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Let's talk about Coco the musical which starred Katharine Hepburn

Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by André Previn, inspired by the life of Coco Chanel. Set and costumes by Cecil Beaton.

by Anonymousreply 5711/21/2020

Glad you cleared that up.

I thought it might have been about Coco the Clown!


by Anonymousreply 111/15/2020

Or Koko the gorilla—available on Amazon Primate!

by Anonymousreply 211/15/2020

Worth the price of admission.

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by Anonymousreply 311/15/2020

It was said that Kate used the Rex Harrison-style of talk-singing since she could not really sing and neither could Rex.

by Anonymousreply 411/15/2020

I saw this show. Oddly constructed. No choreography per se, but Bennett created statuesque visions of models on a set that had 3 moving sections: a circular center, a moving peripheral ring around that center, and a straight, narrow pathway, moving from left to right. The effect of all of this, particularly during the final “Always Mademoiselle” number, was exhilarating.

But then, there were also three movie screens above the set, on either side and at center, on which were shown films of the men in Chanel’s life, including Jon Cypher, as her father, who actually had a, presumably pre-recorded , song about her, “Gabriellle,” which made me wonder how be got paid for that. The overall effect was just awkward, especially since Hepburn would stand downstage, referring to these images well above her.

Hepburn, the reason I went, was very good, as expected. The book seemed contrived, and not very involving. Previn’s score was actually better than expected, and Lerner’s lyrics were skillful. It would have been interesting to see it with Hepburn’s replacement, Danielle Darrieux, who was certainly better casting, but it didn’t last that long after Hepburn left.

I got my money’s worth.

by Anonymousreply 511/15/2020

I met one of the dancers/models from the show at a party. She said the cast was all freezing because KH insisted the theater be kept at a low temperature.

Since this girl had the least experience, she was voted to go tell the star everyone was cold. She went to KH’s dressing room to inform her.

KH listened, but the thermostat never changed.

by Anonymousreply 611/15/2020

Didn't Kate fully expect to be habded the Tony?

by Anonymousreply 711/15/2020

I saw it opening night at the Mark Hellinger Theater (remember seeing Betty Bacall in the lobby) and again later on in the run; and then I saw Danielle Darrieux at a matinée with very few people in the house; she closed the show while Hepburn toured in it nationally. Prior to the opening, there was a big controversy in Women's Wear Daily over Beaton recreating Chanel couture on stage. How dare he! The finale (with all the dresses in red) was magnificent with the chorus girls as mannequins on the revolving stages and the legendary mirrored staircase that Coco really had in her rue Cambon couture house. Of course, I loved every thing about it back then, especially the can can with Will B. Able as an American buyer high-kicking over Hepburn's head. There was a sly lesbian sub-text between Coco and her assistant, Nicole, as the daughter Coco never had. Hepburn employed a sprechstimme style of talk singing and, in her case, barking. The tall and gorgeous Charlene Ryan was one of the mannequins with the faux gay Rene Auberjonois as the gay assistant. Ann Reinking was also a member of the ensemble.

Decades later, I saw a revival with Andrea Marcovicci at the York Theater. By then, I knew what a piece of shirt the real Chanel was and I hated everything about the show. The music is so so--the lyrics are cringe worthy--the book is stupid; and to think they would do this vanity project about that Jew and gay-hating hag and Nazi-loving peasant is beyond me. Chanel had to go into exile in Switzerland until 1954, when she returned to Paris; and this is when the musical takes place. In real life, It was either the Duke of Westminster or Churchill himself who sprung her from arrest at the end of WWII; otherwise she would have been paraded as a collaborateuse through the streets of Paris naked and with her head shorn. That would have been something to see!

And, Charles Pierce, the drag performer, used to do Always Mademoiselle, the finale number, which you can see Hepburn doing on the 1971 Tonys. "Who the Devil cares, what a woman wears? Is it worth a stitch, ending up a witch in a golden shell? One is as one does and, by god, it was life was as it had to be; it was not too bad to be Always Mademoiselle. Right or wrong, I'm glad to be Gabrielle Chanel."

by Anonymousreply 811/15/2020

This is my favorite Chanel, ridiculously cute.

