Oscar Hammerstein II

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Oscar Hammerstein II
Oscar Hammerstein - portrait.jpg
Hammerstein circa 1940
Background information
Birth nameOscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein II
Born(1895-07-12)July 12, 1895
New York City, U.S.
DiedAugust 23, 1960(1960-08-23) (aged 65)
Doylestown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)

Oscar Greeley Clendenning Ritter von Hammerstein II ( /ˈhæmərstn/ ; July 12, 1895 – August 23, 1960) was an American librettist, theatrical producer, and (usually uncredited) theatre director of musicals for almost 40 years. He won eight Tony Awards and two Academy Awards for Best Original Song. Many of his songs are standard repertoire for vocalists and jazz musicians. He co-wrote 850 songs.

Tony Award awards for live Broadway theatre

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, more commonly known as the Tony Award, recognizes excellence in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in Midtown Manhattan. The awards are given for Broadway productions and performances, and an award is given for regional theatre. Several discretionary non-competitive awards are also given, including a Special Tony Award, the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre, and the Isabelle Stevenson Award. The awards are named after Antoinette "Tony" Perry, co-founder of the American Theatre Wing.

The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film. The performers of a song are not credited with the Academy Award unless they contributed either to music, lyrics or both in their own right. The songs that are nominated for this award are performed during the ceremony and before this award is presented.

Contents

Hammerstein was the lyricist and playwright in his partnerships; his collaborators wrote the music. Hammerstein collaborated with numerous composers, such as Jerome Kern, with whom he wrote Show Boat , Vincent Youmans, Rudolf Friml, Richard A. Whiting, and Sigmund Romberg, but he is best known for his collaborations with Richard Rodgers, as the duo Rodgers and Hammerstein, whose collaborations include Oklahoma! , Carousel , South Pacific , The King and I , and The Sound of Music .

A lyricist or lyrist is a person who writes lyrics—words for songs—as opposed to a composer, who writes the song's melody.

Jerome Kern American composer of musical theater and popular music

Jerome David Kern was an American composer of musical theatre and popular music. One of the most important American theatre composers of the early 20th century, he wrote more than 700 songs, used in over 100 stage works, including such classics as "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", "A Fine Romance", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "The Song Is You", "All the Things You Are", "The Way You Look Tonight", "Long Ago " and "Who?". He collaborated with many of the leading librettists and lyricists of his era, including George Grossmith Jr., Guy Bolton, P. G. Wodehouse, Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Fields, Johnny Mercer, Ira Gershwin and Yip Harburg.

<i>Show Boat</i> 1927 musical play by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II

Show Boat is a musical in two acts, with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on Edna Ferber's best-selling novel of the same name. The musical follows the lives of the performers, stagehands and dock workers on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River show boat, over 40 years from 1887 to 1927. Its themes include racial prejudice and tragic, enduring love. The musical contributed such classic songs as "Ol' Man River", "Make Believe", and "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man".

Early life

Oscar Greeley Clendenning Hammerstein II was born in New York City, the son of Alice Hammerstein (née Nimmo) and theatrical manager William Hammerstein. [1] His grandfather was the German theatre impresario Oscar Hammerstein I. His father was from a Jewish family, and his mother was the daughter of Scottish and English parents. [2] He attended the Church of the Divine Paternity, now the Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York. [3]

William Hammerstein was an American theater manager. He ran the Victoria Theatre on what became Times Square, Manhattan, presenting very popular vaudeville shows with a wide variety of acts. He was known for "freak acts", where celebrities or people notorious for scandals appeared on stage. Hammerstein's Victoria Theatre became the most successful in New York.

An impresario is a person who organizes and often finances concerts, plays, or operas, performing a role similar to that of an artist manager or a film or television producer.

Oscar Hammerstein I German-born businessman, theater and opera impresario, and composer in New York City

Oscar Hammerstein I was a German-born businessman, theater impresario, and composer in New York City. His passion for opera led him to open several opera houses, and he rekindled opera's popularity in America. He was the grandfather of American lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II and the father of theater manager William Hammerstein and American producer Arthur Hammerstein.

