STRIKE UP THE BAND For George’s 120th!

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month — the 26th, to be exact — marks the 120th anniversary of George Gershwin’s birth. In honor of this great man and his remarkable work, I’m thrilled to share four(!) different audios of one of my favorite Gershwin scores — Strike Up The Band (1930), which was also one of the first shows we covered on this blog.

Although there are two official releases — one using the 1927 score, the other using a somewhat reconstructed version of 1930’s — subscribers who are interested in accessing any of these four live, unreleased recordings should kindly comment below (to alert me of their interest)!

First up is a songs-only audio from a 1984 production at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, where — on the heels of My One And Only — an attempt was made to reconcile the basic 1927 book (where the satire was more potent and the conflict was over cheese, not chocolate) with a mix of songs from both the 1927 and 1930 variations of the scores. (For more on the history of this production, check out our previous entry and my favorite Gershwin resource, the uber-comprehensive biography by Howard Pollack.) Above is an excerpt from this recording — “Soon” added for the ’30 version — which features a cast of David Carroll, David Sabin, Kim Criswell, Bill Irwin, and Katharine Buffaloe.

Next I have two audios courtesy of Lost Musicals — one comes from 1994 and ends about 2/3rds of the way through Act II, while the other is taken from a broadcast on BBC in 1998. They both use the 1927 version of the book and score. The first audio, with a cast consisting of Daniel Massey, Thelma Ruby, Frank Thornton, Kathryn Evans, Bill Hartman, Sam Kelly, Ashleigh Sendin, James Vaughan, and Graeme Henderson, is excerpted above with “Yankee Doodle Rhythm,” which was not used in the 1930 Broadway premiere. The second BBC audio — better quality, more fully accompanied, and sampled below — features a cast of Barry Cryer, Sam Kelly, Iren Bartok, John Capes, Claire Carrie, David de Keyser, Thelma Ruby, James Vaughan, and Michael Winsor. This is the title tune.

And, lastly, I’m offering a songs-only audio of the 1998 Encores! production, which — as with the ’84 Walnut version — used the basic 1927 structure, but played with the score by adding numbers only utilized in the second go-’round, like one of my favorites, “Hangin’ Around With You.” (This cast featured Philip Bosco, Kristin Chenoweth, Jason Danieley, David Elder, David Garrison, Judy Kuhn, Ross Lehman, Lynn Redgrave, and David Schramm.)

Also, once again — and just for kicks — here’s the famous footage of a late 1929 rehearsal!



Come back next month for another Musical Theatre Monday! And stay tuned tomorrow for NewsRadio! 

30 thoughts on “STRIKE UP THE BAND For George’s 120th!

  1. Hi, Jackson! Like you, I’m a fan of “Strike Up the Band.” Please send me the unreleased audios; I’d love to have them. Thanks for celebrating Gershwin!

  2. A really great show. Id like to listen to all 4 versions of the musical and compare how the songs were performed.

  3. Thank you Jackson. You have sent me many enjoyable recordings in the past and I would really appreciate it if you would send me the 4 versions of ‘Strike Up the Band’ you have available. John G

  4. I love the verve of the song “Hangin’ Around With You” which is very apparent in your extract. Would certainly love to hear the four different recordings if it were possible. Thanks.

  5. Very fine article. I would like all four recordings. I have the 1930 libretto of the show, but wonder if the 1927 script can be made available anywhere, especially since it was never officially published.

  6. really enjoyed your blog . Would love to hear the audios for this show, Thanks for sharing, Bob K.

  7. Hi Jacksons
    Another favorite composer. please provide the audios of George Gershwin’s “Stike Up The Band”. Thank you


    • Hi, Hyperion! Thanks for reading and commenting — and subscribing.

      I have emailed you at your gmail address.

  8. Hello!

    Thanks for sharing! May I have the audios pretty please? I’ve been looking for live recordings of this show in like forever lol!

    Thanks again and stay safe! xoxo

    • Hi, CeeCee! Thanks for reading and commenting — and subscribing!

      I have emailed you at your yahoo address.

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