george & ira gershwin

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Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron dancing in “An American in Paris” 

Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron sing and dance to the music of George & Ira Gershwin in this winner of six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. When ex-GI Jerry Mulligan (Kelly) remains in Paris to pursue life as an artist, he is discovered by a wealthy patroness interested in more than his art. But Mulligan falls in love with a French shop girl (Caron) who is engaged to his best friend | Link to the full video

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Peggy Lee It Ain`t Necessarily So

Masterpost of Musicals by Category/Style

You requested it, here it is! Some shows fall into multiple categories based on their style, and many things in the contemporary and pop/rock sections could easily be moved around between sections.  In addition, many modern musicals have aspects of both legit singing and belting, in which case I’ve tried to categorize them based on their overall feel. If you see that I’ve missed a show and want it included, shoot me a message and I’ll get it added!

Note: If you think something is miscategorized, just send me a message!  No big deal!  I certainly haven’t seen all of these shows, so I had to make assumptions based off of what I knew.  I don’t mind corrections at all, and will thank you for respectfully pointing out my mistake!  That being said, I kindly ask that you don’t passive aggressively tag this complaining about how a show is is in the wrong section.  I am so happy to change any mistakes, but being rude about it really serves no purpose.  :)

* indicates the Tony Award winner of Best Musical

Enjoy!

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George and Ira Gershwin- Do-Do-Do (1926 recording by George Gershwin)

“Millions of American film-goers saw in the couple’s dancing a new, fresh kind of romantic expression. ‘No dancers ever reached a wider public,’ wrote dance critic Arlene Croce in The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book in 1972, ‘and the stunning fact is that Astaire and Rogers, whose love scenes were their dances, became the most popular team the movies have ever known.’

Their dancing, Croce said, was ‘a vehicle of serious emotion between a man and a woman. It never happened in movies again.’

Dance director Hermes Pan, who helped Astaire work out many of his film numbers, said in one of the public television documentaries on Astaire in the late 1970s: ‘There has never been the same electricity that happened when Fred and Ginger danced together.’

Producer Pandro Berman, who oversaw their RKO films, noted that Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin and the other major American songwriters of the time ‘all wanted to write for Fred and Ginger.’” – The Los Angeles Times, summer of 1987

A letter from George Gershwin to his mother.
“A funny thing happened yesterday which made me feel very joyful and in the moment very happy I came here. The boat was in the dock at Southampton, and everyone was in line with their passports and landing cards. When I handed my passport to one of the men at a Table he read it, looked up and said, "George Gershwin, writer of Swanee?” It took me off my feet for a second. It was so unexpected, you know. Of course I agreed I was the composer and then he asked what I was writing now, etc. etc. I couldn’t ask for a more pleasant entry into a country. When I reached the shore a woman reporter came up to me and asked for a few words. I felt like I was kind of somebody.“

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George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin- Do-Do-Do (1926 recording by George Olsen and his Music, vocals by Bob Borger, Fran Frey, and Bob Rice)

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Notable denizens of Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY: actor John Garfield, labor leader Sidney Hillman, actress Judy Holliday, composers George and Ira Gershwin, actor Tony Randall, theater director Max Reinhardt, theater producer Billy Rose, film director and screenwriter Robert Rossen, actor Ron Silver and actor and teacher Lee Strasberg.

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Dorothy Dandridge (1922–1965) as singer Norma Sherman, singing George & Ira Gershwin’s The Man I Love in the television movie The Murder Men (MGM, 1961, dir. John Peyser). It was the last film Dandridge starred in. The movie was also broadcast in 1962 with the new title Blues for a Junkman as part of NBC’s television crime drama series Cain’s Hundred.

“Once Upon a Time” Chapter 16: Stalling

I’m bidin’ my time,

‘Cause that’s the kinda guy I’m.

While other folks grow dizzy

I keep busy

Bidin’ my time

(“Bidin’ My Time,” George and Ira Gershwin)


           “Mama!” Emma reached out for me as I entered the nursery. Her blonde curls were sticking up everywhere and there was a red splotch on her cheek from being pressed against the mattress.

           I smiled as I picked her up, holding her close and kissing the tip of her nose. “Good morning, Princess. Did you sleep well?”

           “Yes,” she said, cuddling close to me. I rubbed her back as I brought her over to the changing table.

