Carol Channing

On Broadway

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On Broadway was an ABC television special first broadcast in 1969 starring Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey, who were at the pinnacle of their fame as singers and performers. The special showcases duets between the two women with friendly banter tying them together. Like most TV productions of the time, the camera work is simple, but fine. Most will want to see this DVD for the music and the interaction between two of the most talented female Broadway entertainers. Judging On Broadway on those grounds gets mixed reviews. Interestingly, many of the songs sung here were first written for men, putting On Broadway in an important feminist, historical context. Carol Channing sings "If I Were a Rich Man" and Pearl Bailey sings a medley as the Music Man. The duets of "A Little Girl From Little Rock" from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and "Won't You Come Home" are quite solid, as is Bailey's "If They Could See Me Now" from Sweet Charity. The material never really transcends the concept. Channing first starred in Hello Dolly in 1964 and Bailey took over the title role a few years later. The comedy is a bit stale and it isn't clear how much the two women want to perform with each other. Being that they are professionals, however, the show is entertaining. Channing's impersonations (especially of Marlene Dietrich) should be popular, and Pearl Bailey is a sadly forgotten diva. Of course, the show's finale is a strong "Hello Dolly." Enjoyable, especially because this special was lost for 30 years. The DVD also includes outtakes and bloopers.