By the Beautiful Sea & Plain and Fancy

Ethan Mordden

in Coming up Roses

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780195140583
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848867 | DOI:
By the Beautiful Sea & Plain and Fancy

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The problem with By the Beautiful Sea (1954) was that all the Shiriey Booth in the world could not fill a show without a story. The Herbert and Dorothy Fields book was less interested in character than in maintaining a steady tempo in moving back and forth among the three big sets: one, the backyard of Lottie's theatrical boarding house; two, the Coney Island midway of ferris wheel, Steeplechase Park, and tunnel of love; and three, the Dreamland Casino. In between, obligatory for the scene changes, were the little scenes in one. That meant that a goodly portion of the action was given over to incidentals involving singing waiters, sailors and their dates, and so on. In contrast, Plain and Fancy (1955) is a musical comedy that one could easily resuscitate, because its strength lies in its story and characters and score: musical comedy as an author's triumph.

Keywords: By the Beautiful Sea; Shirley Booth; Plain and Fancy; story; characters; score

Chapter.  3833 words. 

Subjects: Popular Music

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