Jerry Herman – Hello, Dolly (Louis Armstrong trumpet solo with sheet music)
Louis Armstrong & his All Stars LIVE in Berlin, 1965 play “Hello, Dolly.”
Bass — Arvell Shaw
Clarinet — Eddie Shu
Drums — Danny Barcelona
Piano — Billy Kyle
Sax — Eddie Shu
Trombone — Tyree Glenn
Trumpet & Vocals — Louis Armstrong
Gerald Sheldon Herman (July 10, 1931 – December 26, 2019) was an American composer and lyricist , known for his work in musical theater Broadway. He composed the scores for the hit Broadway musicals Hello, Dolly! , Mame and La Cage aux Folles . He was nominated for a Tony Award five times and won twice, for Hello, Dolly! and La Cage aux Folles .
It has been noted that Herman’s 1983 La Cage aux Folles , a musical about a gay couple whose son is about to marry the daughter of a conservative family, “arrived during the height of the and AIDS epidemic helped put life gay into the cultural mainstream at a time when many gay men were being stigmatized.”
In 2009, Jerry Herman received the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theater. He received Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.
Herman was born in Manhattan and raised in Jersey City, New Jersey , the only child of musically Jewish inclined middle-class parents.
He learned to play the piano at a young age, and the three of them frequently attended Broadway musicals during the summer His father, Harry, was a gym teacher who worked in hotels in the Catskill Mountains .
His mother, Ruth (Sachs), also worked in the hotels as a singer, pianist, and a children’s teacher, eventually becoming an English teacher. Herman told People Magazine in 1986 that his mother, who died in 1954, long before her Broadway success, “was glamorous as Mame and witty as Dolly.”
After they married, his parents lived in Jersey City and continued to work summers at various camps until they became head counselors, eventually running Stissing Lake Camp in the small town of Pine Plains , New York Taconic Mountains.
Jerry Herman spent all his summers there, from the age of 6 to 23. It was at camp that he first became involved in theater productions, as the director of Oklahoma! , Finian’s Rainbow, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn .
Herman graduated from Henry Snyder High School from Jersey City’s.
At age 17, Herman met Frank Loesser who, after hearing material he had written, urged him to continue composing. He dropped out of Parsons School of Design to attend the University of Miami, which has one of the most avant-garde theater departments in the country.
While studying at the University of Miami, Herman produced, wrote, and directed a college musical called Sketchbook . It was scheduled for three performances, but the show was so popular that it ran for an additional 17 performances. Herman belonged to the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity.
Herman graduated in 1953 with a bachelor’s degree in drama and received a DFA degree in 1980.
After graduating from the University of Miami, Herman moved to New York City, where he produced the Off-Broadway revue I Feel Wonderful, which was made up of material he had written in college. It opened at the Theater de Lys in Greenwich Village on October 18, 1954, and ran for 48 performances.
It was the only show his mother saw; she died of cancer at the age of forty-four in December 1954.
Jerry Herman said, “I went into serious grief.”
In 1957, Jerry Herman approached the owner of a West Fourth Street jazz club called the Showplace and asked him to put out a magazine.
As well as supplying the music, Herman wrote the book and ran the hour-long revue called Nightcap . He asked his friend Phyllis Newman to do movement and dance, and it featured Charles Nelson Reilly (who later co-starred in Hello, Dolly! ). The show opened in May 1958 and ran for two years.
Herman then gathered enough original material to put together an Off-Broadway revue called Parade in 1960. Herman directed with choreography by Richard Tone. The cast included Charles Nelson Reilly and Dody Goodman. It first opened at the Showplace and, expanded, moved to the Players Theater in January 1960.
In 1960, Herman made his Broadway debut with From A to Z revue , which featured contributions from newcomers Woody Allen and Fred Ebb as well.
That same year, producer Gerard Oestreicher approached him after seeing a performance of “Parade”, and asked if he would be interested in composing the score for a show about the founding of the state of Israel. The result was his first full-fledged Broadway musical, Milk and Honey, in 1961. The show, about American tourists in Israel, starred Robert Weede, Mimi Benzell and Molly Picon. It received respectable reviews, was nominated for a Tony Award, and ran for 543 performances.
Herman met playwright Tad Mosel in 1960, and they collaborated on an Off-Broadway musical adaptation of Mosel’s 1953 television play Madame Aphrodite . The musical of the same name, starring Nancy Andrews in the title role, opened at the Orpheum Theater in December 1961, but closed after 13 performances.
The show has never been performed since. The musical’s failure hurt Herman, who felt the direction and cast hadn’t worked out, but described his decision to do it as “a very brave thing on my part… It was a dark piece, something more suited to early times.” . Sondheim than I.”
In 1964, producer David Merrick teamed Herman with musical actress Carol Channing and librettist Michael Stewart for a project that would become one of their most successful, Hello, Dolly! .
The original production ran for 2,844 performances, the longest-running musical of its time, and was later revived three times.
Although facing stiff competition from Funny Girl , Hi Dolly! he swept the Tony Awards that season, winning 10, a record that stood unbroken for 37 years, until The Producers won 12 Tonys in 2001.
In 1966, Jerry Herman’s next musical was the hit Mame starring Angela Lansbury, which introduced a number of Herman standards, most notably the ballad “If He Walked Into My Life”, the holiday favorite “We Need a Little Christmas”. “, and the main melody.
