January 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Comedy Tonight -- Stephen Sondheim's funniest songs 
Various artists performing songs from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Sweeney Todd; Company; Into the Woods; The Seven Percent Solution; Follies; Pacific Overtures; A Little Night Music; The Mad Show; and Gypsy.
  Available on BMG Heritage Records  09026 67301-2   
Running Time: 65:45
Crotchet   Amazon US

comedy tonight

"Something exotic, something erotic…there's something for everyone… tragedy tomorrow, but - Comedy Tonight!"  Just one or two funny lines from A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, the opening number (of sixteen) in this highly amusing collection of Sondheim's more risible songs from his shows.  All calculated to raise a smile or two or more…

Millicent Martin muses, "but ohhh, 'can that boy Foxtrot' a grocery clerk he's not too clean and quite mean. As dumb bells go, he's rather slow - but "who needs Albert Schweizer when the lights low?"  And when David Kernan prises his spouse and tells Millicent 'You must meet my wife', he enthuses "She twitters" - "What is she a bird?" and that "She'd strike you as unenlightened", to which Milly ripostes tartly, "No, I'd strike her first!"

The great late lamented Madeleine Kahn (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and What's Up Doc?) gets ever more panicky on her wedding day.  Exchange with her fiancé: – "Where are my cufflinks?"  "On the dresser right next to my suicide note".  And the heavenly choir.  "Bless the bride totally insane, slipping down the drain… and bless this day in our hearts as it starts to rain (thunder and lightening…"    

Angela Lansbury muses that innumerable cats have disappeared as she boasts, from Sweeney Todd, that she makes The Worst Pies in London and how she invites Sweeney Todd (Leon Cariou) to taste A Little Priest (not as bland as curate). ("Is that Squire on the fire?")

Debbie Shapiro, Faith Princer and Susann Fletcher bemoan their lives as strippers in 'You've gotta have a gimmick' from Gypsy.  "You can pull all the stops out 'til they call the cops out, grind your behind until you're bare but you gotta have a gimmick to get ahead… You can sacrifice your sacro.. working in the back row but you gotta have a gimmick … I do it with a horn!" 

Cleo Laine's handsome young guard had warned her  "…once is nice but I never do anything twice…" in 'The Little Things You Do Together' from Company. Since then she has stipulated when dealing with barons, bishops etc – "Once yes, once, once is a lark but twice looses the spark… Once is delicious but twice can be vicious or just repetitious…"  

Just a few of the laughs in Comedy Tonight – a tonic.

Ian Lace

***** 5

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