This revisionist fairy tale is told from the Wolf's point of view. He was minding his business when along came this precocious little girl, Red Riding Hood. "And the nerve of that cowardly ... See full summary »
This revisionist fairy tale is told from the Wolf's point of view. He was minding his business when along came this precocious little girl, Red Riding Hood. "And the nerve of that cowardly woodsman, daring to hint that I was attacking her", the wolf cries. Naturally, the animals of the forest do not believe him. Written by
When the Wolf tells Red Riding Hood that "people who give presents to each other are the luckiest people in the world" this is a sly reference to the hit 1960s song "People" which was introduced by Barbra Streisand in the Broadway musical "Funny Girl," the songs for which were written by Robert Merril and Jule Styne who also wrote the songs for "Dangerous Christmas." See more »
I generally do not put my two cents into this type of misinformation "free-for-all" but, having read everyone's opinion on what I have always considered to be one of television's finest productions, I couldn't sit by and listen anymore. As a retired university professor (I taught an in-depth course in musical theater history) much of what I read here was written by people with very little love or understanding of the developments of 20th century American musical theater.
"The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood, or Oh Wolf, Poor Wolf," originally broadcast over the ABC network during Christmas of 1965, proved so popular that ABC repeated the broadcast the following Christmas season. (Most likely the last time it was seen in color; rebroadcasts were rare 45 years ago.) I was only 11 years old at the time, but I still remember watching and enjoying both broadcasts. "Red" was a TV special and not a movie. It was filmed in a television studio using the "live-on-tape" method. (The camera was pretty much stationary and post-production was quick and without much editing or close ups.) The music was performed live in the studio. And so, if you listen to the original cast recording (recorded not in 1965, but a year later in 1966) you will notice some major differences between the performances. On the recording there is now an overture and two full ballets which add at least 15 minutes to the brief running time of the show (neither of which were a part of the broadcast). And the Animals must not have been available for the recording date because they do not sing in the song "Snubbed" with the wolf. (Instead, on the LP, this ensemble piece is turned into a solo for Cyril Ritchard who admirably sings both his and the Animals' parts, making the wolf sound somewhat psycho and much funnier than on the TV special.) The Animals performance of "We're Gonna Howl Tonight" was not re-recorded for the album, but was taken directly off the soundtrack of the broadcast; hence, the sound quality goes from stereo to monaural on the album during that one number. Overall, the performances are first rate on the LP. The "ad libs" are funnier, the orchestra is larger, and even the lyrics received a sprucing up.
The show was originally broadcast in color. But, as was the case in much of early TV, the reel of tape that housed the show was worth more than the material it preserved because the color broadcast of "Red" was eventually erased and the reel reused to preserve another ABC show. What exists today on VHS and DVD is an inferior black and white kinescope of the broadcast. (Before the invention of recordable video tape, television primitively preserved its history by placing a film camera in front of a TV monitor during a broadcast.That explains the distorted image.) The entire production was meant to be performed with tongue firmly planted in cheek. We understood that in 1965. Few in today's audiences "get it" now. The art of satire is, unfortunately, lost today and this type of comedy is mistakenly called "corny." And so, the charm of this small masterpiece is also lost.
For years, I showed this delightful musical to my music theater students at Christmastime. It is a perfect example of what we came to know as the end of Broadway musicals as we we knew them (falling, as it does, after "Fiddler On the Roof" and "Hello Dolly," but before "Mame" and "Company"). "Red"provides us with the opportunity to observe Liza Minnelli as she evolved from a mass of nervous teenage energy into a confident and well-rounded superstar; hear the brilliant Broadway-quality score of Jule Styne and Bob Merrill; and, best of all, experience one of the world's greatest comic performers, Cyril Ritchard, in one of his most hilarious roles.
Yes, pray for a better copy to come alone. But while we wait, let's just be happy that this beat-up copy exists for our enjoyment.
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