Marty sings!

Apr 02


Now here’s an original cast album that will be near and dear to many a Bay Area theater-loving heart: Martin Short’s Fame Becomes Me.

Last year, under the auspices of Best of Broadway and SHN, Canadian comic Short and his intrepid crew unveiled a Broadway-bound musical at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre that was messy but fun.

The idea was that Short is performing a one-man autobiographical show. But in truth, Short’s life has been pretty sweet and happy, so he made up a bunch of stuff (family dysfunction, drug addiction, death by giant snowball) and hired some really terrific supporting players to fuel his lies.

The focus was more on Short and his slapstick-happy antics (with guest appearances by his characters Ed Grimley and Jiminy Glick) than it was on show tunes. But writers Marc Shaiman (music) and Scott Wittman (lyrics) came up with some lively songs that live on in a new recording from Ghostlight Records.

What’s interesting for those of us who saw the show in San Francisco is how different the score was on Broadway. In the three months it took for Fame to go from the Bay Area to New York, the score shaped up quite nicely. For instance, the opening number we saw, “Party with Marty,” is replaced with the much tighter “Another Curtain Goes Up.”

Mary Birdsong’s extraordinarily good Judy Garland imitation is put to great use on “The Salesman That Got Away” (called “The Farmer’s Daughter” here), and there’s a spiffy “welcome to Broadway” number called “Ba-Ba-Ba-Ba Broadway” that we didn’t see here.

Short’s courtship with his wife (played by “MadTV’s” marvelous Nicole Parker) is given a Sondheim spin in “Backstage Courtship” and “Married to Marty.”

The deathly snowball is gone, replaced by a lightning bolt. But some of the best stuff we saw _ the Hair spoof, Stepbrother de Jesus, Parker’s Britney Spears imitation and Capthia Jenkins’ aptly named “A Big Black Lady Stops the Show” _ is still here.

Funny lines (there’s a generous amount of dialogue included) and lyrics abound. I think my favorite is Jiminy Glick visiting a near-death Short in the hospital and singing: “We’ll visit Cher up in the plastic surgery ward. We’ll gather all the skin she left and make a little man.”

In San Francisco, Jenkins sang “Frieda May’s Lament,” but that song was gone by the time the show reached New York. Luckily for us, Jenkins’ vibrant performance is preserved as a bonus track.

The recording of Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me hits shelves of both the solid and digital variety April 10. For more, visit www.ghostlightrecords.com or www.martinshortthemusical.com. There are rumors that the show will tour later this year.

Here’s Marty introducing Capathia Jenkins and her big number, “Let a Big Black Lady Stop the Show” at last year’s Broadway on Broadway in Times Square.

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