Although Hammerstein's father managed the Victoria Theatre for his father and was a producer of vaudeville shows, he was opposed to his son's desire to participate in the arts. [4] Hammerstein attended Columbia University (1912–1916) and studied at Columbia Law School until 1917. [5] As a student, he maintained high grades and engaged in numerous extracurricular activities. These included playing first base on the baseball team, performing in the Varsity Show and becoming an active member of Pi Lambda Phi, a mostly Jewish fraternity. [6]

Vaudeville genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s

Vaudeville is a theatrical genre of variety entertainment born in France at the end of the 18th century. A vaudeville was originally a comedy without psychological or moral intentions, based on a comical situation: a kind of dramatic composition or light poetry, interspersed with songs or ballets. It became popular in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s, but the idea of vaudeville's theatre changed radically from its French antecedent.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

Columbia Law School law school

Columbia Law School is a professional graduate school of Columbia University, a member of the Ivy League. It has always been ranked in the top five law schools in the United States by U.S. News and World Report. Columbia is especially well known for its strength in corporate law and its placement power in the nation's elite law firms.

When he was 19, and still a student at Columbia, his father died of Bright's disease, June 10, 1914, symptoms of which doctors originally attributed to scarlet fever. On the train trip to the funeral with his brother, he read the headlines in the New York Herald : "Hammerstein's Death a Shock to the Theater Circle." The New York Times wrote, "Hammerstein, the Barnum of Vaudeville, Dead at Forty." [6] When he and his brother arrived home, they attended their father's funeral with their grandfather, and more than a thousand others, at Temple Israel in Harlem, and took part in the ceremonies held in the Jewish tradition. Two hours later, "taps was sounded over Broadway," writes biographer Hugh Fordin. [7]

Brights disease historical classification of nephritis

Bright's disease is a historical classification of kidney diseases that would be described in modern medicine as acute or chronic nephritis. It was characterized by swelling and the presence of albumin in the urine, and was frequently accompanied by high blood pressure and heart disease.

Scarlet fever infectious disease

Scarlet fever is a disease which can occur as a result of a group A streptococcus infection, also known as Streptococcus pyogenes. The signs and symptoms include a sore throat, fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and a characteristic rash. The rash is red and feels like sandpaper and the tongue may be red and bumpy. It most commonly affects children between five and 15 years of age.

<i>New York Herald</i> newspaper

The New York Herald was a large-distribution newspaper based in New York City that existed between 1835 and 1924, when it merged with the New-York Tribune to form the New York Herald Tribune.

After his father's death, he participated in his first play with the Varsity Show, entitled On Your Way. Throughout the rest of his college career, Hammerstein wrote and performed in several Varsity Shows.

Varsity Show

The Varsity Show is one of the oldest traditions at Columbia University and its oldest performing arts presentation. Founded in 1894 as a fundraiser for the university's fledgling athletic teams, the Varsity Show now draws together the entire Columbia undergraduate community for a series of sold-out performances every April. Dedicated to producing a unique full-length spectacle that skewers and satirizes many dubious aspects of life at Columbia, the Varsity Show is written and inspired by an extensive team of cast, producers and production personnel.

Early career

After quitting law school to pursue theatre, Hammerstein began his first professional collaboration, with Herbert Stothart, Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel. [8] He began as an apprentice and went on to form a 20-year collaboration with Harbach. Out of this collaboration came his first musical, Always You, for which he wrote the book and lyrics. It opened on Broadway in 1920. [9] In 1921 Hammerstein joined The Lambs club. [10]

Throughout the next forty years, Hammerstein teamed with many other composers, including Jerome Kern, with whom Hammerstein enjoyed a highly successful collaboration. In 1927, Kern and Hammerstein had their biggest hit, Show Boat , which is often revived and is still considered one of the masterpieces of the American musical theatre. "Here we come to a completely new genre — the musical play as distinguished from musical comedy. Now ... the play was the thing, and everything else was subservient to that play. Now ... came complete integration of song, humor and production numbers into a single and inextricable artistic entity." Many years later, Hammerstein's wife Dorothy bristled when she heard a remark that Jerome Kern had written "Ol' Man River." "Indeed not," she retorted. "Jerome Kern wrote 'dum, dum, dum-dum.' My husband wrote 'Ol' Man River'." [11]

Other Kern-Hammerstein musicals include Sweet Adeline , Music in the Air , Three Sisters , and Very Warm for May . Hammerstein also collaborated with Vincent Youmans ( Wildflower ), Rudolf Friml ( Rose-Marie ), and Sigmund Romberg ( The Desert Song and The New Moon ). [12]

Rodgers and Hammerstein

Hammerstein watching audition at the St. James Theatre Hammerstein.jpg
Hammerstein watching audition at the St. James Theatre