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by Anonymousreply 911/15/2020

If the shark from Jaws suddenly started to sing, I imagine it would sound like Katherine Hepburn.

by Anonymousreply 1011/15/2020

[quote]R8 In real life, It was either the Duke of Westminster or Churchill himself who sprung her from arrest at the end of WWII; otherwise she would have been paraded as a collaborateuse through the streets of Paris naked and with her head shorn. That would have been something to see!

I’ll say! That would have made a great climax to the musical. A big crowd number with calling choruses and lots of percussion.

Act 1 could be about Coco’s early years as a [italic]prostitution whore.

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by Anonymousreply 1111/15/2020

John S Wilson reviews the OBC album in the NYT.

It can be said for “Coco” that it is far from the worst musical of these waning days of the genre, although that scarcely stands as a com mendation. It is bland and superficial and it would be totally forgettable if it were not for the presence of Katharine Hepburn.

Miss Hepburn has been given a nothing role. We are told that she is Coco Chanel And that she is having a per sonal problem. But that is beside the point because you don't believe it and you couldn't care less.

What she is is Katharine Hepburn. What we see is that marvelously contoured face, the forceful thrust of her chin, the flashes of fire and laughter in her eyes, the determined stride of her sturdy, no‐nonsense walk. What we hear is that flat, commanding, ripsaw voice that can ring more changes on a monotone than seems humanly possible. And with these stimuli we provide her with a role—a conglomerate of echoes from the movie past.

The show leans on Miss Hepburn and her past for support and, whenever she visible, she supplies it. On the original cast recording (Paramount 1002), she does even more. In this concen trated form, with the focus placed entirely on the score by Alan Jay Lerner and An the Previn, Miss Hepburn gives the show much more than a strong shoulder to lean on. She picks it up and carries it—carries it with such strength of purpose that, on the second side of the disk, she almost makes you believe in this musical.

She is Peter Pan asking if you believe in fairies, but can Miss Hepburn be con vincing enough to save this Tinker Bell? Not really, but it's a wonderful try—a virtu oso magician working with nothing but thin air and her own inner resources.

Miss Hepburn's singing voice is, essentially, her speaking voice rampant on a field of vibrato. She relies to a great extent on the ca denced speaking style that was made all too fashionable for non‐singing singers by Rex Harrison in “My Fair Lady.” Andre Previn has appropriately summoned up echoes of that score to sup port these efforts. The ghost of “Gigi” algo haunts a cou ple of numbers so that there is a sense of reflective sum mation in the score. Com bined with the utterly daunt less performance by Miss Hepburn, “Coco” makes a fitting point at which to close the books on this phase of the musical theater.

by Anonymousreply 1211/16/2020

Let's not, OP.

by Anonymousreply 1311/16/2020

Help us solve The Money Rings Out Like Freedom mystery: Toward the end, right before she says, "So come legal tender, come sooner, not later...", there's a line my husband and I have been trying to decipher for decades. We think it ends with "death where is thy sting," but who knows with her.

by Anonymousreply 1411/16/2020

Suzanne Rogers from "Days of our Lives" was in the chorus

by Anonymousreply 1511/16/2020


All the pelf on the shelf is freedom.

Clink clink, they jingle.!

With money to pay, O debt where's thy sting?

So come, legal tender,

Be tender, surrender,

And let freedom ring!

by Anonymousreply 1611/16/2020

The worst lyrics ever from Lerner's pen:

A woman

Don't count on Balenciaga

Helping you sell Mono-

gamy! Dior isn't shy

He would like all the skirts raised up high--

How grand! So would I!

But who cares where the hems are

If dismal the stems are!

A woman is how she loves

But women who get too slender

Make it confusing gender-ly!

'Twill be ever thus

For some feminine reason

From season to season

You dress for each other, not us!

We're more than satisfied with

Someone who's lined inside with

Woman! Lots of woman!

A woman! A woman! A woman!

