Musical (1938)

Musique: Richard Rodgers
Paroles: Lorenz M. Hart
Livret: George Abott • William Shakespeare

The Boys from Syracuse est un musical avec de la musique de Richard Rodgers et des paroles de Lorenz Hart, basées sur la pièce de William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors, adaptée par le librettiste George Abbott. La partition comprend du swing et d’autres rythmes contemporains des années '30. Le spectacle est le premier musical basé sur une pièce de Shakespeare.
La pièce est créée à Broadway en 1938. Le spectacle a reçu de très bonnes critiques et la musique est considérée comme l’une des meilleures des spectacles du duo Rodgers & Hart. Le spectacle a été un succès financier et a tenu l'affiche une saison, mais compte tenu des critiques les plus enthousiastes et la popularité des chansons, cette période est étonnamment courte.

Acte I
We are in the ancient Asia Minor city of Ephesus, whose Duke has taken a novel approach to the balance of payments situation: anyone from the rival trading city of Syracuse caught in Ephesus is put to death, unless he can pay a large ransom. (Syracuse apparently does the same, so there.)
Sure enough, an aged merchant from Syracuse has been found and brought before the Duke, but all we hear of them, in a brilliant bit of musical theater, are two clarinets, an E flat and a bass (backed with other orchestration here). In I Had Twins, a Sergeant of Police reports the action to us and to a loony mob-chorus right out of Duck Soup, who can't wait for the axe to fall There's going to be a killing, hurrah, hurroo!.
The old merchant's story is a sad one: years before, in a storm at sea, he lost his wife and one of his twin sons (both of whom, with a remarkable lack of creativity, he had named Antipholus). One of the twin servant boys (both named Dromio; those wacky Syracusans) was also lost. More recently, the son who was saved has gone off in search of his lost brother, taking with him the other Dromio, and has failed to return. The old man, who now has no one, has come after them.
The Duke is unmoved; the merchant has no money; the execution is set for noon the next day, which provides the suspense. And for those who haven't already guessed, both Antipholuses and both Dromios happen to be in Ephesus right at this moment. The twin who was lost at sea is now a prosperous merchant with his servant; both are married, not unhappily, really, but not faithfully, either. The other two have just wandered into town, weary from their searches and about ready to give up. This Antipholus only wants to go back to Dear Old Syracuse. He tells his Dromio (Carroll) to book passage on the next ship out.
Across town, the other Dromio and his fat and otherwise insatiable wife, Luce are having another domestic squabble What Can You Do With A Man?
The other marriage in the house, that of Antipholus and Adriana, won't win any prizes either. Antipholus ignores his wife and dallies with courtesans, leaving her to complain to her sister Luciana about the crumbling of her illusions: Falling In Love With Love. Tired of waiting, Adriana sets out to drag him home.
The mistaken identities now begin to multiply, with a lot of Groucho-Chico business between the respective Antipholuses and Dromios; the Dromios get hit over the head with Punch-and-Judy frequency. Adriana finds the wrong Antipholus, and he - afraid to be unmasked as a Syracusan - reluctantly goes home with her. As we consider what might happen there, the other Antipholus reappears, with friends and courtesans, and makes it clear that he really does love his wife: The Shortest Day Of The Year. Back at the house, the complications increase: Antipholus of Syracuse, while fending off Adriana's advances, sees her sister, and for both of them it's love at first sight. As soon as Adriana is out of the room, they try to figure it out: This Can't Be Love.
As night falls, Adriana and Luce go off to bed with the wrong Antipholus and Dromio, just as the two husbands finally return home to find the doors already locked. Another crazy crowd forms, Adriana won't let the husbands in, and as the first-act curtain comes down, the rightful Antipholus and Dromio are going off to spend the night with courtesans.

Acte II
Act Two begins the next morning, with the emergence of the courtesans Ladies Of The Evening to tell their troubles to the cops, who have nothing better to do at this hour than to arrest them. At the home of Antipholus, Luce and the wrong Dromio have only just got out of bed when she catches him flirting with the housemaids, and the now-arguing couple archly imagine a very modern marriage in which both partners go off and do as they please: "He And She".
Adriana and the wrong Antipholus, however, have not consummated anything: he complained of a headache and went off to sleep alone; Adriana is therefore uncompromised. The unhappiest couple in Ephesus are now Luciana, in love with a man she believes is her sister's husband, and Antipholus of Syracuse, in love with a woman who pushes him away, pursued by another who claims to be his wife, and generally lost in the Twilight Zone. Fed Up, he tells Luciana he's getting on a ship and never coming back, however much he may miss her: You Have Cast Your Shadow On The Sea.
The next complication involves a gold chain, bought but not paid for by one Antipholus and given to the other. In the confusion the hometown Antipholus is arrested for non-payment, and sings , as he is hauled off by the cops, the laugh out loud-funny Come With Me (to jail). Back at the house, Luciana finally tells his Adriana what's been going on, and Adriana is more resigned than angry; it' s just the way men are. Luce joins them, and all agree it's best to Sing For Your Supper. Word arrives of Antipholus' arrest, and everyone charges to the rescue. One by one , the central characters wander into the market square , where we find the chief courtesan , who expected to receive the gold chain, complaining to everyone that she can't find an honest man Oh, Diogenes.
At the Temple of Justice, all knots are unravelled: the merchant is ransomed, his sons restored to him; Luciana and Antipholus of Syracuse have a clear path to the altar; Antipholus of Ephesus has learned to appreciate his wife, although we suspect he will still be no stranger to the courtesans; and Adriana, for her part, is told by a seeress, "The venom clamor of a jealous woman poisons more deadly than a mad dog's tooth." In case we missed this sole line retained from The Comedy Of Errors, one of the Dromios leaps out and cries, "Shakespeare!"

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