Song Of The Day 6/4/2014: Linda Lavin - "The Boy From..." (from "The Mad Show")

Broadway Off And On: Off-Broadway shows are generally a little freer and more immediately able to react to current popular culture, which is why The Mad Show, based on the magazine that remains the most widely influential humor periodical ever produced, was staged at the New Theatre in 1966. The Mad Show was as footloose and gaily contemptuous as the magazine, with skit-long satires on the inherent insanity of mass media, the political machine and everyday totems that defied practical thought. Indeed, Mad would have poked fun at me for writing that last sentence.

Linda Lavin, TV's Alice, got to sing "The Boy From...", which is as close as The Mad Show got to a hit. It's a take on the best-known bossa nova in music history, Antônio Carlos Jobim's "The Girl From Ipanema," in which Lavin contends with the extraordinarily long name of the title boy's town: "Tacarembo la Tumbe del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas la Junta del Sol y Cruz." There's also a couple of other things that have eluded the singer's understanding in re: the boy, specifically that he is probably, biologically unlikely to return her affections: "Why do his friends call him Lillian? / And I hear at the end of the week / he's leaving to start a boutique." In the end he moves to Wales, which not only spells the end for her, but isn't going to do much at all for shortening the name of his resident town.

Mary Rodgers, daughter of Broadway composer Richard Rodgers, wrote the music for The Mad Show. She employed a few outside lyricists to write the words, and the person responsible for the lyrics of "The Boy From..." was, I kid you not, one Stephen Sondheim -- of West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Sunday In the Park With George fame. This was not acknowledged in the official Playbill, which gave the credit for the words to this song to "Nom De Plume." How very Harvard Lampoon of him.

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