Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Song and Dance

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First performance  26 March 1982
Adapted from  Tell Me on a Sunday
Composer  Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics  Don Black Richard Maltby, Jr. (additional)
Productions  1982 West End 1983 Australia 1985 Broadway 2007 Israel
Lyricists  Don Black, Richard Maltby Jr.
Orchestrators  Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Cullen
Similar  Andrew Lloyd Webber plays, Musicals

Unexpected song by bernadette peters


Song and Dance is a musical comprising two acts, one told entirely in "Song" and one entirely in "Dance", tied together by a unifying love story.

Contents

The "Song" act is Tell Me on a Sunday, with lyrics by Don Black and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, about a young British woman's romantic misadventures in New York City and Hollywood. The "Dance" act is a ballet choreographed to Variations, composed by Lloyd Webber for his cellist brother Julian, which is based on the A Minor Caprice No. 24 by Paganini.

Background

The Song portion was written specifically for Marti Webb, and presented at the Sydmonton Festival in the summer of 1979. It was subsequently recorded and aired as a one-hour television special by the BBC the following January. The Dance portion was recorded in 1978, and nearly became incorporated into Cats. The opening sequence was utilized as the theme music for London Weekend Television's South Bank Show.

Producer Cameron Mackintosh proposed that the two pieces be combined under the umbrella title Song and Dance to acknowledge the primary aspect of each act, billing the piece as "a concert for the theatre".

Black altered some of the songs from the original album and worked with Lloyd Webber on new material: "The Last Man in My Life", "I Love New York" and "Married Man", the latter set to the same tune as "Sheldon Bloom". A new orchestration of the Variations for a sixteen-piece theatre orchestra was produced from the original symphonic version played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra but Harry Rabinowitz retained the baton for the stage production. "When You Want to Fall in Love", with a tune previously released by Marti Webb and Justin Hayward as "Unexpected Song" which itself was later added to the score, was used at the climax of the dance section to meld the two halves.

1982 London

The musical had its world premiere on March 26, 1982 at the Palace Theatre, where it ran for 781 performances, with direction by Tom Gutteridge Marti Webb performed the Song half; she subsequently was succeeded by Gemma Craven, Lulu, and Liz Robertson. Carol Nielsson, Webb's original understudy took over the role at short notice when Lulu damaged her voice after a foldback monitor failed during a performance. The Dance portion was choreographed by Anthony van Laast and featured Wayne Sleep and Jane Darling.

The original recording of the London production was made live on the opening night using a recording studio then built into the Palace Theatre. The album was produced by Martin Levan, who also designed the sound system for the show.

Soon after the production closed, the show was filmed for a television broadcast, with Sarah Brightman and Wayne Sleep in the lead roles. Sarah Brightman in the lead role

1983 Australia

The Australian production of the musical opened at the Theatre Royal in Sydney on 4 August 1983. It featured Gaye MacFarlane and John Meehan in the leading roles.

1985 Broadway

In anticipation of a Broadway run, director and lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr. was approached to adapt the first act for an American audience. The Broadway production, choreographed by Peter Martins, opened on September 18, 1985 at the Royale Theatre conducted by John Mauceri, and closed on November 8, 1986, after 474 performances and seventeen previews. Bernadette Peters starred in Song for nearly thirteen months; she was succeeded by Betty Buckley for the final four weeks. Dance featured Christopher d'Amboise and Gregg Burge. Amongst the many changes to the show, the characters were all given names, with 'the girl' now known as Emma.

Singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester starred in a subsequent 6-month US national tour of the show in 1987, starting in Dallas, Texas and ending in Tampa, Florida.

The Broadway production received eight Tony Award nominations, with Peters winning the award for Best Actress in a Musical.

Synopsis

Song focuses on an English girl who has recently arrived in New York. Following an argument with her boyfriend, they decide to break up. She writes to her mother in England about what happened, and that she has met a new man, Hollywood producer Sheldon Bloom, with whom she travels to California. She eventually realizes that Sheldon has only been using her as a trophy, and she ends things once and for all.

The girl returns to New York disappointed and meets a younger man who she finds more fulfilling. When he has to leave on a business trip, the girl can't bear to let him go. Her friend later comes over to tell her about the man's infidelity, and she asks him for the truth.

Depressed, the girl walks through the city streets. She meets a married man, and reflects on whether their affair is wrong. The married man comes by to confess his love, however she realizes that she has been using him. In the end she decides that it wasn't the end of the world to have no one.

Dance explores the story of the younger man, his various relationships and his commitment issues. At the end, the man sees the girl, and they make up, joining both at last in Song and Dance.

Critical reception

Reviewing the London production, the Financial Times theatre critic Michael Coveney claimed, "It is a long time since I have sat through a more ostentatious, less theatrically coherent evening."

In Frank Rich's New York Times review of the Broadway production, he wrote: "Miss Peters is more than talented: As an actress, singer, comedienne and all-around warming presence, she has no peer in the musical theater right now. In her half of Song & Dance, she works so hard you'd think she were pleading for mercy before a firing squad. Yet for all the vocal virtuosity, tempestuous fits and husky-toned charm she brings to her one-woman musical marathon, we never care if her character lives or dies.."

John Simon, in The New York Magazine, noted that the unseen men seemed "nebulous and unreal, so too, does the seen woman", and in the Dance half, "things go from bad to worse." However, he wrote that "Miss Peters is an unimpeachable peach of a performer who does so much for the top half of this double bill as to warrant its immediate rechristening 'Song of Bernadette'. She not only sings, acts, and (in the bottom half) dances to perfection, she also, superlatively, 'is' ".

Awards and nominations

Original London production

Original Broadway production

Songs

1Overture
2Let Me Finish
3It's Not the End of the World

References

Song and Dance Wikipedia


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