Although not commercial successes, Dear World (1969) starring Angela Lansbury, Mack & Mabel (1974) starring Robert Preston and Bernadette Peters, and The Grand Tour (1979) starring Joel Gray are noted for their interesting concepts and melodic songs and memorable scores.
Jerry Herman considers Mack & Mabel, also written in collaboration with Michael Stewart, his personal favorite score, with the later composition La Cage aux Folles a close second. Both Dear World and Mack & Mabel have developed cult followings among Broadway fans.
La Cage aux Folles
In 1983, Herman had his third hit with La Cage aux Folles starring George Hearn and Gene Barry, a show notable for being one of the first Broadway musicals to focus on a gay couple. The musical was tested in Boston, where Herman was concerned:
A man singing a love song to another man, I don’t think that’s ever been done before in a Broadway musical. And, I mean, this was Boston, Katherine Cornell country. Frankly, she didn’t know if they would throw stones or not. The public applauded him. That’s when I started thinking, ‘We’ve done something right. They have bought the characters’. ” - Jerry Herman
Ticket sales were strong for its Boston test; a two-week extension required the box office to remain open for 36 hours at a time to meet demand.
Advance sales of her Broadway debut at the Palace Theater were described as “something approaching absolute pandemonium”.
La Cage aux Folles won the Tony Award for Best Musical (1983), later becoming the only musical to win the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical twice (2005 and 2010).
A revue, Jerry’s Girls , “a pastiche” of her work, featured Dorothy Loudon, Leslie Uggams, and Chita Rivera and ran on Broadway from December 1985 to April 1986.
Many of Herman’s show tunes have become pop standards. “Hello, Dolly!” was a number one hit in the United States for Louis Armstrong, knocking The Beatles off number one in 1964 after a 14-week run at the top (“I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “She Loves You” and “Can’t Buy Me Love”).
A French recording by Petula Clark reached the Top Ten in both Canada and France.
The song “If He Walked into My Life” from Mame was recorded by Eydie Gormé, earning her a Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal Performance in 1967. “I Am What I Am” La Cage aux Folles was recorded by Gloria Gaynor.
Other well known Herman show tunes include “Shalom” from Milk and Honey; “Before the Parade Passes By”, “Put On Your Sunday Clothes”, and “It Only Takes a Moment” from Hello, Dolly!; “It’s Today!”, “Open a New Window”, “We Need a Little Christmas,” and “Bosom Buddies” from Mame; and “Tap Your Troubles Away”, “I Won’t Send Roses” and “Time Heals Everything” from Mack & Mabel.
His “I Am What I Am,” written for La Cage aux Folles, became a gay pride anthem.
Impact and recognition
According to The Washington Post, Herman’s 1983 La Cage aux Folles , which centered on a gay couple whose son is about to marry the daughter of a conservative family, “arrived during the height of the AIDS epidemic and helped put gay life into the cultural mainstream at a time when many gay men were being stigmatized.”
Jerry Herman is the only composer/lyricist to have had three original productions open on Broadway at the same time, from February to May 1969: Hello, Dolly! , Mame and Dear World .
He was the first (of two) composers/lyricists to have three musicals run over 1,500 consecutive performances on Broadway (the other being Stephen Schwartz): Hello, Dolly! (2,844 performances), Mame (1,508) and La Cage aux Folles (1,761).
Jerry Herman is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard.
Herman’s work has been the subject of two popular music magazines, Jerry’s Girls conceived by Larry Alford, and Showtune (2003) conceived by Paul Gilger.
A 90-minute documentary on his life and career, Jerry Herman’s Words and Music , by filmmaker Amber Edwards, was screened in 2007 and later broadcast on PBS.
In the 2008 animated film WALL-E , Herman’s music from Hello, Dolly! is a theme for the character WALL-E.
In 1989, American playwright Natalie Gaupp wrote a short play titled The Jerry Herman Center. The play is a comedy that portrays the lives of several patients at “The Jerry Herman Center for Musical Theater Addiction”.
In 2012, Jason Graae and Faith Prince collaborated on The Prince and the Showboy , a show honoring Herman; Graae worked extensively with Herman, describing him as “a survivor of the highest order [who] lives his life as an eternal optimist”.
In 2010, he received a Kennedy Center Honor. Hosted by Angela Lansbury, there were performances by Carol Channing, Matthew Morrison, Christine Baranski and Christine Ebersole, Laura Benanti, Sutton Foster, Matthew Bomer and Kelli O’Hara, 2002 Kennedy Center Honoree Chita Rivera, an unknown choir, and Lansbury.
Also honored were talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey, dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones, country singer/songwriter Merle Haggard, and singer/songwriter/musician Paul McCartney.
Personal life and death
With a flair for decorating in the 1970s, Herman took a break from songwriting after the flop of Mack and Mabel.
Architectural Digest wrote about the firehouse he renovated: he later redecorated other houses and sold them. According to the Washington Post , he decorated three dozen houses.
Herman reportedly listed his 4,088 sq ft (379.8 m 2) condominium apartment in West Hollywood for sale in early 2013.
Jerry Herman was openly gay and, at the time of his death, associated with Terry Marler, a real estate broker.
Herman was diagnosed with HIV in 1985. As noted in the PBS documentary Words and Music , “He is one of the lucky ones who survived to see experimental drug therapies take hold and was still, as one of its lyrics, ‘alive, healthy and thriving’ more than a quarter of a century later.”
Herman’s memoir, Showtune , was published in 1996.
He died in a Miami hospital on December 26, 2019, at the age of 88.
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