Melanie Lipton and Steve Corbellini in

Fred and Adèle Astaire:
The Last Dance

A one-act musical play by David Houston

  

Fred Astaire and his sister Adèle were the most popular dance team of their day.  An odd pair, to be sure: a novelty dance act when as children they toured in Vaudeville, a box-office bonanza when they reached Broadway, ultimately stellar talents on the great stages of New York and London—until Adèle retired in 1932 when they were in a hit show and at the peak of their fame.  And she was widely thought to be the more talented of the two! 

The Last Dance imagines a scene backstage between Broadway performances of The Band Wagon when the show is ending its New York run and Adèle is still intent upon leaving their act, and show business, to marry into British royalty.  Applause in the theater has barely died down (Fred and Adèle just stole the show again with “Dancing in the Dark”) and now they both just need to rest!  But reminiscence sets in; and with a piano and a stack of practice records of the tunes of Porter, Kern, Kreisler, Gershwin, and others, they sing and dance some remembered favorites—culminating in an improvised ballroom turn to the big Broadway number Fred will now have to do without Adèle next season in Gay Divorce: Cole Porter’s great but as-yet-unknown “Night and Day.”

 

This production is for non-commercial venues, for libraries, schools, organizations, etc., 
that charge no admission fees.

 

Contact
David Houston

(516) 293-2638 / DH@davidhouston.net
700 Fulton Street, M-1, Farmingdale, NY 11735

Performance runs about 65 minutes
$385 fee includes 3 actors, stage manager, small stage setting, music recordings and player,
and travel (Long Island and Queens; for fees for other locales, contact David Houston);
facility is asked to supply a piano and a playing area 10 x 16 feet or larger,
basic stage lighting, and amplification if the space is large

Click here for 
Publicity Photos in Black and White and Color

Steve and Melanie as Fred and Adele

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Bios: Melanie Lipton, Steve Corbellini, Ed Huether, David Houston

Scheduled Performances

About Fred and Adele
Program Notes by Kathleen Riley

Songs in The Last Dance
References, Reviews, Comments
Sources
  

Steve Corbellini as Fredis a leading man much in demand on Long Island. Among his many and varied appearances, he has been seen as Don in Singin' in the Rain, Paul in Barefoot in the Park, Hamlet and Juliet in The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr Abridged, Mitch Albom in Tuesdays With Morrie, Finch in How To Succeed..., and F. Scott Fitzgerald in Houston's Great Scott and Zelda.  He also appeared in the Long Island premieres of Curtains, Over the River and Through the Woods, Triumph of Love and I Love You You're Perfect Now Change.  Steve collaborated on the creation and direction of They Can't Take That Away: The Music of George and Ira, in which he co-starred.  Steve has a Bachelor of Music degree in music and theatre and a Master of Science degree in elementary education.

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Melanie Lipton as Adèleis equally at home in drama, comedies and musicals. Her starring roles include Lilli in Kiss Me Kate, Tracy in High Society, Maggie in The Man Who Came to Dinner, Luisa Contini in Nine, Mrs. Lovett in Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible, Meredith in Bat Boy, Eve in Applause, and Lois Lane in a rare revival of It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman. She has performed in other Houston shows for schools and libraries: her acclaimed Emily Dickinson in William Luce’s play The Belle of Amherst, Joan Crawford in Houston’s Jazz Baby Joan and Zelda Fitzgerald in Great Scott and Zelda. Melanie spent two seasons as teacher and choreographer at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Center and holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University.

Ed Huether as Georgie, and offstage Music Technician
is a familiar face on Long Island stages, and has most recently been seen as Duke in the L.I. premiere of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, as Daryl Grady in Curtains, Lt. Jack Ross in A Few Good Men, and as Miles Gloriosos in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.  A writer, director, producer and actor, Ed’s credits include directing the L.I. premieres of Assassins and Bat Boy the Musical, as well as Evita, Social Security and others.  Onstage, Ed has been seen in the title roles of Amadeus, Bat Boy, and Pippin, as well as in The Full Monty, Same Time Next Year, Groucho, Visiting Mr. Green, Tommy, and Jesus Christ Superstar.  Ed can now also be seen singing as the frontman to the Mimes of Mayhem and as the Grand Poobah to Long Island’s famous Tuesday Night Music Club. www.edhuether.com  and www.tnmusicclub.com.  

