Who's Who in Musicals: Additional Bios III
As the original Lumiere in Disney's stage adaptation of Beauty and the Beast (1994), Beach stopped the show with "Be Our Guest" and earned his first Tony nomination. He triumphed as outrageous director Roger DeBris in The Producers (2001), where his manic performance (and riotous renditions of "Keep It Gay" and "Springtime for Hitler") earned a Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Beach repeated his over the top performance in the screen version, and remained in the New York cast long enough to become the only Tony-winning actor to appear on stage and screen simultaneously in the same role. He next starred as Albin in the first Broadway revival of La Cage Aux Folles (2005), and played Thenadier in a revival of Les Miserables (2006). Beach's many TV roles have included guest appearances on Cheers, Will & Grace, Murder She Wrote, and Queer as Folk.
DeSylva, B.G. "Buddy"
The new team of DeSylva, Henderson and Brown contributed "It All Depends on You" to Jolson's Broadway hit Big Boy (1926), then turned out full scores for the 1925 and 1926 editions of George White's Scandals, including "The Birth of the Blues" and "Lucky Day." The trio enjoyed their greatest Broadway success with Good News (1927), a college football musical that included "The Best Things in Life Are Free" and "The Varsity Drag." With ten more Broadway scores, their hit songs include "You're The Cream in My Coffee" for Hold Everything (1928) and "Button Up Your Overcoat" for Flying High (1930).
In 1931, the trio ended their collaboration. On their own, Brown and Henderson wrote "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries" for the 1931 Scandals. Brown acted as lyricist, librettist, director and producer on his last three Broadway shows Strike Me Pink (1933), Calling All Stars (1934) and Yokel Boy (1939). Henderson retired after composing songs for the Shubert-produced 1943 edition of the Ziegfeld Follies. From 1931 on, DeSylva worked solo as a stage and screen producer. His most memorable film was Birth of the Blues (1941), and his Broadway productions included the Cole Porter hits DuBarry Was a Lady (1939) and Panama Hattie (1940) for both of which DeSylva also served as co-librettist. DeSylva was one of the founders of Capitol Records.
Brown, Nacio Herb
Brown collaborated with composer Richard Whiting and lyricist Buddy DeSylva on the Broadway musical Take a Chance (1932), giving stars Ethel Merman and Jack Haley the delightful duet "You're an Old Smoothie." Brown's most memorable post-Freed film song was "You Stepped Out of a Dream," which he wrote with Gus Kahn for MGM's Ziegfeld Girl (1941). The best of the Freed & Brown song catalog was featured in Singin' in the Rain (1952), still acclaimed as the big screen's best original musical comedy. For that film, Brown came out of semi-retirement to co-write Donald O'Connor's bone-crunching comic solo "Make 'Em Laugh."
Grimes continued her connection with Coward's plays when she starred as Amanda in an acclaimed Broadway revival of his Private Lives (1969), receiving the Tony for Best Actress in a Play. Her many non-musical Broadway appearances include Neil Simon's California Suite (1976), a revival of Tartuffe (1977), and the comic thriller Trick (1979). She starred as the egotistical actress Dorothy Brock in Gower Champion's original production of 42nd Street (1980). Even the gifted Grimes could not breathe life into the off-Broadway musical Sunset (1983), which closed in one night. Her last Broadway appearance to date was in a revival of Tennessee Williams' Orpheus Descending (1989). Inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2003, she is the mother of actress Amanda Plummer.
Whatever her limitations as an actress, Haver was a capable vocalist, introducing "On the Boardwalk in Atlantic City" in Three Little Girls in Blue (1946) and "Give Me the Simple Life" in Wake Up and Dream (1946). She starred as Marilyn Miller in the mediocre Look for the Silver Lining (1949), and played the title role in The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady (1950). After The Girl Next Door (1953) Haver's only film with a contemporary setting she retired from films at age 27, announcing that she would become a nun. She spent several months in a Kansas convent, then left to marry her onetime co-star Fred MacMurray. The couple adopted twin girls, and remained together until MacMurray's death in 1991. Aside from one television appearance as herself on The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (1957), Haver remained outside of the show business spotlight until her death due to respiratory failure at age 79.
