Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the continuation of our eleven week series on the yet-to-be covered ’20s scores of composer Jerome Kern, who’s responsible for some of the most glorious contributions to the American songbook of all time! So far on That’s Entertainment, we’ve covered these Kern ’20s shows: The Night Boat (1920), Sally (1920), Show Boat (1927), and Sweet Adeline (1929). In this series of entries, we’re filling in all the gaps, featuring shows from both sides of the Atlantic. So far we’ve covered Good Morning Dearie (1921), The Cabaret Girl (1922), The Bunch And Judy (1922), The Beauty Prize (1923),The Stepping Stones (1923), Sitting Pretty (1924), Dear Sir (1924), Sunny (1925), and The City Chap (1925). Today . . .
X. Criss-Cross (10/12/26 – 04/09/27)
This might as well be called the second edition of The Stepping Stones, for once again Kern paired with Anne Caldwell to craft a score for a lavishly mounted Dillingham production starring Broadway legend Fred Stone and his daughter Dorothy. (The only real difference were the lyric contributions by recent Kern partner, Otto Harbach.) The globe-trotting story was little else than a means for shtick and extravagance, but the production was well received and had a nice healthy run. Unlike Kern’s last Broadway effort, The City Chap, which I consider to be a neglected gem, Criss-Cross actually earned the composer contemporary praise. But with so little of the score recorded, it’s difficult to reach an accurate verdict. As it stands, despite being the complete work directly preceding the legendary and revolutionary Show Boat, the score for Criss-Cross seems largely derivative of other works. Take for example “You Will — Won’t You?” which used the same music as a song featured in the London production of Sunny (which opened the same week as Criss-Cross) and was based on a melody originally written and used in The Laughing Husband (1912). The rendition of this version of the tune comes from the 42nd Street Moon’s The First Rose Of Summer album. (Purchase it here.)
From that same album, here’s “In Araby With You,” which also employed the same music as a number from the British Sunny, itself taken from an earlier work.
Another Kern song that debuted in another show, “That Little Something” from Lucky, which opened in March 1927, found its way into Criss-Cross as the production began its post-Broadway tour. This hot rendition is by Paul Whiteman’s orchestra.
And we’ll close today’s post with what seems like a novelty, an original tune, “Cinderella Girl,” taken below from the Jerome Kern edition of the Lost Broadway And More album series. (Purchase it here.)
Come back next Monday for another Jerome Kern musical! Tune in tomorrow for the best from the fifth season of Cheers!