Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the start of our first series on the works of composer Vincent Youmans, best known today for No, No, Nanette (1925), which we covered here in our string of posts on seminal ’20s musicals. Once a prolific musician highly regarded for his melodies (a “gifted human” according to Cole Porter), Youmans hasn’t been afforded by time the same recognition as some of his contemporaries. Hopefully these posts will illustrate why this obscurity is undeserved. We’re going to cover every stage score for which Youmans is the main composer, save Nanette and Great Day!, both of which have already been featured. Today kicks things off with…
I. Lollipop (01/21/24 – 05/31/24)
The first musical for which Youmans is credited as the sole composer is one of those routine ’20s Cinderella stories. The book by Zelda Sears (who co-wrote the lyrics with Walter De Leon) concerns an orphan named Laura Lamb (played by Ada May Weeks), nicknamed Lollipop, who’s never had the good fortune of being adopted. She eventually gets a home with the matronly Mrs. Garrity (Sears), who treats Lollipop as a slave. Things finally turn around for the orphan when her wealthy uncle dies and leaves her an inheritance. But, in the midst of a lavish costume ball, Lollipop learns that fortune is fleeting when her uncle’s oil well runs dry and leaves her broke. Fortunately, the kindly plumber who has been after Lollipop’s hand since her days in the orphanage, steps up (with a raise from $9.50 to $13.50 per day) and makes a proposal that she finally accepts.
The show toured in late 1923 under the title The Left Over and closed before coming to New York for some much needed repairs. When the show finally did open in early 1924, the reviews were mostly positive — especially for the lively dancing. The score, however, never really caught on with audiences. So little of Lollipop has been recorded and the only tune that has had longevity is “Take A Little One-Step,” which was later added into No, No, Nanette. Above is Ruby Keeler’s rendition of the number from the 1971 revival cast recording.
Several tunes, which have never been recorded, were published in 1924. Above are scans of the main waltz, “Deep In My Heart,” and below are scans of the cute “Going Rowing.”
But the best tune from the score, and the most distinctly Youmans, seems to be the main lovers’ “Tie A String Around Your Finger,” performed below by Robert White.
Come back next Monday for another Youmans musical! And tune in tomorrow for the best from the third season of Three’s Company!