Colored Chorus Curtains

Todd Decker

in Show Boat

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199759378
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979554 | DOI:

Series: Broadway Legacies

                      Colored Chorus Curtains

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Show Boat's black chorus played an important role in the success of the 1927 production. The black press followed Show Boat closely and this chapter recovers how African Americans understood the show in the Twenties. The process by which the black chorus accumulated several featured numbers is detailed, as is the importance of Tess Gardella as Aunt Jemima in the key role of Queenie. Numbers discussed include the cut spiritual “Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun'” (inspired by the hit play Porgy), “Queenie's Ballyhoo,” and “In Dahomey” (a stylized tribal dance for which Hammerstein wrote an ironic lyric that drew attention to the artificial nature of black performance). The prominence of Show Boat's black cast within the black community is also discussed.

Keywords: black newspapers; n-word; Porgy; Aunt Jemima; Tess Gardella; Will Vodery; Florenz Ziegfeld; Mis'ry's Comin' Aroun'

Chapter.  10088 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music ; Popular Music

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