Another Evening With Harry Stoones

October 21, 1961

Gramercy Arts Theater

New York, NY

Stoones cast

Stenod Productions, Inc. presents:

ANOTHER EVENING WITH HARRY STOONES

(a new musical revue)

Stoones Showbill

Sketches, Music, and Lyrics by Jeff Harris

Directed by G. Adam Jordan

Musical Direction and Arrangements by Abba Bogin

Choreography by Joe Milan

Scenery and Lighting by Robert E. Darling

Costumes Designed and Executed by Ruth Wagner

Technical Director, Wade Taylor

CAST

Diana Sands, Sheila Copelan, Ben Keller, Kenny Adams, Dom De Luise, Virgil Curry, Susan Belink, Barbra Streisand

PART ONE: THE CIVIL WAR

  • Carnival In Capri ... Entire Cast
  • To Belong ... Kenny
  • Communication
    • Waiter ... Dom
    • Lulu ... Diana
    • Jose ... Ben
    • Cook ... Kenny
  • Ballad to the International Business Machine Building ... Virgil
  • You Won’t Believe Me ... Sheila
  • The Wrong Plan ... Diana
  • Ballet
    • Wendy ... Barbra
    • Michael ... Kenny
    • Nana ... Dom
    • Peter Pan ... Harriet All
  • Bang! ... Susan
  • Don’t Laugh At Me ... Virgil & Diana
  • Museum Piece ... Dom
  • Tableau
    • Christopher Columbus ... Virgil
    • Sailor ... Ben
    • Indians ... Sheila, Susan & Barbra
  • Indian Nuts ... Diana, Sheila, Susan & Barbra
  • Uh-Oh ... Kenny, Virgil & Dom
  • Ragtime ... Abba
  • Minnesota ... Entire Cast
  • Ballad of the Tree ... Virgil
  • Value... Barbra
  • Session
    • Bonnie ... Diana
    • Hillary ... Sheila
    • Allie ... Kenny
    • Isidore ... Ben
    • Man ... Virgil
  • My Doggie ... Dom
  • Jersey ... Barbra
  • Dancin’ Free and Easy ... Diana & Kenny
  • Dr. Rosalyn Green ... Sheila
  • Invitation to the Basketball ... Ben
  • Party of the First Part
    • Wendell Mootz ... Kenny
    • Alfie ... Dom
    • Nancy ... Barbra
    • Arthur ... Ben
    • Barbara ... Susan

PART TWO: THE ROARING TWENTIES

  • Big Barry
    • Ace ... Ben
    • Jimbo ... Dom
    • Barry ... Kenny
    • Tina ... Sheila
    • Jo-Jo ... Diana
    • Nancy ... Barbra
  • Miss Greenwich Village ... Susan
  • Stephanie ... Dom
  • Betty Simpson ... Sheila
  • The Rage ... Susan, Virgil, Barbra & Kenny
  • Upstairs at the Downstairs ... Diana
  • Hail to Thee! ... Kenny, Barbra, Susan & Virgil
  • Serena ... Sheila
  • Butterfingers ... Barbra
  • Human Side of the News
    • Announcer ... Ben
    • Dr. Willow ... Dom
  • Miss Heinshlinger ... Barbra & Dom
  • Strangers on a Train ... Sheila & Ben, Susan & Kenny
  • Water on the Brain ... Dom
  • Dream House ... Virgil & Entire Cast

Closed Saturday, October 21, 1961

(“Stoones” ran for one performance only)

* Streisand’s skits in bold

All photos from “Harry Stoones,” this page, by Avery Willard

All About “Harry” ...

Another Evening with Harry Stoones was an Off-Broadway musical-comedy revue. Its writer, Jeff Harris, described it as “an anti-revue. All the sketches kind of made fun of everything.” Stoones' director, Glenn Jordan, recalled “it was more like Laugh-In,” the NBC sketch comedy TV show that ran from 1968 to 1973. Even the title made fun of the theater conventions of the day— Harry Stoones wasn't in the cast, nor did he exist, and furthermore, there had never been a first evening with him!

At this point in her career, Barbra Streisand still wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, despite the fact that she was earning money as a singer in nightclubs. So she continued to audition for the theater, including an Off-Broadway musical co-produced by Burke McHugh called Greenwich Village, U.S.A.

