There’s No Business like Show Business

widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history, The American composer and lyricist Irving Berlin, was Born 11th May 1888. He published his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy”, in 1907 and had his first major international hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in 1911.   “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” sparked an international dance craze in places as far away as Berlin’s native Russia, which also “flung itself into the ragtime beat with an abandon bordering on mania.” Over the years he was known for writing music and lyrics in the American vernacular: uncomplicated, simple and direct, with his aim being to “reach the heart of the average American” whom he saw as the “real soul of the country.”   He wrote hundreds of songs, many becoming major hits, which made him “a legend” before he turned thirty. D

During his 60-year career he wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, including the scores for 19 Broadway shows and 18 Hollywood films, with his songs nominated eight times for Academy Awards. Many songs became popular themes and anthems, including “Easter Parade”, “White Christmas”, “Happy Holiday”, “This is the Army, Mr. Jones”, and “There’s No Business Like Show Business”. His Broadway musical and 1942 film, This is the Army, with Ronald Reagan, had Kate Smith singing Berlin’s “God Bless America” which was first performed in 1938. Smith still performed the song on her 1960 CBS television series, The Kate Smith Show.After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Celine Dion recorded it as a tribute, making it #1 on the charts.   Berlin’s songs have reached the top of the charts 25 times and have been extensively re-recorded by numerous singers including Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Waters, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Rosemary Clooney, Cher, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby, Rita Reys, Frankie Laine, Johnnie Ray, Al Jolson, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Doris Day and Ella Fitzgerald. Composer Douglas Moore sets Berlin apart from all other contemporary songwriters, and includes him instead with Stephen Foster, Walt Whitman, and Carl Sandburg, as a “great American minstrel”—someone who has “caught and immortalized in his songs what we say, what we think about, and what we believe.” Composer George Gershwin called him “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived”, and composer Jerome Kern concluded that “Irving Berlin has no place in American music—he is American music.”

Les Miserables

lesmisBased on the epic 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo, and the musical of the same name by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, Les Misérables is out on DVD on Monday 13th May 2013, Set During 181185the story starts when a Frenchman named Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) is released from Toulon prison by Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) after spending 19 years imprisoned for stealing . The Bishop of Digne offers the convict food and shelter, and saves his life when he is caught stealing the bishop’s silver. Deciding to start a new life, Valjean breaks his parole.Eight years later, Valjean has become a factory owner and mayor of Montreuil-sur-Mer. Fantine (Anne Hathaway), one of his workers, is discovered by her coworkers to be sending money to her illegitimate daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). When she is dismissed by the foreman, Fantine is forced to become a prostitute. However During an argument with an abusive customer, Javert, now a police inspector in Montreuil, arrests Fantine, but Valjean takes her to a hospital and promises a dying Fantine he will care for Cosette. After a brief confrontation with Javert, Valjean flees and pays innkeeperMadame Thénardier (Helena Bonham Carter) and her dodgy husband  (Sacha Baron Cohen) to take Cosette in and raise her. sadly though they mistreat Cosette while indulging their own destitute  daughter, Éponine (Samantha Barks).

Nine years later, Paris is in turmoil because Jean Maximilien Lamarque, the only man in the government who shows any sympathy for the poor, is nearing death. So a street urchin named Gavroche,  incites the prostitutes and beggars to take action, while a student revolutionary and young firebrand named Marius Pontmercy (Eddie Redmayne)and his friend Enjolras organize a group of idealistic students to protest against the Governments treatment of the poor. While organising the protest Marius becomes friends with the Thenardiers’ daughter, Éponine, then he meets Cosette and they fall in love. Later The Thénardiers gang are prevented from robbing Valjean and Cosettes ‘s house by Javert, who does not recognise Valjean until after he escapes.  Valjean refuses to tell Cosette about his past or Fantine and decides to flee Paris with Cosette. Later, Éponine laments that her love for Marius will never be reciprocated as he joins the other students who are preparing for the upcoming conflict; while Javert briefs his soldiers as he reveals his plans to spy on the students.