           She wiggled on the table as I pulled off her pajamas and changed her wet diaper. Emma sat up, holding out her arms to me. Play, Mama.

           “Not now,” I told her. “I need to get a clean diaper on you, put some clothes on you and then I need to do the same with Rachel. And then we’re going to eat breakfast.”

           No. Emma play.

           I sighed, shaking my head. “Not until after breakfast, Princess.”

           A cloud of white smoke curled up and when it died down, there was no Emma. I groaned, not in the mood to play this game. “Emma Ruth, you are in big trouble,” I called out.

           Mama! Rachel stood up in her crib, reaching out for me. Mama take Rachel!

           I paused, swallowing my groan. The last thing I needed was my infant daughter having a tantrum while my toddler was running around naked as the day she was born. So I turned toward Rachel’s crib and picked her up, setting her on my hip. “Okay, sweetheart,” I said. “Let’s go find your sister.”

           My search ended quickly though. As soon as I stepped out of the nursery, I heard Emma screaming “no” over and over. Robin appeared on the steps, holding a screaming and kicking Emma in his arms. “Look who I found running around the living room with a confused Bandit in tow,” he said.

             Emma tried to kick away from Robin. “Down! Papa! Down!”

           “Clothes, Emma,” I said. “Then breakfast.”

           She pouted but Robin held firm, raising her so she could look him in the eyes. “Emma, enough. You need to do what Mama and I say. Understand?”

           “No!” she yelled, pushing against him. It seemed she was gunning for a timeout first thing this morning.

           Rachel curled against me, resting her head in the crook of my neck. Hungry, Mama. Rachel want food.

           I rubbed her back and decided it was time to shut Emma’s tantrum down once and for all. “Emma Ruth, that is enough,” I said, using my sternest voice.

           Emma paused, sniffling. She looked over at me, tears filling her eyes as she reached for me. “Mama.”

           Shifting Rachel, I placed Emma on my other hip and she clung to me. Mama mad at Emma?

           “I’m not happy with how you are acting,” I told her. “Will you let me put on a new diaper and then dress you?”

           Yes, Mama.

           “And then have breakfast…without putting up a fight?”

           Yes, Mama. Emma be good. She sniffled as a few tears ran down her cheeks.

           I kissed her forehead as Robin took Rachel from arm. “Okay. But no more fights in the morning. Once you do everything I say we need to do, then you can play. You need patience.”

           Patience? She frowned at me.

           “You just need to wait and not be in a rush,” I told her, trying to explain patience as best as I could. She held still as I spoke, letting me put a clean diaper and a cute orange dress on her as well.

           I picked her back up, kissing her forehead. “Thank you, sweetheart. Now let’s go get breakfast.”

           With Emma on my hip, I turned to find Robin cuddling Rachel. She was dressed in a cute red dress and her curls were brushed, held back by a matching headband. I smiled. “Are we ready to eat?”

           “I think we just need one more person,” Robin said. “Should I go wake him?”

           “Wake who?” Roland appeared in the doorway, still in his pajamas, and yawned so wide I thought I could see his tonsils.

           I wrapped my arm around him and pulled him close to me. “You. But since you’re awake, we can all head downstairs for some breakfast. How does that sound?”

           “Can we have pancakes?” Roland asked, looking up at me with big hopeful eyes.

           “Yes,” I told him, squeezing him gently. “We can have pancakes. I might even throw in some chocolate chips.”

           He gasped, tugging on my hand. “Come on, Mama! I’m very hungry for those chocolate chips!”

           Robin and I laughed, following our excited son downstairs for what promised to be a delicious breakfast.

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Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (Means That You're Grand)
Andrews Sisters
Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (Means That You're Grand)

Song: Bei Mir Bist Du Schön / Nice Work If You Can Get It

Artist: Andrews Sisters

Record Label: Decca Records 1562

Recorded: November 24, 1937

Location: Fighting McDonagh’s Tavern, Eve’s Garden, Kyburz’s Office, Mermaid Lounge jukebox

It’s about time for a revisit to this song. Just as popular in Rapture as it was in the surface, this song can be heard from Neptune’s Bounty to Fort Frolic to Hephaestus and all the way to Siren Alley.