Hammerstein's most successful and sustained collaboration began when he teamed up with Richard Rodgers to write a musical adaptation of the play Green Grow the Lilacs . [13] Rodgers' first partner, Lorenz Hart, originally planned to collaborate with Rodgers on this piece, but his alcoholism had become out of control, and he was unable to write. Hart was also not certain that the idea had much merit, and the two therefore separated. The adaptation became the first Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration, entitled Oklahoma! , which opened on Broadway in 1943. It furthered the revolution begun by Show Boat , by thoroughly integrating all the aspects of musical theatre, with the songs and dances arising out of and further developing the plot and characters. William A. Everett and Paul R. Laird wrote that this was a "show, that, like 'Show Boat', became a milestone, so that later historians writing about important moments in twentieth-century theatre would begin to identify eras according to their relationship to 'Oklahoma.'" [14] After Oklahoma!, Rodgers and Hammerstein were the most important contributors to the musical-play form – with such masterworks as Carousel , The King and I and South Pacific . The examples they set in creating vital plays, often rich with social thought, provided the necessary encouragement for other gifted writers to create musical plays of their own". [15]

The partnership went on to produce these and other Broadway musicals such as Allegro , Me and Juliet , Pipe Dream , Flower Drum Song , and The Sound of Music , as well as the musical film State Fair (and its stage adaptation of the same name), and the television musical Cinderella , all featured in the revue A Grand Night for Singing . Hammerstein also wrote the book and lyrics for Carmen Jones , an adaptation of Georges Bizet's opera Carmen with an all-black cast that became a 1943 Broadway musical and a 1954 film.

Advocacy

An active advocate for writers's rights within the theatre industry, Hammerstein was a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. In 1956, he was elected as the eleventh president of the non-profit organization. He continued his presidency at the Guild until 1960.

Death

Hammerstein with his first wife, Myra Finn, photographed aboard a ship Oscar hammerstein wife.jpg
Hammerstein with his first wife, Myra Finn, photographed aboard a ship

Hammerstein died of stomach cancer on August 23, 1960, at his home Highland Farm in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, aged 65, [16] nine months after the opening of The Sound of Music on Broadway. The final song he wrote was "Edelweiss", which was added near the end of the second act during rehearsal. [17] [18] This was not an Austrian folk song but had been written specifically for the musical. [19] After Hammerstein's death, The Sound of Music was adapted as a 1965 film, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The lights of Times Square were turned off for one minute, [20] and London's West End [21] lights were dimmed in recognition of his contribution to the musical. He was cremated, and his ashes were buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. [22] A memorial plaque was unveiled at Southwark Cathedral, England, on May 24, 1961. [23] He was survived by his second wife, Dorothy, his three children, and two stepchildren.

Personal life

Hammerstein married his first wife, Myra Finn, in 1917; the couple divorced in 1929. He married his second wife, the Australian-born Dorothy (Blanchard) Jacobson, on May 13, 1929. He had three children: William Hammerstein (1918–2001) and Alice Hammerstein Mathias by his first wife, and James Hammerstein by his second wife, with whom he also had a stepdaughter, Susan Blanchard.

Reputation

Hammerstein was one of the most important "book writers" in Broadway history – he made the story, not the songs or the stars, central to the musical and brought musical theater to full maturity as an art form. [24] [25] According to Stephen Sondheim, "What few people understand is that Oscar's big contribution to the theater was as a theoretician, as a Peter Brook, as an innovator. People don't understand how experimental Show Boat and Oklahoma! felt at the time they were done. Oscar is not about the 'lark that is learning to pray' – that's easy to make fun of. He's about Allegro ," Hammerstein's most experimental musical. [26]

His reputation for being sentimental is based largely on the movie versions of the musicals, especially The Sound of Music, in which a song sung by those in favor of reaching an accommodation with the Nazis, "No Way to Stop It", was cut. As recent revivals of Show Boat, Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The King and I in London and New York show, Hammerstein was one of the more tough-minded and socially conscious American musical theater artists. According to Richard Kislan, "The shows of Rodgers and Hammerstein were the product of sincerity. In the light of criticism directed against them and their universe of sweetness and light, it is important to understand that they believed sincerely in what they wrote." [27] According to Marc Bauch, "The Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals are romantic musical plays. Love is important." [28]