With the June Rebellion underway, the students interrupt Lamarque’s funeral and begin their assault on the army. They build a barricade when Javert, disguised as one of the rebels, volunteers to “spy” on the government troops. When Javert lies that the government will attack the next morning, he is exposed as a spy. Éponine, mortally wounded, returns to the barricades and professes her love for Marius before her death. Valjean, searching for Marius in the barricades, saves Enjolras. Despite being allowed to execute Javert, Valjean tells the inspector that he is not in his debt. As the students reminisce for the night, Valjean prays to God to save Marius from the oncoming assault.Although most Parisians have abandoned the rebels, Enjolras resolves to fight on, however When Gavroche is killed, Enjolras and the students realize they could end up paying a heavy price if they ignore the final warning to surrender…

To coincide with the release of Les Miserables on DVD on Monday 13th May 2013, the Mail on Sunday newspaper (oe Ebay on Monday) there is a FREE Bonus DVD – Les Misérables – Behind The Scenes of the Musical Phenomenon! Which goes behind tle scenes of the critically-acclaimed box office sensation – the definitive film version of the world famous story and longest-running musical of all time.  Featuring a star-studded cast, with a Number One soundtrack, it is an epic, emotional experience that re-defines the musical genre; and it could be yours to own and treasure forever on DVD, Blu-ray™ and to download on Monday, 13 May.Toelebrate the DVD release, The Mail on Sunday is offering every reader this superb FREE DVD – Les Misérables – Behind The Scenes of the Musical Phenomenon.  Featuring exclusive content, learn how they made this spectacular film event of the year.  Witness the transformation of Hugh Jackman, watch the creation of ground-breaking performances, enjoy performances from Les Misérables in concert – the 25th anniversary, live at the O2 (out now on Blu-ray™ and DVD) and much more.

Tribute ro Fred Astaire

The late  great  American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor Fred Astaire was born on this date 10th May 1899. His tage and subsequent f career spanned a tota of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatestale Star of All Time bythe American Film Institute, and is particularly associated with Ginger Rogers, with whom he made ten films.Gene Kelly, He inspired many dancersandchoreaphers including Ruolf Nureyev, Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson, Gregory Hines, Mikhail Baryshnikov, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins have acknowledged his importance and infuence.

Astaire was born in Omaha, Nebraska. He and sister Adele were both instinctive dancers and Singers,  and formed a “brother-ad-sister act,” Later The family moved to New York City to launch the show business career of the children. Despite Adele and Fred’s teasing rivalry, they quickly acknowledged their individual strengths, his durability and her greater talent. They were taught dance, speaking, and singing in preparation for developing their first act. for which Fred wore a top hat and tails in the first half and a lobster outfit in the second. ” The local paper wrote, “the Astaires are the greatest child act in vaudeville.” Fred and Adele rapidly landed a major contract and played the famed Orpheum Circuit after which The family took a two-year break from show business.  The career of the Astaire siblings resumed with mixed fortunes, though with increasing skill and polish, as they began to incorporate tap dancing into their routines. Astaire’s dancing was inspired by Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and John “Bubbles” Sublett.From vaudeville dancer Aurelio Coccia, they learned the tango, waltz and other ballroom dances popularized by Vernon and Irene Castle.

Fred Astaire then met George Gershwin, who was working as a song plugger in Jerome H. Remick’s, in 1916.Fred had already been hunting for new music and dance ideas. Their chance meeting was to deeply affect the careers of both artists. Astaire was always on the lookout for new steps on the circuit and was starting to demonstrate his ceaseless quest for novelty and perfection. The Astaires broke into Broadway in 1917 with Over the Top,. The Astaires performed for U.S. and Allied troops at this time too. They followed up with several more shows, ” By this time, Astaire’s dancing skill was beginning to outshine his sister’s, though she still set the tone of their act and her sparkle and humor drew much of the attention, due in part to Fred’s careful preparation and strong supporting choreography. During the 1920s, Fred and Adele appeaed on Broadway and on the London stage in shows such as George and Ira Gershwin’s Lady Be Good (1924) and Funny Face (1927), and later in The Band Wagon (1931), winning popular acclaim with the theater crowd on both sides of the Atlantic. By then, Astaire’s tap dancing was recognized as among the best.

