Frank Loesser is my favorite of the popular old fashioned song writers, so I was looking forward to seeing this 1981 Showtime presentation of a stage revue from his work, especially as I had attended, earlier this year (2013) a somewhat longer live tribute at San Francisco's enterprising showcase for musical revivals, 42nd Street Moon.That one was more straightforward, whereas the Showtime one (direction credited to Peter Le Donne) camps it up a bit with cutesy staging and a running gag involving hostess Cloris Leachman. (She keeps coming on stage to try to do a traditional commentary and to sing songs not in the script, and she keeps getting pulled off.) The long medley of songs Loesser wrote about or during World War II gets things off to a good start and conveys the mood of that time, with several tunes in which lovers sing about their absent partners.The harmonizing "Standin'On The Corner," from what is arguably Loesser's masterpiece, "The Most Happy Fella," reminded me that this was probably the first Loesser song I ever heard, growing up in New York City when that musical opened and that particular melody was popular. There's an amusing rendition of "I Believe In You" from "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying," where the various members of the cast preen themselves. For "Once In Love With Amy," from "Where's Charly," Leachman has fun getting the audience to join in a sing-along. Her rendition of the witty lines of"Adelaide's Lament" from "Guys And Dolls,"is also quite good. The show ends with the cast doing "My Heart Is So Full Of You" (from Most Happy Fella) and "The Brotherhood Of Man" (from How To Succeed) which are appropriate choices. One can't do justice to Loesser (who according to Leachman wrote over 1,500 songs!)in just an hour and a half, but this is a pleasant attempt.
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