‘Give in!’ Buy Gwen Verdon portrait at Bonhams auction

Dance · Film · Theater
little man little lola wants you. 12.5 x 17.75 in.

As the character of Lola in Damn Yankees, Gwen Verdon brought down the house with her powerhouse performance and her inimitable version of “Whatever Lola Wants,” ultimately performing the role over 1,000 times. She began both a working and personal relationship with choreographer Bob Fosse as a result of her participation in the play, a partnership recently chronicled in the TV mini-series, Fosse/Verdon (2019).

This charming portrait by the Russian-born artist Boris Chaliapin graced the cover of the June 13, 1955 issue of Time magazine, one of over 400 works of art created by Chaliapin for the periodical.

The onyx earrings Verdon wears in the portrait were a gift to the dancer from Jack Cole. I wrote extensively in Dance Magazine about the earrings and how Verdon’s daughter came to lend them to Michelle Williams in Fosse/Verdon, playing her mother.

Gwen Verdon Boris Chaliapin portrait | Bonhams through December 11

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Rare WSS footage: David Winters ‘Cool’ solo, courtesy of Toni Basil

Dance · Film · Theater
Jets boys, David Winters at center in red

In rare footage of the original cast of West Side Story on Broadway, Jerome Robbins protege David Winters (1939 – 2019) explains how he conjured a solo in his role of “Baby John,” in 1957. When it came time for the movie, Winters had grown out of the role and was swapped to playing A-rab. The solo came along for the ride, so we see Winters dance the neurotic outburst rather than Eliot Feld (who played Baby John in the movie) perform it. Winters originated it and it belonged to Winters.

This West Side Story trivia comes courtesy of Toni Basil who worked with Winters as his assistant, famously on The T.A.M.I. Show and more. Toni, who has one of the best eyes in the business considers Winters’s “Cool” solo as “one of the greatest I’ve ever seen in terms of merging acting and dancing.”

“I saw the cast perform the number on the Ed Sullivan Show. It became a light-bulb moment for me to work with him and to be his assistant,” said Toni.

Robbins, center, rehearsing “Cool”
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Drive-in movie for the angels

Film
photo by taylor umphenour courtesy of hollywood legion drive in We don’t need no suburban drive-in movie. We have the Hollywood Legion Drive In, a very urban one inside the wee village of Los Angeles. It’s the “first-ever drive in in the heart of Hollywood.” And here’s how it looks at night! Tonight, the hills ...

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The Hollywood Hills are alive … with ‘The Sound of Music’

Music
julie & the hills We’re down to the wire. For one thing, it’s getting nippy-at-night in them ‘thar hills. It’s the holiday season and we’re all nearly croaking of isolation in our cobbled, separated, lonely, despairing well-worn nests at home. One incredibly fun way remains for us to go out and safely be with others. ...

‘Sittin’ In’ at golden-era jazz clubs 1

Architecture & Design · Music · Reviews
by 
bird & friendscourtesy of jeff gold These days, every self-respecting college and civic performing arts center has a subscription jazz series. It’s no surprise, then, that many people see jazz as concert music. But it wasn’t always so. 1930s and ‘40s jazz musicians mostly worked in ballrooms with dance bands, but they stretched out and ...

I get by with a little help from Gwen Verdon

Dance · Music
carol burnett, phyllis diller, bobby gentry, gwen verdon In an absolutely wretched week in which a crazy person, with “a little help” from his equally crazy friends, foisted a coup d’etat on our democracy; and breathing the very air of my neighborhood has become a dicey matter; and the precious Doris Duke Theatre where over ...

Dance world on fire, at Jacob’s Pillow

Architecture & Design · Dance
by 
Heart-rending sight, courtesy BerkshireEdge.com The dance world responded with shock and sorrow on Tuesday to the news that an early-morning fire had completely destroyed the Doris Duke Theater at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.  Located on a bucolic 220-acre campus in the Berkshire area of Massachusetts, the internationally-known Festival had added the more intimate Duke ...

Searching for Nina(s), with coffee & Al Hirschfeld

Theater · Visual arts
I don’t quite agree with the exhibition title that calls ‘looking for Ninas’ “a “national insanity.” Donald Trump has a lock on that. But apparently that was how the late great caricaturist/arts journalist Al Hirschfeld, whose charming shtick of inserting his daughter’s name into his cartoons in the Sunday New York Times Arts & Leisure ...

Looks beautiful: Christian Petzold’s ‘Undine’ at German Currents Film Festival

Dance · Film
One of Germany’s most celebrated film auteurs, Christian Petzold, brings a Los Angeles premiere to the German Currents Film Festival which kicks off today. Petzold’s UNDINE is a retelling, updated, of the myth of a water-nymph who marries a mortal. The story is set in modern-day Berlin. Told through Petzold’s precise visual style, the film ...

Singalong Saturday: He’s gone where the goblins go

Film
As mayor of the Munchkin CityIn the County of the Land of OzI welcome you mostly regally(But we’ve got to verify if legally)To see … If she …Is morally, ethically, spiritually, physically, positively, absolutely, undeniably DEADAs Coroner, I must aver, I’ve thoroughly examined herAnd she is not merely dead, she’s really most sincerely dead.So this ...