-COUNTDOWN TO TONY TOWN: The 1950s*-
“Erbie Fitch’s Twitch” from Redhead (Original Broadway Cast)
music Albert Hague lyric Dorothy Fields
performed by Gwen Verdon
There really aren’t any good songs in this show, but this number is worth it for some good old fashioned Dorothy Fields wordplay. The plot of Redhead is too complicated and insiped to try to explain in detail, but here is the set up for this song (taken from MTIshows.com):
She [Verdon’s character] needs a place to stay where no one would think of looking for her. What about right here in the theater? Everyone wonders just what she could do in the theater. Before anyone can stop her, Essie jumps into a song and dance her daddy made famous in all the music halls.
I would argue that Redhead is the worst musical to win the Tony Award for Best Musical. Even Memphis is better than Redhead.
Redhead is perhaps best known for marking Bob Fosse’s debut as a director. It is also Gwen Verdon’s last Tony Award, and her fourth in just seven seasons.
Redhead’s competition in the Best Musical category was Flower Drum Song and La Plume de Ma Tante. There must have been some severe disappointment in Flower Drum Song and/or some R&H backlash for that show—slight as it may be—to lose to Redhead. I’m serious, Redhead is the stinky-poo.
Famed flop Goldilocks also opened that season, and though it was apparently deemed worse than nothing in the Best Musical category, it did net awards in the Featured Acting categories for Pat Stanley and Russell Nype, though leading lady Elaine Stritch failed to get nominated. Stanley would go on to have a featured role in one of the following season’s big winners, Fiorello!. Stanley’s sole competitor in her category was Julienne Marie from Whoop-Up!. Marie, like Stanley, would also take a featured role in a big show the following season, replacing Sandra Church as the titular Gypsy (and also playing the role on tour).
*This week—in anticipation of Sunday’s Tony Awards Telecast—will be “Countdown to Tony Town” week here at Me2ism. Each day’s MP3 post will discuss a show/song that holds a special place in Tony Award history/lore/controversy in its respective decade.