Earlier, I featured a record from the album set, The Andrews Sisters, which was released in 1946 and featured repressings of their most popular songs. That record was backed with another Yiddish song, “Joseph! Joseph!”

However, this is the original record from 1937 that sent customers and record store clerks scrambling for copies of that French hit “My Mere Bits of Shame”, “Buy a Beer, Monsieur Shane”, “Mr. Barney McShane”, or “My Dear Mr. Shane”. Title-mangling aside, the song has a uniquely cosmopolitan feel as a Yiddish tune with a Germanized title along with Italian and German lyrics.

After several false starts, the Andrews Sisters were still struggling to find a hit record. Then on a cold January morning, they were awoken by their father in their Manhattan apartment who hurried them to a record shop on 45th and Broadway. Traffic had come to a stop and people were crowded around a speaker playing a new song. Soon the sisters would be launched from vaudeville obscurity to stardom.

The records sold at least a quarter million copies by the end of January. The song was so popular for the fledgling Decca label that it was reissued at least three times for the next ten years.

The Andrews Sisters (left to right: Patty, LaVerne, Maxene) with Sholom Secunda, the composer of “Bay mir bistu sheyn“

After having moderate success singing for the hotel circuit with their arranger, pianist, and trumpeter Vic Schoen, The Andrews Sisters were nearly ready to pack up and head home to Minnesota. Their Greek parents wanted them home in Minneapolis and attend secretarial school.

Stories vary widely, but Dave Kapp somehow managed to hear the Andrews Sisters on one of their last broadcasts with the hotel orchestra. His brother, Jack Kapp was president of Decca Records and was searching for a replacement for the Boswell Sisters who retired in 1935. They were Andrews Sisters early idols, so much that they tried to sing with the Boswells’ Southern accents.

The Andrews Sisters’ first record for Decca was “Why Talk About Love?” and “Just a Simple Melody” with Vic Schoen as their arranger. They were awarded a flat fee of $50 instead of royalties. They pioneered their close harmonies and swing vocal techniques that would prove to be their success in later years. However, the record didn’t sell well.

Although they were worried that Decca would drop them, Jack Kapp invited the Andrews Sisters back for a second recording session on November 24, 1937.

The A-side was meant to cash in on the hit George and Ira Gershwin song “Nice Work If You Can Get It” sung by Fred Astaire in A Damsel in Distress

The B-Side was meant to be filler with an obscure song composed by Sholom Secunda with lyrics by Jacob Jacobs for a 1932 Yiddish musical I Would If I Could. The original Yiddish title “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” translates to “To Me You’re Beautiful”.

However, Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin discovered the song in 1937 and re-orchestrated it for a swing tempo while translating it into English. The Yiddish title was retained as “Bei Mir Bistu Shein” but was also Germanized as “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön”.

Stories again vary on who gave the song to the Andrews Sisters. Lyricist Sammy Cahn said that he found the sheet music and showed it to Lou Levy, manager of the Andrews Sisters and his roommate. Patty Andrews said that she found the sheet music that Cahn was translating in his apartment, thought it was a Greek song, and asked him to play a sample. Vic Schoen said that he found the sheet music in the shop of a lobby of a Yiddish theater in 2nd Ave and passed it to Levy who gave it to Cahn and Chaplin. Lou Levy said that he bought the sheet music for 15 cents and gave it to the sisters.

Maxene Andrews had a more inclusive story saying that Lou Levy had offered his apartment, whom he shared with Sammy Cahn, for the sisters to rehearse. Levy came in suggesting this song and warbled a few bars in Yiddish. Vic Schoen plucked out a quick head arrangement on the piano which the sisters liked. In lieu of English lyrics, later supplied by Cahn, Levy taught the song in Yiddish phonetically.

However the song got the the Andrews Sisters, Vic Schoen arranged it with then-unknown studio musicians, many who would go on to have famous careers: Bobby Hackett on trumpet, Al Philburn on trombone, Don Watt on clarinet, Frank Froeba on piano, Dave Barbour on guitar, and Stan King on drums. 

The sisters had to borrow $25 from a friend to buy Christmas presents for their parents. The record hit the streets in December 1937 and the rest is history.

Future reissues of this song would give Vic Schoen full orchestra credit, his last name coincidentally corresponding with the title.

Listen to the flip side “Nice Work If You Can Get It Here”.