Well written, funny as hell, and eminently readable "Put On a Happy Face" is as entertaining as any of Charles Strouse's best shows. In this book, whose title is taken from one of his many standards, Strouse takes us on a journey through the Broadway musical theater of the last fifty years. Along the way we meet the legends with whom he has worked (and with whom he has occasionally battled): David Merrick, Mel Brooks, Lauren Bacall, Dick Van Dyke, Gower Champion, Joshua Logan, Mike Nichols, Arthur Laurents, Alan Jay Lerner. He demonstrates how tough it is to write a musical and how much tougher it is to get it produced, only to have the critics break your heart. But he also shows the exhilaration and thrills when the show is a smash hit, like Bye Bye Birdie, Applause, or Annie.He clears up the confusion regarding his (and Lee Adams') contributions to Hello, Dolly!, especially laying to rest once and for all (one hopes) the rumors concerning the true authorship of "Before the Parade Passes By."
Strouse has had a fabulous career. Besides the hit shows, so many of his songs have become standards: "Tomorrow," "You've Got Possibilities," "Once Upon a Time," "Kids," "A Lot of Livin' To Do," and others. Buffs worship his score for Rags. His title song for Dance a Little Closer is gorgeous. His theme song for All in the Family --- "Those Were the Days" is one of the best known tv themes ever. If you analyze "The Telephone Hour" measure by measure, you will be astonished by the musicianship. In person, Charles Strouse is warm, gracious, and, to borrow the title of one of his songs, a "perfect gentleman." All that talent and honest personality come through in the pages of this book.
Don't miss it.