Everyone knows GUYS AND DOLLS but maybe you don’t know that Frank Loesser won an Oscar, a slew of Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize (which he spoofed, calling it “the putzlitzer”). He had an acerbic wit (naming his first wife the “evil of two Loessers”) but could give himself over to a sentimental song just as easily.
This weekend American Classics celebrated the hundredth anniversary of Loesser’s birth with a chipper cabaret concert called LUCK BE A LADY (performed by GOODY GOODY, i.e., three American Classics regulars and pianist Robert Humphreville).
Humphreville finessed Loesser’s lyrical melodies (and a few by collaborators like Irving Berlin and Hoagy Carmichael) while Valerie Anastasio, Mary Ann Lanier and Heather Peterson inhabited his delicious lyrics---with Lanier ripping Loesser’s sassy, bluesy Junk Man (“I’m gonna fix your wagon…do you black and blue [so the junk man] can pick up what’s left of you”) – with Anastasio proving she’s the consummate comedienne in Loesser’s (other) Runyanesque send-up, Murder, He Says. Then they gave us a medley of GUYS AND DOLLS with Peterson getting the most famous case of sniffles in all of showbiz, the hilarious Adelaide’s Lament.
If you haven’t experienced an American Classics performance, you’re missing the joy. Treat yourself to their next event in March, Alexander’s Ragtime Band at 100!