Wednesday, December 18, 2013

"Bells are Ringing": The Original Movie version of "Monkees On The Line" Episode #28

A classic movie musical Bells are Ringing (1960) had enough impact on the culture of the early 60's that by the late 1960's, it was crying out to be spoofed.  It came out the same year that answering machines started to be sold in the U.S.  The play had been a smash hit on Broadway for 3 years prior.

It's set inside a business called SusAnswerphone.  The movie is one of those marvelous examples of a whole career and job that doesn't exist anymore. Real people answering phones when other people aren't at home.  (And before anyone thought to invent an Answering Machine).  Note, they are still called Answer-Phones in England.  Note also the "phone numbers" she sings about: Plaza-04433, includes a word to identify the exchange.  Throughout the 1950's and early 60's, other TV shows sprinkled this jargon as if you could actually dial a neighborhood.  In fact, the first three numbers were punched in, using the word as a mnemonic shorthand. (Quite a disappointment, indeed)

The line that The Boys point to during the show ("Don't get Involved With The Clients") comes directly from the main plot of the movie. Judy Holliday saves Dean Martin, an alcoholic playwright, from depression and writer's block. Judy pulls a cup of coffee out of her purse (very Monkee-like) as well as a prune danish.  Near the end, Dean Martin does an impression of Al Jolson, of Jazz Singer (1927) fame.  You've heard of it as being famous as the first talkie, but did you also know it came from a story originally written by Rafelson's uncle: Samson Raphaelson ?

The storyline about Peter and the racetrack bets being placed in code also comes directly from the movie.  In the movie, there's a con man who goes around humming classical music and acting like a bad actor playing the role of a PR guy: "Titanic Records; The Highest Fi there is!"  The gambling con gets ruined because a clever delivery boy (who knows his music) overhears a popular bet for Beethoven's 10th Symphony.  (He only wrote 9!!)

They have a scene in an old fashioned subway entrance, a glass enclosure, and copper gilding.  If you look for one in NYC, there is still one in existence in Astor Place, in the East Village, across from The Cube.  The Village being famous for hosting Peter Tork during his developmental period as a performer.

Other Connections including actors & writers:
Dort Clark: (Inspector, Sergeant, Policeman) Monkees A La Carte (#11), Picture Frame (#34) and Monkees on the Wheel (#46).  As soon as he appears on screen, you might have a strong sense of dejavu!

Jean Stapleton before and after she was Edith Bunker, there was quite a stage career for her.  This movie is years before she met Archie, but her physicality is already recognizably in place.  Note also how Judy Holliday is not afraid to use the "screechy" part of her voice, which may or may not have influenced Jean's vocal work for Edith.

Frank Gorshin known as the Riddler on Batman, is the guy who does the Marlon Brando impression in a beatnik coffeehouse!

For extra credit read the lyrics of "Drop A Name" and see how many names you can recognize. Hint: Vincente Minnelli is the director of the movie!

Fashion:
"Bonjour Tristesse Brasserie Company": is a reference to a French novel published in 1958 about a young girl jaded in romance by seeing her father's many girlfriends . There is also a scene where she heads into a party and feels out of place because her dress has a bustle.  It's a running joke about the change of style from 1950's full skirt to a more sleek 1960's look.

Comden and Green!!  Betty Comden & Adolph Green, are some of the best Broadway songwriters from the Great American Songbook.  Apparently very funny in person too. Their pianist was Leonard Bernstein, btw.

The Broadway show was directed by Jerome Robbins, and choreographed by Robbins and Bob Fosse. Their names might sound a little familiar if you are familiar with Broadway.  If you are not familiar with Broadway, start with them.

The Broadway show also starred Sydney Chaplin, Charlie's son. He was also romantically involved with Judy.  In case you wonder if this guy had any talent or not, he won a Tony for his performance.  He was later nominated for another role, starring a girl who could sing a little. Funny Girl, starring Barbara Streisand.  He broke up with Judy before the movie was filmed, and was replaced by a singer in the movie version.  Dean Martin.  He is famous for having a daughter on the Monkees, and maybe for having a singing/movie career too.

And when Judy was out on vacation, who filled her shoes? Mrs. Edna Babish from Laverne and Shirley, Betty Garret!!

And then there is the setting, the Loneliest Brownstone in NYC, where Susansaphone is located. No direct Monkee connection, other than taking advantage of a wacky location.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Naked Persimmon Validity of Fans' Experiences

I Love that Naked Persimmon just posted this to their FB Page.  A long, thoughtful discussion about "Long-Running" Fans vs "Newer" Fans.  Brilliant.

