Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the semi-conclusion of our series of posts on the musical comedy works of lyricists B.G. DeSylva and Lew Brown with composer Ray Henderson. (You’ll find out why this is the semi-conclusion next week.) Their most famous score is Good News! (1927), which we covered here two years ago, but following that show’s success, they went on to several other full collaborations (before breaking off and each going on to other works). We’re highlighting those other forgotten, but absolutely charming, scores — so far we’ve featured Manhattan Mary (1927), Hold Everything! (1928), and Follow Thru (1929). Today…
IV. Flying High (03/03/30 – 01/03/31)
Following Lahr’s success in DeSylva, Brown, and Henderson’s Hold Everything!, he broke his contract with Aarons-Freedley and signed to do a musical for George White with a score by the aforementioned trio — their last all together. This show turned out to be Flying High, in which Lahr played an airplane mechanic who sets a record for endurance because he can’t figure out how to land, all the while romancing a girl named Pansy Potts, played by Kate Smith. Although Lahr and Smith had the most to do, Oscar Shaw and Grace Binkley were the book’s requisite young lovers. The production was a hit, mostly due to Lahr’s clowning and Smith’s belting. When a film adaptation was made the following year, Lahr got to reprise his role, alongside Charlotte Greenwood as his love interest. From the film, here’s a clip of them singing the motion picture’s only holdover from the stage score, “The First Time For Me.”
The hit of the evening, however, was Kate Smith’s “Red Hot Chicago,” performed below by the show’s original band, Al Goodman’s Orchestra.
Interestingly, the most enduring tune has probably been the lovers’ “Thank Your Father,” which is performed below by Goodman’s orchestra.
The lovers also got a less tongue-in-cheek duet in “Wasn’t It Beautiful While It Lasted?” The rendition below comes from a Bagley album.
And we’ll close today’s post with an underrated gem in “Without Love,” first sung by the lovers and then crooned by Smith. Here’s Patty Andrews’ rendition!
Come back next Monday for another musical! And tune in tomorrow for the best from the second season of Mama’s Family!