A week ago or so, I posted some videos of Boris Karloff singing "A Very Good Year" and him and Vincent Price singing a comic song together on The Red Skelton Show. What I mentioned at the time was how odd it was that these two actors, best known for horror movies, had both appeared in Broadway musicals.
Karloff appeared in a 1950 production of Peter Pan as 'Capt. Hook.' This is not the version with Mary Martin, that was done four years later in 1954, but rather one written with both music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein. It starred Jean Arthur as 'Peter' -- an actress perhaps best known to audiences today as the romantic lead opposite Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
Vincent Price starred in the 1968 musical Darling of the Day, which had a score by a couple of Broadway legends -- Jule Styne (who wrote the music to Gypsy and Funny Girl, among many others), and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg (who wrote the lyrics to The Wizard of Oz and Finian's Rainbow, among others).
The Bernstein Peter Pan didn't have a long run, though a passable one of 321 performances, which is about eight months. It has some nice songs in it, though overall I'm not a big fan of the score which for me (and half a century of audiences) pales to the joyous one by Moose Charlap and Carolyn Leigh, with additional songs by the aforementioned Jule Styne, and Betty Comden & Adolph Green.) Probably most notable about the Bernstein show is that its near-proximity to the later Mary Martin version probably contributed to the latter -- and much better -- show's short initial run of just 152 performance, though I've read some pieces that say it was a planned limited run. Whatever the truth, it of course became far more famous through annual performances on television and subsequent revivals over the next 65 years, included returns to Broadway.
As for their performances, Karloff’s singing in Peter Pan isn’t that strong, but as 'Capt. Hook,' he isn’t called on for great singing, but fun characterization. (And has less singing than in the Mary Martin version.) However, Vincent Prince does a pretty good job in Darling of the Day. (The 1943 movie it’s based on is worth tracking down, Holy Matrimony. It's a fun story about social standards, class structure, and mistaken identity that starred Monty Wooley and British legend Gracie Fields. The novel that the movie is based on is called Buried Alive.)
By the way, there's one unexpected casting overlap between the two shows. Joe E. Marks played the role of 'Capt. Hook's' right-hand man, 'Mr. Smee' in both productions.
Anyway, given the oddity of these two actors famous for horror movies being in musicals, I thought I'd post clips of them from both their shows.
And the good news with Vincent Price is that I tracked down a video of him performing a song in costume from the show! It's an appearance on what seems to be David Frost's talk show. And though I don't think that this was likely the exact same staging of the number as in the show -- though it may have similarities -- it's nonetheless a lot of fun to see him in it. Also, while this is a light-hearted, fun song, it's not one of the better numbers from the show. But it's a treat to have. By the way, in the show, Price plays an acclaimed artist in Victorian England -- albeit one who hates snobbish society -- and he explains here why he loves painting so much, in "I've Got a Rainbow Working for Me."
As for Boris Karloff, here's one of his numbers from Peter Pan, "The Pirate Song, He doesn't sing immediately, but comes in at about the 1:30 mark.
As a bonus, I'm going to toss in one more Boris Karloff selection from Peter Pan. It's not a song, but a long stretch of dialogue he delivers about his plan for dealing with 'Peter Pan.'
And you'll get a chance to hear quite a bit of Joe E. Marks as 'Mr. Smee' here, as well. For those who know the Mary Martin version well, his voice will sound very familiar -- for good reason, since, as I said, he was in both versions of the show.
Also, because the selection fades into dialogue with 'Peter' and the 'Lost Boys' and others, you'll get to hear some of Jean Arthur in the role. And for those who know Mr. Smith Goes to Washington well, her charming, squeaky voice will sound very familiar, too -- for good reason.
But mainly, this is Boris Karloff. And he's wonderful.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor