I should have written this column a week ago, but I was weak and backsliding. (Who was sliding me about on my back? Never you mind. Besides, if he didn't say his name to me, how could I tell it to you? Be logical!) Little Dougie took me to the theater in North Hollywood last week, Broadway being too far from the L.A. MTA Orange Line for him to get to. The show was Diane Vincent's mini-musical, Nuttin' But Hutton: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Betty Hutton, and it was great fun. Live humans singing and dancing to live music provided by live musicians. It's like a 3-D movie you don't need special glasses to watch. (Well, Dougie did.)
|Diane Vincent in red and green.|
But Little Dougie is prejudiced in her favor, which is why imparital little old me is writing this review instead of Dougie. Because Diane Vincent is one of the children of Larry "Seymour" Vincent, Little Dougie's friend, mentor and employer, who passed away far, far too young, way the heck back in 1975. Larry was a pretty damn funny guy, especially with a song, himself. How funny was Larry? Well let me put it this way: he could take a script Dougie had written and even make that funny. Here, hear for yourself. Here is Larry Vincent singing The Freckle Song, and if it doesn't make you smile and laugh, then there's something seriously wrong with you.
So Dougie takes an interest, on behalf of his old friend, as it were, in Diane's career. Fortunately, that involves seeing fun shows. Thank heaven Larry didn't have untalented kids.
|Larry Vincent and Little Dougie a mere 40 years ago. These days, Larry looks better than Dougie does, and Larry's been dead for 38 years.|
|Betty Hutton as Judy Garland as Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley.|
|Betty makes the cover of Time about a month before Dougie was born.|
Annie Get Your Gun, which was released 12 days before Little Dougie was born, was a rare MGM film for Betty, as she was a last-minute replacement for Judy Garland in a role written for Ethel Merman on Broadway. Though three songs from its familiar score are in Nuttin' But Hutton, unlike the other material in the show, those songs were not written for, nor tailered to, Betty. They were written for Ethel Merman, though they fit Betty like a glove. Both women were, after all, known for broad comedy and LOUD singing. (My chum Dame Edna likes to say: "That dress fits you like a glove; it sticks out in five places.")
The best film she was ever in, ironically enough, is not represented in Nuttin' But Hutton, but The Miracle of Morgan's Creek was not a musical. It is an incredible knockabout comedy about a woman who can't remember who knocked her up. That might be a common theme in films now, but in 1944, it was shocking, and Sturges ladeled on the innuendo by naming Betty's character "Trudy Kockenlocker." The dirty joke winking inside that name was wholly intentional. (The closest to the name of the man who impregnated her with quintuplets that Trudy can recall was "Ratskiwatski." Apparently, she was knocked up by the recently-deposed Pope, back when he was Private Ratskiwatski in Hitler's army.)
Nuttin' But Hutton tells you something of Betty's life, like mentioning the four husbands (A piker. Dougie has established that I've had a MINIMUM of 10 husbands, possibly several more. He chronicles a newly rediscovered husband of mine in our new book, Tallyho, Tallulah!), and Betty's life's bizarre third act, where she spent years scrubbing floors and serving food and whatnot at a rectory, as a desciple of a Catholic priest. She'd always allowed men to control her, as did many women of her generation (though far from all of them), but at least studio heads employed her as a movie star and paid her handsomely. "Father Maguire" felt floor scrubbing and cooking was the best way to employ her talents. She had hard times, rehabs (A close friend of mine saw her onstage at Melodyland Theater in the 1960s in Annie Get Your Gun and said she had massive problems remembering her lines), and politcally she was a big ole Republican who worshipped at the alter of Ronald Reagan. But the show isn't really that much about her. It's an excuse for Diane Vincent to tear into Betty's comedy songs and knock them out of the park.
|No, these are not the Village People. The chorus guys ranged across this photo are the "Doctor, Lawyer, and Indian Chief." I was amused when seeing the show to note that the "Doctor" is wearing rubber dishwashing gloves, not latex surgical gloves.|
But we waited until halfway through the run to see it, and then I was too lazy to get this review up sooner. There's only two weeks left. It closes on April 28. So off your butts. Go see Diane's take on Betty's songs. You'll have a grand time. You can get tickets here.
Oh hell, here's another Larry Vincent comedy song, just because we love and miss him:
Cheers, darlings. (Buy my new book!)
|I barge up onstage to "help out" only to find the liquor onstage was only cold tea. I detest show busness sham!|