The Street, 1958

Ethan Mordden

in Coming up Roses

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780195140583
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848867 | DOI:
The Street, 1958

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Here is an irony: Rodgers and Hammerstein inspired just about everybody on Broadway except Rodgers and Hammerstein. That is, the latter part of their joint career—when all Broadway was getting into the musical play and character motivation and odd song shapes—forms the less interesting half. Nothing after The King and I bears the tension of the Curley-Laurey or the Anna-King relationship, the music no longer startles, the choreography seems run-of-the-mill or even self-effacing. Flower Drum Song (1958), typically Rodgers and Hammerstein in its out-of-the-way subject—C. Y. Lee's novel on San Francisco's Chinese-American subculture—was otherwise not typically Rodgers and Hammerstein at all. The author-producers made the decision to reinvigorate their style with young affiliates—choreographer Carol Haney, for instance—and to bring in musical comedy specialists such as Oliver Smith, who had never worked with them before. Though Lee's novel, centering on a tug-of-war between a conservative father and his increasingly independent, Westernized son, had its dark side, the musical that Rodgers and Hammerstein were making of it was turning out breezy and colorful. Other musicals during the period are discussed.

Keywords: song shape; character motivation; Rodgers; Hammerstein; Flower Drum Song

Chapter.  8956 words. 

Subjects: Popular Music

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