Thursday, February 23, 2006

Marni Nixon

First, I am a big fan of old Hollywood musicals - from Busby Berkeley's 42nd Street to Bernstein's West Side Story. One name associated with Hollywood and musicals, that has been with me since I can remember, is Marni Nixon. She sang for a number of actresses, including Deborah Kerr and Natalie Wood, and also acted in the movies and on the stage.

So, on Tuesday night, thanks to my friend April (who studies with Marni), I had the pleasure to see Marni Nixon in concert, along with Sarah Rice and Lee Roy Reams, in a show entitled Ménage - Have Gown. Will Travel. Before I got to the concert, I didn't know exactly what I was going to hear, but heck it was Marni Nixon and I knew it would be fabulous! And it was. It was so thrilling to hear her live (we had excellent seats, too). The other two singers were really good and the entire show was very entertaining. And I can't forget to mention how great the pianist, Sue Anderson, was. Turns out, the concert (presented by the Broadway Concerts Direct) was a selection of Broadway songs, true hits. What a great show it was!

They sang so many familiar tunes from wonderful musicals - Sisters from White Christmas (Irving Berlin), Pirate Jenny from the Three Penny Opera (Kurt Weill) , and I Got Rhythm from Girl Crazy (George and Ira Gershwin). Lesser known to me were songs from Sweet Charity, The Fantasticks, and Cabaret. My favorite new-to-me discoveries were Moonfall, from The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and The Spinning Song by Hubb Miller. Two very beautiful songs. Acting accompanying the lead-ins to the songs and during the numbers was also enjoyable and really enhanced the experience. Believe it or not, I have never been to see a Broadway musical. Looks like that has to change.

Marni Nixon sang one non-theater piece, called Tobacco by Tobias Hume, which dates from 1605. It is quite famous, with a friendly, singable tune (it is currently running around my head and out my mouth). The fact that it is such an early piece made it particularly interesting to me. It's all about addiction. Here are the words:

Tobacco, Tobacco
sing sweetly for Tobacco,
Tobacco is like love, O love it
for you see I wil prove it
Love maketh leane the fatte mens tumor,
so doth Tobacco,
Love still dries uppe the wanton humor,
so doth Tobacco,
love makes men sayle from shore to shore,
so doth Tobacco
Tis fond love often makes men poor
so doth Tobacco
Love makes men scorneal Coward feares,
so doth Tobacco
Love often sets men by the eares
so doth Tobacco.

Tobaccoe, Tobaccoe
Sing sweetely for Tobaccoe,
Tobaccoe is like Love, O love it,
For you see I have prowde it.

The audience loved it, in part because her delivery was so wonderful.

I feel really fortunate to have seen this amazing musician in concert. She is really fantastic.

Lastly, the only negative thing I can say about the experience is that the seats in Merkin Hall are terribly uncomfortable. I wonder if they will replace them?

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