Chee-Chee is a musical by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart based on the 1927 book, The Son of the Grand Eunuch, by Charles Pettit. Chee-Chee opened on Broadway September 25, 1928, the show closed after 31 performances. In 1963 vocalist Betty Comden released an album. In 1928 Herbert Fields wrote a libretto based on Pettit's book in which the son of the Grand Eunuch, Li-Pi, his wife, Chee-Chee, are forced into exile when the Grand Eunuch announces his plan for Li-Pi to become a eunuch and take his father's place as the Grand Eunuch. Chee-Chee is captured and rescued, Li-Pi is captured and rescued, the musical ends happily. Two acts, seven scenes. Act I We're Men of Brains I Am a Prince In a Great Big Way The Most Majestic of Domestic Officials Holy of Holies Her Hair Is Black as Licorice Dear, Oh Dear Await Your Love Joy Is Mine I Wake at Morning I Grovel to Earth Just a Little Thing You Are Both Agreed Owl Song I Must Love You I Bow a Glad Good Day Better Be Good to Me The Tartar Song Chee-Chee's Second Entrance Finale Act II Khonghouse Song Sleep, Weary Head Singing a Love Song Monastery Opening Chinese Dance Living Buddha Moon of My Delight Rodgers and Hart Dominic Symonds, We’ll Have Manhattan: The Early Work of Rodgers & Hart, chapter 8 Chee-Chee Theatre Program, New York Public Library Digital Collections Geoffrey Block, The Richard Rodgers Reader, pp 45-47 Gerald Bordman, American Musical Theater: A Chronicle, pp 492-493
Musical theatre is a form of theatrical performance that combines songs, spoken dialogue and dance. The story and emotional content of a musical – humor, love, anger – are communicated through the words, music and technical aspects of the entertainment as an integrated whole. Although musical theatre overlaps with other theatrical forms like opera and dance, it may be distinguished by the equal importance given to the music as compared with the dialogue and other elements. Since the early 20th century, musical theatre stage works have been called musicals. Although music has been a part of dramatic presentations since ancient times, modern Western musical theatre emerged during the 19th century, with many structural elements established by the works of Gilbert and Sullivan in Britain and those of Harrigan and Hart in America; these were followed by the numerous Edwardian musical comedies and the musical theatre works of American creators like George M. Cohan at the turn of the 20th century.
The Princess Theatre musicals and other smart shows like Of Thee I Sing were artistic steps forward beyond revues and other frothy entertainments of the early 20th century and led to such groundbreaking works as Show Boat and Oklahoma!. Some of the most famous musicals through the decades that followed include West Side Story, The Fantasticks, Hair, A Chorus Line, Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, The Producers and Hamilton. Musicals are performed around the world, they may be presented in large venues, such as big-budget Broadway or West End productions in New York City or London. Alternatively, musicals may be staged in smaller venues, such as fringe theatre, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, regional theatre, or community theatre productions, or on tour. Musicals are presented by amateur and school groups in churches and other performance spaces. In addition to the United States and Britain, there are vibrant musical theatre scenes in continental Europe, Australasia and Latin America.
Since the 20th century, the "book musical" has been defined as a musical play where songs and dances are integrated into a well-made story with serious dramatic goals, able to evoke genuine emotions other than laughter. The three main components of a book musical are its music and book; the book or script of a musical refers to the story, character development and dramatic structure, including the spoken dialogue and stage directions, but it can refer to the dialogue and lyrics together, which are sometimes referred to as the libretto. The music and lyrics together form the score of a musical and include songs, incidental music and musical scenes, which are "theatrical sequence set to music combining song with spoken dialogue." The interpretation of a musical is the responsibility of its creative team, which includes a director, a musical director a choreographer and sometimes an orchestrator. A musical's production is creatively characterized by technical aspects, such as set design, stage properties and sound.
The creative team and interpretations change from the original production to succeeding productions. Some production elements, may be retained from the original production. There is no fixed length for a musical. While it can range from a short one-act entertainment to several acts and several hours in length, most musicals range from one and a half to three hours. Musicals are presented in two acts, with one short intermission, the first act is longer than the second; the first act introduces nearly all of the characters and most of the music and ends with the introduction of a dramatic conflict or plot complication while the second act may introduce a few new songs but contains reprises of important musical themes and resolves the conflict or complication. A book musical is built around four to six main theme tunes that are reprised in the show, although it sometimes consists of a series of songs not directly musically related. Spoken dialogue is interspersed between musical numbers, although "sung dialogue" or recitative may be used in so-called "sung-through" musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Misérables and Hamilton.
