Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the continuation of our six-week series on Cole Porter musicals that we’ve yet to cover here on That’s Entertainment! Given that Porter is my first musical theatre obsession and my favorite Broadway composer, we’ve covered quite a lot of his work, but these six shows, spanning from 1928 to 1946, are making their Musical Theatre Monday debuts. So far we’ve covered Paris (1928), La Revue Des Ambassadeurs (1928), Wake Up And Dream (1929), and Gay Divorce (1932). Today…
V. Seven Lively Arts (12/07/44 – 05/12/45)
Billy Rose called upon Cole Porter to compose the score for his new Ziegfeld Theater revue that would combine all of the “seven lively arts” (theater, ballet, opera, concert, radio, painting, and music). With sketches by George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart, and Ben Hecht, direction by Jack Donohue, and a cast that included comics Beatrice Lillie and Bert Lahr, Dolores Gray, Jere McMahon, and Nan Wynn (with Helen Gallagher in the ensemble), Seven Lively Arts suffered no shortage of talent. Unfortunately, the show was not spectacularly received, and many of those involved in the creation would downplay its role in their artistic lives. For Cole Porter, Seven Lively Arts represents, in my personal opinion, one of the least distinguished efforts of his entire professional career.
In fact, if not for one song, which stands among Porter’s absolute finest, Seven Lively Arts would be relegated to complete obscurity. The song that makes the entire show worthwhile is, of course, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” The recording above is by Kim Criswell with orchestrations reconstructed by John McGlinn.
Many numbers reflected the current big sensibilities, among them, the ladies’ “Hence It Don’t Make Sense,” performed above by Tony Pastor and his orchestra.
Benny Goodman played in the Broadway orchestra and he recorded a few of the show’s tunes as well, including the generic “Only Another Boy And Girl,” which is only commendable for its refreshing simplicity.
Porter got his trademark Latin-inspired melody into the score with “Frahngee-Pahnee,” performed above by Thomas L. Thomas, and then mocked it with, ‘Dancin’ To A Jungle Drum (Let’s End The Beguine),” heard below from an unreleased demo for a ’70s Porter revue. This unremarkable song has never been recorded and is included here for curiosity’s sake! (For access to said demo, subscribe and comment below.)
And finally, for a sampling of the comedy, here are two sketches from the show, performed by Lillie and Lahr themselves with Paul Whiteman on Radio Hall Of Fame! (For access to a recording of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet from the show, subscribe and comment below.)
Come back next Monday for another Cole Porter musical! And tune in tomorrow for the best from the second season of Phyllis!