Welcome to another Musical Theatre Monday and the continuation of our latest Cole Porter series! My favorite composer, Porter’s scores have been almost covered in full here, but there are still a few pre-1948 shows left to investigate. We started last week with Hitchy-Koo Of 1919. Today…
II. Hitchy-Koo Of 1922 (10/10/22 – c. 10/24/22)
After Porter composed the score for the 1919 edition of Ray Hitchcock’s Hitchy-Koo revue series, Jerome Kern contributed the bulk of the musical material to the proceeding year’s production. Following a year without a new entry (in which the star/producer appeared in Ziegfeld’s Follies), Hitchcock once again employed Porter’s services for his 1922 Hitchy-Koo, which, unlike the prior four outings, was produced by the Shuberts and ended up folding in Philadelphia before making it to Broadway. Allegedly, the production briefly toured the northeast after its Philadelphia closing, but with none of Porter’s tunes making it to New York, there were no song hits. I consider this a shame, for this score is even more musically exciting than his previous effort, with astute jazzy (and Kern-like) sensibilities that point towards Porter’s own developing style and gems to come (like “I’m In Love Again,” which was utilized in the Greenwich Village Follies Of 1924, Porter’s third full Broadway score, but one that isn’t full enough to warrant coverage on Musical Theatre Mondays). You’ll notice the aesthetic growth immediately.
How do I know of the quality of Hitchy-Koo Of 1922? Aside from the odd recordings here and there, selections of the score — utilizing the original orchestrations — were conducted by John McGlinn and broadcast on WNYC live from Symphony Space in 1988. I’m pleased to share a few of those excerpts with you here today, beginning above with “Pitter-Patter” as sung by George Dvorsky — my favorite song here.
From the same broadcast, here’s Jeanne Lehman above with the purposefully exotic-sounding “Ah Fong Lo,” and below — Dvorsky with the marching “Play Me A Tune.”
One of the score’s most fun ditties was “The Bandit Band,” a jovial recording of which is taken below from a Bagley album.
And we’ll close today’s entry with a number reminiscent of “The Tale Of The Oyster” from Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929), itself based on a delectable 1926 song called “The Scampi.” Nowhere is Porter’s growing talents more evident than in this prototype of a future classic. Here’s Lehman’s rendition of “The Sponge” from the aforementioned WNYC broadcast. Witness a genius in development!
Come back next Monday for another Cole Porter score! And tune in tomorrow for my picks of the best episodes from the second season of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show! (Also, this week’s Wildcard Wednesday is important — don’t miss it!)