It's Us Again
A Report on the Pete 'n' Keely Recording Session
Although it received several positive reviews, including love letters from the likes of John Simon and Rex Reed, off Broadway's Pete n' Keely closed earlier this year, and fans wondered if that was the last they would hear of the duo. Fortunately, Fynsworth Alley brought original cast members Sally Mayes and George Dvorsky back one more time on August 20th to create their Original Cast Recording.
Pete n' Keely is the story of "America's Swingin' Sweethearts" Pete Bartel and Keely Stevens, an estranged showbiz couple reminiscent of Steve and Eydie, who are reunited by Swell Shampoo for a live TV variety special. Pete and Keely haven't spoken to each other in five years, but they try to put their best foot forward as they take 1968 America on a trip down memory lane, recreating their "shining moments." Songs include popular classics such as "Black Coffee," "Fever," a frenetic medley of songs from all 50 states, and their showstopper, a tongue-in-cheek version of "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Sprinkled in seamlessly with the old favorites are original songs by Patrick S. Brady including "Tony and Cleo," the title song from Pete n' Keely's one and only Broadway flop.
The scene at Right Track Recording Studio was surprisingly calm. CD Producer Bruce Kimmel and Engineer Vinnie Cirilli sat at the helm of the control room. Director Mark Waldrop was beside them to give notes to George and Sally. There weren't many notes needed for these two pros, who've embodied Pete and Keely for almost four years now, but occasionally Mark was heard to say, "Let's make that line a little sweeter" or "I want it angrier there." Book writer Jim Hindman paced, script in hand, making sure that all of the dialogue matched the script perfectly. A good deal of dialogue was recorded along with the songs, so it should be easy for CD listeners to follow the story, even if they missed the live performances.
Patrick Brady was the original Musical Director and Arranger of Pete n' Keely before he moved to Broadway to join The Producers. He called the shots in the studio, directing the eight piece ensemble (five more pieces than appeared with the show at the John Houseman Theater.) Patrick even sang a few bars in his role as Del Da Costa, Pete and Keely's on-stage musical director. Stopping by at times to check in on the proceedings were Pete n' Keely producers Steve Asher, David Unger and Ettore Toppi of Avalon Entertainment, and John Glaudini, who did several of the arrangements for the CD. Of course the most valuable man in the room was Bruce Kimmel's assistant, Jonathan Stanczyk, who made sure lunch and dinner arrived on time, that the refrigerator was amply stocked with bottles of Poland Springs and Diet Coke, and that the reservations for the wrap-up party at Joe Allen were secured.
The entire session ran more smoothly than anyone expected. Most songs were completed in only one or two takes, although there were the inevitable times when they would go back and re-record small sections. There were a few times when it was obvious to everyone that the sound was wrong, and proceedings would come to a screeching halt, but even more frequent were the moments when everything was perfect and an atmosphere of "Yes!" pervaded the room. Brady was even heard to say, "They should have recorded this for PBS!" George and Sally were sent home at 7:30, rather surprised by such a "short" workday, but content with the thought that the characters they created will have a longer life through the recording.
Kimmel expects the CD to be released sometime in October. He made several promises of bonus tracks but has not yet made any final decisions in that area. Steve Asher is working with The Booking Group to create a national tour of Pete n' Keely for the 2002-2003 season. Announcements will be made on the Pete n' Keely website and FynsworthAlley.com.
All photos by Trisha Doss
Pete n' Keely
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