It’s 1940!

The great music team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
is holding open auditions for a benefit for our war-weary friends
in Great Britain, and some unlikely would-be participants decide to perform.
Gene Kelly is in rehearsal for Pal Joey, so it’s not unexpected when he shows
up to sing and dance “I Could Write a Book” with his partner, but then Hopalong
Cassidy sings he’d prefer the city of “Manhattan,” Mae West croons that “The Lady
Is A Tramp,” evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson confesses she’s “Bewitched Bothered
and Bewildered,” Irving Berlin
a brunt of jokes by Rodgers and Hartshows up to
taunt with one of their own songs, “Everything I’ve Got,” finally an unpredictable
Eleanor Roosevelt tries her best to imitate a stripper singing “Zip,” and Hart
himself fills in with “Johnny One Note” and “Spring Is Here” while other
famous dignitaries of the 30s and 40s provide sterling versions of
“Where or When,” “Isn’t it Romantic,” “Mountain Greenery,”
“Blue Moon,” “My Romance,” and more!

 

 

David Houston accompanies as composer Richard Rodgers,
Rick Heuthe
is frantic lyricist Lorenz Hart, and Melanie Lipton, Steve Corbellini,
and Diana Heinlein take turns in costume as aspiring celebrity performers.

 

        

                   Diana Heinlein                            David Houston                Steve Corbellini and Melanie Lipton                Rick Heuthe  

                                                                          

Contact: David Houston at
DH@davidhouston.net or (516) 293-2638
$425.00
Package includes the five performers, a small setting,
costumes and props, a CD player for pre-show music, and travel
in Long Island and Queens (other areas: call for travel charge).
Facility is asked to provide a piano, an acting area
at least
8 x 12
, and amplification if the audience space is large.

The show is about 65 minutes long.

 

Scroll down or skip
with these links:

_ Schedule of Performances

 _ Photo of Rodgers & Hart

_ Biography of Rodgers & Hart 

_ Photo of the Performers

_ Bios of the Performers

_ List of Hit Shows and Hit Songs

_ Comments and Reviews

_ Sources

  

Sunday, August 23, 2015, 2:00 pm—Planting Fields Arboretum, Coe Hall
Sunday, March 30, 2014, 2:00 pm, 2:00 pm—Riverhead Free Library
Saturday, January 5, 2013, 7:00 pm—South Huntington Public Library
Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 1:30 pm—Garden City and Hempstead Community Club
Sunday, May 19, 2013, 2:00 pm—North Merrick Public Library
Saturday, September 21, 2013, 2:00 pm—Rockville Centre Public Library
Thursday, September 26, 2013, 2:00 pm—Garden City Public Library

Wednesday, December 7, 2011, 2:00 pm
—Oceanside Library
Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 2:00 pm—Jericho Public Library
Friday, June 29, 2012, 7:00 pm—North Shore Public Library, Shoreham
Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 2:00 pm—Elmont Library
Sunday, September 9, 2012, 2:00 pm—Longwood Library, Middle Island
Friday, October 12, 2012, 7:30 pm—East Meadow Public Library

Sunday, November 4, 2012, 2:00 pm—Bethpage Public Library
Sunday, December 2, 2012, 2:00 pmHicksville Public Library
Friday, December 14, 2012, 12:15 pm—Port Washington Public Library
  




RICHARD RODGERS (1902-1979) and LORENZ HART (1895-1943)


Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart wrote their first shows together when both were still students attending Columbia University. They made their professional debut with the song "Any Old Place With You," featured in the 1919 Broadway musical comedy A LONELY ROMEO. Their breakthrough came with the score for a 1925 charity show, THE GARRICK GAITIES, which introduced the classic valentine to their hometown, "Manhattan." From 1920 to 1930 Rodgers & Hart wrote an astonishing array of musical comedies for Broadway and London's West End. At their pinnacle the team was writing an average of four new shows a year, and among these were: DEAREST ENEMY, THE GIRL FRIEND, CHEE-CHEE and A CONNECTICUT YANKEE.