Happy Sunday, folks! We here at NP would like to take just a moment of your time to address an issue that has been coming up quite a bit recently, and share our thoughts on it.

It's come to our attention, via a few messages we've received from our fans, that some newer Monkees fans have found themselves the target of ire of some of the older (meaning longer-running) Monkees fans. One such fan even said to us that they felt they didn't deserve to be a Monkees fan or to feel like the Monkees' music and TV show had helped save their life because the Monkees had bee saving other people for much longer.

As many of us know, one of the things Monkees that sets the Monkees apart from many other groups is the wide age range of their fans. From “first generation” folks—people who watched the TV show when it first aired in the ’60s; to “second generation” people who watched it when MTV re-aired the show in the ’80s; to “third generation” fans who saw it on Nick-at-Nite in the ’90s; and now “fourth generation” digital-era fans who are finding the Monkees through all sorts of ways.

In a perfect world, these different generations of fans would harmoniously coexist and be supportive and encouraging of each other’s love for the Monkees. Of course, we are dealing with human beings here, and sadly there are people who feel a sense of “ownership” or “entitlement” toward the Monkees, and who are also threatened by the younger/newer fans.

For whatever reason, these fans seem to believe that they are superior to others for being a fan longer, and from what we've seen, they tend to come down hard on others who don't fit their personal specific "criteria" for being a fan. But what they’ve so obviously forgotten is that we were *all* new fans once, and none of us would ever have wanted to be treated like that.

Being a Monkees fan is not a contest. It is *not* a competition. No one wins an award for being a fan longer, the Monkees won’t marry someone or anoint them “Big King/Queen Kahuna Monkees Fan” and hand them a crown and scepter, and no one will be worshiped for being.a longtime fan, especially if they act like a raging douchecanoe about it.

The Monkees have never and will never “belong” to anyone, and therefore there should be no way that anyone could ever "take them from someone." Everyone has the right to their personal experience, and anyone who would try to make someone feel bad or less deserving of it has well and truly lost sight of what it means to be a fan. If someone feels that the Monkees have saved them, in no way whatsoever means that they have saved other people *any less.*

In the end, it doesn’t matter if someone has been a fan of the Monkees for 40 years or 4 years. Time does not equal credibility. What *does* matter is what is in someone’s heart. And if the Monkees have made a person happy—if their music or TV show has made them smile, laugh, or otherwise touched their life—then they are a Monkees fan, and nothing can ever change that.

Selected Comments:
Jeane Simpson as a side bar to this..there are also the folks who have 'met' all or various Monkees dude who seem to think they are superior to those who haven't met all..or ANY of them. i've been attacked by these types quite often. I don't envy them...i just don't understand their need to throw it in people's faces that they are better than anyone else cuz they've seen so and so 58 times and went to every meet and greet/convo whatever in the last year and a half.....nobody needs to feel like they're anything less because they've not been into anyone(Any musician, actor or artist)its just that we all discover things at different times. Hell, there are probably people in their 40s and 50s who weren't into the dudes when they were young but have discovered them now. (and honestly, i find it kinda fun and interesting to meet teens who are into the monkees as either young dudes or old dudes...i kinda feel like Yoda;)....well without the green skin or wrinkles!)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Review: All Ye Faithful!!


Have faith, all ye Monkeefans out there!!  Britton Payne has done it again with his loving tribute/live theater concept called "Here We Come . . . All Ye Faithful".  All your favorite characters and actors return to bring more Monkee merriment to the C.O.W. theater on the Lower East Side.

Yours truly, Tammy Rose, with Gretchen Poole in her Micky Monkee garb (circa 2nd Season)

It's The Boys again and their old trope & plot points, trying to get money to pay the rent and going through wacky adventures to do so.  This time, in addition to including being caught between feuding families and enduring a cross dressing battle of the bands, they get stuck taking care of Melvin and trying to bring the Christmas spirit to the world.

Davy is played enthusiastically by Timothy Charles Browne, who is a knockout in fishnets and velvet. Dana Angelo plays Mike the Explainer, and with additional co-writing and costume duty, she deserves incredible applause for attention to detail.  Shandi Sullivan brings in Peter's delightful bewilderment; in a twist that gives her performance a layer of deeper meaning, she knows what it is to be a young innocent in the spotlight.  She was on America's Next Top Model, how's THAT for research?  And while we loved Lauren Sonnen as Micky (who is somewhere in the Cayman Islands now), MUCH LOVE and MAD PROPS go out to Gretchen Poole who gave a SOLID performance of "Goin' Down".  As in, a delivery that Micky Dolenz should be envious of.

