Posts Tagged ‘ George Gershwin ’

Gershwin sounds

George GershwinHaving spent the spring immersed in The Sound of Gershwin, I have come through without hating his music, which has to be some sort of achievement.  Indeed, the show introduced me to a whole host of songs I’d either never heard or had completely forgotten, and reminded me why I love some of the perennial favourites.  Here, then, is a highly subjective and personal baker’s dozen of Gershwin songs which are well worth getting to know.  Songs only, as Rhapsody in Blue rather goes without saying. 

13. I’d Rather Charleston. A delightful bit of ephemera from the Jazz Age, introduced by Fred and Adele Astaire in Lady Be Good and used to great effect in Kenneth Branagh’s version of Love’s Labour’s Lost.  It’s a great ‘battle’ duet with the singers each trying to persuade the other to do something – in this case, Fred wants Adele to study, but Adele just wants to Charleston.  The lyric is by Desmond Carter, which is a bit of a mystery to me, as the rest of the show’s score had Ira Gershwin lyrics.  Pointless, but great fun, and it makes wonderful music to dance to, oddly enough – surely it couldn’t have been an excuse for a routine?

12. How Long Has This Been Going On?  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how good a song this really is, and it should certainly be docked points for including the word ‘ninny’ in the lyrics (really, Ira, what were you thinking?), but Audrey Hepburn’s rendition of it in the film of Funny Face is absolutely charming.

11. I Got Rhythm.  This one doesn’t need much introduction, really, as it’s one of the Gershwin brothers’ best known songs.  From Girl Crazy, which also introduced But Not For Me, Bidin’ My Time, Treat Me Rough and Embraceable You, all marvellous songs, this song is the one which made Ethel Merman a star.  It’s worth tracking down her version just to marvel at the lung power on display.  It’s not a sophisticated song, but it makes me smile, and the introductory verse, including the immortal line “I’m chipper all the day” makes the song extra special, even if most people leave it out these days.

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Shameless plug – The Sound of Gershwin

Loyal readers, my posts have been few and far between recently.  I can explain, really I can.  Approximately half of the blame lies with my studies, as I have just e-mailed off the final assignment of the academic year, the first year of my postgraduate foray into the world of Information and Library Studies.  The other half lies with that ever-present aspect of my life, rehearsals.  In ten days, the curtain will go up on The Sound of Gershwin at the Whitstable Playhouse, and the Singing Librarian will be singing the songs of one of the twentieth century’s most successful popular composers alongside two dozen other performers.

From my perspective, this is a rather mad show, which gives everyone much more to do than you’d normally have in a traditional ‘book musical’ with a plot and characters.  We’re simply singing and dancing our hearts out to scores of Gershwin’s songs, from the well known hits like ‘I Got Rhythm’ and ‘Summertime’ to neglected gems like my two solos, ‘Who Cares?’ from Of Thee I Sing and a snatch of ‘That Certain Feeling’ from Tip-Toes.  The solos give most of the company time to breathe and execute a subtle costume change (waistcoats, scarves and so on will be flying on and off throughout the evening), though everyone is called in to duty at various points to dance or react while others are singing.  As the evening progresses, I am seduced against my will, dance a Viennese waltz (or try very hard to do so), tease, flirt, run, march, click and kick.

We’re still putting a few last things together in rehearsal, which is rather scary for this stage in proceedings, so it’s impossible to say how well or otherwise this will hang together as a show, but it should be a lot of fun for performers and audience.  Certain bits of it are excellent, so the rest needs to catch up fast!  Should you feel the urge to see a librarian sing and dance, then please do come down to Whitstable.  Tickets are available by telephone on 01227 272042 or through the theatre’s website, which I cunningly linked to earlier in the post.

Not convinced you know or like any Gershwin songs?  Well, here’s a selection of ten of the more famous numbers that are included: ‘I Got Rhythm’, ‘Strike Up the Band’, ‘How Long Has This Been Going On?’, ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’, ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’, ‘Fascinating Rhythm’, ‘Embraceable You’, ‘Summertime’, ‘I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin” and ‘The Man I Love’.  With another forty or so numbers included, in whole or in part, I think we just about do justice to Gershwin’s output!

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