David Houston, writer/director (and alternate Georgie)—is a published and produced writer (14 books, 3 screenplays, 8 stage plays), fiction and non-fiction.  His Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby (St. Martin's Press), was optioned for movie production, as was his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon (Tower Books).  As an actor, he has appeared in leading roles in scores of plays and musicals, including Sir in The Dresser, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Senex in Sondheim’s Forum, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr Shultz in Cabaret and Horace in The Little Foxes.  In addition to directing pro­ductions of his own plays—including The Ghost of Dorothy Parker, Walt Whitman To Begin With, The Dickens!, Mark Twain Telling Tales and Lillie Alone—he directed The Belle of Amherst, The Odd Couple Female Version, Sylvia, and Social Security for Long Island theaters, libraries and schools.  www.davidhouston.net

Scheduled Performances

Sunday, April 11, 2010, 2:00 p.m., Bethpage Public Library

Friday, March 9, 2007, 8:00 p.m., Port Washington Public Library
Thursday, March 22, 2007, 7:00 p.m., Manhasset Public Library
Friday, March 23, 2007, 2:30 p.m., Jericho Public Library
Thursday, June 7, 2007, 8:00 p.m. Peconic Landing Senior Residence, Greenport
Saturday, June 16, 2007, 1:30 p.m., Floral Park Public Library
Thursday, July 19, 2007, 1:30 p.m., East Meadow Public Library
Thursday, July 19, 2007, 7:30 p.m., Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton
Wednesday, August 8, 2007, 2:00 p.m., Oceanside Library
Saturday, August 11, 2007, 2:00 p.m., North Shore Public Library, Shoreham
Saturday, September 15, 2007, 8:00 p.m., Plainview Old Bethpage Public Library
Saturday, September  27, 2008, 7:00 p.m., The Montauk Library
Sunday, November 4, 2007, 2:00 p.m., Babylon Public Library
Saturday, January 19, 2008, 7:00 p.m. South Huntington Public Library
Saturday, January 26, 2008, 2:00 p.m., West Babylon Public Library
Saturday, May 17, 2008, 2:00 p.m., The Bryant Library, Roslyn
Saturday, September 27, 2008, 7:00 p.m., The Montauk Library
Sunday, November 9, 2008, 2:00 p.m., The Riverhead Free Library
Sunday, December 7, 2008, 7:00 p.m., The Farmingdale Public Library

       
About Fred and Adèle 

1896

Adèle is born to Frederic and Joanna Austerliz on September 18, in Omaha

1899

Fred (Frederic Austerliz Jr.) is born on May 10

1905

Joanna leaves Omaha with Fred and Adèle, traveling to New York and auditions for vaudeville 

1906

"Juvenile Artists presenting an Electrical Musical Toe Dancing Novelty"

1908

Phyllis Baker is born (later to become Mrs. Fred Astaire)

1910

Hermes Panagiotopolos is born (Hermes Pan will later be Fred's choreographer)

1917

Over The Top with music and lyrics by Sigmund Romberg, Herman Timberg and Charles J. Manning, opens in New York at the 44th Street Roof Theater, starring Fred and Adèle (their first Broadway show) and Charles Ruggles

1918

The Passing Show of 1918 opens in New York at the Winter Garden, with music and lyrics by Sigmund Romberg, Jean Schwartz and Harold Atteridge, with the hit song, "I Can't Make My Feet Behave," starring Fred and Adèle and John Charles Thomas  

1919

Apple Blossoms opens in New York at the Globe Theater, with music and lyrics by Fritz Kreisler, Victor Jacobi and William LeBarron, including "A Girl, A Man, A Night, A Dance," starring Fred and Adèle, John Charles Thomas, and Alice Brady; their first "book" musical

1921

The Love Letter opens at the Globe in New York, with music and lyrics by Victor Jacobi and William LeBarron (only 31 performances); Fred and Adèle meet Noel Coward in New York

1922

For Goodness Sake opens in March at the Lyric Theater in New York, music and lyrics by Paul Lannin and Arthur Jackson with the popular number "The Whichness of the Whatness," starring Fred and Adèle, in November, Fred and Adèle star in The Bunch and Judy, music and lyrics by Jerome Kern and Anne Caldwell, with "Morning Glory," and "Every Day in Every Way"

1923

For Goodness Sake, now called Stop Flirting opens in London starring Fred and Adèle; Fred meets the Prince of Wales

1924

Lady Be Good! opens at the Liberty Theater in New York on December 1 and runs for 330 performances, starring Fred and Adèle, music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin including the enduring "Oh Lady, Be Good" and "Fascinatin' Rhythm 

1926

Lady Be Good! opens in London, starring Fred and Adèle, where it runs for 326 performances; Fred meets the newborn Princess Elizabeth; Phyllis Baker makes her debut

1927

Funny Face opens at the Alvin in New York (250 performances), starring Fred and Adèle, Betty Compton, and Victor Moore, music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin with the hits "Funny Face," "High Hat," S'wonderful," "My One and Only," "He Loves and She Loves," "Let's Kiss and Make Up"; Phyllis Baker marries Eliphalet Potter III in December

