out-loud musings take place with off-stage or imaginary characters. Act 2 belongs to Joe and tell his story through the "Dance" portion; he and Emma finally unite at the end, as Joe matures and realizes that he is in love with Emma.

Song list[edit]

London Production

  • Overture
  • Let Me Finish
  • It's Not the End of the World
  • Letter Home to England
  • Sheldon Bloom
  • Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad
  • You Made Me Think You Were In Love
  • Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad (Reprise)
  • It's Not the End of the World (If He's Younger)
  • Second Letter Home
  • The Last Man in My Life
  • Come Back With the Same Look in Your Eyes
  • Take That Look Off Your Face
  • Tell Me on a Sunday (Marti Webb piano & vocal)
  • I Love New York
  • Married Man
  • I'm Very You, You're Very Me
  • Let's Talk About You
  • Let Me Finish (Reprise)
  • Nothing Like You've Ever Known
  • Let Me Finish (Finale)

Broadway production

  • Overture/Take That Look Off Your Face
  • Let Me Finish
  • So Much to Do in New York
  • First Letter Home
  • English Girls
  • Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad
  • You Made Me Think You Were in Love
  • Capped Teeth and Caesar Salad (Reprise)
  • So Much To Do in New York (II)
  • Second Letter Home
  • Unexpected Song
  • Come Back With The Same Look In Your Eyes
  • Take That Look Off Your Face (Reprise)
  • Tell Me On A Sunday (Bernadette Peters piano & vocal)
  • I Love New York/So Much to Do in New York
  • Married Man (included on Original Broadway Cast recording, not performed on stage)
  • Third Letter Home
  • Nothing Like You've Ever Known
  • Finale - Let Me Finish (Reprise)/What Have I Done?/Take That Look Off Your Face (Reprise)

Recording[edit]

The Broadway original cast recording, titled Bernadette Peters in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance was released in 1985 by RCA Victor.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

In Frank Rich's New York Times review, he wrote: "Miss Peters is more than talented: As an actress, singer, comedienne and all-around warming presence, she has no peer in the musical theater right now. In her half of Song & Dance, she works so hard you'd think she were pleading for mercy before a firing squad. Yet for all the vocal virtuosity, tempestuous fits and husky-toned charm she brings to her one-woman musical marathon, we never care if her character lives or dies.."[4]

John Simon, in The New York Magazine, noted that the unseen men seemed "nebulous and unreal, so too, does the seen woman", and in the Dance half, "things go from bad to worse." However, he wrote that "Miss Peters is an unimpeachable peach of a performer who does so much for the top half of this double bill as to warrant its immediate rechristening 'Song of Bernadette'. She not only sings, acts, and (in the bottom half) dances to perfection, she also, superlatively, 'is' ".[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Original London production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1982 Laurence Olivier Award[6] Outstanding Achievement in a Musical Nominated
Actress of the Year in a Musical Marti Webb Nominated

Original Broadway production[edit]

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
1986 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Bernadette Peters Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Gregg Burge Nominated
Outstanding Choreography Peter Martins Nominated
Outstanding Music Andrew Lloyd Webber Nominated
Grammy Award[7] Best Musical Show Album Nominated
Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Bernadette Peters Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Christopher d'Amboise Nominated
Best Original Score Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black and Richard Maltby, Jr. Nominated
Best Costume Design Willa Kim Nominated
Best Lighting Design Jules Fisher Nominated
Best Choreography Peter Martins Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Richard Maltby, Jr. Nominated

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harrison, Thomas B. "Melissa Manchester: Pop music pro enters a new stage with 'Song and Dance'", St. Petersburg Times (Florida), December 8, 1987, p. 1D
  2. ^ Listing, see Pittsburgh, Civic Light Opera CompanyThe New York Times, August 9, 1987, p. G16
  3. ^ "The Musicals on Record, 'Song and Dance'"Billboard (books.google.com), October 19, 1996, p. 52
  4. ^ Rich, Frank."Stage: 'Song and Dance' With Bernadette Peters",The New York Times, September 19, 1985
  5. ^ Simon, John Ivan. John Simon on theater: criticism, 1974-2003 (2005), Hal Leonard Corporation, ISBN 1-55783-505-5, pp. 359-361
  6. ^ olivier winners 1982 olivierawards.com
  7. ^ LA Times Awards database

External links[edit]