A character design I did a ways back for a little kick-around project made by a good friend. I’ll just drop this picture of her that I did last year here since I need more art to pad out this buffer hahaha.
Her name is Fontanne. She’s French, and she loves bullying people.
Peggy Lee (May 26, 1920 — January 21, 2002) as seen in LIFE magazine, 1948. Photo by Allan Grant
She was billed throughout most of her career as Miss Peggy Lee (and, in fact, she insisted on it). In the golden age of big bands she was a singer of renown with Benny Goodman’s orchestra and she went on to become a top nightclub singer, a prolific recording artist, a successful songwriter and an actress skillful enough to be nominated for an Oscar.
Duke Ellington called her “the Queen.” She was a weaver of moods and colors, her misty voice conveying impeccable rhythmic subtlety and smoldering sexuality. In a world of belters, she was a minimalist who eliminated any hint of the extraneous in both her voice and gestures, and she could stir audiences with an understated phrase more than most singers could by shouting and stomping.
Stephen Holden, a movie and cabaret critic for The New York Times, described her image as “Billie Holiday meets Mae West.”
Miss Lee made more than 700 recordings and more than 60 albums. Her own favorite album, “The Man I Love,” was recorded in 1957 with arrangements by Nelson Riddle and an orchestra conducted by Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was so intimately involved with the album that he obtained some menthol to make Miss Lee’s eyes look properly misty for the cover photograph.
She is credited with having a hand in writing more than 200 songs, in most cases as a lyricist. Among the hits she wrote were “I Don’t Know Enough About You,” “It’s a Good Day,” and “Mañana (Is Soon Enough for Me).” Her name is indelibly linked with a number of songs, including “Golden Earrings,” “Fever,” “Lover,” “Big Spender,” “You’re My Thrill,” “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good,” “Them There Eyes” and the haunting Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller tune that became her signature in later years, “Is That All There Is?”
“She makes her listeners feel cherished,” Whitney Balliett wrote of her in The New Yorker. “Her singing lulls you, and it is easy to forget how daring it is. Many singers confuse shouting with emotion. Peggy Lee sends her feelings down the quiet center of her notes.”
“She is a subtle and brilliant showman,” he added. “She can slink, arch an eyebrow, pull out a hip and rest a hand on it, half smile, wave wandlike arms, bump, tilt her head and slouch – all to dazzling, precise effect.”
Miss Lee was named Norma Deloris Egstrom at her birth on May 27, 1920, in Jamestown, N.D. She was the sixth of seven children of Marvin and Selma Egstrom. Her father was a railroad station agent who drank too much. His job kept the family moving from town to town in lonely parts of North Dakota. Her mother died when she was 4 and her father remarried. Five-year-old Norma was brutally abused by her stepmother, who would hit her over the head with an iron skillet, beat her with a razor strap and drag her around by her hair. By the age of 7, she was keeping house, baking, cooking, cleaning and milking cows.
There was never any doubt in her mind that she would become a singer. ’‘I had always sung – I sang before I could talk,“ she reminisced in her 1989 autobiography, ’'Miss Peggy Lee” (Donald I. Fine). She was 14 when she made her professional debut at a local radio station in Jamestown and was still a teenager when a program director at a radio station in Fargo gave her a job and her stage name. The job paid $1.50 for each noonday show. To make ends meet, she worked a 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. shift in a bakery, slicing and wrapping bread for 35 cents an hour.
A friend who had gone to California suggested she join her. She sold the watch her father had given her at her high school graduation for $30, bought a train ticket and arrived in Hollywood with $18. She got a brief singing engagement in a supper club but mostly worked as a waitress before returning to North Dakota. She found work singing for a radio station in Fargo, then as a singer in Minneapolis with Will Osborne’s band.
Miss Lee was discovered in Chicago in 1941 by Benny Goodman, who was looking for a replacement for his vocalist, Helen Forrest, who was leaving to join Artie Shaw’s band. He heard her sing “These Foolish Things” at the Ambassador West Hotel and called the next day, offering her the job. She had a cold the first night she appeared, the critics were unkind, and she wanted to quit. Goodman refused to let her go and she stayed on, at $75 a week.
Later that year, the band played the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, and Miss Lee recalled in her autobiography how awed she had been to see Franchot Tone dancing by with Joan Crawford, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne chatting at their table with Katharine Cornell, and Gary Cooper joking with Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.
It was Miss Lee’s sulky rendition of “Why Don’t You Do Right?” with the Goodman band in 1942 that made her a star. She sang the Joe McCoy song in a voice that demonstrated she could sing of hard times as well as anybody; her version became one of the the biggest selling records in the country:
You had plenty money nineteen twen'y-two You let other women make a fool of you Why don’t you do right Like some other men do? Get out of here and get me some money, too.
