Nightingales in Berkeley Square

Kathleen Riley

in The Astaires

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199738410
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932955 | DOI:
Nightingales in Berkeley Square

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This chapter looks closely at the Astaires’ relationship, both professional and personal, with producer Charles Dillingham for whom they did three shows between 1919 and 1922. The first two shows were operettas, Apple Blossoms (1919) and The Love Letter (1921). The former had a score by Fritz Kreisler, while the latter witnessed the birth of the Astaires’ famous ‘run-around’, a novelty dance number which, two years later in London, would be renamed ‘The Oompah Trot’. Before their final Dillingham show, the Astaires appeared in the musical comedy For Goodness Sake, produced by a young man named Alex A. Aarons, whom Fred met in a men’s clothing store. This show had the distinction of having music provided by George Gershwin and lyrics by his brother Ira (then writing under the pseudonym Arthur Francis), although it was not a ‘Gershwin show’. The Astaires’ final collaboration with Dillingham was also their first starring vehicle, The Bunch and Judy. This was a flop, despite having a score by Jerome Kern, and the Astaires’ close relationship with Dillingham cooled. But Alex Aarons negotiated a contract for them to take For Goodness Sake to London in 1923, where they would become stars and make an extraordinary impact on theatre and society. Chapter 4 pays particular attention to Fred and Adele’s development as dancing comedians, and to the eccentricity and eloquence of their dancing style.

Keywords: astaire; fred; adele; charles Dillingham; apple blossoms; the love letter; alex Aarons; for Goodness Sake; the Bunch and Judy; gershwin

Chapter.  7150 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Dance

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