Dancing Time: Kern in the ’20s (IX)

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the continuation of our eleven week series on the yet-to-be covered ’20s scores of composer Jerome Kern, who’s responsible for some of the most glorious contributions to the American songbook of all time! So far on That’s Entertainment, we’ve covered these Kern ’20s shows: The Night Boat (1920), Sally (1920), Show Boat (1927), and Sweet Adeline (1929). In this series of entries, we’re filling in all the gaps, featuring shows from both sides of the Atlantic. So far we’ve highlighted Good Morning Dearie (1921), The Cabaret Girl (1922), The Bunch And Judy (1922), The Beauty Prize (1923),The Stepping Stones (1923), Sitting Pretty (1924), Dear Sir (1924), and Sunny (1925). Today . . .

 

IX. The City Chap (10/26/25 – 12/26/25)

city chap

Shortly after the success of Sunny, another Dillingham musical with a Kern score opened; but without the star power of Marilyn Miller or the solid contributions of Harbach and Hammerstein (instead the lyrics were by Anne Caldwell), the show folded in two months. Based on a successful 1909 play, the story told of Nat Duncan (Skeets Gallagher), who moves to a small town to marry a rich girl. He finds one in Josie Lockwood (Ina Williams), daughter of the richest man in town. Unfortunately, he finds himself attracted to his more down-to-earth co-worker at the local drugstore, Betty Graham (Phyllis Cleveland). George Raft, Betty Compton, and Irene Dunne (when she was still Irene Dunn) all had small roles. Kern’s score was unjustly ridiculed, and its quick dismissal by critics and publishers (only a few numbers were released) gives further credence to Caldwell’s reputation as an inferior lyricist. Well, I’m here to tell you that critics and audiences of 1925 were wrong. I don’t know precisely what the book entailed, or how the songs were sung in the original production, but I find the entire score (yes, the entire score) absolutely charming. Let me give you a taste.

Among his new contributions, Kern reused two popular songs from The Cabaret Girl, which had only played the other side of the Atlantic, “Journey’s End” and “Shimmy With Me”; the latter was rewritten with new lyrics as the much more charactery “He Is The Type,” taken above from a 42nd Street Moon compilation of Kern rarities.

Another song of which I’m fond is “Walking Home With Josie,” which I featured in a Wildcard Wednesday post from a few months ago. Here it is again (above), taken from a live audio of a 1986 concert production of the full score. (Subscribe and comment for access to this rare unreleased recording.)

From the same audio, here are two delicious numbers that you won’t find elsewhere: the ensemble’s euphoric Act Two opener, “The Fountain Of Youth” (above), and “When I Fell In Love With You” (below), which was cut during the run.

This show is just filled with fun, feel good duets, and here’s another never-before-recorded gem, “If You Are As Good As You Look.”

And we’ll close today’s post with a mashup of two of Kern’s most unique and unforgettable melodies, “No One Knows (How Much I’m In Love)” and “Sympathetic Someone,” performed by Scott Grinthall and Anna Marie Gutierrez.

 

 

Come back next Monday for another Jerome Kern musical! Tune in tomorrow for the best from the fourth season of Cheers!

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10 thoughts on “Dancing Time: Kern in the ’20s (IX)

  1. Hi, Jackson! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this score, which is so unjustly obscure. It certainly seems to be the case that shows with excellent scores could fail during that era! (I’m thinking of “Zip Goes a Million” as well.) I’d love to have the complete recording of “The City Chap” that you mentioned.

  2. Another show I have never heard of. I’d like to hear more of the score. Please send me a copy of the 1986 concert. Thanks Bob K.

  3. I wonder who made the decision that only 3 songs would be published from the show, Kern or Harms? I too would love to have a listen to the entire 1986 concert recording. Thanks.

  4. Wow, I’ve never heard of this show or of any of the songs that you posted, but I’m very intrigued. “Walking Home With Josie” is lovely. Would love to have that concert recording—could you send it to me when you have a chance? Thanks!

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