Friday, March 18, 2011

Born On This Day- March 18th... Songwriter John Kander

The celebrated songwriting team of Kander & Ebb were working on the musical The Scottsboro Boys when Ebb died in 2004 of a heart attack. The Scottsboro Boys tells the true story of 9 young black men falsely accused of rape in 1931. It opend on Broadway last season to strong reviews & weak box office. Today is the birthday of the musical half of the team- John Kander.

From The Act to Zorba, for 5 decades, composer John Kander & lyricist Fred Ebb have been Broadway's paramount songwriting team, the longest running music/lyrics partnership in Broadway musical history. They've given the world some of the great creations of the American Musical Stage. Their scores have a breathtaking ability to capture the flavor of a specific time & place, with music brimming with audacity & brilliant, droll, penetrating lyrics. The team has taken on serious, challenging subject: Nazism, abortion, murder, capital punishment, prison torture, greed, corruption, with originality & stunning talent. Kander & Ebb combine razzle dazzle with a political conscience. On John Kander’s award shelf sit Tonys, Oscars, Emmys, Grammys & Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards. They've written for the great musical performers of our day: Lauren Bacall, Joel Grey, Gwen Verdon, Frank Sinatra, Robert Goulet, Chita Rivera, & Barbra Streisand.

In 1965, their 1st produced show-Flora, the Red Menace introduced Liza Minnelli to Broadway & a young singer Barbra Streisand had hits with 2 of their songs- My Coloring Book & I Don’t Care Much, & their careers were launched. 22 shows later & they are still at it, even with ½ the team deceased. Her are the John Kander contributions to Musical Theatre:

A Family Affair (1962) - lyrics by William Goldman
Flora the Red Menace (1965)
Cabaret (1966)
Go Fly a Kite (1966) - music and lyrics also by Walter Marks
The Happy Time (1968)
Zorba (1968)
70, Girls, 70 (1971)
Chicago (1976)
The Act (1978)
Woman of the Year (1981)
The Rink (1984)
• & The World Goes 'Round (1991)
Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992)
Steel Pier (1997)
Fosse (1999)
Over & Over (1999)
The Visit (2001)
Curtains (2006) - additional lyrics by Rupert Holmes
All About Us (2007 revision of Over & Over)
The Scottsboro Boys (2010)

Chicago remains one of my favorite musicals & in high school, I adored the score to their not so successful- 70, Girls, 70s, including this tune:

In 2006, at 79 years old, John Kander bravely came out of the closet. He said he had waited so long for professional reasons. I agree, because when choosing to go to a Broadway musical, audiences have often been known to bypass shows written by homosexuals.

1 comment:

  1. you mean there are shows on Broadway not written by homosexuals?


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