Celebrating Cary Grant’s Roots in Showbusiness

Keep it Vocal is made up of three choirs, Arnos Vocale (AV), Nightingale Valley (NV), Redcliffe Singers (RS) all directed by Anya Szreter. Tonight they are performing a range of show tunes before the screening of Cole Porter biopic, Night and Day, starring Cary Grant, who spent over a decade in New York as Archibald Leach, working and living very close to 42nd Street. Archie emigrated to America in 1920 as an acrobat with the Pender Troupe of Knockabout Boys, and worked his way up from vaudeville to become a matinee idol in Broadway musical comedy shows, before he headed for the Hollywood hills to become Cary Grant in 1931, so we’ve curated a selection of well-known show songs to celebrate this little-known aspect of his life and work.


How High The Moon’ (1940) – AV
music by Morgan Lewis and words by Nancy Hamilton for the musical review Two for the Money.

‘All The Things You Are’ (1939) – AV
music by Jerome Kern with words written by Oscar Hammerstein II for the musical Very Warm for May.

’42nd Street’ (1933)
music by Harry Warren and words by Al Dubin for the Warner Bros. backstage musical film 42nd Street.

‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ (1941) – NV & RS
music and words by Don Raye and Hughie Prince for the Abbott and Costello comedy film, Buck Privates

‘Moonglow’ (1933) – AV
music by Will Hudson and Irving Mills, words by Eddie DeLange

‘I’m Beginning To See The Light’ (1944) – AV
music by Duke Ellington, Johnny Hodges, and Harry James and words by Don George

‘I Got Plenty O’ Nothin’'(1935) – NV & RS
music by George Gershwin, with a words written by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin for the opera Porgy and Bess

‘Lydia the Tattooed Lady’ (1939) – NV & RS
music by Harold Arlen, words by Yip Harburg for the Marx Brothers movie At the Circus

‘Night And Day’ (1932) – AV
music and words by Cole Porter, for the musical Gay Divorcee.

‘In The Still Of The Night’ (1937) – solo Anya Szreter & Richard
Porter for the MGM film Rosalie.

‘Begin The Beguine’ (1935) – All Choirs
Porter, sung by June Knight in the Broadway musical Jubilee

42nd Street LyricsDownload the lyrics on PDF

Come and meet those dancing feet,

On the avenue I’m taking you to, Forty-second Street.

Hear the beat of dancing feet,

It’s the song I love the melody of, Forty-second Street.

Little “nifties” from the fifties, innocent and sweet.

Pretty ladies from the eighties, who are indiscreet.

They’re side by side, they’re glorified,

Where the underworld can meet the elite, Forty-second Street.

Chorister Kieran McGovern (Nightingale Valley Choir) is doing a series of blog posts about some of the songs on the programme:

’42nd Street’ – 5 min read – but if pressed the clip from the original film is a treat – one of the greatest film musical sequences and still jaw-dropping.
Lydia the Tattooed Lady’ – 4 min read, with three video clips (inc Muppets!) and glossary of those wacky references.
‘Begin the Beguine’ (Cole Porter) – three versions: original, Artie Shaw and Julio Iglesias. Trigger warning – I’m pro Julio and have reservations about the Cole Porter lyric (shock!).
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ – 4 minute read – with various clips including Grandpa Simpson!


We also highly recommend this R3 Record Review summary of Porgy and Bess at Timecode: 01:33; including an interesting discussion of race at 18:33 and ‘Plenty of Nothin’ straight after (ht: Kieran McGovern).