1928

Funny Face opens in London, runs for 263 performances

1930

Smiles opens at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York (63 performances), starring Fred and Adèle, Marilyn Miller, Eddie Foy Jr., and Frank Morgan, music Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Clifford Grey, Harold Adamson and Ring Lardner, including "Love I'm Glad I Waited" and "Say, Young Man of Manhattan"; Liz Altemus weds Jock Whitney

1931

The Band Wagon opens at the New Amsterdam Theater in New York in June (260 performances), starring Fred and Adèle, Frank Morgan, Helen Broderick, music and lyrics: Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz, with "Sweet Music," "New Sun in the Sky," "I Love Louisa," "The Beggar Waltz";  Fred meets Phyllis Potter 

1932

Adèle's final performance in The Band Wagon on March 5, marriage to Lord Charles Cavendish in Ireland in May, leaves show business forever; Fred opens in Gay Divorce co-starring Claire Luce, at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York, November 29

1933

Phyllis and Eliphalet divorce; Fred marries Phyllis; Gay Divorce, with Fred Astaire and Claire Luce opens in London; Fred signs contract with RKO and moves to Hollywood

Program Notes

 The Astaires
By Kathleen Riley, author of a forthcoming history of 
Fred and Adèle Astaire’s career, Fascinating Rhythms.  
Copyright © 2007, Kathleen Riley

If Fred Astaire had been the first or only child of Frederic and Johanna Austerlitz we might remember him very differently. For he literally followed in the footsteps of his older sister Adèle, co-opted by circumstance rather than obvious talent or burning ambition, into an extraordinary adventure.

Had he never entered films he would still have a secure place in entertainment history as one half of a legendary partnership and as an innovator in dance and musical comedy. The shows written for the Astaires’ unique talents changed the shape of the American musical itself. Their final collaboration, The Band Wagon, began, in Brooks Atkinson’s words, “a new era in the artistry of the American revue,” with its inventive dance stories, sophisticated comedy, and revolutionary scenics.

Partly what made Fred and Adèle such an effective team was that, as artists and personalities, they were perfect foils for one another. Adèle was born with “star quality.” She was an exuberant gamine who, according to one critic in 1919, danced “like a lilac flame.” Her artistry was intuitive and often improvisatory. She was a natural clown, a wonderful madcap, outrageous, and dazzling. She once attended a costume party, hosted by Elsa Maxwell, dressed as an angel, complete with wings, a halo, and a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Fred was a famous workhorse and worrier, “Moaning Minnie” to his sister’s “Good-Time Charlie.” Although Adèle’s star was the more radiant, he supplied the team’s creative energy, choreographic brilliance, and discipline. 

On stage he masked a seething powerhouse of perfectionism with an appearance of elegant effortlessness, and a shy and serious temperament beneath an urbane insouciance. Above all Fred was innately musical. Balanchine likened him to Bach “who in his time had a great concentration of ability, essence, knowledge, a spread of music. Astaire has that same concentration of genius; there is so much of the dance in him that it has been distilled.”

The Astaires’ complementary gifts and combined magnetism made them the toast of two continents, the darlings of royalty and literary lions, of the raffish and social-registered alike. At the height of their success in the mid-1920s they seemed to define the Jazz Age: a pair of ragtime pixies, impish, imaginative, young, and wholly captivating. They were modern; they were twentieth-century; they were Gershwin’s music in motion; a fascinating pair who wove fascinating rhythms in song and dance.

Songs in The Last Dance

From THE BAND WAGON 1931-32:

Dancing in the Dark” (Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz)

From GAY DIVORCE 1932-33:

“Night and Day” (Cole Porter)

From Fred and Adèle’s final Vaudeville tour, 1916:

“I’ve a Shooting Box in Scotland ” (Cole Porter)

“They Didn’t Believe Me” (Jerome Kern)

From APPLE BLOSSOMS 1919-20:

“Tambourin Chinois” (Fritz Kreisler)

“Who Can Tell?” (Jacobi and Kreisler)

From STOP FLIRTING (NY, London) 1922-24:

“I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise ” (George and Ira Gershwin)

  From Noël Coward’s LONDON CALLING 1924:

“You Were Meant For Me” (Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake)

  From LADY BE GOOD 1924-27 (NY and London ):

“Oh, Lady Be Good!” (George and Ira Gershwin)

“The Man I Love” (Gershwins)

“Fascinatin’ Rhythm” (Gershwins)

  From FUNNY FACE 1927-29 (NY and London ):

“He Loves and She Loves” (Gershwins)

“S’Wonderful” (Gershwins)

From GIRL CRAZY 1930:

