They've been on the town and joined the bandwagon; they've rung bells and sung in the rain. They're Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and they'll be feted at two Carnegie Hall Concerts, Sept. 16 and 17, featuring guest appearances by such musical theatre notables as Nathan Lane and Elaine Stritch.
The 7:30 PM concerts are part of the Hall's American Popular Song Celebration series, which has previously honored such legends as Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra.
The tireless lyricists Comden and Green have barely slowed down after all these years. They penned a new book and English lyrics for the Met's Die Fledermaus last season, as well as doing several club dates at Joe's Pub. Also this past season, two of their shows -- On the Town and Peter Pan -- enjoyed Broadway revivals. In early May, Encores! offered a very well-received concert reading of their Broadway flop, Do Re Mi.
At the Carnegie concert, guest artists include David Campbell and Amanda Green, jazz vocalists Diane Schuur and Bobby Short, and performers Brian Stokes Mitchell (Ragtime, the upcoming Kiss Me Kate), Phyllis Newman (The Madwoman of Central Park -- and Green's wife), Faith Prince (Guys And Dolls) and Lillias White (How To Succeed...). The aforementioned Lane co-starred with Prince in Guys And Dolls and is also due to appear in the new Stephen Sondheim musical Wise Guys this spring. Stritch appeared in Show Boat and the original Company. In November, also at Carnegie Hall, Stritch will recreate her role in Noel Coward's Sail Away, in a concert staging given as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of Coward's birth.
Mike Renzi serves as musical director for the Comden & Green evening, produced by John Schreiber. According to Carnegie Hall spokesperson Joy Chutz, songs expected in the program include "Just In Time" (Bells Are Ringing), "New York, New York" and "Lonely Town" (On The Town), "Make Someone Happy" (Do Re Mi) and "It's Love" (Wonderful Town). Comden and Green will be on stage for the concert, though it's not known whether they'll perform. The younger Comden and Green started as Greenwich Village sketch writers and performers with friend Judy Holliday, billing themselves as "The Revuers," before writing book and/or lyrics for such musical comedies as On the Town (in which they also starred), Wonderful Town, Bells Are Ringing (starring Holliday), Two on the Aisle (with the Met spoof), Do Re Mi, On the 20th Century and screenplays for "Singin' in the Rain" and "The Band Wagon," among others. They've also sporadically performed their act here and there, including the 1977 Broadway retrospective, A Party with Comden & Green, featuring such classic tunes as "Wrong Note Rag," "Just in Time," "Capt. Hook's Waltz" and "Conga!".
For tickets ($18-$75) to "Carnegie Hall Celebrates Betty Comden & Adolph Green" call (212) 247-7800.
-- By David Lefkowitz & Ken Jones