The Devil Made Him Do It
This is another of those remarkable finds.
Throughout much of his career, Jerry Lewis made a big deal out of the fact that he'd never been in a Broadway show. In the mid-1970s, he had been in a revue, Helzappopin, that was touring on its town on its way to Broadway, but it closed on the road.
And in, finally, in 1995, it was announced that Jerry Lewis would finally make his Broadway debut, taking over the role of 'The Devil' in the then-running revival of the musical Damn Yankees. He played the role to respectable, though mixed reviews, and then stayed with the show when it toured the country. The biggest criticisms came when, during 'The Devil's' big number, "Those Were the Good Old Days," Lewis broke completely out of character and basically did about 10 minutes of his own stage act.
Well...I've found the full production of Jerry Lewis in Damn Yankees.
For the most part the quality is reasonably good. Oddly, throughout the recording it periodically appears to pause, though only for a few seconds and then continues on.
I must say I'm very underwhelmed by his performance. He's quite good in parts of it, though seems a bit bored in other parts. For all I know, he was at this point -- the recording comes from 1996, and I can't tell if he's on the road here, or if it's still on Broadway. It's not a bad performance, just sort of perfunctory.
It's worth watching, though if you don't want to see the whole thing, there are a few notable guideposts. His entrance comes at 10:45-entrance, The show's big song, "You Gotta Have Heart" comes around the 28-minute mark. The infamous "Those Were the Good Old Days" scene (a wonderful song) which leads into Lewis doing his Vegas schtick comes at 1:57;20. One of my favorite parts of the show is the final scene, when 'Joe' is about to get out of his contract and returns home and 'the Devil' tries to get him back -- that leads into the curtain call and begsins at 2:28:15.
Here then is Damn Yankees, with a score by Jerry Ross and Richard Adler, and featuring Jerry Lewis as 'The Devil.'
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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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