“Embraceable You” (Gershwins)

Not from Astaire stage shows:

“I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan” (Dietz and Schwartz, 1929)

“I’ll Get By” (Turk and Alert, 1928)

From GAY DIVORCE (and movie THE GAY DIVORCEE):

“Night and Day” (Cole Porter)

 

Recorded accompaniments are from:

The Gershwin Songbook, Guy Campion and Mario Vachon (FL 2 3074)

Kreisler Plays Kreisler (RCA Gold Seal 09026-68448-2)

Wild About Gershwin, Earl Wild (Quintessence PMC 7060)

Kern and Porter Favorites, Morton Gould (RCA 09026-68478-2)

Cole Porter From Rare Piano Rolls (Biograph BCD 143)

            Preshow overtures are from rare recordings of 
the famous pit-orchestra duo-pianists 
Victor Arden and Phil Ohman – 1925-33

Sources  

  • Adler, Bill, Fred Astaire: A Wonderful Life, Carroll & Graff Publishers, Inc., NYC 1987

  • Astaire, Fred, Steps in Time, forward by Ginger Rogers, Cooper Square Press, NYC 2000 (first edition Harper-Collins 1959)

  • The Band Wagon (movie adaptation of Fred and Adèle's Broadway show) Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse MGM 1953 

  • The Gay Divorcee (movie of Broadway's Gay Divorce) Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, RKO 1934, 

  • Giles, Sarah, Fred Astaire: His Friends Talk , Doubleday, NYC 1988

  • Royal Wedding (movie based loosely on the lives of Fred and Adèle) Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, MGM 1951 

  • Satchell, Tim, Astaire: The Biography, Century Hutchinson Ltd., London 1987

References and Comments

Fanny Kletsdis, Supervisor, Clerical, Bethpage Public Library ["Excellent" in all evaluation categories: audience response, effectiveness of script and music, performance clarity, set and costumes.] Rose Ann Norman, Co-President, Babylon Village Arts Council: ‘Excellent. Great Show. The Audience loved it.” Michelle Young, Program Director, Oceanside Library: "Wonderful show. Our audience left happy and inspired by this lively pair." Marcia Johnson, Adult Program Coordinator, North Shore Public Library, Shoreham: "David, as always delivered a seamless, well rehearsed and professional performance." Don Neuhaus at Shoreham: "A thank-you to all three of you for a delightful afternoon. It was a long drive from Huntington but it was worth it. I don't know how you can do the show over and over and still make it look so fresh and new, but please know that you've made a lot of people very happy."  Penelope Wright, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "Superb acting in a beautifully executed wonderful original by always-inspired David Houston."  Joe Cantardi, AARP, at Floral Park Public Library: "I cannot say enough, can't praise enough, the talented performers, and the performance. Very imaginative setting considering the location: a library meeting room.  I felt I was really in their backstage dressing room.  Also, thank you for the education; I did not know much about the Astaires' life." Marcella Kaiser, Vice President, Floral Park Women's Club, at Floral Park Public Library: "Melanie Lipton and Steve Corbellini infected the audience with their singing and dancing talent, sense of comedy, and great enthusiasm for the material. The gossip tidbits concerning all the creative talents of years ago made us all feel very 'in the know.' We will all look forward to your future appearances in the area." Connie Ellis, Community Enrichment Manager, Peconic Landing Senior Residence, Greenport: "A great performance. Steve and Melanie were terrific." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "David Houston has crafted an original highly-entertaining scenario that takes his audience to an imagined place and time, with verve and élan.  Lipton and Corbellini earn gold stars for their singing, dancing and acting.  What a talented duo!  The whole production was fabulous." Debbie Starker, Editor and Reviewer, Deb's Web Internet Theatre Newsletter: "I've been raving about 'Fred and Adele The Last Dance.'  Really well done - literate, enlightening, and very entertaining." Adult Programs Department, Manhasset Public Library: "It was very well received: nostalgic subject matter with two exceptionally talented people." Christine Langerfeld, President, Friends of the Montauk Library: "Hosting a David Houston production is a sheer pleasure. The entertainers are professionals, everyone arrives on time, all details are attended to, and everyone leaves happy!" Patricia Baradi Pacis, reviewer for Dan's Hamptons: "If you were in the mood to be entertained, The Montauk Library was the place to be last week as a simply fabulous show unfolded: 'The Last Dance,' a one-act musical play starring Fred Astaire (Steve Corbellini) and sister Adele (Melanie Lipton), written and directed by David Houston, brought sunshine to the Library's audience that dared to venture out in spite of warnings about Hurricane Kyle . . . When Miss Lipton sang 'The Man I Love,' it sent shivers up and down my spine."  


Copyright © 2006, David Houston