Stephen Speicher

George and Ira Gershwin's "Tip-Toes"

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George and Ira Gershwin's musical Tip-Toes was a big hit on Broadway in 1925, but other even more successful Gershwin shows overshadowed Tip-Toes and the full show was never produced again. That is, until January 12th 2007 when a small theater group at The Whitefire Theater in Sherman Oaks, California resurrected the full musical production after its 80 year absence from the stage.

Tip-Toes may not be the best from the Gershwin's, but it does have a unique and lovely flavor of its own. The songs are bright and cheerful, and some, like "That Certain Feeling" and "Looking For A Boy" are memorable as staged. The acting and singing was surprisingly good for such a small venue (less than 100 seats, stadium style), and I could sense that bringing this musical back to life was a labor of love for all those involved.

Personally I enjoy more modern musicals, but I did feel as if I was transported to a different world, that of 1925, and with that as my context I sat back and enjoyed the show.

Tip-Toes has its last showing on February 18th, and for those in the Los Angeles Area this is an unusal opportunity to see a rarely produced Gershwin musical. The Whitefire Theater is at 13500 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, CA, and the Box Office number is 800-504-4849.

Showtimes are Friday 8PM, Saturday 3PM and 8PM, and Sunday 3PM.

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Three thousand miles too far away for me, but maybe I can find a recording....

Gershwin's a favorite of mine for, among other things, his cross-pollination of "popular" and "classical" music. No doubt you've heard that he and Maurice Ravel were mutual admirers, and Ravel's two piano cocertos, especially the G Major, show his influence.

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Gershwin's a favorite of mine for, among other things, his cross-pollination of "popular" and "classical" music. No doubt you've heard that he and Maurice Ravel were mutual admirers, and Ravel's two piano cocertos, especially the G Major, show his influence.

I'm delighted to learn of your Gershwin interest. I know nothing of this connection with Ravel, and would be interested in hearing more about it.

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Just a small thing, and I'd be surprised to learn that it's so, but could the Brian O'Halloran listed on the poster as the musical director of this production be the same Brian O'Halloran of Clerks fame?

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I'm delighted to learn of your Gershwin interest. I know nothing of this connection with Ravel, and would be interested in hearing more about it.

From the Wikipedia entry on George Gershwin:

Musical style and influence

<<Gershwin was influenced very much by French composers of the early twentieth century. Maurice Ravel was quite impressed with the Gershwin's abilities, commenting, "Personally I find jazz most interesting: the rhythms, the way the melodies are handled, the melodies themselves. I have heard of George Gershwin's works and I find them intriguing." [1] The orchestrations in Gershwin's symphonic works often seem similar to those of Ravel; likewise, Ravel's two piano concertos evince an influence of Gershwin. He also asked Ravel for lessons; when Ravel heard how much Gershwin earned, he replied "How about you give me some lessons?" (some versions of this story feature Igor Stravinsky rather than Ravel as the composer; however Stravinsky himself confirmed that he originally heard the story from Ravel) [2].

Gershwin's own Concerto in F was criticized as being strongly rooted in the work of Claude Debussy, more so than in the jazz style which was expected. The comparison didn't deter Gershwin from continuing to explore French styles. The title of An American in Paris reflects the very journey that he had consciously taken as a composer: "The opening part will be developed in typical French style, in the manner of Debussy and the Six, though the tunes are original." (Hyland 126)>>

But I'd have recognized the Gershwin riff in the Ravel G Major Concerto even if I'd never read about the connection. You will too. It's really cool.

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<<Gershwin was influenced very much by French composers of the early twentieth century. Maurice Ravel was quite impressed with the Gershwin's abilities, commenting, "Personally I find jazz most interesting: the rhythms, the way the melodies are handled, the melodies themselves. I have heard of George Gershwin's works and I find them intriguing." [1] The orchestrations in Gershwin's symphonic works often seem similar to those of Ravel; likewise, Ravel's two piano concertos evince an influence of Gershwin. He also asked Ravel for lessons; when Ravel heard how much Gershwin earned, he replied "How about you give me some lessons?" ... >>

But I'd have recognized the Gershwin riff in the Ravel G Major Concerto even if I'd never read about the connection. You will too. It's really cool.

Thanks for providing this: if it is true, I am thrilled to know of this connection between Gershwin and Ravel, though I admit you must have a more discerning ear than I since I never recognized Gershwin in that Ravel concerto (not among my favorites, but enjoyable).

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Just a small thing, and I'd be surprised to learn that it's so, but could the Brian O'Halloran listed on the poster as the musical director of this production be the same Brian O'Halloran of Clerks fame?

I don't know for sure, but O'Halloran also did the live piano accompaniment to the musical, and from memory he looked similar to the picture at imdb. Also, the Clerks O'Halloran had a stage background before the movies, so the possible connection is not so far-fetched.

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Stephen Speicher posted (quote option doesn't seem to be working for me today):

<<Thanks for providing this: if it is true, I am thrilled to know of this connection between Gershwin and Ravel, though I admit you must have a more discerning ear than I since I never recognized Gershwin in that Ravel concerto.>>

Well, I'm listening to it right now (EMI Classics CD with Samson Fran├žois), and I find the homage to Gershwin (not necessarily a particular piece, but his essential STYLE) unmistakable in the passage that beginas at :48 of the first movement and runs to 2:30, with reprises later, plus other Gershwinisms. So does my wife, who's a big Gershwin fan. I'm familiar enough with Ravel to know that he composed nothing in that style before meeting Gershwin.

Of course, I love Gershwin in the first place for his synthesis of classical and pop, especially jazz. I'm really big on miscegenation in the arts. There's a lot of rubbish these days, as you know, about "muliculturalism," which 90% of the time has nothing to do with culture but only a rancid political agenda. A few years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by a review of a CD collection of songs by Villa Lobos (whose music drew on a mix of Portuguese, Indian and African sources), along the lines of, "You want REAL multiculturalism? Here it is." (Yes, they're really great songs, with no agenda but the exotically beautiful.)

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