Peggy Lee’s tour with the Goodman band lasted less than two years but the collaboration made her one of the most famous female vocalists of the time and put her on the road to fame. [x]
‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ Broadway Review: Christian Borle to the Rescue
In my nearly half century of Broadway theatergoing, I’ve never witnessed such a second-act reversal of fortune as what’s going on now at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” opened Sunday.
Only in retrospective can you see glimmers of hope in the musical’s desultory first half. Just one song by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman hits the mark in this retelling of Roald Dahl’s tale of four children who win golden tickets to Willy Wonka’s long-shuttered chocolate factory.
In “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” the media-obsessed Mike Teavee (the devilishly good Michael Wartella) and his doting mother, Mrs. Teavee (the divine Jackie Hoffman, fresh from her “Feud” triumph), present a witty send-up of a young Donald Trump Jr., as arrogant as he is obnoxious.
In the first act, there’s also Mark Thompson’s stylishly spare set design, which completely eschews the tacky literalism of Disney Theatrical’s most recent stage ventures for children.
And then there’s Christian Borle in the very supporting role of the shop owner who keeps teasing the young Charlie (Ryan Foust) with offers of expensive chocolate, only to withdraw his beneficence at the last moment. Borle slyly delivers each of those mauvais mots, written by book writer David Greig, on a slippery silver platter.
Otherwise, the first act is interminable. While a game little performer, Foust (alternating at other performances with Jake Ryan Flynn and Ryan Sell) isn’t given much to do but be sweet in his unhealthy addiction to chocolate.
He’s also stuck with a generic mother (Emily Padgett) who panders with the song “If Your Father Were Here.” Yes, Charlie is a half orphan. Most tedious is the living arrangement of Charlie’s four grandparents (John Rubinstein, Kristy Cates, Madeleine Doherty, and Paul Slade Smith), all of whom sleep in the same bed. Yes, this unpleasantly cozy living arrangement is in the show’s source material, but visualized here its weirdness never intrigues — and the jokes about flatulence and bird poop don’t help.
What’s great about Act 2 is that the mother and three of the grandparents completely disappear, and little Charlie takes a backseat to the far more colorful brats and their parents. And most important, Borle as Willy Wonka occupies center stage and never lets go, holding court as he blithely dispatches one kid after another to apparent death. In the new “Groundhog Day,” Andy Karl makes you forget about Bill Murray in the film version. Borle does Karl one better: He makes us forget about both Johnny Depp and Gene Wilder.
Of course, it’s not all Borle. His Wonka material is good. So, too, are the staging of the multiple deaths by candy overload. “Veruca’s Nutcracker Sweet,” which shows the young Russian ballerina snob (Emma Pfaeffle) being torn apart by giant squirrels, is right up there with the doll scene from “The Tales of Hoffman,” as choreographed by Joshua Bergasse.
Wittman and Shaiman, along with veteran director Jack O’Brien, are the men who gave us “Hairspray,” after all. They understand the skewered malevolence of a Wonka. They and Greig don’t have a clue how to offer up the fuzzy goodwill of Charlie’s home life.
Someday I’d like to know the negotiations that go on behind the scenes between songwriters and producers when it comes to sticking hit songs from the movie into the stage version. Do the creative people squawk and put up a good fight? Or do they just surrender and give the kids what they already know?
You can almost overlook the addition of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” and “The Oompa Loompa Song.” They’re both minor stuff, and it just seems lazy not to have written new versions. To begin the show and then reprise “The Candy Man,” however, is all wrong. Images of Sammy Davis Jr. and the Rat Pack belong in another show about 3,000 miles away.
DID YOU KNOW: there is an award-winning musical about the sinking of the Titanic? “Titanic: The Musical,” with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and book by Peter Stone, opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on April 23, 1997 - though it would rapidly be overshadowed by James Cameron’s film as the most important Titanic-related entertainment of the year.
Yeston and Stone’s show portrays the passengers and crew of Titanic very respectfully, and does not go out of its way in an effort to incite controversy. For the most part, the show is historically accurate - and featured remarkable technical engineering, including the installation of a hydraulic lift beneath the stage to allow the stage to pitch and yaw to represent the angle of the sinking ship.
“Titanic” won every Tony Award it was nominated for - including “Best Musical,” but closed as a financial loss in March of 1999 after 804 performances.
