1989 we hoped to replicate the success of BITTERSUITE with a second musical review in collaboration with producer-director Rick Roemer. It was TUNE THE GRAND UP, which celebrated the words and music of Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman. After its 1985 San Francisco premiere and the Back Alley’s production, the piece played in the West End in 1998 under the title The Best of Times, and Off-Broadway in 2003, titled Showtune, inspired by Herman’s autobiography of the same name.

The forty songs featured came from Herman’s Broadway musicals Milk and Honey (1961), Hello, Dolly! (1964), Mame (1966), Dear World (1969), Mack & Mabel (1974), The Grand Tour (1979), A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine (1980) and La Cage aux Folles (1983).

Conceived by Paul Gilger, the revue has no dialogue. Its songs are grouped into thematic scenes that tell stories and place a strong emphasis on Herman’s lyrics and their optimistic messages.

In addition to being in the revue, along with Mark McGee, Maureen Mershon, Sharon Murray, and Gary Oakes, Carol Woodbury choreographed. Musical direction was by Nelms McKelvain. The Daily News loved it, calling it “spellbinding”; the LA Times didn’t, questioning the need for another Jerry Herman review after Jerry’s Girls.

–Laura Zucker