N Is For… THE NIGHT BOAT (1920)

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! Today, we’re continuing our series of alphabetically ordered posts on forgotten musicals from the ’10s – ’40s. Over 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. A was for Are You With It? (1945). B was for Best Foot Forward (1941). C was for The Cat And The Fiddle (1931). D was for Du Barry Was A Lady (1939). E was for Ever Green (1930). F was for Funny Face (1927). G was for Great Day! (1929). H was for Hot-Cha! (1932). I was for Irene (1919). J was for Jumbo (1935). K was for Knickerbocker Holiday (1938). L was for Leave It To Jane (1917). M was for Me And My Girl (1937). N is for…  

 

*This post’s brevity is a result of both the Labor Day holiday and my return to Boston for the start of my third year as an undergraduate at Boston University.*

 

N. The Night Boat (02/02/20 – 10/30/20)

left alone

Following the 1918 dissolution of the Bolton-Wodehouse-Kern teaming that had yielded the Princess Theatre Shows (like the week before last’s Leave It To Jane), Kern was free to work with whomever he chose. For his first show of the decade, Kern teamed with Anne Caldwell (in their second collaboration), producing a scintillating score with several songs that really should be better known today than they are. The plot concerns a man who goes to great lengths to convince his wife and meddlesome mother-in-law that he is the captain of a Manhattan River night boat. (Read a revised version of the libretto courtesy of NYPL here.) Though the show has never seen a major revival (aside from a short 1983 run at the New Amsterdam) , the original production was a smash success, raising Louise Groody, who played one half of the secondary couple in The Night Boatto stardom. (She would go on to greater prominence in the original cast of 1925’s No, No, Nanette.)

Not surprisingly, there are no complete recordings of the score, excepting a Comic Opera Guild release that fails to capture the show’s fun. So, the rest of the songs in today’s post come from various other sources. The above rendition of “Left All Alone Again Blues,” which was included in the ’70s revival of Very Good, Eddie comes from one of Ben Bagley’s Kern albums, and is performed by Armelia McQueen. In the show, this number is sung by Hazel, the wannabe captain’s wife.

Both “Don’t You Want To Take Me?” (above) and “A Heart For Sale” (below) were performed by Groody as Hazel’s sister, Barbara, (she was joined by her love interest, Freddie, in the former) and the respective renditions by Susan Kreutzer and Adelle Sardi both come from the Bagley albums.

Perhaps the best known number from the score is “Good Night, Boat,” a wonderful tune for all of the major characters. This rendition is led by George Dvorsky and presumably was broadcast at some point on BBC Radio in a concert of forgotten Kern.

And my absolute favorite song from the score — a duet for Barbara and Freddie — is “Whose Baby Are You?” This unbelievably catchy number is undoubtedly one of Kern’s most underrated. The rendition below by Dvorsky and Rebecca Caine also comes from the aforementioned BBC broadcast.

 

 

Come back next Monday for O! And tune in tomorrow for the best from the second season of The Odd Couple!

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4 thoughts on “N Is For… THE NIGHT BOAT (1920)

  1. Hello, just thought I’d ask, is there any chance of getting a copy of the BBC broadcast of forgotten Kern you mentioned in this post? The two songs you posted from it are great (both musically and sonically)!

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