|Do Re Mi|
|Lyrics||Betty Comden |
|Productions||1960 Broadway |
1961 West End
1999 Broadway concert
Do Re Mi is a musical with music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and a book by Garson Kanin, who also directed the original 1960 Broadway production. The plot centers on a minor-league con man who decides to go (somewhat) straight by moving into the legitimate business of juke boxes and music promotion. The musical was headlined by the comedy couple of Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker, both of whom were Tony nominated. Popular songs introduced included "Cry Like the Wind" and "Make Someone Happy".
Hubie Cram is "a loser endlessly scheming to win big." His long-suffering and patient wife Kay urges him to "Take a Job," while he plots. He finds three pals, Fatso O'Rear, Brains Berman and Skin Demopoulos, and they scheme to enter the juke-box business ("It's Legitimate"). Soon they have 300 juke-boxes, which they plan on selling to John Henry Wheeler, a record producer. Hubie discovers a naive singer, Tilda Mullen, and they plan their future ("Ambition"). At a fancy nightclub Hubie explains, and demonstrates, gangster's behavior that he learned from watching the Late Late Show. Kay compares her abandoned comfortable existence with the insecurity of life with Hubie ("Adventure"). Tilda and Wheeler fall in love ("Make Someone Happy"). In the end Hubie realizes that he has nothing except a wonderful marriage.
The musical was notable for its elaborate scenic design by Boris Aronson, who conceived the set as an enormous pop-art jukebox, and used extremely novel forms such as collage in his design. The curtain of juke boxes "evoked a cathedral's stained-glass effect." In a scene in a night club, the tables had drawn figures instead of actors, and the actors would talk with these drawings. (A similar design and staging conceit was seen when Silvers guest-starred in a 1967 TV adaptation of Damn Yankees!) And in the "Fireworks" number, black light is used to reveal shooting stars and Roman candles as Tilda and John's love affair explodes in song.
Original Broadway cast
- Hubert Cram – Phil Silvers
- Kay Cram – Nancy Walker
- Brains Berman – David Burns
- Tilda Mullen – Nancy Dussault
- Skin Demopoulos – George Givot
- Fatso O'Rear – George Mathews
- John Henry Wheeler – John Reardon
- Moe Shtarker – Al Lewis
- Hubert Cram (understudy) - Bernie West
The musical opened on Broadway at the St. James Theatre on December 26, 1960, transferred to the 54th Street Theatre on December 25, 1961 and closed on January 13, 1962 for a total of 400 performances. Scenic design was by Boris Aronson, assisted by Ming Cho Lee and Lisa Jalowetz, costume design by Irene Sharaff with assistance from Florence Klotz, and choreography was by Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood. The producer was David Merrick.
Encores! at the New York City Center presented a concert version in 1999 directed by John Rando, choreographed by Randy Skinner and starring Nathan Lane, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Heather Headley and Randy Graff.
Porchlight Music Theatre, Chicago, Illinois, presented Do Re Mi as a part of their "Porchlight Revisits" season in which they stage forgotten musicals three times per year. The production was in May 2018. It was directed and choreographed by Christopher Pazdernik and music directed by David Fiorello.
The New York Times called the musical "fast, loud and occasionally funny." It noted that "a team of expensive talent has turned out some lively songs, set them in motion in feverishly paced production numbers and has managed to overcome, at least part of the time, the cheapness of a machine-made book." It commented that Phil Silvers was cast against type, here playing "the fall guy, the poor sap who ends as the victim.... Betty Comden and Adolph Green have written sprightly lyrics, and Jule Styne has contributed some attractive as well as some ear-shattering tunes. The loveliest is "Cry Like the Wind" which has the keening quality of a folk song of lamentation."
According to Stanley Green, the musical had "an average score that is worth the price just to hear Miss Walker describe her life of 'Adventure'". Ethan Mordden wrote that the song "Adventure" is "one of the grandest comedy songs ever.... Here we learn that she, at least, already knows that it's a wonderful marriage, because it's never boring ... then came a Mad Scene - a bolero complete with trumpets pealing out like the band in the Plaza del Toro on corrida day and woodwinds tripping up the scale with the flash of a hundred capes."
In reviewing the 1999 "Encores!" production for The New York Times, Ben Brantley wrote that, despite its famous creators, "the show still has the incomplete feeling of a work that never quite meets its own aspirations... A tale of buffoonish gangsters trying to muscle in on the music industry." He further suggested that the show was like a "shotgun marriage" of Bye Bye Birdie and Guys and Dolls with parts of the television sit-com The Honeymooners.
Make Someone Happy
The song "Make Someone Happy" has been recorded by numerous artists, including:
- Perry Como on his subsequent 1962 album Make Someone Happy (US #80, 1960)
- June Christy for her album Do-Re-Mi (1961)
- Doris Day for her album Bright and Shiny (1961)
- Aretha Franklin for her album Laughing on the Outside (1963)
- Sergio Franchi for his album Broadway, I Love You (1963)
- Joni James for her album Something for the Boys (1963)
- Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme for their album Two on the Aisle (1963)
- Dinah Washington for her album Dinah '63 (1963)
- Sammy Davis Jr. for his album The Shelter of Your Arms (1964)
- Jimmy Durante for his album Jimmy Durante's Way of Life... (1964); also appeared on the soundtrack of the film Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
- Judy Garland for her album "Live" at the London Palladium (1965)
- The Supremes for their unreleased album There's a Place for Us (1965) and their live album At the Copa (1965)
- We Five for their album Make Someone Happy (1967)
- Bill Evans for his album Alone (Again) (recorded in December 1975 but not released until 1977)
- Tony Bennett and Bill Evans for their album Together Again (1977)
- Florence Henderson for an episode of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour (1977)
- Vic Damone for his album Make Someone Happy (1981)
- Tierney Sutton for her album On the Other Side (2007)
- Sophie Milman for her album Make Someone Happy (2007)
- Kelli O'Hara for her album Wonder in the World (2008)
- Barbra Streisand for her album Love Is the Answer (2009)
- Bill Nighy for the film Arthur Christmas (2011)
- Audra McDonald for her album Go Back Home (2013)
- Jamie Cullum for his album Interlude (2014)
- Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra for their album I Shouldn't Be Telling You This (2019) (featuring Gregory Porter)
Awards and nominations
Original Broadway production
|1961||Tony Award||Best Musical||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical||Phil Silvers||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical||Nancy Walker||Nominated|
|Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical||Nancy Dussault||Nominated|
|Best Direction of a Musical||Garson Kanin||Nominated|
|Theatre World Award||Nancy Dussault||Won|
- "Boris Aronson" pbs.org, accessed September 3, 2009
- Mordden, p. 19
- London shows chronology, 1961 guidetomusicaltheatre.com, accessed September 3, 2009
- Brantley, Ben."A Singing Nathan Lane Adds Ham to the Fizz",The New York Times, May 8, 1999
- Connema, Richard."'Do Re Mi' Review", talkinbroadway.com, accessed June 7, 2012
- "Porchlight Revisits Do Re Mi | Porchlight Music Theatre". Porchlight Music Theatre. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
- 'Do Re Mi' 1999 album listing castalbumcollector.com, accessed September 3, 2009
- Taubman, Howard. "The Theatre: Do Re Mi, a Musical Fast and Loud", The New York Times, December 27, 1960, p. 23
- Green, Stanley (1984). The World of Musical Comedy, Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80207-4, p. 445
- Mordden, p. 18
- Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
- Mordden, Ethan (2002). Open a New Window: The Broadway Musical in the 1960s. pp. 18–20, ISBN 1-4039-6013-5