Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! Today begins a new series of alphabetically ordered posts on forgotten musicals from the ’10s – ’40s. For the next 25 weeks (note that I will not be doing a post for the letter X), I’ll be covering a different forgotten musical. The only criteria, it has to begin with that specific letter of the alphabet. So, naturally, we start with A…
A. Are You With It? (11/10/45 – 06/29/46)
This forgotten musical comedy, adapted from George Malcolm-Smith’s novel Slightly Perfect by Jack Benny scribes Sam Perrin and George Balzer (who also wrote one of the Here’s Lucy episodes featured in last week’s Sitcom Tuesday post!), told the story of an accountant who, after losing his fortune thanks to a misplaced decimal point, decides to run away with the circus. Johnny Downs was the protagonist and Joan Roberts was his love interest. The secondary couple was played by Lew Parker (yes, That Girl‘s daddy!) and Dolores Grey. With a fun book — filled with fat ladies, risque dancers, and singing midgets — and a pleasant score by Harry Revel and Arnold B. Horwitt, Are You With It? looked to be a big hit. But falling victim to a shift in venue during the middle of its run, and the lack of an original cast recording (which had just become in vogue for hit musicals), this amusing musical comedy was cast into obscurity. (As for the 1948 film of the same title, it bears little resemblance to the stage show.)
UnsungMusicalsCo.Inc gave the show a rare reading in December of 2013 at the NYPL. To my knowledge, this is the first time the show has ever been seen since its closing in 1946. Thanks to the NYPL, you can read more about the show here, along with a reconstruction of the script. Original cast member Joan Roberts recorded two numbers. Above is the main couple — Wilbur and Vivian’s — second duet, “This Is My Beloved,” as sung by Roberts.
Above is Joan again with her Act Two solo spot, the wonderful “Here I Go Again.” (A neglected gem!)
June Richmond, Cleo of the original cast, recording two numbers, only one of which she actually sang in the show. Unfortunately, I do not have these rare recordings. (If you have them and would like to share, contact me so we can update this post!) One of her songs was “Just Beyond The Rainbow,” which you can hear above as sung in the December 2013 reading.
Here are two never-before-recorded songs, both from the December 2013 reading. Above is “When A Good Man Takes To Drink,” sung by Vivian, the Policeman, and the Bartender. Below is “Send Us Back To The Kitchen,” sung by Marge Keller, the heroine’s best friend.
My favorite song from the score is Wilbur and Vivian’s first duet, “Slightly Perfect” (later reprised by those midgets I mentioned earlier, under the title “Slightly Slightly”). This recording is by Rebecca Luker and Greg MacKellan.
And, lastly, here’s the raucous title song!
Come back next Monday for B! And tune in tomorrow for the best from Season Two of Here’s Lucy!