All tagged Dorothy Fields
A musical that was plagued with troubles during its gestation, that seemed to solve most of them before officially opening on Broadway, only to fold after approximately five months, was the 1973 Seesaw. Adapted from the William Gibson play Two for the Seesaw, with a book by Michael Bennett and a score by Dorothy Fields and Cy Coleman, Seesaw originally had a book by Michael Stewart, direction by Edwin Sherin, and was to star Lainie Kazan. As the musical’s hit song exclaims, however, “It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish” and the show would arrive on Broadway with a very different cast of characters involved.
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).
Many of you might not know who Dorothy Fields was (I’m sure some do), but you will certainly know the lyrics to myriad songs she wrote from Broadway musicals. Featuring one of most prolific (and certainly groundbreaking) careers as musical theatre writer, Fields was a constant voice in the business when very few other women were making headway in the male-dominated profession.
Broadway composers tend to settle into a style that is distinctly their own. We know a Stephen Sondheim score when we hear it. Andrew Lloyd Webber, the same. In fact, many people cling to the familiarity of a Broadway composer’s style, knowing that attending their latest show will hopefully yield something new and familiar at the same time. We can almost count on this result, and why not? Each composer is unique and cultivates their own sound with each new show that they write. There was, however, one musical theatre composer who reinvented his voice several times over throughout his career, so it is much harder to pinpoint what his style exactly is. Working with a variety of musical styles, and a wide-range of writing partners, each score he touched sounded like he reimagined his talents to best capture the musical world at hand. This is the eclectic brilliance of composer Cy Coleman.