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Musical (1927)

Musique: Jerome Kern
Paroles: Otto Harbach
Livret: Bert Kalmar • Harry Ruby • Otto Harbach

Type de série: Original
Théâtre: New Amsterdam Theatre (Broadway - Etats-Unis)
Durée : 1 mois 4 semaines
Nombre : 71 représentations
Première Preview : mardi 22 mars 1927
Première : mardi 22 mars 1927
Dernière : samedi 21 mai 1927
Mise en scène : Hassard Short
Chorégraphie :
Avec : Kumara Singha (Cyngie), Henry Mowbray (Chuck Dugan), Bert Gould (A Pearl Thief), Martin Berke ley (Finch), Paul Everton (Barlow), Joseph Santley (Jack Mansfield), Kathryn Hamill (Notoya), Richard “Skeets,” aka “Skeet,” Gallagher (Teddy Travers), Joan Clement (First Tourist), Jeanne Fonda (Second Tourist), Al Ochs (Long Ling), Walter Catlett (Charlie Simpson), Princess White Deer (Strawberry), Ivy Sawyer (Grace Mansfield), Ruby Keeler (Mazie Maxwell), Mary Eaton (Lucky), Hugh Francis Murphy (Of ficer), Charles Gibney (The High Priest); Mendicant Monks: Fred Wilson, Stanley McClelland, Hal Clovis, and Emile Cote; Fred Lenox (First Waiter), George Ferguson (Second Waiter), Al Wyart (Third Waiter), Charles Eaton (Page), Richard Farrell (Wilton), Charles Mitchell (Shellbach); Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra; Specialty Act: The Keller Sisters and Al Lynch; The Albertina Rasch Girls: Marian Dickson, Martha Wilbert, Eda Vittollo, Julia Barashkova, Lenore Shearer, Elvira Gomez, Betty Keen, Dorothy Belle, Dulce Bentley, Nita Rosso, Leonore Blair, Regina Tuahinska, Aili Halmemaa, Emily Slater, Katharine Lambly, Maxine Demmler; Show Girls: Kathleen Krosby, Olga Marye, Patricia Preston, Dorothy Phillips, Lillian Morehouse, Trude Marr, Kathryn Hamill, Pauline Hall; Dancers: Rosemary Farmer, Mary Brady, Virginia Clark, Peggy Cunningham, Alma Drange, Ethel Forrest, Lily Kimari, Myrtle Lane, Edna Locke, Josephine Mostler, Chere Pelham, Nickie Pitell, Anna Rex, Phyllis Reynolds, Louise Starck, Peaches Tortoni, Teddy Ward, Dorothy Wyatt, Pearl Bradley, Eleanor Elden, Elizabeth Ryder, Betty Block; The Elida Webb Girls: Elida Webb, Billie Cain, Rose Gaillard, Hyacinth Curtis, Bessie Allison, Vivian Harris; Gentlemen of the Ensemble: Max Hugo, Alfred Arnold, Walter Arnold, Charles Bannister, Dick Bennett, Albert Birk, Charles Conkling, Jack de Lys, Milton Halpern, Jack Hughes, Ray Justus, Don Lee, Bob Max well, Bob Morris, Don Oltarsh, Hugh Sorenson, Jack Talbot, Ayres Tavitt, Archibald Thompson, George Vigouroux, Bill O’Donnell, Alfred Hall
Presse : The plot stretched credibility even for a musical, but the show might have had a chance with a strong score and one or two hit songs. Unfortunately, none of the numbers hit the mark, and there wasn’t a unifying vision behind the music because like the story itself the score was a smorgasbord of styles. Some of the music was by Kern, with lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby; other songs were by Kalmar and Ruby, sans Kern; one or two lyrics were by Otto Harbach; one (“Once in a Blue Moon”) was an interpolation from Kern’s 1923 musical Stepping Stones; a few songs were from earlier Ziegfeld Follies productions; and for Ruby Keeler, who was fresh from the still-running Bye Bye, Bonnie, there was a retread of Fred Fisher’s 1905 hit “If the Man in the Moon Was a Coon.” The production even included George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” courtesy of Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, who made a late second-act cameo appearance (conveniently, the orchestra was playing at Paul Whiteman’s, a nightclub on West 48th Street, just a few blocks from the New Amsterdam). Whiteman’s specialty act also included “Sam, the Accordion Man,” “In a Little Spanish Town,” and “Sunday.” All this, and there were even a few songs for which no one has been able to pinpoint authorship. The program’s title page read “Lucky by Otto Harbach, Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, Jerome Kern,” and to a casual reader the song list gave the impression that the four credited gentlemen had written all the songs heard in the production.

Because of the program’s vagueness, most critics assumed Kern had written the complete score, but Kern’s biographer Gerald Bordman notes that only two songs (“When the Bo-Tree Blossoms Again” and “That Little Something”) were “definitely” by the composer, and three (“Cingalese Girls,” “The Same Old Moon,” and “Dancing the Devil Away”) were by Kalmar and Ruby (although Otto Harbach may have had a hand in the latter song). Some sources speculate that the ballet “The Pearl of Ceylon” might have been composed by Kern. Note that “Dancing the Devil Away” was interpolated into the The Cuckoos, which was the film version of The Ramblers.

The New York Times said the score was “always pleasant, always infectious and sometimes more than a little reminiscent,” but had “catchy and lilting qualities”; Time said the score “pleases” and Variety found the “serviceable” music “charming, original and never tiring.”

Whiteman and his orchestra were the real sensation of the evening. But Keeler, the Albertina Rasch troupe, and the Elida Webb Girls also impressed with their dances, and Richard “Skeets” Gallagher and Walter Catlett were around for the comedy, Joseph Santley was the stalwart hero Jack, and Ivy Sawyer (Mrs. Santley offstage) added pepper to the role of his snobbish sister.

Otherwise, the costumes and James Reynolds’s lavish décor were visual showstoppers, and the Times suspected Lucky was as “opulent” a musical as Dillingham had ever produced and said the Ceylon setting gave an “excuse for as novel and beautiful settings and costumes as the prodigal New Amsterdam has beheld” during its existence. Further, the first act finale was “an orgiastic frenzy of color and action during which a whole stage full of dancing girls is transformed into a conclave of Buddhist gods and pagan evil spirits.”

Charles Brackett in the New Yorker said the musical had a “weak framework,” and although Eaton was “as pretty as a pink cake iced with gold trimmings” he found her “as tasteless as some such confections I have eaten.” Otherwise, the show was an “impressive structure” with “gorgeous” sets and costumes and “superb divertissements” such as Whiteman and his orchestra, the Albertina Rasch dancers, and the Keller Sisters. Time said the show offered up “a chromatic scale of splendors to even greater heights of extravagance, splashing the theatre with explosions of scenic brilliance.” As for the “agreeable” Eaton, she had “no magic to make this opulence personally charming.”

Arthur Pollock in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle found “beauty,” “color,” and “engaging sound” in the production, but noted “it would be trite to say that the book of Otto Harbach is not altogether funny.” Variety said the musical was “a whale of an entertainment” with “a splendiferous riot of color and pageantry” in the first act and “equally artistic and fetching” décor in the second. The trade paper surmised that Lucky was the “highest priced musical comedy ever mounted,” its weekly payroll was “huge,” with a “terrific overhead,” and at capacity could probably gross over $50,000 each week. Frederick F. Schrader in the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that opening-night seats fetched a whopping $13.50, and thereafter all orchestra seats would cost $6.60, the “first time that such a charge has been made for the entire orchestra of a musical production.”