...If only to hear the luscious "Rhapsody in Blue" in its full glory. This classic "Great Performances" gives audiences a chance to hear some of Gershwin's great standards and some of his more obscure song as well, with denizens of the Broadway stage performing as only Broadway performers can. "West Side Story's" Larry Kert goes down Jolson territory (dancing more like Eddie Cantor than Jolson) with his biggest hit, "Swanee", complete with Southern belle chorus girls, while the breathy Cleo Laine (then on Broadway in "The Mystery of Edwin Drood") gives her take on "Somebody Loves Me". It's not a morning after for Maureen McGovern who sings a poignant "But Not For Me", and funny lady Madeline Kahn follows that up with the sweet "How Long Has This Been Going On?", not once milking it for a laugh, singing it as it was intended. The two ladies are joined by the gorgeous soprano Julia Migenes for the still potent "Someone to Watch Over Me", then Ms. Migenes sings "The Man I Love".
Two jazzier numbers from this episode are rising opera star Erie Mills going down low to musical comedy territory with "Naughty Baby". The late Greg Burge, who made a brief splash on Broadway and in films before a tragic early death, ends this with "King of Swing", sort of bittersweet and reminding audiences of so many great artists lost during the 1980's due to the AIDS crisis. This show was elegantly produced in both New York and London, and gives a glimpse into just a few of the master's works, both sung and purely instrumental. As other profiles of great music masters do, it takes a look at the history of the times, which may not have been always peaceful or financially solid on the stock market, but oh what melodies they had to get through those times.
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