Another musical she auditioned for was Bravo Giovanni. Producer Phillip Rose recalled, “Barbra Streisand came up to my 57th Street office and there was something about her personality and guts that fascinated me,” said Rose. “I called [director Stanley Prager] to meet her, and after he did and even after he auditioned her as our leading lady, he said it was out of the question, that she was too ugly. Over the years, I never let him forget it — even though we wound up with a very nice leading lady in Michele Lee, who made her Broadway debut with the show.”

Streisand auditioned for Another Evening with Harry Stoones in August 1961. “The auditions were very extensive,” Jeff Harris told writer Randall Riese in 1993. “We needed people who were multifaceted. They all had to sing, they all had to be able to move, and they all had to do comedy.”

Glenn Jordan also told Riese about Barbra's audition. “Jeff Hunter, the agent, sent her in to us. We had been seeing people for a very long time, most of whom were not very good, and most of whom sang the same songs. And then Barbra came in and auditioned.” Jordan remembered that she sang I Stayed Too Long at the Fair and A Sleepin' Bee at that audition. “She was as good, I think, as she ever got,” Jordan stated. “I still remember the way she used her hands. She had these beautiful hands, and wonderful nails, and she used them very expressively when she sang.”

Jordan did not cast her immediately, though. They already had one legit singer in the cast (Susan Belink) and couldn't figure how Streisand would fit into the ensemble.

Glenn Jordan and Jeff Harris continued to audition performers: Linda Lavin, Louise Lasser, Barry Newman, John Voight, and even Joan Rivers.

But because Jordan couldn't “couldn't get that girl out of my mind” he called Streisand back to audition again on September 1, 1961. “I wrote ‘perfect,’ ‘wonderful,’ in my notes,” Jordan said. He spoke to Jeff Harris, “She's so good that I think we have to use her.”

Barbra Streisand was hired. And because of her talent “we changed the whole configuration of the revue so that she would have more songs to do,” Glenn Jordan said.

The Stoones creators rehearsed with the actors for three or four weeks, mostly because Harris disagreed with Jordan's directing. There was also a problem with Streisand — this was only the first major show she'd worked on (she earned $37.50 a week). Musical director Abba Bogin explained to Randall Riese that it was difficult to get Streisand to be disciplined. “You had to explain to her that if she didn't do certain things a certain way with some sort of consistency, that it was impossible for anybody who she was working with to work around her,” Bogin said.

Barbra's friend Bary Dennen recalled, “In this show, Barbra's role was more kooky comedy misfit than glamour puss. Her sketch performances were great: underplayed yet terrifically funny.”

Harry Stoones had nine preview performances — public performances to allow the director and cast to improve the show before the critics attended. Stoones opened Saturday, October 21, 1961.

With a first act billed as “The Civil War” and a second act titled “The Roaring Twenties” (neither act had anything to do with those time periods), Another Evening with Harry Stoones was never recorded or filmed. To date, no script has been uncovered. So, what we are left with are memories from the cast and crew and fans who saw the show during its ten performances.

Barbra in Big Barry sketch

Kenny and Barbra

(Above: Kenny Adams and Streisand in “Stoones.”)

Variety’s review mentioned Streisand as “a slim, offbeat comedienne with a flair for dropping a black-out gag. And she belts across a musical apostrophe to New Jersey with facile intensity.”

(Below Left: Streisand sings “Jersey;” Diana Sands dances with a bear.)

Streisand sings Jersey

Jeff Harris wrote more songs for Streisand in those early years of her career: She recorded “Sweet Zoo” for her television show, My Name is Barbra, and “Marty the Martian”, which appeared on A Happening in Central Park. She continued to use Harris' song from Harry Stoones—“Value”—up until her Las Vegas act in the 1970s.

Indians sketch

(Above: “Indian Nuts” with Streisand, Dom De Luise and Sheila Copelan.)

(Below: Streisand, Virgil Curry and Sheila Copelan sing “Minnesota.”)

Newspaper clipping of Stoones review

Here's the New York Times review (October 23, 1961) of the show:

One observation to be made without fear of contradiction about “Another Evening With Harry Stoones” is that there is plenty of it.

