Notes and Editorial Reviews
A musical revue celebrating the songs of love and despair written by Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire, Starting Here, Starting Now first opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1976, before moving in March 1977 to the Barbarann Theatre Restaurant, where it enjoyed a run of 120 performances. With Loni Ackerman, Margery Cohen and George Lee Andrews in the cast, backed by three musicians, the revue explored the various ways of tangling and untangling romantic affairs, in what Maltby and Shire described as mini-dramas set to words and music, with the first act exploring the vagaries of romance in the big cities, and act two centering on the breakups and eventual resurgences when the romance has become a thing of the past.
1 The Word Is Love / Starting Here, Starting Now / A Little Bit Off
2 I Think I May Want To Remember Today
3 We Can Talk to Each Other
4 Just Across The River
5 Crossword Puzzle
7 I Don't Remember Christmas
8 I Don't Believe It
10 Pleased with Myself
13 Watching the Big Parade Go By
14 I Hear Bells
15 What About Today?
16 One Step
17 Song of Me
18 Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Life
19 A New Life Coming
20 Finale: Flair (reprise)
Starting Here, Starting Now is a musical revue by the celebrated and many-times-Tony®-nominated team of Richard Maltby, Jr. (lyrics) and David Shire (music). They have enjoyed a remarkably enduring and prolific collaboration dating back to their undergraduate days at Yale in the late 1950s, creating complete scores for at least half a dozen major projects.
Their first off-Broadway show, The Sap Of Life (1961), caught the interest of Harold Prince, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins, and early songs of theirs were championed by the likes of Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, Roberta Flack, Pearl Bailey and Robert Goulet. Barbra Streisand used the song “Starting Here, Starting Now” as the stunning finale to her Emmy® Award-winning television special Color Me Barbra, and chose “What About Today?” as the title song for her first album of exclusively contemporary music.
The pair parted ways in 1970, when Shire went to California to write music for television and film, and Maltby stayed on the east coast to build his remarkable career in theatre directing. In the fall of 1976, Maltby got a call from the Manhattan Theatre Club suggesting that he stage an evening of songs by Maltby and Shire. The offer presented a welcome challenge, for up to that point neither the lyricist nor the composer had felt that even their best scores had been adequately realized on stage.
No one was disappointed. On the opening night of Starting Here, Starting Now, Maltby and Shire experienced for the first time a full evening of their own material that was an unqualified success. In a single moment, it seemed, they had arrived fully formed. Producers appeared, and plans were immediately made to transfer the show to another theater for an extended run. It was ironic that it took a full-fledged "retrospective" to mark what was undeniably a beginning.
Working from a tiny postage-stamp stage, Loni Ackerman, Margery Cohen and George Lee Andrews light up the room with their individual and collective brilliance. At the heart of the Maltby/Shire material is an energetic, intelligent optimism about life and love. All of the songs in Starting Here, Starting Now have an immediate and contemporary impact; there is no need to know the specific origin of each one – but perhaps you may be interested:
“The Word Is Love” was part of the finale of the first Maltby/Shire musical after Yale, The Sap Of Life, which opened at the Sheridan Square Playhouse in 1961.
“Starting Here, Starting Now” was originally intended to be a gentle bossa nova for Robert Goulet. It was written at a time when David Shire was the assistant conductor of Funny Girl on Broadway. Barbra Streisand spotted the song on top of a piano one day – and you know the rest.
“A Little Bit Off” is from an unproduced musical about the denizens of Greenwich Village during the period 1910–20.
“I Think I May Want To Remember Today” survives from a show called Love Match, about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and the Queen’s attempts to rewrite history to fit her own fantasies. Maltby and Shire were called in to "doctor" the score for this show and ended up writing an entirely new one.
“We Can Talk to Each Other” is an aggressively funny song created for Girl Of The Minute, an unproduced musical that examined the pop-culture phenomenon of instant celebrity.
“Just Across the River” was sung by Phyllis Newman in How Do You Do, I Love You. Michael Stewart (I Love My Wife, Hello, Dolly!) wrote the book for this show about computer dating, which toured on the music tent circuit in 1968. Loni Ackerman made her musical comedy debut in this show.
“Crossword Puzzle” was one of the songs Maltby and Shire contributed to a Ronnie Graham revue at the Upstairs at the Downstairs called Graham Crackers.
“Autumn”was the first song written by Maltby and Shire. During their junior year at Yale they wrote a musical version of Cyrano de Bergerac with a cast that included Dick Cavett, Carrie Nye, Austin Pendleton and John Cunningham. The song became their first to be recorded by Streisand.
“I Don't Remember Christmas” concerns the more painful side of love. It is one of two new songs written specifically for Starting Here, Starting Now.
“I Don't Believe It,” although from Love Match, was completely rewritten by Maltby for Starting Here, Starting Now and transformed into a most contemporary satire.
“Barbara” was written for Richard Maltby's wife on the occasion of their first anniversary.
“Pleased With Myself,” which closes the first act of Starting Here, Starting Now, is from the score of How Do You Do, I Love You.
“Flair” was written especially for the second act of Starting Here, Starting Now.
“Travel” is from a musical adaptation of The River, a novel (and later a film) written by Rumer Godden. The story concerns a close-knit English family living in India; they sing this around a piano after dinner one night.
“Watching the Big Parade Go By” defines, justifies, and honors the function of an audience. This song, written in 1961 for The Sap Of Life, preceded the numerous other "parade" songs from such Broadway musicals as Anyone Can Whistle ("A Parade In Town"), Funny Girl ("Don't Rain On My Parade") and Hello, Dolly! ("Before The Parade Passes By").
“I Hear Bells,” from Love Match, was written to be accompanied by all the bells in the city of London. Lacking those resources in Starting Here, Starting Now, David Shire conceived a magical and witty vocal arrangement.
“What About Today?” is the only song for which David Shire wrote both music and lyrics. Says Shire: "I worked myself out of a depression and a block with that song – it was something I needed to say."
“One Step” began as a straightforward song in How Do You Do, I Love You. For Starting Here, Starting Now, Maltby restructured it and created possibly the biggest production number in the history of three-character revues. It is a perfectly staged vest-pocket knockout.
“Song of Me” was the opening number of The River, sung by a young girl just awakening to life.
“Today Is the First Day of the Rest of My Life” was, oddly enough, from Love Match. Says Maltby: "This will give you some idea of how desperate and demented we were out-of-town with this show. We had Queen Victoria singing a line that wasn't even invented until the 1960s."
“A New Life Coming” was originally entitled "A Charmed Life" and is from the score of The Sap Of Life.
Finale: Reprise of “Flair.”
– from the original liner notes by William H. Evans Read less
Works on This Recording
Starting Here, Starting Now by David Shire
Hank Jaramillo (Drums),
Richard Davis (Double Bass),
Robert W. Preston (Piano),
George Lee Andrews (Voice),
Loni Ackerman (Voice),
David Shire (Piano),
Margery Cohen (Voice),
John Loehrke (Double Bass),
Gene Bertoncini (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 03/1977
Venue: RCA Studio A, New York, NY
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