Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

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Blair N. Cummings
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby Blair N. Cummings » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:49 pm

Maybe I`m just having a "senior moment" but I can`t recall whose nutty idea it was to stick those songs into the show. I doubt that it was Burt`s, although he must have agreed to it. Honestly, wtf ?

Martin Johnson
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby Martin Johnson » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:19 am

Blair N. Cummings wrote:Maybe I`m just having a "senior moment" but I can`t recall whose nutty idea it was to stick those songs into the show. I doubt that it was Burt`s, although he must have agreed to it. Honestly, wtf ?



I believe it was the 2010 Broadway revival of the show that first took the more than slightly desperate measure of adding 'I Say a Little Prayer' and 'A House is Not a Home' to the score and I think it's a shame for reasons of authenticity if nothing else that they've been retained for this small London fringe production. However, I'm prepared to have my mind changed on this when I see the show next week.

pljms
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby pljms » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:01 am

Here's a positive first night review of the new London Fringe production, although there's not enough about the music with only two of the songs getting a mention:

http://www.broadwayworld.com/westend/ar ... e-20170118
pljms

Martin Johnson
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby Martin Johnson » Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:09 am

I was there last night and I'll write some more about it soon. Meanwhile here's a couple of ok reviews from this morning's UK Press:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 32951.html

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/ ... -apartment

pljms
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby pljms » Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:37 am

I saw the show on the second night and was very impressed with both Gabriel Vick’s charming and very well sung portrayal of Chuck and Alex Young’s superb comic timing as Marge, and their duet of ‘A Fact Can Be A Beautiful Thing’ was one of the highlights of the production. I was less taken with Daisy Maywood as Fran who to my ears has obviously been listening a bit too closely to the cast recording of the 2010 production of the show and Kristen Chenoweth’s phrasing, particularly on ‘Knowing When to Leave’ (“Go………whenthegoing…..is good. Fly………whileyoustillhave….your wings”). Unfortunately, she also has the same slightly shrill, nasal quality to her singing voice. Most of the rest of the cast were impressive, especially John Guerrasio as Doctor Dreyfuss, and also hardworking, often doubling and even trebling-up in roles and doing most if not all the stagehands’ work (this is very much a Fringe production after all). Although it’s listed in the programme as one of the musical numbers, ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ seems to have fallen by the wayside during rehearsals, a fate that in my opinion should have befallen ‘A House is Not a Home’ as well as it has no place in this show whatsoever and loads-up an already very long (80 minutes) first half. For me the forced Christmas jollity of ‘Turkey Lurkey Time’ will always grate, especially when seen performed in the middle of January, and this might have been a good opportunity to replace it with ‘Tick Tock Goes the Clock’ as was the case in the 1996 London production. With new arrangements especially written for the production, the 7-piece band made a good fist of it in doing justice to Bacharach’s rich and complex score, but they were never going to sound as impressive as a full pit orchestra playing the original charts. For all its good points I have to say that this was my least favourite of the three productions I’ve seen of ‘Promises, Promises’ and although I'm taking more friends to the show next month I’m not looking forward to it as much as I might.
pljms

Martin Johnson
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby Martin Johnson » Sat Jan 21, 2017 6:05 am

The telling thing for me about this production of Promises, Promises is that it felt laboured and overlong and I didn't get the same 'buzz' I usually get from seeing the show. However, there was still much to enjoy and Gabriel Vick and Alex Young were exceptional in their roles as Chuck and Marge and they both more than did justice to their musical numbers. In her appearance Daisy Maywood bore a striking resemblance to Shirley MacLaine as she looked in the movie 'The Apartment', but I found her portrayal of Fran curiously unsympathetic and her performance of 'Knowing When To Leave' was a real letdown, not helped by the fact that she sang it sitting down with her back to most of the audience. However, she was more convincing in 'Whoever You Are I Love You' and 'I'll Never Fall In Love Again'. Having a small band replace a much larger ensemble is always going to be a challenge for the arranger and all the musicians involved but I don't recall it being a particular drawback in the small London Fringe production from the 90s. Here, however, I missed the more opulent sound of a standard theatre orchestra, especially in the overture and in all the instrumental sections.

Blair N. Cummings
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby Blair N. Cummings » Sat Jan 21, 2017 11:48 am

I don`t understand why people keep trying to "revive" this. No one is ever going to sing as well as Jill O`Hara did. In fact, I think I wrote long ago that I would happily listen to her sing every song. Orbach was terrific. Mercer forever defined "A Fact..." Who thinks they`re going to improve on the original?

Sara D
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby Sara D » Sun Jan 22, 2017 7:04 am

I was unable to get up to Sheffield in 2005 so this was the first production of PP I've been to for over twenty years and I have to say it was a joy once more to see and hear all those songs I've loved for so long performed within the context of the show and to laugh once again at Neil Simon's hilarious one liners. Yes. I suppose the show could be regarded as a bit of a period piece now, especially in what the PC brigade would regard as its anachronistic attitude towards women, but I think with its extraordinary pedigree of Neil Simon. Burt Bacharach and Hal David its place in the standard musical theatre repertoire is assured. 

nowmedical
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby nowmedical » Sun Jan 22, 2017 8:55 am

Sara, were you there last night? I have to say I enjoyed every single minute. I didn't know it was so funny.