How she loves!

by Anonymousreply 1711/16/2020

Sorry, the first line at r17 should be "A woman is how she loves!" (not just "A woman")

by Anonymousreply 1811/16/2020

Hepburn did not miss a single performance during her "Coco" run. But then neither did Lauren Bacall in "Applause"; Bacall beat Kate for the Tony.

Kate and Betty Bacall were friends, and Kate was said to be delighted when Bacall won. She knew that Bacall had never won a major award, while Hepburn had a shelf full of them.

Danielle Darrieux was lovely, charming, and able to actually belt some of the music. But Kate in"Coco" got big laughs throughout, and with Darrieux most of those laughs were gone.

As seen at Westbury Music Fair, Ginger Rogers was superb in the only star-package stock production of "Coco," and her thin singing voice more than sufficed. This was soon after Rogers finished starring in "Mame" in London.

by Anonymousreply 1911/16/2020

Do we really want to go through this again?

by Anonymousreply 2011/16/2020

Danielle Darrieux actually was a Nazi collaborator so that was inspired casting. Eve Arden played Coco in Australia. Can you imagine?

by Anonymousreply 2111/16/2020

Having seen the Westbury Music Fair production with Ginger, in addition to Hepburn and Darrieux on Broadway, I was amused by one change that Rogers made - at the opening of the second act, after the failure of her new fashion line, Coco paces across the stage silently, and finally says, "Shit!" Rogers changed it to "Merde!"

by Anonymousreply 2211/16/2020

Arthur Miller sister was Kate Hepburn understudy

Why would they ask Arthur Miller sister of all people to be Kate Hepburn understudy?

by Anonymousreply 2311/16/2020

Joan Copeland (Miller’s sister) is a wonderful actress. I saw her in PAL JOEY after Eleanor ‘Caged’ Parker quit. She also covered Vivien Leigh in Tovarich. She said she never went on but came close when Hepburn started losing her voice.

by Anonymousreply 2411/16/2020

Excuse me, but did anyone watch the movie I made about her?

by Anonymousreply 2511/16/2020

[quote]Since this girl had the least experience, she was voted to go tell the star everyone was cold. She went to KH’s dressing room to inform her. KH listened, but the thermostat never changed.

They should've picked the one with the prettiest lady ham.

by Anonymousreply 2611/16/2020

I read in the Kanin biography “Tracy and Hepburn” that they extended the eligibility period that year in order to allow Tony consideration for “Applause” and assuring the “ Coco” producers that thus would make for a fairer competition even though everyone thought “Coco” was a sure win. The producers ended up enraged and Hepburn was delighted Bacall won.

by Anonymousreply 2711/16/2020

Imagine Bette instead in this role.

by Anonymousreply 2811/16/2020

If it had run linger, and there were four replacements, would the last one be known as Chanel No. 5?

by Anonymousreply 2911/16/2020

Cecil Beaton excoriates Kate in his published diaries. Actually, he excoriates everyone on COCO. And most everyone on the film of MY FAIR LADY. The diaries are worth buying just for those chapters.

by Anonymousreply 3011/16/2020


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by Anonymousreply 3111/16/2020

[quote] Since this girl had the least experience, she was voted to go tell the star everyone was cold. She went to KH’s dressing room to inform her. KH listened, but the thermostat never changed.

The story I always heard is the next day Hepburn showed up at rehearsals with a huge box of second-hand sweaters for everyone in the cast.

by Anonymousreply 3211/16/2020

Kate mentions Coco a few times in her Dick Cavett interview. One story has her doing a Patti LuPone-type moment with a woman in the audience who was taking photos after the show started. Kate said stop the show!

by Anonymousreply 3311/16/2020

Clive Barnes reported in his review of the show wrote that it had the biggest box -office advance in Broadway history. The Internet Broadway Database says it had 40 previews!

by Anonymousreply 3411/16/2020

Souvenir program.

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by Anonymousreply 3511/16/2020

Cecil Beaton won the Tony for Best Costume Design but wasn't nominated for Best Scenic Design.

by Anonymousreply 3611/17/2020

Broadway insiders knew that Sir Cecil really had little to do with designing the COCO sets, even though he was credited, beyond him saying "I see a spiral staircase here, a platform over there, lots of mirrors on the walls, and a conveyor belt over there...." Associates did all the real design work. They just wanted his name on the Playbill twice.

by Anonymousreply 3711/17/2020

[quote]R26 They should've picked the one with the prettiest lady ham.

