Song Of The Day 6/2/2014: Elmarie Wendel - "Mata Hari" (from "Little Mary Sunshine")


Broadway Off And On: Little Mary Sunshine was a 1959 off-Broadway spoof of old-time musicals which are really frickin' old now. These pre-Tony operettas were gaudily sentimental, with personal emotions tautly attached to more nationalistic slushiness, the notions of both eros and morality coincidentally being verified in the finales. Well, that's handy. A couple of Little Mary Sunshine's targets were Rose-Marie and Naughty Marietta, both of which either featured or were adapted into films starring Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald -- which means these pieces were laden with not just any ordinary justice, but Canadian justice!

I haven't seen LMS so I'll let you uncover specific plot details for yourself, but I can impart that it takes place in Colorado, which means they could feature a song called "Colorado Love Call." (Rose-Marie featured the Eddy/MacDonald signature tune "Indian Love Call.") The title character was an ingenue, played in the original production by Eileen Brennan -- who by the time I got to know her work as Captain Lewis in Private Benjamin seemed to me to be the kind of person who'd bust an ingenue in the chops. "Mata Hari" was sung by the incrementally more harlot-like character Nancy Twinkle, originally played by Elmarie Wendel, a veteran actress who featured prominently in the sitcoms 3rd Rock from the Sun and George Lopez. Nancy and her chorus members cast about for female role models that might infuse their personalities with "bad-girl" sass, and I'd say they hit upon a fairly dependable one.

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