“An Ideal Combination”

Jeffrey Magee

in Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780195398267
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933358 | DOI:

Series: Broadway Legacies

                   “An Ideal Combination”

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In the 1920s and 1930s, Berlin worked with gifted comedy writers associated with George S. Kaufman. The Cocoanuts (1925), a madcap spoof about the fad for land speculation in Florida, set the tone. Featuring the Marx Brothers in their first musical comedy, the show launched a collaborative style that would mark the middle decades of Berlin’s career. With Moss Hart, Berlin created two shows that cleverly spoofed New York City police corruption and theatrical excess (Face the Music, 1932) and, in a revue shaped by newspaper headlines, a wide array of current events, celebrities, and musical theater clichés (As Thousands Cheer, 1933). These shows produced several Berlin standards, including “Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee,” “Soft Lights and Sweet Music,” “Easter Parade,” “Heat Wave,” and “Supper Time.” Two other projects emerged from the Kaufman orbit: the musical comedy Louisiana Purchase (1940) and an unfinished revue satirizing American behavior during holidays, “Happy Holiday” (1939).

Keywords: George S. Kaufman; Marx Brothers; Moss Hart; revue; musical comedy; holidays

Chapter.  24435 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music ; Popular Music

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