Volume 78 / Number 1 - June 4 - 10, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since
1933


Stars to shine for school in Comden & Green gala

By JERRY TALLMER

Max Gordon said: “Come in, kids, let’s see what you can do.” The kids, calling themselves The Revuers, came in, did their stuff, delighted everybody, and three of them — Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Judy Holiday — started up the ladder to stardom.

That was at the Village Vanguard, Seventh Ave. and 11th St., sixty-something years ago.

Six decades later and six short blocks south, at the Barrow Street Theater in Greenwich House, two of those Revuers, the late, magical lyricists and performers Comden & Green, will once again light up the sky. The one-night-only event, 7:30 p.m., Mon., June 9, is the sold-out, third annual gala produced by Jim Caruso on behalf of the Greenwich House Music School.

The Party’s Over? Oh no, it’s just begun. And if it’s damp that night, lucky (and prosperous) ticket holders can wend their way there Singin’ in the Rain.

Any show titled “Comden & Green’s New York, From Greenwich Village to the Great White Way” requires a ringmaster, or in any event a ring-mistress. In this instance that would be Amanda Green, the daughter of Adolph Green. She has written and will direct and take part in the whole show.

“I don’t dance,” says Ms. Green, briskly. “I sing.”

One of the rarely heard Comden & Green songs she’ll sing is “If You Haven’t But You Did,” from their “Two on the Aisle” — a very early, lighthearted Obie-winning Off-Broadway revue. Another is “Reader’s Digest,” a forgotten hit from the repertoire of those earlier Revuers.

Opening number? That’s easy: “New York, New York.” Not the Kander & Ebb one but the heluva town one from “On the Town.”

“Or maybe it will be ‘Christopher Street’ from ‘Wonderful Town.’ That would be appropriate,” says Amanda G., Christopher Street being right next door to Greenwich House.

Heading a large roster of performers for the occasion is Matthew Broderick, a Greenwich Villager born and bred. He is to be joined by Michael Arnold, Kate Baldwin, Stephanie J. Block, Walter Bobbie, Jonathan Dokuchitz, Jonathan Freeman, Ann Harada, Sean Martin Hingston, Norm Lewis, Jessica Molaskey, John Pizzarelli, Mary Testa and Max Von Essen.

Also on hand as “chair” will by Phyllis Newman, actress, writer, singer, wife of Adolph Green, mother of Amanda Green.

All proceeds from this and the two previous galas go toward matching a $300,000 challenge grant of the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, a fund long given to supporting music schools throughout the New York area.

“We’re pretty close to raising what we need,” said Kathy J. Sharp, the music school’s director of development and communications. “Our constituency is, as they say, anyone from 2 to 82.”

The money goes toward what Greenwich House Music School Director B.C. Vermeersch calls “outreach” to public schools, i.e., sending music teachers into public high schools and grade schools.

The music school, long at 46 Barrow St., has been part of this city since 1905. Greenwich House itself and the Barrow Street Theater are at 27 Barrow St., just off Seventh Ave. The gala, as noted, is sold out, but raffle tickets for Broadway shows are available by calling 212-991-0003, extension 401.

Yes, sure, Amanda Green saw Comden & Green do their stuff, many, many times.

“I mean, Adolph was my father,” she said. “They loved what they did, and they didn’t stop till they stopped.”

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