I just finished reading Charles Strouse‘s wise and witty memoir, Put on a Happy Face, which brightened up my hard-knock life with its honest insights into the creative process. Strouse—who wrote the songs for classic shows like Bye Bye Birdie and Annie—has some interesting tidbits to relate:
*Martin Charnin‘s original idea for who should play Little Orphan Annie was Bernadette Peters! But I’m sure she was too young for the part, LOL!
*Arthur Laurents once answered the door giggling uncontrollably. “What’s so funny?” asked Strouse. “Tony Perkins has AIDS!” replied the librettist/director with a macabre glee.
*When she didn’t get her way, tempestuous opera diva Teresa Stratas threw a chair at Strouse and also hit him with her fist. That’s when she showed up.
*Another Strouse collaborator, Aaron Sorkin, was often absent and unreachable on drugs and even his wife had no idea where the fuck he was.
*Sammy Davis Jr. spoke in complete gibberish (he’d start out coherently and then totally descend into nonsense) and was surrounded by yes-men who dug every word.
Wow, it must be fun to be a classic tunesmith!