You know, I’m remembering now that after the attempted [italic]coup du thermostat, [/italic]this dancer used to go hang out in KH’s dressing room with her once in a while. She was so new to the business she didn’t know any of the theater hierarchy protocol or to be intimidated by the star. KH liked that.

KH sent her a nice letter when she later married. The dancer was also a replacement showgirl in FOLLIES. So I guess this truly is a DL love story of sorts.

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by Anonymousreply 3811/17/2020

Clive Barnes continues to say that the show has two great things going for it: Hepburn, and the AJL book.

by Anonymousreply 3911/17/2020

Where, hell?

by Anonymousreply 4011/17/2020

Best COCO Story...

Coco Chanel was THRILLED that they were making a musical about her life. When the producers asked her who she wanted to star in her life story, she replied without hesitation "Hepburn!"

Of course, she meant Audrey, not Katherine...

The Bob Avian memoir beautifully captures his recollection of Coco, the "smash bomb."

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by Anonymousreply 4111/17/2020

When I saw Dirty Rotten Scoundrels on Broadway, I remember that at the very end there was an assemblage of all those lying, cheating scoundrels and among them was someone portraying Coco Chanel. I never laughed so hard in the theater. When I went back to see the show with Keith Carradine, Coco was no more. Threat of a lawsuit probably?

by Anonymousreply 4211/17/2020

La Swanson auditioned to be Kate's replacement. Obviously the producers didn't go for her but I can't imagine her singing being worse than Hepburn's, even if she was a decade older.

by Anonymousreply 4311/17/2020

Gloria sings.

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by Anonymousreply 4411/17/2020

[quote]When I went back to see the show with Keith Carradine

Was he your date or a replacement performer?

by Anonymousreply 4511/18/2020

Such dulcet tones...

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by Anonymousreply 4611/18/2020

R38 Was that dancer, who later went into Follies, Margot Travers? She was the original young Vanessa in the Bolero d'Amour dance number in that show.

I knew her through the Nickolaus Technique in the early 70s . Think she was married to one of the guys who taught this exercise technique. They were all Buddhists who chanted nam-myoho-renge-kyo. The men were previously gay or bi or whatever.

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by Anonymousreply 4711/18/2020

Most of the songs from that show are pretty much dreck, but I do really love the first song sung by jack Dabdoub, "But That's the Way You Are."

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by Anonymousreply 4811/18/2020

[quote]R47 Was that dancer, who later went into Follies, Margot Travers? She was the original young Vanessa in the Bolero d'Amour dance number in that show.

John Daly: (consults with Mystery Guest) I’m afraid that’s a No.

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by Anonymousreply 4911/18/2020

R47, I checked ibdb and they have our Mystery Guest listed as doing the FOLLIES tour.

It’s cool you knew the original Young Vanessa!

by Anonymousreply 5011/18/2020

Love how Miss Hepburn got away with wearing her comphy, dykey scandals in "The Money Rings Out Like Freedom" number rather than Sir Cecil's version of the Chanel cap-toed pump.

I have a photo (Friedman-Abeles?) of her recording the cast album of Coco, and she had a smashing new haircut. She looked great and with those cheekbones too!

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by Anonymousreply 5111/18/2020

I never miss a Rene Auberjonois musical.

by Anonymousreply 5211/18/2020

Rene in "Big River".

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by Anonymousreply 5311/18/2020

Rene in Coco.

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by Anonymousreply 5411/19/2020

The barebones script in hand production at the York starring Miss Andrea Marcovicci exposed the creaky book. It also made me appreciate non singer Kate and how she sold those mediocre songs.

by Anonymousreply 5511/19/2020

Rene sings "Fiasco".

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by Anonymousreply 5611/19/2020

Haha she thought she was guaranteed the Tony just for showing up

by Anonymousreply 5711/21/2020
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