Before "Milk and Honey" and "Hello, Dolly!" made him a Broadway household name, Jerry Herman was busy working the showbiz trenches. His gifts as a composer, lyricist and musician were already mature in this 1960 revue, now available again in an original cast recording.
"Love songs, topical satire and deft musical tributes create an amiable and sometimes strikingly tart diversion. From the cheery celebration of his craft in "Show Tune" to a gimlet-eyed view of Broadway's self-important gloom (parodic jabs at "J.B.," "The Tenth Man," "The Andersonville Trial" et al.), "Parade" manages to cover a good patch of ground.
Herman's familiar flair for caressing melody and balmy sentimentality is apparent in "Your Hand in Mind," a duet ardently sung by Lester James and Fia Karin. Dody Goodman uses her distinctively strident voice to go after prickly Maria Callas in "Maria in Spats." Charles Nelson Reilly's adroit timing squeezes all there is to be squeezed from the one-joke "Confession to a Park Avenue Mother." His terrible secret: He loves a West Side girl. She may shop at Saks -- but alas -- "I mean the Herald Square one."
The recording, with a cast of five singers and Herman at one of two pianos, recalls a specific time and place in New York. The Eisenhower '50s were waning,while the gush of Kennedy idealism still waited around the corner. An ironic, even sardonic strain runs through the show. Goodman bleats out a plea to "Save the Village," specifically the Ladies' House of Detention in Greenwich Village.
She joins Reilly in a swipe at Nelson Rockefeller's privilege. Then there's that "Jolly Theatrical Season" of death and despair.
But Herman can't maintain low or mocking spirits. His soft-focus love songs, a sprint of musical quotations from Broadway shows (in "Show Tune") and deft ensembles remind us where he was always headed -- to the sunny provinces of "Dolly," "Mame" and "La Cage aux Folles." "Parade" fills in a revealing little stretch of how he got there."
Off-Broadway opening: January 20, 1960
Directed by Jerry Herman - Book by Jerry Herman - Choreography by Richard Tone
Starring: Dody Goodman, Fia Karin, Lester James, Charles Nelson Reilly, Richard Tone
Musical Numbers by Jerry Herman: Overture - Show Tune - Save the Village - Your Hand in Mine - Confession to a Park Avenue Mother - Two a Day - Just Plain Folks - The Antique Man - The Next Time I Love - Your Good Morning - Maria in Spats - Another Candle - Jolly Theatrical Season - Finale (Parade)
©MMXVII by MROZINSKI