Being an Xmas themed version, you might think that the show might get stuck in Episode #47, but somewhere in "New" Mexico it takes a wild detour.  And this is where some of the most clever and new stuff happens, showing off the versatility of the ensemble.  Instead of the Wild West, they wander into the territory of someone known only as "Chris" (Louie Vitiello) .  Things get bizarre as we watch the Monkee characters in a whole new turn; it's the Christmas Episode from the lost 3rd Season!!

Highlights of the show include Alice Delaney who plays Melvin (the Butch Patrick role) and is a delight from the moment she/he enters as a kid in a 3 button suit!  The attitude & personality are pitch perfect.  Adam Luke returns to play several roles, including Jerry "The Geater" Blavat. He steals the show, and from Davy, no less!! Veronica Osorio is chimerical as the white-haired Joy and later, the role that made Deana Martin famous.  They are backed up by David Boyd, Adrienne Rhodes and Erich Collins Carey, who exemplify the sheer joy of play by donning costumes and characters with gleeful abandon.

Another standout includes "Crazy Eyes Elf" played by Madison Comerzan, an actress whom I suspect added some fancy & excellent choreography in places.  When she pulled me up out of the audience during "Let's Dance On", she warned me about the "freeze" when the music stops in the middle of the song.  Ya gotta LOVE a show that cares enough NOT to humiliate its audience members!

For those of you who are really into the obscure songs, you'll love the full version of "Christmas is My Time of Year", released in 1976 under the band's name, but with only Dolenz & Jones.  If you've never heard it before, it's the production number in the show that sounds like it belongs on the Brady Brunch.

"Riu Chiu" is performed by battery-powered candlelight which brought me chills when the performers started.  My biggest fantasy is to have this performed at the Monkee Convention with everyone singing in 4 part harmony.  But even with the lyrics projected on a giant screen, it would be hard to outdo the original Monkee version.

An amazing evening, don't wait to see them perform at the Monkees Convention, just go as a Christmas present to yourself!

And hug the guy in the Green Hat wearing a headset.  He's the guy who brings the Monkees out of the TV set and into real life.




Monday, December 9, 2013

Finally, A Hall of Fame!

Okay, it's not the R&R Hall of Fame, but they suck.  (And so does that jerk who runs it, not that we are biased)

It's BETTER.  This is a DEMOCRATIC PROCESS where people could vote online (granted, this leaves out people who don't have internet access-but no system is perfect)

America's Pop Music Hall Of Fame is our new favorite group because they've announced the inductees this year. Not just Our Boys, but also the Carpenters, Carole King and the Supremes!  We are big fans of women in music, and they happen to include some of our favorites.

PS The Monkees got the MOST votes this year!

PPS Carole King has a musical based on her life now on Broadway called Beautiful. She has had such a great career, her story must be a fun ride!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Here We Come . . . All Ye Faithful!!




The Brilliant Britton Payne is at it again, doing a Christmas version of his Monkee-Tribute (parody-but in a sweet way) Off Off Broadway show.  5 performances, Dec 12-14 and Dec 20& 21st, ALL at 10:30pm on the Lower East Side.

You can get more info & tickets here.  Opening Night is $5 off the regular prices, I plan to be there with my other Monkee fan friends!!  Come join us!!

And be sure to watch the Xmas Episode ahead of time so you'll be all warmed up!! For extra credit, go to the entry about Show "#47 The Christmas Show" on this blog!!


Riu Chiu-the ONLY Christmas Song that you can listen to a million times and still love Christmas!!

Merry Holidays and Happy Monkeemaking!!

Full lyrics below, so you can start practicing!!

Riu riu chiu, la guarda ribera;
Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera,
Dios guardo el lobo de nuestra cordera.
El lobo rabioso la quiso morder,
Mas Dios poderoso la supo defender;
Quiso la hazer que no pudiese pecar,
Ni aun original esta Virgen no tuviera.
Riu, riu chiu...
Este qu'es nacido es el gran monarca,
Christo patriarca de carne vestido;
Hemos redemido con se hazer chiquito,
Aunqu'era infinito, finito se hiziera.
Riu, riu chiu...

Translated:
River, roaring river, guard our homes in safety,
God has kept the black wolf from our lamb, our Lady.
God has kept the black wolf from our lamb, our Lady.
Raging mad to bite her, there the wolf did steal,
But our God Almighty defended her with zeal.
Pure He wished to keep Her so She could never sin,
That first sin of man never touched the Virgin sainted.
River, roaring river...
He who's now begotten is our mighty Monarch,
Christ, our Holy Father, in human flesh embodied.
He has brough atonement by being born so humble,
Though He is immortal, as mortal was created.
River, roaring river...


Read more: Monkees - Riu Chiu Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

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