EXCLUSIVE: Why There's No Such Thing as a Small Part for 'Feud' Scene-Stealer Jackie Hoffman
When Jackie Hoffman signed on to play Joan Crawford’s housekeeper, Mamacita, on the FX anthology series Feud: Bette and Joan, she thought the part would be just opening the door to the actress’ Hollywood mansion to say, “Can I help you?” What the longtime working actress – you’ve seen her in everything from The Addams Family on Broadway to Hulu’s Difficult People – didn’t realize was she was about to be labeled as the “breakout character” and “scene stealer” by executive producer Ryan Murphy himself.
“It feels great,” Hoffman tells ET during a break from rehearsals of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Broadway musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel opening April 23 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre – the same evening as Feud’s season one finale. “My agent said, ’[I’ve] managed to take a very little thing and make it into a big thing.’ So, I’m thrilled that is what happened. I’ve always been the queen of small parts. There were no small actors, only small parts, but that’s because I’ve taken them all.”
Feud tells the story of how the rivalry between two of Hollywood’s iconic leading ladies, Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) began on the set of the movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Hoffman, 56, who once performed at Chicago’s iconic Second City improv theater and is known for her comedic chops, explains her interpretation of Crawford’s housekeeper, Mamacita, is a straightforward one. “She’s got an undeniable deadpan quality to her, which is great because I’m used to playing it huge in the theater. It’s kind of cool to play it very subtly,” Hoffman says of her standout performance.
“It was a very intense experience and we both really got into it,” Hoffman says of some of the more violent scenes with Lange. In episode six, their relationship is pushed to its breaking point – literally – when Crawford starts throwing things at Mamacita’s head. While filming, one of the vases – made of sugar glass to look real – accidentally hit Hoffman. “[Lange] did nail me in the shoulder blade at one point, so I can’t say that was fun,” she recalls. “[She] had this incredible reaction where she was really crying, and I’m up the stairs crying myself because I got hit in the shoulder blade.” But the episode’s director apparently enjoyed it. “[Tim Minear] was like, 'That was great, we love that reaction!’ I was like, 'You guys, I just got hit in the shoulder blade.’”
By the time Hoffman started filming episode seven (directed by Helen Hunt), the script for which called for more vases thrown, she was already a pro at ducking for cover. “I was kind of more scared because I knew what I was coming back for,” she recalls. Hoffman says there were eight breakable sugar glass vases on the prop table, which meant they could shoot the scene up to eight times. “[Hunt] had me do more of a variety. My first choice was to be more angry and over the top. Then she said, 'OK, now I want you to contain [it].’”
Mamacita is more than just a human target for Crawford’s tantrums. On the show, the housekeeper is a voice of reason in Crawford’s often chaotic world conflicting opinions, even helping the actress find Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? “It was pretty outlined in episode four where [Mamacita] spends the little off time she has to do research in the library and see what’s going to happen to the female population,” she says of Mamacita, who has been dubbed a feminist in her own right by audiences and Hoffman alike. “She was just amazed at how this country affords people and women.” Hoffman believes Mamacita sees the power in women and their potential after having nine children and a career of being a personal assistant.
From left to right: Ben Crawford, Emma Pfaeffle, Kathy Firtzgerald, F. Michael Haynie, Alan H. Green, Christian Borle, Trista Dollison, John Rubinstein, Ryan Foust, Jackie Hoffman and Michael Wartella in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
From Mamacita to “Mama-sweeta,” Hoffman has recently been crafting clever nicknames for herself based on the day and activity. During Passover, she called herself “Matzoh-cita.” On Twitter, it’s #MamaTweeta, and now that she’s Mrs. Teavee, the mother of one of the five children to win a golden ticket and tour Willy Wonka’s (Christian Borle) candy factoryin Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, it’s “Mama-Tvita.”
“I can’t believe that after reading the book as a little kid and seeing the film, who would know that almost 50 years later I would be killing myself getting this thing on stage,” Hoffman says. She’s been part of the musical’s inception for nearly a decade, starting with several early workshops. The current stage version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a modern update of the 1971 film starring the late Gene Wilder. Instead of being obsessed with television, Mrs. Teavee’s son, Mike (Michael Wartella), can’t take his eyes off his iPad, ewears colorful headphones and films everything on his phone.
“It’s a very cool idea. One of the lines I wrote for the production was when Augustus Gloop [F. Michael Haynie] meets his fate and Mike starts filming it. I say, 'Mike, stop filming other people’s tragedies.’ So, we address the lack of empathy that kids have now because they’re always on their phones. They have no human communication,” Hoffman says of the changes, which also include numerous references to President Donald Trump.
Of the references to Trump, “they’ll stay because they’re very subtle and they’ll work either way,” Hoffman says. “There are things that aren’t specifically indigenous to Trump, but to describe the out-of-control kid, it’s like a bonus for people who get the references and for people who don’t – they’ll just think I’m talking about my kid.”