Rodgers and Hart's hit-packed Babes in Arms will open the 1999 "Encores! Great American Musicals in Concert" season Feb. 11-14, followed by concert revivals of The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 and the Jule Styne-Betty Comden-Adolph Green musical, Do Re Mi.
The popular series at City Center in New York City revisits neglected or seldom-revived musical theatre scores and scripts in a conceptual concert form, often with big-name stage talent. The current Broadway revival of Chicago began as an "Encores!" presentation. The 1997 slate included Strike Up the Band, Li'l Abner and Vanessa Williams in St. Louis Woman.
Babes in Arms, from 1937, is loaded with songs that became standards over the years: "The Lady is a Tramp," "My Funny Valentine," "Where or When." But it's generally considered unrevivable because the silly book -- about a gaggle of young vaudeville orphans -- is too creaky and, by today's standards, racist.
Directors, who address such issues in the revivals, will be announced in the coming months, publicist Brian Rubin told Playbill On-Line Oct. 16.
The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 featured music by Vernon Duke and lyrics by Ira Gershwin ("I Can't Get Started") and sets and costumes by Vincente Minnelli. It marked the Broadway debut of choreographer George Balanchine (his On Your Toes came later that year), and originally starred Josephine Baker, Fanny Brice, Bob Hope, Judy Canova, Eve Arden and others. "Encores!" will offer it March 25-29. The final performance coincides with the annual City Center gala benefit, but show-only tickets are available.
Do Re Mi from 1960 introduced "Make Someone Happy" to the world, sung by John Reardon and Nancy Dussault, who played sub-plot lovers in the show business satire (about the record industry). Stars Phil Silvers and Nancy Walker played a low-rung showbiz schlemiel and his long suffering wife.
Also in the score are "I Know About Love," "Fireworks" and "Adventure," a tour-de-force for Walker. In one number, a classic Comden-Green nightclub scene, Dussault was dressed as an animal, singing, "What's New At the Zoo."
"Encores!" will present Do Re Mi May 6-9.
Tickets are on sale now. Call (212) 581-1212.
-- By Kenneth Jones