Several shorter musicals on Broadway and in the West End have been presented in one act in recent decades. Moments of greatest dramatic intensity in a book musical are performed in song. Proverbially, "when the emotion becomes too strong for speech, you sing. In a book musical, a song is ideally crafted to suit the character and their situation within the story; as The New York Times critic Ben Brantley described the ideal of song in theatre when reviewing the 2008 revival of Gypsy: "There is no separation at all between song and character, what happens in those uncommon moments when musicals reach upward to achieve their ideal reasons to be." Many fewer words are sung in a five-minute song than are spoken in a five-minute block of dialogue. Therefore, there is less time to develop drama in a musical than in a straight play of equivalent length, since a musical devotes more time to music than to dialogue. Within the compressed nature of a musical, the writers must develop the plot; the ma
Busby Berkeley was an American film director and musical choreographer. Berkeley devised elaborate musical production numbers that involved complex geometric patterns. Berkeley's works used large numbers of showgirls and props as fantasy elements in kaleidoscopic on-screen performances. Berkeley was born in California, to Francis Enos and stage actress Gertrude Berkeley. Among Gertrude's friends, a performer in Tim Frawly's Stock company run by Busby Berkeley's father, were actress Amy Busby from which Berkeley gained the appellation "Buzz" or "Busby" and actor William Gillette only four years away from playing Sherlock Holmes. Whether he was christened Busby Berkeley William Enos, or Berkeley William Enos, with "Busby" being a nickname, is not unanimous – the "Child's names" entry on his birth certificate is blank. In addition to her stage work, Gertrude played mother roles in silent films while Berkeley was still a child. Berkeley made his stage début at five. In 1917, he lived in Athol, working as an advertising and sales manager.
During World War I, Berkeley served as a field artillery lieutenant. Watching soldiers drill may have inspired his complex choreography. During the 1920s, Berkeley was a dance director for nearly two dozen Broadway musicals, including such hits as A Connecticut Yankee; as a choreographer, Berkeley was less concerned with the dancing skill of his chorus girls as he was with their ability to form themselves into attractive geometric patterns. His musical numbers were among the largest and best-regimented on Broadway, his earliest film work was in Samuel Goldwyn's Eddie Cantor musicals, where he began developing such techniques as a "parade of faces", moving his dancers all over the stage in as many kaleidoscopic patterns as possible. Berkeley's top shot technique appeared seminally in the Cantor films, the 1932 Universal drama film Night World, his numbers were known for starting out in the realm of the stage, but exceeding this space by moving into a time and place that could only be cinematic, only to return to shots of an applauding audience and the fall of a curtain.
He used only one camera to achieve this, instead of the usual four, to retain control over his vision so no director could edit the film. As choreographer, Berkeley was allowed a certain degree of independence in his direction of musical numbers, they were markedly distinct from the narrative sections of the films, he didn't see the other sections of the picture. The numbers he choreographed were upbeat and focused on decoration as opposed to substance some costing around $10,000 a minute, more than the picture they were in. One exception to this is the number "Remember My Forgotten Man" from Gold Diggers of 1933, which dealt with the treatment of World War I veterans during The Great Depression. Berkeley's popularity with an entertainment-hungry Great Depression audience was secured when he choreographed four musicals back-to-back for Warner Bros.: 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, the aforementioned Gold Diggers of 1933, Fashions of 1934, as well as In Caliente and Wonder Bar with Dolores del Río.
Berkeley always denied any deep significance to his work, arguing that his main professional goals were to top himself and to never repeat his past accomplishments. As the outsized musicals in which Berkeley specialized became passé, he turned to straight directing; the result was 1939's They Made Me a Criminal, one of John Garfield's best films. Berkeley had several well-publicized run-ins with MGM stars such as Judy Garland. In 1943, he was removed as director of Girl Crazy because of disagreements with Garland, although the lavish musical number "I Got Rhythm", which he directed, remained in the picture, his next stop was at 20th Century-Fox for 1943's The Gang's All Here, in which Berkeley choreographed Carmen Miranda's "Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat" number. The film made money. Berkeley returned to MGM in the late 1940s, where among many other accomplishments he conceived the Technicolor finales for the studio's Esther Williams films. Berkeley's final film as choreographer was MGM's Billy Rose's Jumbo.
