Perfect soundtrack for cooking the feast can be found on Broadway
Undoubtedly, as many people across Spokane head into their kitchens Thursday morning, the sounds of the day’s first NFL game, the Lions vs. the Vikings, will serve as their cooking soundtrack.
Others, however, might enjoy something more entertaining, something that gets the toes tapping and the hips swaying.
Something that says there’s no business like show business. Literally.
For those folks, a simple turn of radio dial will bring the sounds of Broadway. For a couple decades or so, KPBX 91.1 FM has played a block of show tunes on Thanksgiving morning.
Ask him how many years he’s been doing it, and Spokane Public Radio’s Verne Windham will quip “Oh, let’s say 20 just to make up a number.”
He admits he just “kind of fell into it. I previously just tried to do nice, sensible programming of thankful pieces or American pieces or music that was probably way too serious for people’s moods that day,” he said. As he recalls, it all started one year when there was a Broadway show in town the night before, he said. So he decided to play a few songs from that show. “All of a sudden, people were calling in and telling that it was fun, so I kept doing it.”
The block has extended to three hours, from 9 a.m. to noon. The trick, Windham said, “is to not just do Rodgers and Hammerstein, because that’s easy and I can know that everybody knows it.”
So he goes for a different approach each year. One year he’ll be totally historical, “starting like with the 1920s and do Gershwin for an hour then move forward in time. Other times I’ve randomly done stuff that maybe leans on certain performers.”
The key ingredient is familiarity.
“My premise is that if you’re in the kitchen cooking and watching over things, and everybody else is in the living room having a good time, then you need to be singing along, singing along so easily that you don’t even think about it,” he said. “And then the minute you have to hop to and get something out of the oven, it’s no problem and then you can get back to the song. It’s meant to be very easy for people, not necessarily cerebral.”
There aren’t a lot of rules, other than he doesn’t go too broad or too far into rock. Might there be something from “Hamilton,” the hottest musical in years? Possibly, although Windham admits he’s not familiar with the music. One thing you can count on? There’s a good chance he’ll play “It Couldn’t Please Me More” – aka the pineapple song – from “Cabaret.” And the three hours will end as has been traditional: With something delectable from Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
“Of course I always have to end with ‘Have a Little Priest.’ That is the requirement of the whole morning,” he said, adding sarcastically, “I want to get people’s mouths watering in the best possible way.”
Please sir, may I have some more?
When noon comes around, and you’re not done digging the Broadway stuff on Spokane Public Radio, you can head to Spotify. We’ve asked four Spokane and Coeur d’Alene actor/singers/directors to name their favorite Broadway show tunes: Jadd Davis, Abbey Crawford, Ellen Travolta and Troy Nickerson. Search Spotify for the “Carolyn Lamberson” account and find playlists created from their top 10 lists. (Well, most of them anyway. One of Davis’ songs, “Let There Be” from “Children of Eden” isn’t available on the streaming service.) The lists are printed below.
Jadd Davis, singer/actor/director, and artistic director of Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, quickly churned out a list. “Wow, that’s hard,” Davis wrote as he submitted his list. “Ask me tomorrow and it’d be 10 different ones (except for the ABC Cafe and ‘Make Our Garden Grow’).”
“Let There Be” from “Children of Eden”
“Into the Fire” from “The Scarlet Pimpernel”
“Holding to the Ground” from “Falsettos”
“Time Warp” from “The Rocky Horror Show”
“C’est Moi” from “Camelot”
“Come to My Garden” from “The Secret Garden”
“Ralphie to the Rescue” from “A Christmas Story” (Listen closely and you’ll hear Davis singing on this track.)
The ABC Cafe scene (“Red and Black”) from “Les Miserables”
“Sunday” from “Sunday in the Park With George”
“Make Our Garden Grow” from “Candide”
Abbey Crawford is a trained cabaret singer who has performed with the Spokane Symphony and the Hot Club of Spokane. She’s also an actor and director as well, serving as resident director of the Modern Theater. She once again directs the the theater’s production of “All is Calm,” which opens Friday.
“Children Will Listen” from “Into the Woods”
“Send In the Clowns” from “A Little Night Music”
“Santa Fe” from “Rent”
“As If We Never Said Goodbye” from “Sunset Boulevard”
“Not A Day Goes By” from “Merrily We Roll Along”
“Worst Pies In London” from “Sweeney Todd”
“World Goes Round” from “World Goes Round”
“Maybe This Time” from “Cabaret”
“Wait For It” from “Hamilton”
“Carnaval del Barrio” from “In the Heights”
Ellen Travolta knows something about musicals: She was in the cast of the first U.S. tour of “Mame,” with Ethel Merman. From there she launched a long career as a television and stage actress, and performed frequently with Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre. Her annual holiday show at the Coeur d’Alene Resort opens on Friday. For her list, she got an assist from her husband, fellow actor Jack Bannon:
“Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello Dolly”
“Ladies Who Lunch” from “Company”
“Mame” from “Mame”
“Rose’s Turn” from “Gypsy”
“Joey, Joey, Joey” from “Most Happy Fella”
“Where Is Love” from “Oliver”
“Anyone Can Whistle” from “Anyone Can Whistle”
“Send In the Clowns” from “A Little Night Music
“America” from “West Side Story”
“If He Walked Into My Life (The Boy With The Bugle)” from “Mame”
Troy Nickerson is a longtime Spokane area actor, choreographer and director who is interim artistic director of the Modern Theater. His production of “Streetcar Named Desire” just concluded its run at Spokane Civic Theatre, and he’s directing the Travolta-produced “The Christmas Show” opening Friday at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
“Soliloquy” from “Carousel”
“I’ll Cover You” from “Rent”
“Electricity” from “Billy Elliot”
“Breeze Off the River” from “The Full Monty”
“How Could I Ever Know” from “Secret Garden”
“Coffee Break” from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”
“River In the Rain” from “Big River”
“Guv’ment” from “Big River”
“Gethsemane” from “Jesus Christ Superstar”
“Not While I’m Around” from “Sweeney Todd”