Chapter

Berlin’s Follies, 1918–19

Jeffrey Magee

in Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398267
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933358 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195398267.003.0003

Series: Broadway Legacies

                   Berlin’s Follies, 1918–19

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In his wartime revue Yip Yip Yaphank (1918) and his contributions to the Ziegfeld Follies of 1919, Berlin found creative freedom under restrictions imposed by external circumstances. In Yaphank he discovered the musical theater of military life. Inspired by and created for his fellow soldiers, Yaphank combined elements of minstrelsy and revue in a show that satirized and celebrated the army and the New York theater world. Sergeant Berlin, dressed as a soldier, introduced what would become one of his most enduring standards, the whimsical soldier’s lament “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.” Berlin then became the chief songwriter for the Follies, contributing another crowd-pleasing minstrel number as well as songs about contemporary romance, postwar civilian life, and Prohibition. The show’s most famous number, was “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody,” sung by the tuxedoed tenor John Steel. Rediscovered lyrics for the “Pretty Girl” sequence offer new insights into that paradigmatic Follies number.

Keywords: World War I; U.S. Army; revue; minstrelsy; Ziegfeld Follies; Prohibition

Chapter.  13628 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music ; Popular Music

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