According to The Rodgers and Hammerstein Story by Stanley Green, "For three minutes, on the night of September first, the entire Times Square area in New York City was blacked out in honor of the man who had done so much to light up that particular part of the world. From 8:57 to 9:00 p.m., every neon sign and every light bulb was turned off and all traffic was halted between 42nd Street and 53rd Street, and between 8th Ave and the Avenue of the Americas. A crowd of 5,000 people, many with heads bowed, assembled at the base of the statue of Father Duffy on Times Square where two trumpeters blew taps. It was the most complete blackout on Broadway since World War II, and the greatest tribute of its kind ever paid to one man." [29]

Songs

Hammerstein contributed the lyrics to 850 songs, according to The Complete Lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein II, edited by Amy Asch. [30] Some well-known songs are "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' That Man" and "Make Believe" from Show Boat; "Indian Love Call" from Rose-Marie; "People Will Say We're in Love" and "Oklahoma" (which has been the official state song of Oklahoma since 1953) from Oklahoma!; "Some Enchanted Evening", from South Pacific; "Getting to Know You" and "Shall We Dance" from The King and I; and the title song as well as "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" from The Sound of Music .

Several albums of Hammerstein's musicals were named to the "Songs of the Century" list as compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the National Endowment for the Arts, and Scholastic Corporation:

Awards and legacy

Hammerstein won two Oscars for best original song—in 1941 for "The Last Time I Saw Paris" in the film Lady Be Good , and in 1945 for "It Might as Well Be Spring" in State Fair. In 1950, the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York."

Hammerstein won eight Tony Awards, six for lyrics or book, and two as producer of the Best Musical (South Pacific and The Sound of Music). Rodgers and Hammerstein began writing together before the era of the Tonys: Oklahoma! opened in 1943 and Carousel in 1945, and the Tony Awards were not awarded until 1947. They won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for Oklahoma! [31] and, with Joshua Logan, the annual Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950 for South Pacific. [32] The Oscar Hammerstein II Center for Theater Studies at Columbia University was established in 1981 with a $1-million gift from his family. [33]

His advice and work influenced Stephen Sondheim, a friend of the Hammerstein family from childhood. Sondheim has attributed his success in theater, and especially as a lyricist, directly to Hammerstein's influence and guidance. [24]

The Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Musical Theatre is presented annually. The York Theatre Company in New York City is the Administrator of the award. [34] The 2009 winners were Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. [35] Past awardees are composers such as Stephen Sondheim and performers such as Carol Channing. [36] The 2010 award went to Thomas Meehan.

Oscar Hammerstein was a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame. [37]

