Jayne Houdyshell was nominated for Featured Actress in a Musical at the Tony Awards for her performance as Hattie Walker in the Follies revival. That character gets to perform one of the more cheerful and upbeat numbers in the show, “Broadway Baby.” In context, while the four leads star to relive their past relationships, the rest of the company takes turns recreating their big moments. Hattie busts out her showstopper “Broadway Baby.”
It’s an intentional disconnect with the material. You have an older performer singing a song about dreaming of being a big star on Broadway when her career is already over. She flirts with the audience and approaches the material in a way that worked when she was 40 years younger, but not now. Houdyshell really played this up to great effect in the production.
A cast recording of the Follies revival has been available for a while. However, “Broadway Baby” is preserved in the same format as the show. Reprises of “Ah, Paris” and “Rain on the Roof” pop up at the end.
This did not serve the needs of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The museum is compiling a collection of showtunes set in NYC and wanted Houdyshell’s “Broadway Baby” without the other songs. So, Jane Houdyshell graciously went into the studio and recorded a new version of “Broadway Baby.” It’s sensational.
It is available to download for free right now. Thank Playbill for letting us all know about it.