The Arty Semite

Guys & Dolls & Bagels & Animals: American Jewish Composer Frank Loesser at 100

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

Some Jewish Broadway tunesmiths were gifted with longevity, like Irving Berlin, the Methuselah of Tin Pan Alley, who was still around to celebrate his centenary in 1988. By contrast, the much-beloved Frank Loesser — who would have turned 100 on June 29 — died over 40 years ago at the premature age of only 59.

Still, Loesser’s work lives on, and survives even longstanding grievous attempts by tone-deaf Hollywood actors to perform his songs. On March 19, Opera Omaha will give Nebraskans the chance to sing along with the film “Guys and Dolls,” while later April 16 and 18 programs offer a Cornhusker State tribute to Loesser by television soap opera actor and singer Ron Raines. On May 3, The Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., will host two other gala centenary events: a new stage work based on Loesser’s unpublished songs about animals, and a separate interview-performance program featuring Loesser’s widow, Jo Sullivan Loesser. Most significantly, a revival of Loesser’s hit musical “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” will run at Connecticut’s Goodspeed Opera House from September 24 to November 28. More than grab-bags of songs or ill-advised celebrity attempts to sing, to hear Loesser’s music and words in the dramatic context for which they were originally intended is an undiluted joy.

Watch Metropolitan Klezmer play the Loesser-inspired “Guys & Dolls & Bagels” at the East Village lounge DROM, here.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Guys and Dolls and Bagels, Guys and Dolls, Goodspeed Opera House, Frank Loesser, DROM, Broadway, 100, Irving Berlin, Jo Sullivan Loesser, Loesser, Methuselah, Metropolitan Klezmer, Music, Opera, Opera Omaha, Tin Pan Alley

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.