Fred and Adele split in 1932 and Astaire went on to achieve success on his own on Broadway and in London with Gay Divorce, while considering offers from Hollywood. The end of the partnership was traumatic for Astaire, but stimulated him to expand his range. Free of the brother-sister constraints of the former pairing and with a new partner (Claire Luce), he created a romantic partnered dance to Cole Porter’s “Night and Day”, which had beenwritten for Gay Divorce.Hollywood BreakAstaire got his Hollywood Break after David O. Selznick (Who was also born on 10th May), had signed Astaire to RKO Pictures. He had a bit of a dodgy start However, this did not affect RKO’s plans for Astaire, first lending him for a few days to MGM in 1933 for his Hollywood debut, where he appeared as himself dancing with Joan Crawford in the successful musical film Dancing Lady. On his return to RKO, he got fifth billing after fourth billed Ginger Rogers in the 1933 Dolores del Río vehicle Flying Down to Rio, and the success of the film was attributed to Astaire’s charm & charismatic screen presence.Astaire was initially very reluctant to become part of another dance team. He wrote his agent, “I don’t mind making another picture with her, but as for this ‘team’ idea, it’s ‘out!’ I’ve just managed to live down one partnership and I don’t want to be bothered with any more.”

He was persuaded by the obvious public appeal of the Astaire-Rogers pairing. The partnership, and the choreography of Astaire and Hermes Pan, helped make dancing an important element of the Hollywood film musical. Astaire and Rogers made ten films together, including The Gay Divorcee, Roberta, Top Hat, Follow the Fleet, Swing Time, Shall We Dance, and Carefree. Six out of the nine Astaire-Rogers musicals became the biggest moneymakers for RKO; all of the films brought a certain prestige and artistry that all studios coveted at the time. Their partnership elevated them both to stardom.Astaire is credited with two important innovations in early film musicals. First, he insisted that the (almost stationary) camera film a dance routine in a single shot, if possible, while holding the dancers in full view at all times. Second, Astaire was adamant that all song and dance routines be seamlessly integrated into the plotlines of the film and used it to move the plot along. Typically, an Astaire picture would include a solo performance by Astaire, a partnered comedy dance routine and a partnered romantic dance routine.In 1939, Astaire left RKO to freelance and pursue new film opportunities, with mixed though generally successful outcomes. Throughout this period, Astaire continued to value the input of choreographic collaborators and, unlike the 1930s when he worked almost exclusively with Hermes Pan, he tapped the talents of other choreographers in an effort to continually innovate. His first post-Ginger dance partner was the redoubtable Eleanor Powell —considered the finest female tap-dancer of her generation.

