Put on a Happy Face - A Broadway Memoir Hardcover – Jan 1 2010
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Charles Strouse is one of the most talented composers ever known to Broadway. His life in music makes for truly wonderful reading.”
Mel Brooks (Book writer for All-American, 1962)
Charles Strouse is an American treasure. Put on a Happy Face tells the remarkable story of his amazing life and achievements, with hefty doses of Charles' trademark humor and humility.”
Carol Burnett (Miss Hannigan in the film version of Annie, 1989)
I have vivid and marvelous memories of working with Charles Strouse, first on his revue By Strouse and then in the Broadway cast of Annie. He is a great writer, a completely musical person, and a great teacher.”
Sarah Jessica Parker (Annie in the original Broadway run of Annie, 1979)
Charles is one of the great ones.”
Dick Van Dyke (Albert Peterson in the original Broadway run of Bye Bye Birdie, 1960)
Charles has enriched Broadway and our lives with his remarkable talent.”
Chita Rivera (Rose Alvarez in the original Broadway run of Bye Bye Birdie, 1960)
Charles Strouse's music goes down in Broadway history--it's as apple pie as you can get!”
Vanessa Williams (Rose Alvarez in the television movie Bye Bye Birdie, 1995)
"Strouse's superb backstage memoir deserves a standing ovation."--Publishers Weekly
"[a] lively, highly readable memoir...One finishes the book utterly charmed by the man and his wit. Booklist
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Strouse has had a fabulous career. Besides the hit shows, so many of his songs have become standards: "Tomorrow," "You've Got Possibilities," "Once Upon a Time," "Kids," "A Lot of Livin' To Do," and others. Buffs worship his score for Rags. His title song for Dance a Little Closer is gorgeous. His theme song for All in the Family --- "Those Were the Days" is one of the best known tv themes ever. If you analyze "The Telephone Hour" measure by measure, you will be astonished by the musicianship. In person, Charles Strouse is warm, gracious, and, to borrow the title of one of his songs, a "perfect gentleman." All that talent and honest personality come through in the pages of this book.
Don't miss it.
I also agree that a lot of gaps in his story aren't explained, especially why he and Lee Adams stopped writing together---there is only a vague reference to Mr. Adams diminishing interest in writing for NY Theater.
What disappointed me most about the book is the writing style--it's too stream of consciousness for my taste. I have never seen any author use so many parenthetical phrases as does Mr. Strouse. The result is choppy writing, filled with tangents, written the way some people talk, instead of showing signs of a good book editor.
Of course, I shouldn't be surprised that the writing is not up to par: Mr. Strouse is a very good composer, not a lyricist. His talent lies in notes and rhythms, not in words. His attempts at humor miss the mark, in that they are too mild or predictable. He is not a natural story teller. I respect his body of work and enjoy many recordings of his tunes, espcially Jason Grae's "Your never fully dressed.." however, I am now aware that musicians are not writers.
Charles Stouse paints a terrible picture of Arthur Laurents, but Mr. Laurent's autobiography is far better crafted, witty, and interesting. Mr. Strouse's book is worth reading if you are intersted in 20th century musical theater, but you'll need to get beyond the choppy writing and bland story telling in order to appreciate what an interesting life Mr. Strouse has had.
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