Before Oklahoma!, historians of musical theatre will tell you, there was Show Boat: Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II’s early masterpiece of “serious” musical theatre. Kern and Hammerstein snapped up the show rights Edna Thurber’s best-selling 1926 novel Show Boat, wrote the first act and took it to the great impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, who thought it “a fine musical comedy” that would be a great opener for his new theatre on Sixth Avenue, which was to open in April. Unfortunately, Ziegfeld found out that what the duo was working up was nothing like any musical comedy he’d ever seen and opened with a light little ditty called Rio Rita instead, which was a smash hit that put off Show Boat’s opening until December. Historians will explain that Show Boat was a landmark in the development of the American musical–a fully integrated musical play that for the first time brought song, dialog and plot together in a high-quality artistic whole. We happen to think it’s filled with tremendous songs. So we’re playing them here, together with a fine sampling from Jerome Kern’s long career.
| ||They Didn't Believe Me| (1914) The Girl From Utah Michael Rourke (w) Jerome Kern (m)