The Kid From Brooklyn: West Coast Premiere of Danny Kaye Musical
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Hailed as "the best musical of this century" by Ben Brantley of The New York Times and "the funniest musical of all time" by Entertainment Weekly, The Book of Mormon won nine Tony Awards -- including Best Musical -- in its first year on Broadway. Now the national touring production is back at the Pantages for a second round of hilarity. Written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone along with Robert Lopez, the Tony-winning co-creator of Avenue Q, this musical comedy is a show that The Daily Show's Jon Stewart has called "a crowning achievement. So good it makes me angry." Learn More
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from Jeffry B.
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Brian Childers is remarkable as Danny Kaye. At times it was almost as if Danny were there in person. The beginning was a little slow to get into and sometimes the music was louder than the singers but this was a preview performance so I'm sure they'll be corrected. Overall a very enjoyable show.
A new musical based on the life of the legendary Danny Kaye makes its West Coast premiere at the historic El Portal Theatre in the heart of North Hollywood, across from the Academy of Radio and Television on Lankershim Blvd. The production is directed by Peter Loewy; Brian Childers stars as Kaye, with Karin Leone as Sylvia Fine. (Brian Childers has been critically acclaimed nationally, and is the winner of the coveted Helen Hayes Award.) The book is by Mark Childers with musical direction by Randy Booth.
The show, first performed in August 2006 at the Broward Center Stage Door in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, uses some of Kaye’s most famous and most popular stage, television and film numbers to tell the story of his surprising and rich life, hitting on everything from the then-David Kaminsky’s early adolescence in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn , to his ensuing days as a “Borscht Belt” entertainer – the place for Jewish vacationers and where many comedians got there start. The show continues onto his success as nightclub entertainer in the 1930s, his emergence as a Broadway musical star (1939-1941), and his singular career as the star of a series of vastly popular musical comedy screen vehicles produced by Samuel Goldwyn (1943-1948).
This intimate musical portrayal chronicles Danny Kaye’s career and his relationships on and off the stage and follows the rise of Kaye from an undisciplined improvisational comic to his success under the guidance of his wife, Sylvia Fine. In addition to the role of Kaye, a cast of three moves in and out of characters that were significant in Kaye’s personal and professional life. Favorite songs of the period are used to recreate the highlights of Kaye’s career. Backed by a five-piece band, the musical highlights include “Pavlova”, "Tchaikovsky”, “Oh, By Jingo,” “ Minnie the Moocher” & many more!
The dramatic underpinning of this musical is Kaye’s relationship with his wife and professional partner, Sylvia Fine. Fine wrote many of the witty, tongue-twisting songs Danny Kaye became famous for. Despite her devotion to him, she is portrayed as a domineering, smothering woman who so suffocated Kaye that she drove him into an affair with comedienne Eve Arden. Arden was professionally closely associated with Kaye from the time that they starred on Broadway (Cole Porter’s Let’s Face It), appearing as a regular on his radio program and playing major featured roles in most of his films with Goldwyn.
Although not chronicled in the musical, the last 40 years of Kaye’s life (more than a decade of further success in film, a decline in his film career, followed by extended success in television and a return to Broadway – the Rodgers-Harnick Two By Two), and long years of tireless work on behalf of UNICEF were memorable both on and off the stage and screen. He was the original UNICEF celebrity representative, a Goodwill Ambassador from 1954 until his death in 1987. And he proved a hard act to follow.
A strong advocate for social responsibility, Kaye logged thousands of hours as a pilot – a hobby he enjoyed immensely – on trips for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – once flying to 65 cities in five days putting Kaye in the Guinness Book of Records as the World’s Fastest-Flying Entertainer. The United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cueller said at the October 27, 1987 tribute to Kaye that he was the man who first “heightened global awareness of the plight of unfortunate children throughout the world.” Kaye was the spokesperson for UNICEF and was asked to accept the Nobel Prize on behalf of the organization. There is a permanent Danny Kaye Media Center in New York City at the UNICEF Headquarters. Danny Kaye’s legacy, both as an entertainer and as a campaigner for children, is set to endure.