Broadway: The American Musical – Episode 4: “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’ (1943-1960)” – reviewed by George

Hosted by Julie Andrews, Director Michael Kantor, Written by JoAnn Young.
Oklahoma! – was the show that made story the most important element in a musical. No longer would Broadway productions automatically be called “Musical Comedies”. But isn’t that what what the same Oscar Hammerstein did with “Show Boat”? For both of these shows he wrote the book, or dialogue, as well as the lyrics. Story first became the most important part of a musical in “Show Boat”. Remember that comment in an earlier episode about how in the second act there was the “miscegenation scene” with eight characters interacting together and no song?  Which reminds me of a tale. At a party a guest was raving about “Ole Man River”, and saying what a great writer Jerome Kern was. Oscar’s wife Dorothy is supposed to have said, “Oscar Hammerstein wrote “Ole Man River”. Jerome Kern wrote (she sang this last) “Da da da da!”
A real innovation from “Oklahoma!”was the elevation of dance to a full contributor, not only to the plot, but to the emotional foundation of the characters. Plus, it may have been the first show that used so much ballet – the choreographer was the great Agnes DeMille. “Oklahoma!” was the first show to have an Original Cast record album, produced by Oscar, and the show played for five years, breaking the previous record for length of run, by over 800 performances.
On the Town – Adolph Green, Betty Comden, Leonard Bernstein, and Jerome Robbins were all in their twenties when they decided to create a new Broadway musical, a musical about today. So they wrote about sailors on shore leave in New York, trying to meet girls and stay away from the Shore Patrol. It had new young actors and loads of raw energy.
Carousel – Rodgers and Hammerstein’s second musical was the first to benefit from Ed Sullivan’s publicizing. He had John Raitt and Jan Clayton do “If I Loved You” on his Sunday night show, and he talked a little about the plot. Even R&H needed some help with this one – the story of a doomed love, with an unsympathetic “hero”.
My Fair Lady – Rodgers and Hammerstein worked about a year on turning Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” into a musical and never got much of anywhere. Newcomers Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Lowe, who had been working in film (the score for the musical “Royal Wedding”) tried, and they had problems too – until they decided to follow the British film version of 1935 starring Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller. “My Fair Lady” broke the long-run record of “Oklahoma!” by playing for six years.
The Sound of Music – drenched in Oscar’s unwavering optimism. A huge success.

John Raitt singing “Oklahoma!” (Maybe a revival – Alfred Drake was the original Curly).
Laurie’s dream ballet from the film.
The final seconds of “Oklahoma!” from several different productions.

“New York, New York, It’s a Wonderful Town” – original cast.
Same photographed in color for “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” tribute.
Cris Alexander and Nancy Walker (orig. cast) doing “Let’s Go to My Place”.

John Raitt and Jan Clayton sing “If I Loved You” on “The Ed Sullivan Show”.
John singing “My Boy Bill”

Jack Benny trying to buy a ticket to an R&H show.

Ethel Merman singing “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun”.

“Kiss Me Kate”: the original cast with Patricia Morrison singing “We Open in Venice”, followed by Ann Miller from the film singing “It’s Too Darn Hot”.

“South Pacific”: Ezio Pinza and Mary Martin singing “Some Enchanted Evening”, Mary Martin singing “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair”, Bill Talbot singing “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”.

“Guys and Dolls”: from the film “I Got the Horse Right Here”, from the stage “Sue Me, Sue Me” done by Sam Levene and Vivian Blaine, and from the film “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” by Frank Sinatra.

Gertrude Lawrence singing “I Whistle a Happy Tune” with R&H providing the whistling.
Paul Lynde: “Ed Sullivan” from “Bye Bye Birdie.
Julie Andrews: “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from “My Fair Lady”.
Rex Harrison: “Let a Woman in Your Life” from “My Fair Lady”.
Julie Andrews: “I Could Have Danced All Night” from “My Fair Lady”.
Mary Martin: “The Sound of Music”.
Julie Andrews: “The Sound of Music”.
Patricia Morrison: “Getting to Know You” from”The King and I”.

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