All tagged E. Y. Harburg

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. 

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. 

Nine Reasons Why We Love The Wizard of Oz from an Early Age

A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of seeing the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz on the big screen. Even more thrilling was having my two nephews in tow. The younger one is only a few months old, but sat quietly for the duration. The older one is two-years-old and this was this was his first time seeing this beloved film. Sitting with him, I watched it through new eyes, witnessing his rapt attention and his visible excitement. It suddenly occurred to me that there is a reason why this movie musical sucks us in at an early age and remains ensconced in our hearts for a lifetime. Through my older nephew’s responses, I saw exactly which ingredients facilitate this life-long love affair with The Wizard of Oz.

The Broadway Musical Troublemaker of 1947

Every once and a while, a musical comes along that stirs up the pot, shocking us with its audacity to speak the truth. In recent years, musicals such as HamiltonNext to NormalThe Scottsboro Boys, and Fun Home come to mind as examples of musicals that were not afraid to look societal and artistic norms in the face and thumb their nose as what is comfortable or conventional. This was done in-an-effort to cast some light on overlooked subject matter, issues that demanded a new perspective, or inconvenient truths that may have been glossed over. It might be hard to believe, but musical theatre has typically been at the forefront of performance mediums in addressing controversial topics. In fact, Finian's Rainbow, which opened on Broadway in 1947 (and celebrated the 70th Anniversary of that premiere on January 10th), may have been one of the nerviest of all Broadway productions. It subversively confronted race issues by addressing bigotry, head-on, and by taking steps within its production to demonstrate active change. Finian's Rainbow was (and remains to be) one of Broadway's bravest shows.