Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! This month, I’m sharing an audio of a show I’ve been wanting to feature here for a while. I thought about saving it to run alongside future Sitcom Tuesday coverage of The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis, but because this month marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of its author, legendary humorist Max Shulman, this is an appropriate time to trot it out… No, I’m not talking of How Now, Dow Jones (1967), for which Shulman wrote the book — I’m talking Barefoot Boy With Cheek (1947).
Exploring themes similar to those on Dobie Gillis, Barefoot Boy With Cheek was adapted from Shulman’s own 1943 novel and spoofs the younger generation, following a college freshman as he launches a campaign for student council president at the University of Minnesota. Directed by George Abbott, the show’s out-of-town reviews were positive, yet lukewarm in New York — the subject matter was considered lightweight and familiar. But Nancy Walker (Best Foot Forward, On The Town) earned strong mentions as Yetta, a young communist radical who’s hot for said freshman and gets a terrific character number in “Little Yetta’s Gonna Getta Man.”
The score was by Sidney Lippman and Sylvia Dee, and although few numbers have been heard on record or disc, Unsung Musicals Company did a reading in 2011 and later went back and recorded, with piano accompaniment, three tracks (including the one heard above)… They also recorded the most famous number from the score, which had a tiny life outside the show following the original production (opened in April 1947). It’s called “After Graduation Day” and is taken below from the aforementioned Unsung studio session.
Now, for subscribers with a scholarly interest in this material, kindly comment below to let me know you’d like an untracked audio of the 2011 concert reading, which includes the ENTIRE score — most of which has never been recorded! (And for more on the show, including a copy of the libretto, check out NYPL’s post here.) Note: the first few minutes of Act Two are missing, cutting into a charming number called “There’s Lots Of Things You Can Do With Two (But Not With Three),” originally introduced by Walker with William Redfield and Billie Lou Watt, and several of the other ensemble members, including Red Buttons. Here’s the abbreviated excerpt of this song from the 2011 audio, starting with where it unnaturally cuts in. (And don’t worry — the rest of the audio is intact, and I’ll include the 2013 studio tracks, too!)
Come back next month for another Musical Theatre Monday! And stay tuned tomorrow for more sitcom fun!