In the late 1960s, the camp craze brought. He toured the college and lecture circuit, directed a 1930s-style cold medication commercial for Contac capsules entitled the "Cold Diggers of 1969", complete with a top shot of a dancing clock. In his 75th year, Berkeley returned to Broadway to direct a successful revival of No No Nanette starring his old Warner Brothers colleague and "42nd Street" star Ruby Keeler. Berkeley was inducted into the National Museum of Dance's Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame in 1988. Berkeley was married six times including to Merna Kennedy, Esther Muir and starlet Claire James, was survived by his wife Etta Dunn, he was involved in an alienation of affections lawsuit in 1938 involving Carole Landis, was engaged to Lorraine Stein. Berkeley drank often drinking martinis in his daily bath. After his mother’s death and his career began to slow, he attempted suicide by slitting his wrists and taking an overdose of sleeping pills, he was taken to the hospital and kept there for many days, which experience affected his mental state.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, entrepreneur and lecturer. His novels include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the latter called "The Great American Novel". Twain was raised in Hannibal, which provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, he served an apprenticeship with a printer and worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada, he referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County", was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, where he had spent some time as a miner; the short story brought international attention and was translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, he was a friend to presidents, artists and European royalty.
Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—such as the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he overcame his financial troubles with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers, he chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full after he had no legal responsibility to do so. Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley's Comet, he predicted that he would "go out with it" as well, he was lauded as the "greatest humorist this country has produced", William Faulkner called him "the father of American literature". Samuel Langhorne Clemens was born on November 30, 1835, in Florida, the sixth of seven children born to Jane, a native of Kentucky, John Marshall Clemens, a native of Virginia, his parents met when his father moved to Missouri, they were married in 1823. Twain was of Cornish and Scots-Irish descent.
Only three of his siblings survived childhood: Orion and Pamela. His sister Margaret died when Twain was three, his brother Benjamin died three years later, his brother Pleasant Hannibal died at three weeks of age. When he was four, Twain's family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a port town on the Mississippi River that inspired the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Slavery was legal in Missouri at the time, it became a theme in these writings, his father was an attorney and judge, who died of pneumonia in 1847, when Twain was 11. The next year, Twain left school after the fifth grade to become a printer's apprentice. In 1851 he began working as a typesetter, contributing articles and humorous sketches to the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper that Orion owned; when he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cincinnati, joining the newly formed International Typographical Union, the printers trade union.
He educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider information than at a conventional school. Twain describes his boyhood in Life on the Mississippi, stating that "there was but one permanent ambition" among his comrades: to be a steamboatman. Pilot was the grandest position of all; the pilot in those days of trivial wages, had a princely salary – from a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars a month, no board to pay. As Twain describes it, the pilot's prestige exceeded that of the captain; the pilot had to:...get up a warm personal acquaintanceship with every old snag and one-limbed cottonwood and every obscure wood pile that ornaments the banks of this river for twelve hundred miles. Twain studied the Mississippi, learning its landmarks, how to navigate its currents and how to read the river and its shifting channels, submerged snags, rocks that would "tear the life out of the strongest vessel that floated", it was. Piloting gave him his pen name from "mark twain", the leadsman's cry for a measured river depth of two fathoms, safe water for a steamboat.