Jeff Harris, creator of the revue that opened at the Grammercy Arts Theatre Saturday night, is one of those hosts who insists on stuffing his guests. Indeed, Mr. Harris seems to have been preparing for this event for all of his twenty-six years.

Writer of the sketches, music and lyrics, he has loaded the first half of the program with twenty-four bits and pieces and thrown in fourteen more in the second. Obviously there is plenty, but whether this is something to be thankful for is another matter. Quantity, even the ancients knew, does not necessarily mean quality.

Not that all of this minor contribution to the Off Broadway season is lackluster. Here and there it is possible to detect flashes of humor and point of view. “Dream House”, for instance, the final skit, has a touch of true farce. The tourist agency's rhythmic hymn to “Minnesota” is fun. But too often the sharp satirical edge is missing along with the authentic comic flare. Frequently during the evening there are lapses of taste as Mr. Harris becomes involved with human functions and homosexuality.

Fortunately he has some earnest and likable young people to carry his inventions. Diana Sands is one of them and she is a major asset. Miss Sands, remembered for her superb performance in “A Raisin in the Sun,” in which she was hilariously funny as Beneaths, the college intellectual, is full of vigor, grace and humor in whatever she does in this pot-pourri.

As a chorus girl bumping into the other girls in the line, as a cleaning girl at the Upstairs at the Downstairs, she is excellent. Sheila Copelan as one of those weather forecasting lassies from television, also a television consultant on affairs of the heart, gives a lift to these interludes. Dom de Luise, Ben Keller, Kenny Adams and the others strive mightily in Mr. Harris' cause.

No matter, “Another Evening With Harry Stoones”, if not exactly unbearable is nevertheless none too stimulating.

(Below: Barbra's 1961 acting headshot and a publicity paragraph about her for the newspapers to run.)

Streisand headshot

Here's the Wall Street Journal review of the show by Joseph Morgenstern:

Wall Street Journal Review

In the absence of a marquee above the Gramercy Arts Theater, you might look down around your feet for a clue to the attraction within. There on the sidewalk, the producers have commissioned someone to paint a set of hopscotch squares leading to the entrance. The game is very much in the spirit of the show, which stresses genial child's play at the expense of mature humor.

It doesn't look like child's play. A lot of work has gone into “Another Evening With Harry Stoones,” and it is evident where it ought to be evident: in bright settings, clever costumes, witty music, and capable performances. no one has taken the easy way out with this revue.

On the whole, though, the show is callow. Not because the performers are young, but because their material is ingenuous. When it deals with children, as it does too often—in seven sketches—it verges on childishness. When it deals with adults, the material plows but rarely bites the already fallow ground of jokes about psychiatry, television and rock 'n' roll, turning up routines that are more antic than comic.

This is disappointing, especially since the cast has a lot to offer. Diana Sands, in particular, is all over the place as a droll hipster, a befuddled stripteaser, a woefully defatigable vaudeville hoofer and a young Amazon who has taken the wrong course at Vic Tanney's.

Dom Le Luise's glum humor is appealing. Kenny Adams is properly appalling as a pea-brained rock 'n' roll singer, and Virgil Curry manages a nice combination of insufferable savoir faire and desperate insecurity as he bellows the lyrics to ballads of nonsense or little sense. What's lacking in all of this is an original point of view, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the final sketch, a cleverly staged spoof of Hollywood musical production numbers.

There is Mr. Curry, clad in spangled coveralls and singing “I'm gonna build me dream house a million sunbeams high.” The lyrics are awful, the dream house falls down on stage as soon as it's built. But the lyrics aren't quite awful enough to make their point, and the collapse of the house, amusing as it is, resembles the downfall of the show—too orderly to be chaotic, too predictable to be inspired.

Streisand and cast on the Stoones stage.

(Above: Streisand, Copelan, Diana Sands, and Susan Belink.)

Just like she did for I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Streisand wrote an exaggerated bio for herself in the Harry Stoones Playbill:

Barbra's Harry Stoones bio

Below: A rarity! Barbra's handwritten version of her Stoones Playbill bio:

Handwritten bio

Because the initial reviews of Stoones were not kind, and because, financially, it made more sense to close the show than to wait for audiences to buy tickets, Harry Stoones ended after its opening night performance.

End.

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