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Sunday, 10 July 2011

Happy 80th Jerry Herman

It just came to my attention that Jerry Herman is 80 today. Wow. I probably shouldn't be surprised at his age, considering how many fantastic musicals he's been responsible for. It's quite a roll-call: Hello, Dolly!, Mame, Mack & Mabel, Dear World, La Cage aux Folles to name the most famous. How many amazing melodies have come from those? His songs have been interpreted by such luminaries as Angela Lansbury, Barbra Streisand, George Hearn and Bernadette Peters, to name a select few. His lyrics are both funny and poignant - and no one does a showstopper like Jerry. He's guaranteed to leave a song revolving in your head for days on end, not a bad thing when the songs are as good as his. So, without further preamble, here are a few of my favourites of his:

'Bosom Buddies'
It's a well-known crime that Angela Lansbury wasn't chosen to play the role of Auntie Mame in the screen version of Mame. She would've been truly amazing. Nevertheless, we still have her on the Broadway cast recording and this neat little performance with Bea Arthur gives a glimpse of what a wonderful film it could've been:

'I Won't Send Roses'
From Mack & Mabel, this is just a perfect song, one of the most unconventional and heartbreaking love songs you could imagine. Although the show was not a commercial success, the concert performances of it proved very popular and the remarkable score is still one of my favourites. Robert Preston's version of this song is probably my favourite but Howard Keel is almost as good here:

'I Am What I Am'
What can you say about this song except that it completely transcends the original musical. It's an anthem in its own right and George Hearn is one of many artists to perform it to perfection:

'I Don't Want To Know'
Even though Dear World was a flop, the score remains fresh and relevant. So many people have recorded this track - Angela Lansbury's version is beautiful but we won't make this post an Angela appreciation session - but Liza Minnelli's is pretty special:

We will end with Angela though! The television movie Mrs Santa Claus is Herman at his light and breezy best as the title character accidentally lands in New York and begins fighting for employee rights. It may be aimed at kids, but I still love it! Here's my favourite song:

There are so many fabulous songs I'd love to mention. Jerry Herman - you are a genius of musical theatre. Thank you!

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