Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month, we’re featuring a show that eluded our extensive look at the 1920s during weekly coverage: the first musical to play the legendary Ziegfeld Theatre… Yes, I’m referring to that lavish folly known as Rio Rita (1927), a silly frolic that opened 95 years ago this month — its “plot” concerning a Texas Ranger pursuing a bandit on the Mexican border while courting his prime suspect’s sister, the eponymous Rio Rita… Now, admittedly, this operetta-adjacent score, by Harry Tierney and Joseph McCarthy, is not exceptional — certainly not compared to Ziegfeld’s next book musical to play that space, the iconic Show Boat — but a memorable 1929 film adaptation retained a good many of the stage show’s songs, and I recommend checking it out for your own educational pleasure.

And in the meantime, I’m offering — for subscribers who comment below to alert me of their private, non-commercial interest — a songs-only audio recording of a live stage production, mounted in May 1971 at my alma mater, The University of Southern California. This is your chance to sample almost the entirety of the original score, including numbers cut from the film… As an excerpt though, here’s something you may have heard before, my favorite number from Rio Rita — the bouncy “Out On The Loose.” Enjoy!



Come back next month for another musical rarity! And stay tuned for more Kate & Allie!

32 thoughts on “SHOW BOAT It Ain’t!

  1. Sounds wonderful, Jackson! Rio Rita is a musical that should be staged more often than it is. I would love a copy of this songs-only audio recording of the May 1971 live stage production. Many thanks to you. Kind Regards, Ian.

    • Hi, Ian! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I have emailed you at your gmail address — hope it brings back happy memories!

  2. Wow! What a treasure trove of classic musicals you have! I don’t believe in the word “dated” when it comes to Theatre. We still enjoy Shakespeare, don’t we? I did a production of “The Desert Song” in the 80’s, and it was just as fresh and new as any other production I was involved with. I’ve never heard the score of “Rio Rita” and can’t wait to do so! Thank you, Jackson!

  3. Hi Jackson,
    Love to hear. this Rio Rita. i liked hearing the oldies but goodies as they always surprise what type of music they presented, funny, sad, corny, lovely, and just enjoyable.


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