He played alongside Bing Crosby in Holiday Inn and later Blue Skies, which were both enormously successful The former film is particularly remembered for his virtuoso solo dance to “Let’s Say it with Firecrackers” while the latter film featured an innovative song and dance routine to a song indelibly associated with him: “Puttin’ on the Ritz”. Other partners during this period included Paulette Goddard in Second Chorus, in which he dance-conducted the Artie Shaw orchestra.He made two pictures with Rita Hayworth, the daughter of his former vaudeville dance idols, the Cansinos: the first You’ll Never Get Rich catapulted Hayworth to stardom and provided Astaire with his first opportunity to integrate Latin-American dance idioms into his style, taking advantage of Hayworth’s professional Latin dance pedigree. His second film with Hayworth, You Were Never Lovelier (1942) was equally successful, and featured a duet to Kern’s “I’m Old Fashioned” which became the centerpiece of Jerome Robbins’s 1983 New York City Ballet tribute to Astaire.His next partner, Lucille Bremer, was featured in two lavish vehicles, both directed by Vincente Minnelli: the fantasy Yolanda and the Thief which featured an avant-garde surrealistic ballet, and the musical revue Ziegfeld Follies  which featured a memorable teaming of Astaire with Gene Kelly to “The Babbit and the Bromide”, a Gershwin song Astaire had introduced back in 1927. Sadly Yolande was not a success and Astaire believing his career was beginning to falter surprised his audiences by announcing his retirement during the production of Blue Skies, nominating “Puttin’ on the Ritz” as his farewell dance.However, he soon returned to the big screen to replace the injured Kelly in Easter Parade opposite Judy Garland, Ann Miller and Peter Lawford, and for a final reunion with Rogers in The Barkleys of Broadway. He then went on to make more musicals throughout the 1950s: Let’s Dance  with Betty Hutton, Royal Wedding with Jane Powell, Three Little Words (1950) and The Belle of New York  with Vera-Ellen, The Band Wagon and Silk Stockings with Cyd Charisse, Daddy Long Legs with Leslie Caron, and Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn.   During 1952 Astaire recorded The Astaire Story, a four-volume album with a quintet led by Oscar Peterson. The album provided a musical overview of Astaire’s career, and was produced by Norman Granz. The Astaire Story later won the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999, a special Grammy award to honor recordings that are at least twenty- five years old, and that have “qualitative or historical significance.” His legacy at this point was 30 musical films in 25 years.

During his long and distinguished career Astaire recieved many honours and Awards. In 1950 Ginger Rogers presented an honorary Academy Award to Astaire In 1958 Astaire won an Emmy Award for “Best Single Performance by an Actor” for An Evening with Fred Astaire. in 1960 he was Nominated for Emmy Award for “Program Achievement” for Another Evening with Fred Astaire as well as a Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award for “Lifetime Achievement in Motion Pictures”. In  he won another Emmy Award for “Program Achievement” in 1961 for Astaire Time, and was also Voted Champion of Champions — Best Television performer in annual television critics and columnists poll conducted by Television Today and Motion Picture Daily. In 1965 he won The George Eastman Award e for “outstanding contributions to motion pictures” Then In 1968 he was nominated for another Emmy Award by the Musical Variety Program for The Fred Astaire Show and in 1972 he was Named Musical Comedy Star of the Century by Liberty, “The Nostalgia Magazine”. In 1973 he was also the Subject of a Gala by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and in 1975 he recieved Academy Award nomination for The Towering Inferno and also won a Golden Globe for “Best Supporting Actor”, BAFTA and David di Donatello awards for the film. In 1978 he was honoured by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and became the First recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. he also won the  National Artist Award from the American National Theatre Association for “contributing immeasurably to the American Theatre” and won The Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1981. In 1987 he was Inducted into the National Museum of Dance C.V. Whitney Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. Astaire has also recieved many Posthumous awards, including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, an induction into the Television Hall of Fame, an induction into the Ballroom Dancer’s Hall of Fame, and a Posthumous Grammy Hall of Fame Award for 1952 The Astaire Story album.

Happy Birthday Bono (U2))

Best known as the lead singer with Irish Rock Band U2 Bono (Paul Hewson) was born 10th May 1960 .Some of U2′s best known songs  are “New Year’s Day”, “Bullet the Blue Sky”, “With or Without You“, “Mysterious Ways“, “Get on Your Boots“, and “Magnificent“ “I Will Follow”  “City of Blinding Lights”.He attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Dublin, where he met fellow bandmates Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr., and was reunited with his boyhood friend Dave “The Edge” Evans. Mullen had posted an advertisement on the school bulletin board for musicians to form a band with him; Clayton showed up at the first practice, which also included Dik Evans, Dave Evans’s older brother, Ivan McCormick, and Peter Martin, who were two of Mullen’s friends. McCormick and Martin left the band soon after its conception. While the band was a five-piece (consisting of Bono, The Edge, Mullen, Evans, and Clayton), it was known as Feedback. The name was subsequently changed to The Hype, but changed to “U2″ soon after Dik Evans left the band.U2′s early sound was rooted in post-punk but eventually grew to incorporate influences from many genres of popular music. Throughout the group’s musical pursuits, they have maintained a sound built on melodic instrumentals, highlighted by The Edge’s timbrally varied guitar sounds and Bono’s expressive vocals.