As a young pilot, Clemens served on the steamer A. B. Chambers with Grant Marsh, who became famous for his exploits as a steamboat captain on the Missouri River; the two liked each other, admired one another, maintained a correspondence for many years after Clemens left the river. While training, Samuel convinced his younger brother Henry to work with him, arranged a post of mud clerk for him on the steamboat Pennsylvania. On June 13, 1858, the steamboat's boiler exploded. Twain claimed to have foreseen this death in a dream a month earlier, which inspired his interest in parapsychology. Twain held himself responsible for the rest of his life, he continued to work on the river and was a river pilot until the Civil War broke out in 1861, when traffic was curta
Peggy-Ann is a musical comedy with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart and book by Herbert Fields, based on the 1910 musical Tillie’s Nightmare by Edgar Smith. The musical opened on Broadway at the Vanderbilt Theatre on December 27, 1926 and closed on October 29, 1927, after 333 performances, it was produced by Lyle D. Andrews. Staged by Robert Milton, with musical staging by Seymour Felix, it starred Helen Ford as Peggy-Ann, Lester Cole, Lulu McConnell, Betty Starbuck; the musical ran for 130 performances. Directed by Lew Fields, Dorothy Dickson starred as Peggy-Ann; the musical was considered daring for its time: there was no opening chorus and no songs for the first 15 minutes. The plot, told in one long dream, focuses on Peggy-Ann’s dream fantasies, she is the niece of the owner of a boarding house in the fiancée of a local boy. She escapes from a hum-drum life through dreams of herself as a wealthy adventuress, with a yacht and a husband. "Hello" "A Tree in the Park" "Howdy Broadway" Act 1"A Little Birdie Told Me So" "Charming, Charming" "Where’s That Rainbow?"Act 2"We Pirates from Weehawken" "In His Arms" "Chuck It!"
"I'm So Humble" "Havana" "Maybe It’s Me" "Give This Little Girl a Hand" "The Race" The Time review praised the "Gilbertian satire, Broadway slapstick, attractive dancers... the charm of the music." However, according to Merle Secrest, none of the songs "stood the test of time", except "Where’s That Rainbow?". This may be why, according to Armond and L. Marc Fields, Peggy-Ann is not remembered as one of the outstanding musicals of the 1920s; the New York Times reviewer wrote that the creators "have brought freshness and ideas to the musical-comedy field." Peggy-Ann at the Internet Broadway Database Overview of Peggy-Ann Internet Broadway Database listing, Tillie's Nightmare
Simple Simon (musical)
Simple Simon is a Broadway musical with book by Guy Bolton, Ed Wynn, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rodgers, produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. and starring Ed Wynn. It played from February 18, 1930 to June 14, 1930 at the Ziegfeld Theatre reopened on March 9, 1931 at the Majestic Theatre; the play, a loose plot designed to show off Ed Wynn's fumbling, punning style, cast him as a newspaper vendor who spends his time in a fairy-tale land where bad news does not exist. The song "Ten Cents a Dance" was introduced by Ruth Etting in this show. "Love Me Or Leave Me" by Gus Kahn and Walter Donaldson was interpolated into the show about two months after it opened. "Dancing on the Ceiling", cut during the Broadway previews, was sung by Jessie Matthews in the London production of Ever Green, became a standard. The musical numbers written for the show included: "Coney Island" "Don't Tell Your Folks" "Magic Music" "I Still Believe in You" "Send for Me" "Dull and Gay" "Sweetenheart" "Hunting the Fox" "Come On, Men" "Ten Cents a Dance" "Rags and Tatters" "Dancing on the Ceiling" "He Was Too Good to Me" "Oh, So Lovely" "Peter Pan" "The Simple Simon Instep" "Prayers of Tears and Laughter" "Hunting Song" "Come out of the Nursery" "Sing Glory Hallelujah" The song "I Can Do Wonders with You", from a previous show, was interpolated.
Simple Simon at the Internet Broadway Database Article on Simple Simon in Ruth Etting site
Dearest Enemy is a musical with a book by Herbert Fields, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, music by Richard Rodgers. This was the first of eight book musicals written by the songwriting team of Rodgers and Hart and writer Herbert Fields, the first of more than two dozen Rodgers and Hart Broadway musicals; the musical takes place in 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, when Mary Lindley Murray detained British troops long enough in Manhattan to give George Washington time to move his vulnerable troops. Hart got the idea for the musical from a plaque in Manhattan about Murray. He, Rodgers and Fields first took their musical to Fields' father, Lew Fields, to produce, but he declined, thinking the Revolutionary War story would not be commercial. At the time and Hart were unknown young songwriters, but in May 1925, they wrote songs for a charity revue, The Garrick Gaieties, which became a surprise success, their songs were a hit. George Ford, husband of Helen Ford, a star of the show, agreed to produce it.
