Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday! Today, we’re concluding our series of alphabetically ordered posts on forgotten musicals from the ’10s – ’40s. Over the past 25 weeks (note that I did not do a post for the letter X), I covered a different forgotten musical. The only criteria, it had to begin with that specific letter of the alphabet. A was for Are You With It? (1945). B was for Best Foot Forward (1941). C was for The Cat And The Fiddle (1931). D was for Du Barry Was A Lady (1939). E was for Ever Green (1930). F was for Funny Face (1927). G was for Great Day! (1929). H was for Hot-Cha! (1932). I was for Irene (1919). J was for Jumbo (1935). K was for Knickerbocker Holiday (1938). L was for Leave It To Jane (1917). M was for Me And My Girl (1937). N was for The Night Boat (1920). O was for On Your Toes (1936). P was for Park Avenue (1946). Q was for Queen High (1926). R was for Red, Hot, And Blue! (1936). S was for Show Girl (1929). T was for Take A Chance (1932). U was for Ups-A-Daisy (1928). V was for Very Warm For May (1939). W was for Where’s Charley? (1948). Y was for You Never Know (1938). Z is for…
Z. The Ziegfeld Follies of 1934 (01/04/34 – 06/09/34)
Seeing as the 1936 edition of The Ziegfeld Follies (which we covered here over a year ago) was considered to be the first truly modern entry in the series, the 1934 production — the first without Florenz Ziegfeld himself — is decidedly more old-fashioned. Or rather, it’s perhaps the last “classic” edition of the series. While the 1936 show was concerned with satire and jazzy tunes, 1934 places emphasis on clowning and pretty songs. (As did most revues of the ’20s and early ’30s.) Produced by the Shuberts under the supervision of the debt-ridden widow Ziegfeld, Billie Burke (who will forever be etched in viewers’ minds as Glinda the Good Witch), the production featured a score from a variety of sources (but several of the best known numbers were by Vernon Duke and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg) and starred Fanny Brice (where she debuted Baby Snooks), Willie & Eugene Howard, Everett Marshall, Jane Froman, Vilma & Buddy Ebsen, Vivian Janis, Judith Barron, Eve Arden, and Bob Cummings under the name “Brice Hutchins” (one of SEVERAL stage names). This marvelous cast was initially directed by Bobby Connolly, but out-of-town strife led to his quick replacement and both John Murray Anderson and Robert Alton were brought in to direct and choreograph, respectively. However, the piece was in good shape by the time it hit New York, and the Follies of 1934 toured after its June closing well into the summer of 1935.
Truthfully, this edition of the iconic revue isn’t as good as 1936’s. But it’s fascinating from a historical point-of-view. Not only was the production blessed with several hits (it IS Duke and Harburg, after all) and a supremely talented cast, but a recording was made (around March of 1935) of the production during it’s Post-Broadway tour. With most of the original cast in tact, this is the first ever Broadway bootleg! Surprisingly, AEI released a songs-only CD several years back. The quality isn’t great, but it’s imperative listening for theatre fans who love this era. The rest of today’s post will feature songs from the score; several of them will be from the aforementioned live recording, but because it’s hard to really get a true understanding of a number from a poor 80-year-old bootleg, some of the songs will come from other sources.
Two of the score’s biggest hits were “I Like The Likes Of You” and “What Is There To Say?” (both of which are by Duke and Harburg). The former (above) was sung by “Brice Hutchins” and Judith Barron and danced by the Ebsens, and the latter (below) was introduced by Jane Froman and Everett Marshall. Both recordings come from the 1935 live audio, though Froman is NOT the female on the recording; it could be Neila [or Niela] Goodelle, who took over for Froman earlier on the tour. (To hear studio recordings of the two numbers, click here and here.)
Vernon Duke teamed with Billy Rose for “Suddenly,” another duet for Froman and Marshall. This 1940 recording is by Hildegarde.
Brice got three new songs to sing in the 1934 edition. My favorite is “Soul Saving Sadie,” in which the comedienne spoofs Aimee Semple McPherson. This is Brice herself — live!
The immortal clown was a nudist in “Sarah The Sunshine Girl.” Both this and the above number were written by Joseph Meyer, Billy Rose, and Ballard MacDonald. Here she is again, boys — live!
Vivian Janis introduced the snappy “This Is Not A Song,” by Ernest Hartman and Vernon Duke. This recording comes from a Ben Bagley album.
I’ll close this post with probably my favorite song from the score. It’s fitting, for this is a neglected gem from a forgotten (and probably unrevivable show). The song is “Moon About Town” and it was introduced by Froman, but NOT included on the live audio. Written by Dana Suesse and Harburg, the recording below is by Kim Criswell from a BBC Broadcast.
Come back next week for a new Musical Theatre Monday! And tune in tomorrow for the best from the eighth season of All In The Family!