Their lyrics, often embellished with spiritual imagery, focus on personal themes and sociopolitical concerns. Within four years, they signed with Island Records and released their debut album Boy. By the mid-1980s, they became a top international act. They were more successful as live performers than they were at selling records, until their breakthrough 1987 album The Joshua Tree, which, according to Rolling Stone, elevated the band’s stature “from heroes to superstars”. Reacting to musical stagnation and late-1980s criticism of their earnest image and musical direction, the group reinvented themselves with their 1991 hit album Achtung Baby and the accompanying Zoo TV Tour. U2 integrated dance, industrial, and alternative rock influences into their sound and performances, and embraced a more ironic and self-deprecating image. Similar experimentation continued for the remainder of the 1990s with mixed levels of success. U2 regained critical and commercial favour after their 2000 record All That You Can’t Leave Behind. On it and the group’s subsequent releases, they adopted a more conventional sound while maintaining influences from their earlier musical explorations.U2 have released 12 studio albums and are among the all-time best-selling music artists, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide. They have won 22 Grammy Awards,  and in 2005, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. Rolling Stone ranked U2 at number 22 in its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time. They have also won numerous other awards in their career, including 22 Grammy awards, including those for Best Rock Duo or Group seven times, Album of the Year twice, Record of the Year twice, Song of the Year twice, and Best Rock Album twice.

Tribute to Sid Vicious

The late great Sid Vicious, bassist wth Punk band The Sex Pistols was born on May 10th 1957. The Sex Pistols formed in London in 1975 and responsible for initiating the punk movement in the United Kingdom and inspiring many later punk and alternative rock musicians. Although their initial career lasted just two-and-a-half years and produced only four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, they are regarded as one of the most influential acts in the history of popular music.   The Sex Pistols  evolved from The Strand, a London band formed in 1972 with working-class teenagers Steve Jones on vocals, Paul Cook on drums, and Wally Nightingale on guitar. According to a later account by Jones, both he and Cook played on instruments they had stolen. vocalist Johnny Rotten joined soon after In August 1975, when he was spotted wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt with the words I Hate handwritten above the band’s name and holes scratched through the eyes.

The line-up was completed by guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock. Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious in early 1977.Under the management of impresario Malcolm McLaren, the band provoked controversies that captivated Britain. Their behaviour, as much as their music, brought them national attention and their concerts repeatedly faced difficulties with organizers and authorities, and public appearances often ended in mayhem.  Their 1977 single “God Save the Queen”, attacking Britons’ social conformity and deference to the Crown, precipitated the “last and greatest outbreak of pop-based moral pandemonium”.Since the spring of 1977, the three senior Sex Pistols had also been returning to the studio periodically with Chris Thomas to lay down the tracks for the band’s debut album. Initially to be called God Save Sex Pistols, it became known during the summer as Never Mind the Bollocks.   In January 1978, after a turbulent tour of the United States, Rotten left the band and announced its break-up. Over the next several months, the three other band members recorded songs for McLaren’s film version of the Sex Pistols’ story, The Great Rofck ‘n’ Roll Swindle. Vicious died of a heroin overdose in February 1979. In 1996, Rotten, Jones, Cook and Matlock reunited for the Filthy Lucre Tour; since 2002, they have staged further reunion shows and tours. On 24 February 2006, the Sex Pistols—the four original members plus Vicious—were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.