Only one gripe - why cut the first verse of Whoever You Are I Love You? Starting the song with the second verse - ie. "Sometimes I feel you're mine all alone..." has considerably less impact than the incomparable "Sometimes your eyes look blue to me". But this is a minor point only. I didn't think it was too long, and it was pleasant to shake hands with the cast in the bar immediately after the show.

Sara D
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby Sara D » Wed Jan 25, 2017 6:43 am

nowmedical, no, I went on Friday evening and although it wasn't 100% full it was a very responsive and enthusiastic house. One thing I didn't mention in my previous post was that I agree with pljms that 'A House Is Not A Home' doesn't belong in this show.

Most of the reviews of this production have either been lukewarm or downright bad and it's obvious given some of the snide and ignorant comments that some of the reviewers, with the obvious exception of 'I'll Never Fall in love Again', were totally unfamiliar with the score. The most positive and intelligent review of the production that I've seen so far has been in The Stage:

https://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/2017 ... se-london/

Martin Johnson
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby Martin Johnson » Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:34 am

Here's a remarkably youthful looking Donna McKechnie, who sung and danced 'Turkey Lurkey Time' in the original productions of 'Promises, Promises' on Broadway and in London, talking in 2010 about how she reprised the number for a S.T.A.G.E Benefit tribute concert to Burt entitled 'Blame it on Bacharach'. I read her autobiography a few years ago and she had nothing but positive things to say about 'Promises, Promises' and Bacharach's groundbreaking and innovative score. However, she did relate the obvious stress he was under during the show's out of town tryouts and she wasn't surprised that he kept away from musical theatre for so long after that:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eQFo--Ii5A8

...and here she is with the two other featured dancers from the original production of 'Promises, Promises' performing 'Turkey Lurkey Time' at the 1969 Tony Awards. Looking at this again now it's easy to appreciate how this number stopped the show every night and why it made her name on Broadway:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qkBZ0-r_M-8
Last edited by Martin Johnson on Mon Feb 06, 2017 1:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

blueonblue
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby blueonblue » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:50 am

Martin Johnson wrote:Here's a remarkably youthful looking Donna McKechnie, who sung and danced 'Turkey Lurkey Time' in the original productions of 'Promises, Promises' on Broadway and in London, talking in 2010 about how she reprised the number for a S.T.A.G.E Benefit tribute concert to Burt entitled 'Blame it on Bacharach'. I read her autobiography a few years ago and she had nothing but positive things to say about 'Promises, Promises' and Bacharach's groundbreaking and innovative score. However, she did relate the obvious stress he was under during the show's out of town tryouts and she wasn't surprised that he kept away from musical theatre for so long after that:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eQFo--Ii5A8

...and here she is with the two other featured dancers from the original production of 'Promises, Promises' performing 'Turkey Lurkey Time' at the 1969 Tony Awards. Looking at this again now it's easy appreciate how this number stopped the show every night and why it made her name on Broadway:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qkBZ0-r_M-8

From 1:55 into 'Turkey Lurkey Time' the dancing and orchestral arrangement are pure dynamite !
Today it would receive a standing ovation !

'blue'

pljms
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby pljms » Mon Feb 06, 2017 3:36 am

I remember an evening in autumn 1969 and being round a schoolfriend's house to hear his latest purchase, the sensational debut album by King Crimson and it being played repeatedly and at top volume because his parents were out seeing a show in London's West End. I was still there at around midnight when they returned bubbling over with excitement from this newly opened show called 'Promises, Promises' and going into raptures about the music and dancing. I remember Bacharach's name being mentioned and also that of the lead dancer who of course must have been Donna McKechnie as she apparently stayed with the London production for a month. I discovered later that the No.1 hit single at that time, Bobbie Gentry's 'I'll Never Fall in Love Again', just happened to be from the show, which I suspect was more than a happy coincidence.

I'm seeing the new production of the show again this Friday. 
pljms

blueonblue
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby blueonblue » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:32 am

The original 'London' cast recording of 'Promises, Promises' issued a few years ago by Kritzerland Records.....well worth a listen.

http://www.kritzerland.com/promisesUK.htm

'blue'

pljms
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Re: Promises, Promises returns to the London stage in 2017

Postby pljms » Sat Feb 11, 2017 7:14 pm

I saw the show again last night and I have to say the whole production has sharpened up immeasurably since the opening over three weeks ago. Although I still have some reservations about Daisy Maywood's singing voice, this is a cast that on the whole more than does justice to both the book and the songs. Listening to the score again, even when it's played by a 7 piece band rather than a pit orchestra, is to marvel once more at how well Bacharach adapted his unique and distinctive style to the demands of a Broadway musical. 
pljms


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