Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse: Who Can I Turn To?

Written by Daniel McGrew


In category: Song of the Day

Published April 24, 2019

Newley and Bircusse are responsible for a whole host of very popular songs, including “Feeling Good” and “Goldfinger.” They composed scores for the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and well as several stage musicals, one of which, The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, produced in the UK in 1964 and on Broadway in 1965, contained this song. The show was significantly more successful in New York than it had been in England; this could be attributed to any number of factors, among them Tony Bennet’s release of a hit recording of “Who Can I Turn To?,” just before the show appeared in the US.

In New York, Newley himself appeared in the lead role of Cocky, singing this song. And while the song is a good one, it’s Newley’s performance here that really captures my imagination: his bizarre and utterly captivating physicality and gesture, his wonderful, crass, even jarring vocalism. There’s a quality of abandon, of complete surrender to the expressive impulse. The literary critic, Lawrence Kramer, describes song as a “loosening of phonetic and syntactic articulation and a dissolving of language into its physical origin, vocalization.” I think of that when I experience this performance—a communication that is somehow primal, immediate even before language.

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Praised for his “lovely, nuanced tenor” (Boston Musical Intelligencer), Daniel McGrew is an active performer of a broad range of repertoires spanning opera, musical theatre, early, and new music. Recently at Tanglewood, he appeared as François in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place and participated in the annual Festival of Contemporary Music. An early music specialist, Daniel has performed Bach with conductors including Matthew Halls, John Harbison, David Hill, and Masaaki Suzuki, and toured India and the Baltic region with Juilliard415 and Yale University’s Schola Cantorum. He participated in the symphonic premier of James Lapine’s Sondheim on Sondheim with the Boston Pops Orchestra and appeared in David Loud’s Sondheim revue A Good Thing Going. Daniel holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Yale School of Music; he is currently pursuing a DMA at the University of Michigan.  Daniel McGrew will make his debut with NYFOS this June in Manning the Canon.


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