In 1930 the team relocated to Hollywood, where they contributed songs and scores for several movie musicals, including LOVE ME TONIGHT starring Maurice Chevalier; THE PHANTOM PRESIDENT starring George M. Cohan; HALLELUJAH, I'M A BUM starring Al Jolson; and MISSISSIPPI starring Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields.

They were lured back to New York by legendary Broadway producer Billy Rose in 1935 to write the songs for his circus musical spectacular, JUMBO. Their score introduced "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World," "My Romance" and "Little Girl Blue," and Rodgers & Hart were back on Broadway.

From 1936 to 1943 Rodgers & Hart wrote a series of Broadway musical comedies, each of which seemed to top the one before in terms of innovation and box office success. ON YOUR TOES (1936), BABES IN ARMS (1937), I'D RATHER BE RIGHT (1937),I MARRIED AN ANGEL (1938), THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE (1938), TOO MANY GIRLS (1939), HIGHER AND HIGHER (1940), PAL JOEY (1940), and BY JUPITER (1942) dazzled Broadway in spectacular succession, and collectively offered such classic songs as "There's A Small Hotel," "I Wish I Were In Love Again," "My Funny Valentine," "Where Or When," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "Spring Is Here," "Falling In Love With Love," "Sing For Your Supper," "This Can't Be Love," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," "It Never Entered My Mind," "Bewitched," "I Could Write A Book," "Nobody's Heart," and "Wait Till You See Her."

The partnership disbanded temporarily early in 1943 when Rodgers collaborated with Oscar Hammerstein II on OKLAHOMA! The Rodgers & Hart partnership resumed with a revision of their 1927 musical comedy A CONNECTICUT YANKEE, and the new production (which featured six new songs including "To Keep My Love Alive") opened on Broadway November 17, 1943. Already ill at the time, Lorenz Hart died less than a week later.

Richard Rodgers then pursued a career with Oscar Hammerstein II, and their collaboration over the next two decades resulted in the following musical plays: CAROUSEL (1945), ALLEGRO (1947), SOUTH PACIFIC (1949), THE KING AND I (1951),ME AND JULIET (1953), PIPE DREAM (1955), FLOWER DRUM SONG (1958) and THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1959). The team wrote one movie musical, STATE FAIR (1945), and one for television, CINDERELLA. (1957). Oscar Hammerstein II died in 1960.

Richard Rodgers continued to write for the musical stage for the rest of his life; his fortieth, and final, Broadway musical, I REMEMBER MAMA, opened on Broadway less than eight months before his death on December 30, 1979. In March of 1990, Richard Rodgers was honored posthumously with Broadway's highest honor when the 46th Street Theatre was renamed in his honor. In 1999, Rodgers and Hart were each commemorated on United States postage stamps.

RICK HEUTHE, DAVID HOUSTON, MELANIE LIPTON, STEVE CORBELLINI, DIANA HEINLEIN

MELANIE LIPTON

is 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: her acclaimed Emily Dickinson in William Luce’s play The Belle of Amherst, Joan Crawford in Houston’s Jazz Baby Joan, Zelda Fitzgerald in Great Scott and Zelda and Adele Astaire in Fred and Adele Astaire: The Last Dance. Melanie spent two seasons as teacher and choreographer at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Center and holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University.

DIANA HEINLEIN

reviewing a recent production of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, NEWSDAY said, "Diana Heinlein is solid and hilarious at the center of the angst-ridden comedy; watching her wallow in comic pathos in the Long Island premiere of Charles Busch's lively surprisingly complex comedy is a delight."  About her performance as Bella in Lost in Yonkers, THE SUFFOLK COUNTY NEWS said, "Diana Heinlein offers a performance so moving that the swing of emotions will leave you dizzy." Diana has acted myriad leading and featured roles in other Simon classics including Mrs. Banks in Barefoot in the Park, Kate in Broadway Bound and Brighton Beach Memoirs, Cookie in one production of Rumors and Claire in another, and Florence in The Odd Couple. She stars in Houston's The Ghost of Dorothy Parker. Other memorable portrayals include Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker, and Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa.

