Singers' departures

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Posted ByLL on February 21, 2004 at 02:29:57:

In the recent discussion of Jack's reaction to Kenny Baker's departure, I was interested to see the script for Frank Parker's last performance. Frank was as important a part of the show as any other singer, it's just that a) so many of his shows are lost, b) the shows we do have generally either have poor sound and/or the singing is clipped, and c) he didn't have as well-defined a character as Kenny or Dennis.

In any event, the show is being broadcast from Hollywood because Jack is making "Broadway Melody". Frank leaves two weeks before the end of the season, with the cast saying their goodbyes and that they'll see him back in New York. In the following show, the opening conversation has mention of what a great guy Frank Parker is. There is no indication that he was leaving the show. It's much like Kenny Baker's departure, with an indication of the continuation of the character (i.e., seeing Frank in New York vs. seeing Kenny in Waukegan).

The singer that took over in the fall of 1935 was Michael Bartlett, and sadly, all of his shows are among the lost. Whatever the case, he was speedily replaced by Kenny Baker on November 3, 1935.

So this could also explain some of the thought in having Dennis' character be in the background for his first few shows, easing into the pool as it were. They'd been through this before, with a popular singer departing without audience warning, then trying to find someone to fill his shoes. The first time they did it, they apparently got a "lemon" in Bartlett. With Dennis, I imagine they didn't want that to happen again.


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