MGM producer Joe Pasternak showcased Lanza in the ultimate tenor film bio, The Great Caruso (1951). Although a limited actor, Lanza appealed to a wide audience. He starred as an opera-singing GI in Because You're Mine (1952), but chronic overeating and a reputation temperamental behavior harmed his career. When he suddenly withdrew from a lavish film version of The Student Prince (1954), MGM had actor Edmund Purdom lip-synch to Lanza's pre-recorded vocal tracks. Lanza starred in Serenade (1956), then moved to Italy, where he introduced the hit "Arrivederci, Roma" in The Seven Hills of Rome (1958). He finished For the First Time (1959) shortly before entering a clinic in Rome, where he died of a heart attack at age 38. Some fans suspected that his death was the result of foul play. His heartbroken wife Betty died five months later of a drug overdose.
After the unsuccessful London musical Isabel's a Jezebel (1970), MacDermot teamed with playwright John Guare to create a musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona (1971). After a free admission summer run in New York's Central Park (again, produced by the Public Theatre), this charming show moved to Broadway; won the Tony for Best Musical and enjoyed a healthy run. After the costly Broadway productions of Dude (1972) and Via Galactica (1972) failed within weeks of each other, MacDermot withdrew from the Broadway scene for more than a decade. His genial adaptation of The Human Comedy (1984) got a promising reception downtown at the Public Theatre, but a Broadway transplant closed after just 13 performances. Since then, MacDermot has concentrated on regional theatre projects, revivals of Hair, and occasional films. In 2009, Hair returned to Broadway in triumph, receiving a Tony for Best Revival. That same year, MacDermot was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Unlike many child performers, McArdle's voice and wholesome good looks improved with the passage of time. After finishing her education, she returned to Broadway as a train called "Ashley" in Andrew Lloyd Webber's roller skating spectacle Starlight Express (1987). In 1993, she took over the role of Fantine in the long-running Les Miserables -- her daughter Alexis Kalehoff (b. 1989) appeared as little Cosette. A favorite in regional theatres, McArdle won particular acclaim in a tour of Annie Get Your Gun. She originated the role of Margy Frake in the Broadway adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's State Fair (1996), singing the classic "It Might As Well Be Spring." McArdle re-energized the long running New York production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, taking over the role of Belle in 1999 and remaining for several seasons. She made a cameo appearance as "The Star to Be" in Disney's TV version of Annie, and in 2010 played Miss Hannigan in Long Beach, California stage production.
Papp was open to all sorts of unusual projects. When choreographer Michael Bennett came to him with the idea of building a musical around the experiences of Broadway dancers, Papp gave the show a creative home. Months of workshops (then a revolutionary concept) resulted in A Chorus Line (1975), a massive hit that brought the Public Theatre millions of dollars during its decade-plus Broadway run. Papp's Public Theatre also produced an acclaimed revival of Kurt Weill's The Threepenny Opera (1976), as well as Elizabeth Swados' original teenage musical Runaways (1978). Papp's Central Park revival of William Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance (1981) translated into a Broadway smash this time with no rights due to the long-dead authors. Pirates ran for two years with a series of stellar casts, making a solid profit.
Papp had no success with MacDermot's musical adaptation of The Human Comedy (1984), but repeated the Central Park-to-Broadway success formula with Rupert Holmes' Tony-winning musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1985). Papp's many non-musical hits included For Colored Girls, Plenty, and Miss Margarida's Way, as well as acclaimed revivals of Much Ado About Nothing and The Cherry Orchard. Never one to shrink from controversy, Papp was one of the most colorful theatrical personalities of his time. He died of prostate cancer at age 70.
Reams, Lee Roy
As the original Billy Lawler in Gower Champion's stage adaptation of 42nd Street (1980), Reams sang and danced up a storm, earning a Tony nomination and his longest Broadway run to date. In recent years, he took over the role of Lumiere in Disney's Beauty and the Beast, directed Channing's farewell revival of Hello Dolly!, directed and appeared in An Evening With Jerry Herman (1998), and played manic director Roger DeBris in the first national tour of The Producers (2002) -- a role he later took over on Broadway. Reams has been active as both a director and actor in various regional theatres, including The Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. His many television appearances include Show Boat (PBS), In Performance at the White House (PBS) and Jerry Herman at the Hollywood Bowl.
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