  

GAIL MERZER-BEHRENS (alternate for Melanie and Diana)

has appeared in network TV shows One Life to Live, As The World Turns, and Sex and the City and in several films including Shadayim, Hot Chocolate, Divine Intervention, and the recent remake of The Manchurian Candidate. Her many Long Island stage appearances include the roles of Blanche in Brighton Beach Memoirs, Mollie in The Mousetrap (David Houston was Major Metcalf in that production), Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Claire in Proof, Chris in Neil Simon’s Rumors, Laura in Laura (a rare staging of the play version of the movie), Sarah in Beau Jest, Cecily Pigeon in The Odd Couple, Claudia in Nuts, and Wilma in Lovers and Other Strangers. She has a B.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of New Hampshire.

STEVE CORBELLINI

is a leading man much in demand on Long Island. Among his many and varied appearances, he has been 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 MorrieFinch in How To Succeed, F. Scott Fitzgerald in Houston's Great Scott and Zelda and Fred Astaire in Houston's Fred and Adele Astaire: The Last Dance.  He also appeared in the Long Island premieres of CurtainsOver 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 BFA in Musical Theater and a Master of Science in elementary education.

 

RICK HEUTHE, Larry Hart

is an accomplished character actor with more than 20 years' theatrical experience.  His diverse leading roles include Norman in The Dresser, William Detweiler in How the Other Half Loves, Sancho in Man of La Mancha, Amos in Chicago, Sir Joseph in H.M.S. Pinafore, Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace, Ernie Cusack in Neil Simon's Rumors, and Paravaccini in The Mousetrap. He toured with an ensemble of six in Gilbert and Sullivan a la Carte, featuring Rick performing the patter songs. He also had major roles in the world-premiere productions of The Mummy Musical (published by Dramatist's Play Service) and the popular cabaret revue Hollywood Exposed. In Houston's plays, Rick plays Poe in Murder and Madness and Poe, Hercule Poirot in Christie Mysteries, and he's Cole Porter in Let's Do It!.

   

MICHAEL BERTOLINI, Alternate Larry Hart

—has performed at many Manhattan and regional theaters and on television and film, including playing serial killer Colin Raimes ("Life on Mars" - ABC), voicing Homer ("Star Blazers" - classic anime TV series) and playing a variety of Muppets! He recently played King Agamemnon in a critically acclaimed production of "Iphigenia at Aulis" at the La Mama Theater in NYC. Michael is best known to Long Island theatergoers for playing Don Quixote ("Man of La Mancha"), Captain Von Trapp ("Sound of Music") Lockstock ("Urinetown") and other leading and featured roles in plays and musicals. His BFA in Performing Arts is from Hofstra University, where he received their Acting Excellence Award.

DAVID HOUSTON, Writer/Director, Dick Rodgers

is a published and produced writer of 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, David has appeared in leading roles in scores of plays and musicals, including Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Senex in A Funny Thing / Forum, Major Bouvier in Grey Gardens, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr Shultz in Cabaret and Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes. In addition to directing productions of his own plays—Let's Do It!, The Ghost of Dorothy Parker, The Dickens, Great Scott and Zelda, Mark Twain Telling Tales, and others—he directed The Belle of Amherst, The Odd Couple Female Version, Sylvia, and Social Security for theaters and schools.


