All tagged Barbara Cook

Remembering Bloomer Girl

The other night I was making my way through Amazon Prime video, looking for something to watch. After sorting through hundreds of movies and television shows that I just knew wouldn’t hold my interest at that moment, I stumbled upon the 1956, Producer’s Showcase made-for-television version of the 1944 Broadway musical Bloomer Girl. My streaming choice for the evening was set. I have always adored the Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg score ever since I was first introduced to it in my History of American Musical Theatre class in college. Having listened to the score multiple times and read the book of Bloomer Girl for that glorious seminar, I was sad to realize that no one hardly ever produces this adventurous and courageous show that came fast on the heels of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s groundbreaking Oklahoma!. Watching an abridged, made-for-television version was most-likely the closest I would get to seeing a production of the show, so I hit the play button, sat back, and took a little jaunt into musical theatre history, where I admittedly spend most of my time. 

Remembering Plain and Fancy

Not every Broadway musical is a runaway hit, but then not every musical is a calamitous flop. Over the years, there have been many musicals, also-rans, that lasted a season and offered many wonderful things that make it a worthwhile second look. One of those musicals is the 1955 Plain and Fancy. Set amidst the scenic locales and the denizens of Pennsylvania’s Dutch Country, the musical is a gentle story of two cultures clashing cultures and the connections we can make if we just open our minds and hearts.  

Flahooley: The Broadway Musical that Dared to Be Too Honest

Now here is a musical flop that I simply adore, as much for its audacity as for its simply enchanting score. Flahooley, which may have many of you wondering at its bizarre title, opened on Broadway in 1951 at the Broadhurst Theatre. The musical was expected to be a hit, enjoying an enthusiastic out of town tryout. Even theatre caricature artist Al Hirschfeld, who often visited shows in their tryout cities to begin his artwork, was certain that the show would be an enormous hit in New York. Sadly, the show ran for only 40 performances, closed, and faded into obscurity. 

Broadway Blip: Up in Central Park

Here is a musical that used to be immensely popular in this country, but has faded into obscurity. Featuring a lush score by Sigmund Romberg and clever lyrics by Dorothy Fields, Up in Central Park was one of the last hangers-on of the operetta style while also embracing the more contemporary sound of the Rodgers and Hammerstein style that had become the rage two years earlier with Oklahoma!. Opening on Broadway in 1945 (the same year as Carousel), the musical was particularly well known for the lovely song “Close as Pages in a Book,” an oft-recorded love song that still holds up today (check out Barbara Cook’s enchanting recording).