It Had Refinement

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month, we’re celebrating another effort from composer Arthur Schwartz — a show that closed on Broadway 70 years ago this December. Yes, I’m referring to A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1951), George Abbott’s flawed musical adaptation of Betty Smith’s 1943 novel. I say “flawed adaptation” because Abbott’s decision to cast a star performer — Shirley Booth — in one of the book’s supporting roles necessitated the elevation of her stature, thereby misaligning the rest of the story’s drama, and essentially, its central premise. However, if this made the play weak, the score by Schwartz and Dorothy Fields was an absolute delight, filled with gem after gem. (Heck, it may be Schwartz’s finest hour!) And if you haven’t yet heard the Original Broadway Cast recording, I highly recommend it!

In the meantime, for subscribers who comment below to alert me of their interest, I’m offering access to the entire show in performance — a live audio from the 2005 Encores! production starring Jason Danieley, Sally Murphy, Emily Skinner, and Nancy Anderson. As an excerpt, here’s Danieley with the rousing “I’ll Buy You A Star.” Enjoy!



Come back next month for a new musical rarity! And stay tuned for more Family Ties! 

20 thoughts on “It Had Refinement

    • Hi, Gael! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      What a wonderful, romantic score for such a nice memory! Let me know if you’d like to hear this audio.

  1. Thanks Jackson. I agree with your assessment of the score of Tree. It’s a favorite, and is one of the finer scores in an era that had a lot of really good scores. I saw the Encores! production, and it was a delight. I wish Encores had seen fit to record it, so I’d love to get a copy of your audio.

  2. Not one of my all time favorite shows, but I have always loved Shirley Booth’s “He Had Refinement” It was written for her, and it will be interesting to hear somobody else performing it.
    “One time he said ‘May I suggest
    you call a lady’s chest a chest,
    instead of the points of interest’
    Dainty….ain’t He?”
    Classic! Please Send!

  3. Jackson: Yes and thanks! Please do send me the Encores! performance of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. And here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Paul

    • Hi, Paul! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I have emailed you at your yahoo address. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too!

  4. Hi Jackson

    iy would be great to hear the performance of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. i read the book but to hear how it was translated to the stage would be interesting.

    Happy Holidays.


  5. This is one Arthur Swartz musical that I am not too familiar with. Many thanks for supplying this sample has whet my appetite. Am now keen to take up your great offer to access to the entire show.

    • Hi, duxkino! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I highly recommend the original cast album — and, for this audio, I have emailed you at your gmail address.

  6. I would love to hear the Encores! recording! The original cast recording was the first cast recording I owned and I have read a copy of the script. Thank you for making this available!

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