Martha Plimpton sings “God Bless America”

Martha Plimpton, three time Tony nominee and a stand-out in the otherwise ignoble revival of Pal Joey a couple seasons back, is finding new success in television. She had been making some guest appearances on shows, but is now starring in the new series Raising Hope which has become one of the new hits of the season. Airing at 9PM on Fox, the series is about a white trash family whose son finds himself with a baby after a one night stand with a crazed serial killer. In spite of that description it’s a rather sweet show – and all the peril the baby finds itself in is smoke and mirrors.

Plimpton plays a 39 year old grandmother. Cloris Leachman her sometimes lucid, sometimes naked grandmother (known as “Maw-Maw”). Garret Dillahunt is a comic wonder as Plimpton’s immature husband Burt. Lucas Neff, a Chicago-based theatre actor, is having a career breakthrough as the show’s lead Jimmy. It’s a superb ensemble and a very funny show, to boot.

Martha’s singing ability shouldn’t be that much of a surprise – her parents Shelley Plimpton and Keith Carradine met while performing in Hair on Broadway. Her mother was starring in the show while pregnant with Martha. But nevertheless, folks were surprised when she came out onstage in Pal Joey as Gladys and belted her way through the mock strip tease showstopper “Zip.”

The star made an appearance on Saturday night at the World Series in Arlington, Texas to sing “God Bless America.” One qualm though. Last year’s deciding game 6 featured a stunning performance of the song by Kelli O’Hara, but a commercial was shown in its stead. That’s a problem that I hope the Fox network has fixed. Meanwhile, here’s Martha…


Kelli O’Hara sings "God Bless America"

It made the Broadway press circuit late Wednesday afternoon that South Pacific star Kelli O’Hara would be singing “God Bless America” at the seventh inning stretch of World Series Game 6. As I am a big Yankee fan, I was excited that I would be seeing one of my favorite Broadway talents performing. However, the seventh inning stretch came and went over the course of a long commercial break. The dips at Fox decided that it was more important to see a commercial for DJ Hero instead. Turns out they don’t like to air the segment, and only did for the first game, where a decidedly mediocre singer from West Point did the honors. (The games aired on the YES Network always air the segment).

After 9/11, the Yankees have supplanted “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with “God Bless America,” a tradition that has remained in place. For most regular games at Yankee Stadium, they play an abbreviated version of Kate Smith’s rendition. However, for special games such as opening day, Irish tenor Ronan Tynan would sing the song. But he got in trouble a couple weeks ago for making a bad anti-Semitic joke and the Yankees were having none of that, so they canceled his booking for the rest of the 2009 season.

I checked Twitter trending topics to discover folks at the game saying things such as “Best rendition ever heard at the Stadium,” and other rave reviews for the stunning soprano. Least of which, the Yankees won the Series that evening. Now, better late than never is a clip of O’Hara singing “God Bless America,” taken by someone in the stands at the stadium that evening (so there are some non-Kelli O’Haras singing, but I do enjoy the one person who says “Ooh, what a voice!” midsong).