PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Varla Jean Merman and Members of Ryan Landry's Seven Bottoms Pick Novelty Songs

Playlist   PLAYBILL PLAYLIST: Varla Jean Merman and Members of Ryan Landry's Seven Bottoms Pick Novelty Songs Musical comedy troupe The Gold Dust Orphans will bring Ryan Landry's glitter-filled new musical Snow White and the Seven Bottoms to New York's Theatre 80 Sept. 19-Oct. 26. In anticipation, Varla Jean Merman, Landry and more pick novelty songs as part of this week's Playbill Playlist.
Varla Jean Merman
Varla Jean Merman

Snow White and the Seven Bottoms, starring drag legend Merman, is written by Landry and directed by James P. Bryne. The show ran in Boston this spring and recently concluded its run in Provincetown.

According to press notes, "Snow White and the Seven Bottoms – based on the classic Disney animated film – will make all your fairy tale dreams come true with this musical adventure set in uncircumcised Germany!"

The show stars Jessica Barstis as Snow White, Merman as Prince Charming, Olive Another as The Magic Mirror, Scott Martino as The Footman and Landry as The Evil Queen.

Snow White show features costumes by Miss Martino, set design by Windsor Newton and lighting design by James P. Bryne.

Theatre 80 is located at 80 St. Mark's Place at First Avenue. Visit Theatre80.net.

Varla Jean Merman: "The Doppelganger" (Dory Previn). Though no one would call this a "novelty" song, one listen to this buried treasure and it'll either open your mind or make you lose it! Dory's cry for help during a breakup with Andre', from back in the days when Mia Farrow was still stealing husbands!

Varla Jean Merman: "The Nitty Gritty" (Shirley Ellis). One of the first great novelty songs that also doubled as a dance hit back in the day… It would always get the beach party started right, from the very moment it would come blasting from your transistor radio. Of course, I'm far too young to remember that.

Varla Jean Merman: "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" (Brian Hyland). I have no idea who this Brian Hyland is. I suppose he was the lead singer on this immortal masterpiece. I just remember that, as a kid, I wanted to be the sexy girl who'd whisper, "One, Two, Three, Four, Tell the people what she wore!"

Varla Jean Merman: "Valley Girl" (Frank and Moon Unit Zappa). This song is a classic example of absolutely LOVING something horrible when you're a teenager only to realize much later just how BAD the song actually is! "It's like BARF ME OUT! Gag me with a spoon! I'm so sure!"

Ryan Landry: "Tennessee Bird Walk" (Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan). Was it Keats who said, "Oh, remember me my darling, When spring is in the air, And the bald headed birds are whisperin' everywhere, When you seem them walkin' southward in their dirty underwear, that's the Tennessee Bird Walk.”? … No. It was Frank and Misty. A solid gold classic "novelty song" if there ever was one. … "Chirp, Chirp!"

Ryan Landry: "Let It All Hang Out" (The Hombres). This is just a terrific song no matter what "genre" some purists might claim it belongs in. Though it's looked at today as a novelty song, I would often play this at parties and either watch everybody hit the dance floor or leave the room! Any way you slice it, it's got a VERY groovy beat!

Ryan Landry: "I Ain't No Homo (But Man, You Sure Look Good To Me)" (Doyle and Debbie). Most people outside the South are not familiar with the country-fried genius of Doyle and Debbie, but I can promise you that their music NEVER disappoints! And to witness it for yourself you need travel no further than that new fangled thing the young people call "YouTube."

 Ryan Landry: "It's Halloween" (The Shaggs, from a 1968 review of their music). "Hacked-at drumbeats, whacked-around chords, lyrics that seem to have little or no meaning to them ... being played on out-of-tune, pawn-shop-quality guitars! There is NO single you might own that sounds remotely like this one." … 'Nuff said.

Penny Champayne: "Telephone Man" (Meri Wilson). I remember that when this song would come on the radio my Mother would run into our room and quickly turn it off. Then as she left the room she'd mumble, "That song is dirty and disgusting." But to us girls it was just a lady singing about getting her telephone fixed! How wrong we were!

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Penny Champayne: "The Streak" (Ray Stevens). I love Ray Steven's "The Streak" because when it came out, it got a lot of the boys in my high school to start streaking, and that was just fine with me! Even my brother did it! Though he was the ONE boy in my school I did NOT want to see naked!

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Penny Champayne: "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (Charlie Daniels Band). I've performed this song many times with my band, but it really only works if you have a kick-ass fiddle player. So please folks, unless you're into "Southern Rock," do NOT try this at home!

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Penny Champayne: "Witch Doctor" (David Seville). In truth, I have always hated this song, but my two-year-old grandson heard it the other day on the radio and went absolutely crazy for it, so I suppose I'll have to like it after all.

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Olive Another: "Satisfaction" (Phyllis Diller). The phrasing and timing of her singing perfectly demonstrates why she was such an incredible stand-up comic.

Watch Diller on "The Merv Griffin Show":

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Olive Another: "Stayin' Alive" (Jonathan and Darlene Edwards). I listen to this song — along with the rest of the album — religiously before a show. Great music for when one needs to remind one's self to, "Lighten up and have some stinkin' fun."

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Olive Another: "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" (Mrs. Miller). Much better than the Nancy Sinatra version. And who doesn't LOVE Mrs. Miller?!

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Olive Another: "Disco Inferno" (Varla Jean Merman). Varla has an unbelievable voice and an even better sense of humor. Every song on this album is a gem. Every song on this album is available on iTunes, too! (You're welcome, Varla.)

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