I just finished writing this piece below on the Kennedy Centers Honor tribute to Lerner & Loewe. I wasn't sure what to title it, and considered, "Loverly." So, I did a search to see if I had used that title previously. It turns out that not only had I used it -- I used it for an article I wrote three years ago about the Kennedy Centers tribute to Lerner & Loewe! In fact, as I skimmed through the piece, I started laughing because what I wrote three years ago was borderline the same to what I wrote here. Similar stories, similar points, I even begin them almost the same. (If you don't believe me, here's the link.)
But since I took the time to write it, I'm not going to waste the effort. If I didn't remember it from three years ago, I'm guessing that many others here don't remember it either. And there are some new folks here, as well. And besides, it's a very enjoyable video. So, diving back in, here's the new-ish version.
As I was saying --
In the early days of the Kennedy Center Honors, they seemed to celebrate not just very popular "greats," but rather legends. Here's their tribute in 1985 to the Broadway team of Lerner & Loewe, who wrote My Fair Lady, Camelot, Brigadoon & Paint Your Wagon, among other shows.
Frederick Loewe retired after Camelot, though Alan Jay Lerner continued on for quite a long while after, but without the same success. (Actually, without much success. His musical with Burton Lane for On a Clear Day You Can See Forever did quite well, and even had a movie version, but that's largely it. But he did work a lot.) Lerner & Loewe did re-team twice for a couple of projects. One was the movie musical, where Lowe came out of retirement to write the score to the movie musical, The Little Prince, that starred Richard Kiley (from Man of La Mancha) and featured a wonderful song performed by Gene Wilder, which I posted here. The other was a stage version of Gigi that Lerner adapted, and got Loewe to collaborate again on four new songs added to the score.
This Kennedy Center tribute is broken into two videos. A few things worth noting --
The whole thing runs for 24 minutes. The conversation and video history are interesting, but if you want to jump right to the singing, it all starts at 10:45. Also, the second video only runs for 10 minutes, not the 12:30 it suggests it does.
I don't want to give away any of the surprises in some of the performances, but will note that two particularly stood out for me: the songs "I Remember It Well" (from the film Gigi) and "With a Little Bit of Luck" (from My Fair Lady).
One of the performers is Liz Robertson. At the time, she was married to Lerner -- his eighth marriage. They had met during a revival of My Fair Lady, where she played Eliza Doolittle. (They continued to be married at the time of his death in 1986.) She appears in the opening, with Robert Goulet, but is unidentified until later.
Michelle Lee does a nice job singing, "Almost Like Being in Love," from Brigadoon, but inexplicably makes a lyric change which no doubt must have galled lyricist Lerner. The original is a clever inner-rhyme which goes --
Maybe the sun
Gave me the power
But I could swim Loch Lomon'
And be home in
Half an Hour
For whatever reason known to her, she changes the line to --
But I could swim Loch Lomon'
And be back in
Half an hour.
One final thing. When the camera cuts to Lerner and Loewe in the balcony, Frederick Lowe is on your left, while Alan Jay Lerner is the skinny fellow to the right.
And it's all hosted by Rex Harrison.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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