 
1925   The Garrick Gaieties
    "Manhattan"
    "Mountain Greenery"
     
1925   Dearest Enemy
    "Here In My Arms"
     
1926   The Girl Friend
    "Blue Room"
     
1926   Peggy Ann
    "Where's That Rainbow"
     
1927   A Connecticut Yankee
    "My Heart Stood Still"
    "Thou Swell"
     
1928   Present Arms
    "You Took Advantage Of Me"
     
1929   Heads Up
    "A Ship Without A Sail"
     
1929   Spring Is Here
    "With A Song In My Heart"
     
1930   Ever Green
    "Dancing On The Ceiling"
     
1930   Simple Simon
    "Ten Cents A Dance"
     
1931   America's Sweetheart
    "I've Got Five Dollars"
     
1932   Love Me Tonight (movie)
    "Isn't It Romantic?"
    "Lover"
    "Mimi"
     
1933   Hollywood Party (movie)
  "Blue Moon" (first version)
 
1935   Mississippi (movie)
    "It's Easy To Remember"
     
1935   Jumbo
    "Little Girl Blue"
    "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World"
    "My Romance"
     
1936   On Your Toes
    "Glad To Be Unhappy"
    "It's Got To Be Love"
    "There's A Small Hotel"
     
1937   Babes In Arms
    "I Wish I Were In Love Again"
    "Johnny One Note"
    "The Lady Is A Tramp"
    "My Funny Valentine"
"Where Or When"
     
1937   I'd Rather Be Right
    "Have You Met Miss Jones?"
    "I'd Rather Be Right"
     
1938   The Boys From Syracuse
    "Falling In Love With Love"
    "Sing For Your Supper"
    "This Can't Be Love"
     
1938   I Married An Angel
    "Spring Is Here"
    "I Married An Angel"
     
1939   Too Many Girls
    "Give It Back To The Indians"
    "I Didn't Know What Time It Was"
    "You're Nearer"
     
1940   Higher And Higher
    "It Never Entered My Mind"
     
1940   Pal Joey
    "Bewitched"
"Zip
    "I Could Write A Book"
"You Mustn't Kick It Around"
"In Our Little Den Of Iniquity"
     
1942   By Jupiter
    "Everything I've Got"
    "Wait Till You See Her"
     
1943   A Connecticut Yankee (revival)
    "To Keep My Love Alive"
     

David Houston, Rick Heuthe, Melanie Lipton, Steve Corbellini, and Diana Heinlein in
A RODGERS AND HART AUDITION
Elsa Eisenberg, Weekend, Group Tour, and Volunteer Coordinator, Coe Hall at Planting Fields Arboretum:
"I loved the concept and thought it was a delightful show, thoroughly enjoyable." [At Coe Hall, Michael Bertolini played Hart.] Barbara Minerd, Adult Program Director, Garden City Public Library: Our full-capacity audience were so attentive with this entertaining program. It was clever, funny, and amazing that the many characters portrayed were actually on a few very talented actors/vocalists!" Ruth McCormick, Co-Chairman, Programs, Community Club of Garden City and Hampstead: "All of the performers were excellent. The program exceeded our expectations, and we received extremely positive feedback from the audience. We try to plan a very special program for the end-of-season event, and we certainly succeeded when we chose this particular group." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "Excellent. Charming and witty; extremely well imagined."  Jude Schanzer, Programs and Publicity, East Meadow Public Library: "Reservations were sold out 10 minutes after the show was announced! And the audience loved it. They raved! Even the next day, they were seeking me out to ask to have the performers back again." Debbie Starker in Deb's Web Long Island theater weekly news and reviews: David Houston's Literary Entertainments brings clever, hour-long glimpses of history, literature, theater, et. al. A Rodgers and Hart Audition combines all three. David (at the piano) and Rick Heuthe portray Dick Rodgers and Larry Hart at an imaginary audition where auditioners include theater luminaries as well as historical figures who had little or nothing to do with the performing arts. They've all come to audition for a benefit performance. Melanie Lipton, Diana Heinlein and Steve Corbellini portray the likes of Mae West, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Jean Harlow's Mother, The Lunts, Carmen Miranda, Fanny Brice, Hopalong Cassidy and many, many more all cleverly dramatized by Houston and brought to life by the talented cast. I was amazed at the lightning quick costume and character changes. I always look forward to David's latest creation - I was not disappointed. Very enjoyable! Linda White, Program Coordinator, Elmont Memorial Library: "The audience response has been tremendous. They are still talking about the performances. They're telling their friends, and their friends are telling me how sorry they are for not being there. Looking forward to booking more shows with you!"  Salvatore J. Filosa, Adult Program Coordinator, North Shore Public Library, Shoreham: "On behalf of the community, I would like to thank you for a wonderful performance of A Rodgers and Hart Audition at North Shore Library. The audience was fully engaged with this smart, lighthearted and at times comical musical. It truly seemed that this informative and enjoyable performance could have lasted longer. It would be my pleasure to recommend this program to any other interested library."  Joy Tepedino, Music Professional, at the Oceanside Library premiere performance: “Excellent! I wish every audition could be as entertaining as A Rodgers and Hart Audition! The premise, a benefit that stars of the 30s and 40s want to participate in, allows for many surprises. The 19 Rodgers and Hart songs are amusingly appropriate – as when Mae West sings ‘The Lady is a Tramp’; or hysterically inappropriate as when evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson sings ‘Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered’ – both portrayed by Melanie Lipton. Steve Corbellini’s Albert Einstein singing ‘I Didn’t Know What Time It Was’ is both funny and poignant; and Diana Heinlein’s Eleanor Roosevelt singing ‘Zip’ is a riotous closing number. The accompaniment provided by Richard Rodgers (David Houston), is just supportive enough, and the lovely singing voice of Lorenz Hart, (Rick Heuthe) adds liveliness and sadness to the unexpected story line. The hour-long musical is pure entertainment, pure nostalgia. The capacity crowd at Oceanside chuckled and applauded frequently. Every library with a piano should book this show!

