History the The Musical phase

1920s IV: new Composers

by john Kenrick

(The images listed below are thumbnails – click on them to see larger versions.)

Rodgers and also Hart

A publicity handout for Rodger"s and Hart"s breakthrough Broadway hit, The Garrick Gaieties.

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The Garrick Gaieties (1925 - 211 performances) was planned together a two-performance advantage for the prestigious but financially strapped Theatre Guild. Part catchy song by composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart brought about a sensation, and also the run was expanded to several sold-out months. The duo had actually been writing with each other for about a decade, however The Garrick Gaieties put them ~ above the map and also the bubbly song "Manhattan" became a significant pop hit. Rodgers and Hart then operated with librettist Herb Fields on numerous minor successes, number of of i beg your pardon were created by Herb"s father, theatrical good Lew Fields.

Rodgers, Hart and Fields had been working on a book musical based upon an actual event that took place throughout the American Revolution. Basic George Washington asked a brand-new York housewife to entertain a team of British commanders "by every means" – enabling the embattled American military time to make a strategy retreat indigenous Manhattan. To fill with relatively gentle sex-related innuendo, this job was garbage by producers till the success the the Gaieties. Dearest Enemy (1925 - 286 performances) received a lavish production, and also made the clear the this new creative team to be not simply a flash in the pan.

The original sheet music cover for "My heart Stood Still" one of the struggle songs introduced in Rodgers and also Hart"s A Connecticut Yankee.

Rodgers, Hart and also Fields accomplished greater success with A Connecticut Yankee (1927 - 418 performances). Based upon Mark Twain"s story of a modern American who is conked top top the head and dreams that he has been transported come King Arthur"s legendary court, that featured amusing combine of neo-medieval speech and 1920s slang ("Methinks yon damsel is a beloved broad"). The score included "My love Stood Still" and also the scintillating "Thou Swell." William Gaxton won acclaim in the central role, beginning his long reign together Broadway"s most renowned musical comedy leading man.

Rodgers and Hart"s beforehand shows to be lighthearted romps, yet some of their songs had surprising, bittersweet undertones. No lyricist ever overshadowed Larry Hart"s gift for catching the teen of hopeless love. Because romantic frustration plagued his private life, this was no altogether surprising.

As the stock sector crash the 1929 led to tough times top top Broadway, Rodgers and Hart experienced a series of frustrating flops. When Paramount Pictures offered them a generous contract to create screen musicals, lock took your talents out West. Castle would go back to Broadway in the mid-1930s to create a wire of impressive musical comedy hits. (Their story continues in an upcoming chapter.)

Cole Porter

Composer-lyricist Cole Porter inherited a fortune and also then married an even larger one, therefore he had small financial inspiration to go after a theatrical career. His impressive talents first won fist at both Harvard and also Yale. ~ the fail of Porter"s first musical -- See America First (1916 - 15 performances) -- he set composing aside and also enjoyed the high life in Europe for number of years.

Things changed in the 1920s once Porter put his job in the hand of agent Louis Schurr. Porter was soon working ~ above a succession of worthwhile projects. The success the Paris (1928 - 195 performances) through its daring tune hit "Let"s perform It," led to to Porter's delightful music comedy Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929 - 254 performances), featuring together provocative songs together "You"ve obtained That Thing" and also "You do Something to Me." Porter"s melodies ranged native bright come sensual, and also his witty text featured witty rhymes and daring sex-related innuendo. The first Broadway lyricist to talk about sex open in his songs, Porter would increase to higher fame in the 1930s.

The Gershwins

Fred and Adele Astaire room featured top top a public flyer because that the Gershwin fight Lady be Good (1924).

Those that say lock "love Gershwin" occasionally forget the ther to be two great songwriters by that name. Ira Gershwin"s ingenious rhymes are just as essential as his brother George Gershwin"s distinctive blend of jazz and neo-classical melody.

Both guys occasionally collaborated through others. George"s rousing melody come "Swanee" (lyrics by Irving Caesar) won small attention in a trivial Broadway revue, but then Al Jolson made it an international sensation by interpolating it right into his long-running hit present Sinbad. George quickly came to be one that the hottest musical talents in brand-new York, and he teamed with Ira on nine 1920s phase scores. Many of these reflects were created by the team that Alex Aarons and Vinton Freedley, including these memorable hits –

Funny Face (1927 - 263 performances) featured Adele Astaire together a girl trying to get back her diary from she guardian (Fred), opened the method for a collection of mishaps. The score included "S"Wonderful," "My One and Only," and also the location tune.

The librettos to these mirrors were little more than amusing excuses to gain from one number to another, other George and Ira would occupational to change in the next decade. For now, the effervescent songs mattered most.

Schwartz & Dietz

Composer Arthur Schwartz began writing specialty numbers for Broadway reflects in the mid 1920s, but he acquired his an initial taste of top rank success once he collaborated through lyricist (and longtime MGM public director) Howard Dietz on the score because that The small Show (1929 - 321 performances). After beginning as a series of semi-improvised concerts, this to be the an initial Broadway revue series to offer wit precedence end spectacle.

Comedian Fred Allen won acclaim through his sardonic banter, torch singer Libby Hollman smoldered in "Moanin" Low," and future movie star Clifton Webb presented "I guess I"ll have actually to adjust My Plan." Schwartz and Dietz would cement your reputations v several more intimate revues in the 1930s. There is an ext on this team in the pages ahead.

Berlin"s Music box Revues

Irving Berlin"s "What"ll i Do" was introduced by man Steel and also future film star elegant Moore in the 1923 Music crate Revue.

In 1921, Irving Berlin partnered through producer Sam Harris to develop the handsome and fairly intimate Music crate Theater (originally 859 seats, it currently holds 1,010). Berlin and Harris then appreciated extraordinary success presenting 4 Music box Revues (1921-1924) i m sorry featured scores by Berlin, advanced comedy, and also lavish manufacturing values. The popular collection introduced such hit songs together "Say It with Music," "Pack Up your Sins and Go come the Devil" and "All Alone." Featured performers had Grace Moore, Charlotte Greenwood, Fanny Brice and the Brox Sisters.

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We"ve conserved three of the biggest Broadway occasions of the 1920s because that last: Good News, Al Jolson, and also Show Boat. And yes, Jolson was not just a show – he to be an event.