By Ethan Mordden
"Music and ladies are the soul of musical comedy," one critic wrote, early within the Forties. yet this used to be the age that sought after greater than melody and kickline shape its musical indicates. the shape were working on empty for too lengthy, as a formulation for the meeting of spare parts--star comics, popular love songs, rumba dancers, Ethel Merman. If Rodgers and Hammerstein hadn't existed, Broadway may have needed to invent them; and Oklahoma! and Carousel got here alongside simply in time to announce the hot formulation for Writing Musicals: Don't have a formula.
Instead, commence with powerful characters and surroundings: Oklahoma!'s murderous romantic triangle set opposed to a frontier society that has to benefit what democracy is as a way to deserve it; or Carousel's dysfunctional kin noticeable within the context of sophistication and gender war.
With the energy and infrequently outrageous humor that Ethan Mordden's readers take without any consideration, the writer levels throughout the decade's classics--Pal Joey, woman in the dead of night, in town, Annie Get Your Gun, Phinian's Rainbow, Brigadoon, Kiss Me, Kate, South Pacific. He additionally covers illuminating trivia--the secret agent mystery the girl Comes throughout, whose superstar received so into her position that she suffered paranoid hallucinations and needed to be hospitalized; the smutty stick to the ladies, damned as "burlesque with a playbill" but ultimate because the longest-run musical in Broadway heritage; Lute music, within which Mary Martin and Nancy Reagan have been chinese language; and the 1st "concept" musicals, Allegro and Love lifestyles. Amid the thrill, whatever innovative happens. The Nineteen Twenties created the musical and the Thirties gave it politics. within the Nineteen Forties, it came upon its soul.
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Extra info for Beautiful Mornin': The Broadway Musical in the 1940s
Ghosts walk a fish fry. Love and death shoot craps for souls. , ensconced on a bit of debris and dressed in red and black, and The Lawd's General, all in white (complete with wings), sitting on a telephone pole, as if God Himself had the show under His survey. This precision of delivery is evident in every aspect of Cabin's production—but it could not have been so well staged if it had not been so well written. Here's a story! : the almost forbiddingly strict yet loving Petunia, resourceful enough to beat dice cheaters at their own game, but vindictive and even bitchy when she shows up in a dance hall, turned out in unaccustomed sweepstakes-winner finery, for the climactic confrontation with Georgia Brown.
Another performer of the Old School bade farewell to Broadway when Eddie Cantor fulfilled a long and constantly frustrated dream of playing Erwin, the greeting-card poet of the John Cecil Holm—George Abbott comedy Three Men on a Horse. Gentle Erwin, who falls into the clutches of gamblers because of his knack for picking winning horses, was the ideal Cantor role—as Cantor had realized when the play first appeared in 1935 (with William Lynn as Erwin, Sam Levene as the lead gambler, and Shirley Booth as his moll).
When the star departs a show with no substance in itself, there is no show. Louis Kronenberger underlined the importance, to a piece of this kind, of the Three Essentials: "Those arch saboteurs of musical comedy, the book and the gags . . ruin what might have been a good show. . " Conversely, dancer Ray Bolger enjoyed a tremendous hit in By Jupiter (1942), though this piece was in its story material and character development no better than The Lady Comes Across. However, By Jupiter had a lot of bawdy gender humor, a wonderful Rodgers and Hart score, and a sharp cast supporting Bolger as a pantywaist married to the Queen of the Amazons.