Thou Swell, Thou Witty, Thou Rodgers & Hart in the ’20s (X)

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the conclusion of our two month series on the 1920s book musicals of Rodgers and Hart, a team whose ’30s and ’40s work had been fairly well represented here in the past. But the only ’20s work of theirs covered was Dearest Enemy (1925). We rectified that, and in this series we’ve covered The Girl Friend (1926), Lido Lady (1926) Peggy-Ann (1926), Betsy (1926), A Connecticut Yankee (1927), She’s My Baby (1928), Present Arms (1928), Chee-Chee (1928), and Spring Is Here (1929). Today…

 

X. Heads Up! (11/11/29 – 03/15/30)

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Rodgers and Hart’s final score of the decade was another return to the lighthearted musical comedy fun for which they were equally well known. Originally titled Me For You, the show starred Victor Moore as a bootlegger who tries to keep his daughter from finding out about his occupation. The show got a makeover before Broadway, and Moore, who was difficult to accept as a bootlegger, became a cook on a rumrunning ship. The marvelous cast included Jack Whiting, Betty Starbuck, Barbara Newberry, John Hundley, Alice Boulden, Lew Parker and a young Ray Bolger.  However, the hit of the evening was Whiting’s winning ballad, “A Ship Without A Sail,” which is among the songwriting duo’s finest. The rendition below is by Dawn Upshaw.

The success of the Broadway production spawned a brief London mounting, a clip of which can be seen here. The film was also adapted with relative faithfulness in 1930 with Victor Moore and a cast that included Charles Rogers and Helen Kane. Only two of Rodgers and Hart’s songs were used: the above and Boulden’s “My Man Is On The Make,” performed below by Helen Kane.

A song from She’s My Baby, “How Was I To Know?” got new lyrics and became “Why Do You Suppose?” It’s a cute tune, played below by Sam Lanin and his orchestra.

Ben Bagley’s fourth Rodgers and Hart album included a medley of three Heads Up! songs: Boulden and Bolger’s “Knees,” Whiting and Newberry’s “It Must Be Heaven,” and Bolger and Starbuck’s “Me For You.”

We’ll close today’s post with perhaps my favorite number, which was cut out of town, entitled “As Though You Were There,” sung below by Lee Wiley.

 

 

Come back next Monday for another forgotten musical! And tune in tomorrow for the best from the second season of Rhoda!

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