I guess I'm a dreamer. I never thought I'd ever write anything for the musical theater, but I did, and it's happening out Las Vegas-way.
The idea for SHOWTUNE, a new musical revue, was something that was spinning in my head for years. It started in Venice, Italy at the Hotel Danielle. I was at a party and talking to Lee Roy Reams and he said something to the effect, "I really miss the revue format, they're so much fun to do." And that got me thinking.
About a year later I interviewed Mr. Showtune himself, Jerry Herman, and we talked about many of his songs and about Broadway in general. I thought of writing a Jerry Herman revue of his material, but because of legal stipulations, no more revues of his work are allowed to be written; there are already two revues which cover his body of work. So, I put the idea of Showtune on the back burner.
A few years ago Carol Cling of the Las Vegas Review Journal interviewed me, and as a result of that, I got a phone call from a fellow named Mike Corda. Mike was in the orchestra of Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway back in 1948. Since then he's written many wonderful songs for major recording artists like Sammy Davis Jr., Robert Goulet, Mickey Rooney, and many, many others. I've gone to Mike's house numerous times to chat and listen to his music. One song he wrote, "We Are The Dreamers," began to haunt me. It's an anthem he wrote with 3-time Academy Award winner Paul Francis Webster.
The Makers of Rhyme
The Poet and Scribbler
The Artist and Mime
No Bugle Can Reach Us
No Wakening Drum
In the Numberless, Slumberless Years
The song has been recorded as a demo CD but nothing ever really came of it. Thinking again, and getting up the nerve, I asked Corda for the song. I figured he would turn me down, but when I explained to him my idea for Showtune!, he gave permission to use the song. You see, "We Are The Dreamers" is the inspiration that I needed for the musical revue, the glue, so to speak, which holds the whole show together. Showtune is not a book musical, but it's a tribute to those who have gone before us, and left their legacy in the world of musical theater. It's in the songs of the "dreamers, the makers of rhyme", that tells the story of the great American showtune.
The period covered in the show is 1904 to the early 1960's when the showtune lost its popularity. Recording artists were no longer looking to Broadway for songs to record, but still, the showtune survives, and I hope this show will help, in some small way, to keep it alive and thriving.
Still, I had no producers or theater companies interested, until I explained the idea to Jade Productions of Las Vegas. More importantly, I wanted Jade's founder, Joy Demain, to perform in the show. I had seen her in several musicals and knew that hers was the kind of voice I wanted for the song "We Are The Dreamers." After about a month, Jade agreed to produce the show, and I began putting it together. We had auditions in April and our production dates are July 12 - 29, 2001 at the Summerlin Performing Arts Center, followed by a week in August at the Pahrump Winery Festival.
We've gotten together a talented cast, one of whom was recently in Miss Saigon in the Stuttgart, Germany production (Johnson Uy), plus our choreographer, Betsie Sanders, comes to us with Broadway experience. She was in both Hello, Dolly! and Mame in their original productions on Broadway.
If you are in Las Vegas this summer I hope you'll come see Showtune; come away entertained, and perhaps gain a little knowledge about this great American artform given to us by the many composers and lyricists of the 20th century who dared to dream.
Conceived and Directed by John V.J. Gillespie
Produced by Jade Productions
Music Director - Pat Demain
Choreography - Betsie Sanders
Summerlin Performing Arts Center
July 12 - 29, 2001
Thursday, Friday, Saturday 8 P.M.
Sunday Matinee 2 P.M.
Garry Leigh Douglas
(Showtune logo by Miner Miracles Graphics. The historical accuracy of the show's commentary has been monitored by Professor Bob Burgan of the University of Las Vegas theater department.)
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