The musical had been variously described as a genuine comic opera in the press. Ford presented a tryout of the musical, titled Dear Enemy at the Ohio Colonial Theatre in July 1925. After rewrites, it played for a week in Baltimore in early September 1925; the Broadway production opened on September 18, 1925 at the Knickerbocker Theatre and closed on May 22, 1926, after 286 performances. Directed by John Murray Anderson, the cast included Flavia Arcaro as Mary, Helen Spring as Jane, John Seymour as Captain Harry Tryon, Helen Ford as Betsy Burke, Charles Purcell as Captain Sir John Copeland, Alden Gay as Caroline, Marian Williams as Annabelle, Jane Overton as Peg, Andrew Lawlor Jr. as Jimmy Burke, William Eville as General Henry Clinton, Harold Crane as General William Howe, Detmar Poppen as General John Tryon, Arthur Brown as Lieutenant Sudsby, Percy Woodley as General Israel Putnam, James Cushman as Major Aaron Burr, Jack Shannon as Private Peters, Mark Truscott as Private Woods, Percy French as Private Lindsay, Frank Lambert as Envoy, H. E. Eldridge as George Washington.
The success of the show led to many more Hart musicals. Despite a good run with favorable reviews and a national tour, revivals afterwards were few; the musical was seen in 1976 at the Goodspeed Opera House, as an American bicentennial production, in 1996 at 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco. It was given an on-book concert in 1999 by the Musicals Tonight! Troupe with piano accompaniment. In 2002, for the Richard Rodgers centennial, New York's amateur Village Light Opera Group produced the show conducted by Ron Noll with an orchestration reconstructed by Larry Moore. A television musical special featuring Cyril Ritchard, Anne Jeffreys, Robert Sterling, Cornelia Otis Skinner as Mrs. Murray, in an adaptation by Neil Simon, was broadcast on November 26, 1955, the soundtrack is still available. A cast recording of that broadcast was released on compact disc in 1997. In 2013, New World Records released a recording of the complete score in the Moore reconstruction; the recording features the Orchestra of Ireland, conducted by David Brophy, Kim Criswell as Mrs. Murray.
According to Steven Suskin, writing in Playbill, it "couldn't be bettered". The story is based on an American Revolutionary War incident in September 1776 when Mary Lindley Murray, under orders from General George Washington, detained General William Howe and his British troops by serving them cake and conversation in her Kips Bay, Manhattan home long enough for some 4,000 American soldiers, fleeing their loss in the Battle of Brooklyn, to reassemble in Washington Heights and join reinforcements to make a successful counterattack. Patriot Mary Murray and her young ladies are working to sew uniforms for American soldiers, but they are sad at the absence of their young men. Mary's flirty daughter Jane leads British General Tryon's son Harry to her house, his commander, General Howe, some British officers commandeer Mary's house as their temporary headquarters. Mary instructs the houseful of beautiful young ladies to discourage the British soldiers, but the girls are eager to engage the enemy in more than just conversation.
George Washington sends word to Mary asking her to try to detain his officers overnight. Mary's feisty, feminist Irish niece Betsy Burke comes home wearing only a barrel after a dog steals her clothes while she is swimming. British Captain Sir John Copeland has gallantly supplied the barrel. Though divided by nationality and Copeland's sexism, they fall in love. Mary gives a Ball for the British officers, promising to show them some of the beauties of the local countryside; the British soldiers are happy to spend time consuming refreshment and indulging in music and flirtation at the Murray mansion. Betsy and Sir John dream of being together when the war is over as Jane and Harry fall in love. Mary's messenger is captured, Betsy volunteers to take an update to General Washington, she is told to return to Mary's house and, when the coast is clear for the American soldiers to move, to light a lantern put it out. Upon her return, Sir John and she acknowledge their love for each other; when Sir John falls asleep, Betsy lights the signal.
The American soldiers march North safely. Sir John is captured but, in the post-war epilogue, he is freed and reunited with Betsy. Note: During the tryouts, numerous songs were cut from the production, including Ale, Ale!, "Duet", "Girls Do Not Tempt Me", "The Three Musketeers". The duet "Dear Me" is believed to have been cut from the show because Mrs. Ford could not dance in only a barrel costume while holding a p