All tagged Jerome Kern

Remembering the Princess Musicals

Have any of you heard of “The Princess Musicals”? I am not speaking of the Disney musicals on Broadway featuring princesses as the show’s heroine, but rather a short-lived series of musicals that played at Manhattan’s Princess Theatre between 1915 and 1919. These intimate musical comedies would prove to be influential in shaping the future of musical comedy on Broadway. Taking a step away from the big-budget spectacles, musical revues, and operettas that were popular in the day, The Princess Musicals would take a different approach: youthful, exuberant musicals performed on a much smaller scale, manageably-sized to fit the 299 seat venue and its limited stage space. They would also be an early attempt at integrating the score with plot, though not as effectively as would be achieved with musicals such as Show BoatPal JoeyLady in the Dark, and Oklahoma! further down the road. 

Broadway Blip: "Ol' Man River"

Perhaps one of the most poignant and powerful songs in the history of musical theatre is Jerome Kern’s and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Ol’ Man River.” This swelling anthem contrasting the hard life of the African American with the unforgiving, undaunted flow of the Mississippi River is one of the best-known songs to come from the groundbreaking 1927 musical Show Boat. The song was introduced in the musical on December 27, 1927 by Jules Bledsoe who played the role of Joe a black dock worker aboard the entertainment vessel The Cotton Blossom.

Movie Morsel: High, Wide and Handsome

An early movie musical (in black and white-gasp!) that is worth a look (if you can find it) is Paramount Pictures’ High, Wide, and Handsome. The epic tale features a score by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, II who also worked together to write one of Broadway’s most prolific scores, Show Boat. Made in 1937 (ten years after Show Boat), High, Wide, and Handsome was directed by Rouben Mamoulian, who would go on to direct the original Broadway productions of Oklahoma! and Carousel.

Movie Morsel: Till the Clouds Roll By

Have you ever wanted to see a completely accurate biopic about composer Jerome Kern? Well, don’t expect to find that in the 1946 MGM film musical Till the Clouds Roll By, a fictional telling of the life of Kern with a few facts thrown in to keep it honest. No, there is a better reason to see the movie Till the Clouds the Roll By. The film is who’s who of MGM’s finest talents singing some of the best songs from the Jerome Kern songbook. Each musical sequence is cleverly staged and full of eye-popping opulence.