On April 9, the FX network will premiere Fosse/Verdon, a new miniseries chronicling the tumultuous romantic and creative relationship and marriage of director-choreographer Bob Fosse and superstar dancer-actress Gwen Verdon (encompassing such classic musicals as Damn Yankees, Chicago, and Sweet Charity). Before that, the U.K.’s Stage Door label is celebrating the late, great Verdon with a new anthology, many of the tracks on which resulted from her partnership with Fosse.
Spotlight on Gwen Verdon is set to arrive today, March 22, in the U.K. and one week later in North America on CD. At its heart is a reissue of the four-time Tony Award winner’s only solo album The Girl I Left Home For. The 1956 RCA LP featured Verdon, hot on the heels of her triumphant performance as Lola in 1955’s Damn Yankees, supported by Joe Reisman and His Orchestra. Verdon brought her distinctive, saucy vocals to a variety of standards and showtunes for the label which would go on to record her subsequent star turns in New Girl in Town and Redhead. Verdon’s femme fatale combination of playfulness and sex appeal is evident on the tunestack which includes such favorites as Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” Bobby Troup’s “Daddy,” Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin’s “[The Saga of] Jenny” from Lady in the Dark, and Rodgers and Hart’s “The Lady Is a Tramp” from Babes in Arms. Three tunes by Jule Styne and Leo Robin (“It’s a Hot Night in Alaska,” “Bettin’ on a Man,” and “No-Talent Joe” all originated in 20th Century Fox’s 1951 film musical Meet Me After the Show, in which Verdon was an (uncredited) dancer. Reisman alternated his sympathetic backings between a large string ensemble and a five-piece, hot rhythm section. Verdon embodied The Girl I Left Home For, bringing every bit of her irresistible charms to this long-lost LP.
Verdon followed Damn Yankees, choreographed by Bob Fosse, with two more shows which bore his delicious, cool yet sensual stamp: 1957’s New Girl in Town and 1959’s Redhead; while George Abbott directed Damn Yankees and New Girl in Town, Fosse helmed Redhead as director-choreographer. Verdon received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for all three shows. Stage Door has expanded the RCA LP by including selections from all three RCA cast recordings. From Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ Damn Yankees comes Verdon as the one and only Lola in “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” and, of course, “Whatever Lola Wants.” Bob Merrill’s New Girl in Town has yielded “On the Farm,” “It’s Good to Be Alive,” and “If That Was Love.” Finally, culled from Albert Hague and Dorothy Fields’ Redhead are “Merely Marvelous,” “Erbie Fitch’s Twitch,” and the delectable duet with Richard Kiley, “Look Who’s in Love.” The set is rounded out by the 1958 movie soundtrack performance of Damn Yankees’ “Who’s Got the Pain” featuring Verdon and Fosse together.
While all of this material has previously been released on CD (including DRG’s 2007 reissue of The Girl I Left Home For), Stage Door’s compilation is the first time it’s all been brought together. This CD is made available via current U.K. public domain laws. Check out the track listing and order links below for Spotlight on Gwen Verdon, due today, March 22 in the U.K. and March in 29 in North America.
- Ain’t Misbehavin’
- Sand in My Shoes
- It’s a Hot Night in Alaska
- Mister and Missus Fitch
- Bettin’ on a Man
- Why Can’t I?
- I’ve Got the World on a String
- Find Me a Primitive Man
- No-Talent Joe
- The Lady Is a Tramp
- Whatever Lola Wants
- A Little Brains, A Little Talent
- On the Farm
- It’s Good to Be Alive
- If That Was Love
- Merely Marvelous
- Erbie Fitch’s Twitch
- Look Who’s in Love – with Richard Kiley
- Who’s Got the Pain – with Bob Fosse
Tracks 1-12 from The Girl I Left Home For, RCA Victor LPM-1152, 1956
Tracks 13-14 from Damn Yankees: Original Broadway Cast Recording, RCA Victor LOC-1021, 1955
Tracks 15-17 from New Girl in Town: Original Broadway Cast Recording, RCA Victor LOC-1027, 1957
Tracks 18-20 from Redhead: Original Broadway Cast Recording, RCA Victor LOC-1048, 1959
Track 21 from Damn Yankees: Original Soundtrack Recording, RCA Victor LOC-1047, 1958