Melanie Lipton and Steve Corbellini in
GREAT SCOTT, AND ZELDA
[as the Fitzgeralds]
Gina Tulin, Education Director, Planting Fields Arboretum Coe Hall, Oyster Bay:"The whole production from start to finish was amazing. The set-up beforehand was extremely easy, as was the breakdown at the end. Steve and Melanie were fabulous, and the audience left the auditorium asking for and wanting more. The promotional materials were very helpful and led us to sell out the show. The show flowed delightfully, proving David Houston, the writer, to be a truly talented individual. Thanks to all!"

Diana Heinlein in
THE GHOST OF DOROTHY PARKER
Penelope Wright, Director of Adult Programs, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "Bravo! Another coup! You could have heard a pin drop during the entire hour of David Houston's portrait of this brilliant complicated woman.  Ms. Heinlein's portrayal was delivered lovingly and with great intelligence; it was warm, witty (OK, some thanks to Dorothy), and always completely engaging. I would recommend this production to anyone anywhere!"

David Houston and Rick Heuthe in
LET'S DO IT! 
[as Noel Coward and Cole Porter]

Patti Paris, Adult Services Librarian, Bellmore Public Library: "Not only was the performance very enjoyable (I loved the singing and piano accompaniment) but I also learned a lot about these two very interesting songwriters and their place in history."

Melanie Lipton and Steve Corbellini in
FRED AND ADELE ASTAIRE: THE LAST DANCE
[as the famed brother-sister dance team]
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."

       

  • Bondi, Victor, ed: American Decades 1930-1939, A Manly Book, Gale Research, Inc., Detroit, MI, 1995
  • Ben Brantley, ed and introduction: New York Times Book of Broadway, St. Martin's Press, New York City, 2001
  • Horsham, Michael: '20s & '30s Style, Chartwell Books, Secaucus, NJ,1989
  • Lorenz Hart Organization: www.lorenzhart.org, 2011
  • Marx, Samuel, and Jan Clayton: Rodgers and Hart: Bewitched, Bothered, and Bedeviled, G.P.Putnam's Sons, New York, 1976
  • Rodgers, Richard: Musical Stages, An Autobiography, Da Capo Press, New York, 1975, new introductions 2002
  • The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, web site: Biography of Rodgers and Hart, New York, 2011
  • Rodgers and Hart, introduction by Dorothy Rodgers: Rodgers and Hart A Musical Anthology, Hal Leonard Corp., Milwaukee, 1995
  • Warner Brothers: Rodgers and Hart Rediscovered, Warner Brothers Publications, Miami, 2002
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (various celebrity bios and histories)

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      Copyright © 2011, David Houston