PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Molly Pope, Ben Rimalower, Justin Sayre and Meeting* Members Pick Favorite Performances by Ethel Merman

Playlist   PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Molly Pope, Ben Rimalower, Justin Sayre and Meeting* Members Pick Favorite Performances by Ethel Merman
 
The Meeting*, the comedy/variety show hosted by Justin Sayre, will return to Joe's Pub Jan. 18 to celebrate Broadway legend Ethel Merman. In anticipation of the evening, the cast picks their favorite Merman performances as part of this week's Playbill Playlist.
Molly Pope
Molly Pope

The 9:30 PM concert will feature special guests Klea Blackhurst, Erin Markey, Nora Mae Lyng, Molly Pope and Ben Rimalower. Tracy Stark serves as the show's music director.

The Meeting* is "known for a signature blend of outrageous comedy, politics, culture and everything in between," according to press notes. "Each month, the I.O.S gathers to honor an artist or a cultural work that is iconic to the gay community. Justin Sayre, the show's creator, writer and host, serves as the Chairman of the Board of the International Order of Sodomites and brings his singular wit to essential business of the day through such regular features such as 'Letters to the Chairman' and 'New Rulings from the Board.'"

The Meeting* monthly events have featured popular guest stars such as Lea DeLaria, Tonya Pinkins, Robin Byrd, Marilyn Maye, Christian Campbell, Joe Iconis, Frank DeCaro, Lance Horne, Lady Rizo, Tituss Burgess, Kenny Mellman, Maude Maggart, Jack Ferver, Murray Hill, Jeffery Self, Cole Escola, Bridget Everett and more.

Previous shows have paid tribute to singers such as Dolly Parton and Diana Ross; films like "Valley of the Dolls" and "Beaches"; actresses such as Bea Arthur and Molly Ringwald; as well as playwrights and filmmakers like Tennessee Williams and John Waters.

The Meeting* is produced by Dan Fortune and Adam J. Rosen with Dan Fortune serving as executive producer.

Joe's Pub is located at 425 Lafayette Street (between East 4th and Astor Place). For tickets, call (212) 967-7555 or visit JoesPub.com.

Justin Sayre: "Tomorrow" on "Sesame Street." This was the first time I saw Ethel Merman, and I sort of fell in love with her. I mean, watch! She calls Imogene Coca an idiot. It's gold. And then she sings "Tomorrow"! How could you not march bravely on into the sun with Ethel leading the way?

Justin Sayre: "I've Got The Sun in The Morning" from Annie Get Your Gun. I love her untarnished optimism in this song. Those big belty "What do I find?," as if there could ever be a question. It's such Musical Theatre Joy.

Justin Sayre: "Play a Simple Melody" from There's No Business Like Show Business. Ethel and Dan Dailey were so great together. This is also my favorite performance of hers on film. When she breaks up during the title song, it's heartbreaking. But this is the classic number from the movie and my favorite.

Justin Sayre: Ethel's Dialogue. Listen to the delivery. Fabulous. Wonderful. The traces of a lost brilliance.

Molly Pope: "Moonshine Lullaby" from Annie Get Your Gun. I love the rare floating Merman mix. The "lull" of the last "lullaby" is heaven.

Molly Pope: "Alexander's Ragtime Band" on the disco album. Decades ahead of its time. Juxtaposing Irving Berlin and disco. Who knew Merman could be so post-modern. (There's a video of her doing it from "The Tonight Show.")

Molly Pope: "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy. Quintessential. The sheer force of will she brings to it is as terrifying as it is thrilling. I like my Mama Rose always one belted note away from a psychotic break.

Erin Markey: "I've Got The Sun in The Morning" from Annie Get Your Gun. Ethel sings "I Got The Sun In the Morning and the Moon at Night" like she is not on planet earth, like she doesn't know what a checkbook is as she sings the lyric and like she has no interest in knowing — like the only currency in the world is sunlight and moonshine, and she's Daddy Warbucks. It's a great song to listen to on your cans while you are stone cold broke because she's yelling so hard you can't help but feel implicated and drawn in to her performance logic. #GetRichQuick

Erin Markey: "Tomorrow" on "Sesame Street." Not to bring Annie into the mix again, but I really enjoy Ethel's version of "Tomorrow" (performed on "Sesame Street") as a B side to Aileen Quinn's. I would rather see Ethel play Annie than Miss Hannigan. (And, I would rather see Oscar The Grouch play a conceptual Miss Hannigan than Cameron Diaz get anywhere close to it.) Ethel has always had the energy of a tough brassy child orphan. I would love to play her Sandy. Maybe I could get Cathy Rigby to steal me the Nana costume from Peter Pan.

Erin Markey: "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy. Since Ethel Merman's style has become our collectively unconscious reference point of a classic, old-school #showbiz sound, it's only fitting that she was the first to sing the musical theatre university fight song: "Everything's Coming Up Roses." I imagine her singing that song as a gorgeous running back delivering the ball to the end zone in slow motion as defensive lineman explode away from her screams: This time for me! Listening to OR performing this song is a pretty sure-fire way to feel invincible.

Ben Rimalower: "Alexander's Ragtime Band." This is for me the ultimate Ethel; she's brassy, she's sassy and she's bursting with pep. This song, in the wrong hands, can be a groaner, but Merman's version is irresistible.

Ben Rimalower: "The Impossible Dream." The classic Ethel Merman resilience is a perfect fit for this anthem, and her intrinsic sunniness brings out its brighter tones. The schmaltzy arrangement works so well for her rendition, I can't believe this recording hasn't been used (with a wink, perhaps) over the credits of some contemporary film.

Ben Rimalower: "Little Lamb" from Gypsy. Not one of Rose's songs in Gypsy, but an indelible performance nonetheless. This recording really reveals the rich depth and clarity of The Voice, without a hint of belting. She really was one of the great singers of the 20th Century. I love me some Laura Benanti, but the Merm is every bit as beautiful on this tune.

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