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Pipe Dream is the seventh musical by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II; it premiered on Broadway on November 30, 1955. The work is based on John Steinbeck's short novel Sweet Thursday—Steinbeck wrote the novel, a sequel to Cannery Row, in the hope of having it adapted into a musical. Set in Monterey, California, the musical tells the story of the romance between Doc, a marine biologist, and Suzy, who in the novel is a prostitute; her profession is only alluded to in the stage work. Pipe Dream was a relative failure</ref{{https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodgers_and_Hammerstein}}</ref and a financial disaster for [[Rodgers and Hammerstein]]. Broadway producers [[Cy Feuer]] and Ernie Martin held the rights to ''Sweet Thursday'' and wanted [[Frank Loesser]] to compose a musical based on it. When Loesser proved unavailable, Feuer and Martin succeeded in interesting Rodgers and Hammerstein in the project. As Hammerstein adapted ''Sweet Thursday'', he and Rodgers had concerns about featuring a prostitute as female lead and setting part of the musical in a bordello. They signed operatic diva [[Helen Traubel]] to play Fauna, the [[brothel|house madam]]. As the show progressed through tryouts, Hammerstein repeatedly revised it, obscuring Suzy's profession and the nature of Fauna's house. ''Pipe Dream'' met with poor reviews, and rapidly closed once it exhausted its advance sale. It had no national tour or London production, and has rarely been presented since. No movie version of the show was made; the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization once hoped for a film version featuring [[the Muppets]] with Fauna played by [[Miss Piggy]]. == Inception == [[File:Cy Feuer.jpg|thumb|left|Cy Feuer]] Following World War II, [[Cy Feuer]] and [[Ernest H. Martin|Ernie Martin]] started producing musicals together. Feuer was the former head of the music department at low-budget [[Republic Pictures]]; Martin was a television executive. Having secured the rights to the farce ''[[Charley's Aunt]]'', they produced it as the musical comedy ''[[Where's Charley?]]'', with a score by [[Frank Loesser]]. Among the backers of ''Where's Charley?'' were Rodgers and Hammerstein, which helped secure additional investment. The show was a hit and helped establish Feuer and Martin on [[Broadway theatre|Broadway]]{{sfn|Nolan|p=228}}—they went on to produce ''[[Guys and Dolls]]''.{{sfn|Hyland|p=227}} In the aftermath of ''Guys and Dolls'''s success, Feuer and Martin were interested in adapting [[John Steinbeck]]'s 1945 novel ''[[Cannery Row (novel)|Cannery Row]]'' into a musical. They felt that some of the characters, such as marine biologist Doc, would work well in a musical, but that many of the other characters would not. Steinbeck suggested that he write a sequel to ''Cannery Row'' that would feature the characters attractive to Feuer and Martin. Based on suggestions for the story line by Feuer and Martin, Steinbeck began to write ''[[Sweet Thursday]]''.{{sfn|Nolan|p=229}} ''Cannery Row'' is set in [[Monterey, California]], before World War II. In ''Sweet Thursday'', Doc returns from the war to find [[Cannery Row]] almost deserted and many of his colorful friends gone. Even his close friend Dora, who ran the Bear Flag Restaurant<!-- Note: source says "Bear Flag Café". Looking at a copy of ''Cannery Row'' will show that's wrong. -->, a whorehouse, has died, and her sister Fauna has taken her place as madam.{{sfn|Hyland|pp=228–229}} A former social worker, Fauna teaches the girls how to set a table properly, hopeful they will marry wealthy men.{{sfn|Fordin|p=323}} Doc's friends Mack and Hazel are still around. They decide Doc's discontent is due to loneliness, and try to get him together with Suzy, a prostitute who has just arrived in Monterey. The two have a brief romance; disgusted by her life as a hooker, Suzy leaves the bawdy house and moves into an abandoned [[boiler]]. She decides she cannot stay with Doc, but tells her friends that if Doc fell ill, she would care for him. The accommodating Hazel promptly breaks Doc's arm as he sleeps, bringing the two lovers back together. At the end, Doc and Suzy go off to [[La Jolla]] to collect marine specimens together.{{sfn|Hyland|pp=228–229}} Originally, Feuer, Martin and Steinbeck intended the work to be composed by Loesser, but he was busy with a project which eventually became ''[[The Most Happy Fella]]''.{{sfn|Nolan|p=229}} With Loesser's refusal, Feuer and Martin approached Rodgers and Hammerstein with their project, then titled ''The Bear Flag Café''. From the beginning, the prudish Hammerstein was uncomfortable with the setting, telling Feuer "We do family shows."{{sfn|Mordden|p=168}} However, Hammerstein found himself attracted to the characters. Doc and Suzy were culturally mismatched but drawn to each other, with Doc rather moody and Suzy somewhat intense. Similar pairings had led to success, not only in the pair's ''[[Carousel (musical)|Carousel]]'' and ''[[South Pacific (musical)|South Pacific]]'', but in Hammerstein's work before his collaboration with Rodgers, such as ''[[The Desert Song]]'' and ''[[Rose-Marie]]''.{{sfn|Mordden|p=170}} During early 1953, Steinbeck sent Hammerstein early drafts of the novel. Rodgers was also concerned about the idea of having a prostitute be the female lead, but eventually gave in.{{sfn|Hyland|p=227}} The two agreed to write and produce the adaptation.{{sfn|Mordden|p=169}} As they worked with Steinbeck, Rodgers and Hammerstein, though renowned for such hits as ''[[Oklahoma!]]'', ''Carousel'', and ''South Pacific'', suffered a relative failure with the 1953 musical ''[[Me and Juliet]]'', a tale of romance among the cast and stagehands backstage at a musical.{{sfn|Hyland|pp=223–224}} Before agreeing to do the ''Sweet Thursday'' project, the duo had considered other projects for their next work together, such as an adaptation of the film ''[[Saratoga Trunk]]''. A proposal made by attorney [[David Merrick]] to adapt a series of works by [[Marcel Pagnol]] to which Merrick held the stage rights fell through when the duo were not willing to have Merrick be an associate producer; Merrick took the project elsewhere, and it was developed into the hit ''[[Fanny (musical)|Fanny]]''. Afterwards, Hammerstein stated, "Why the hell did we give up ''Fanny''? What on earth were we trying to prove? My God, that's a great story and look at some of the junk we've done!"{{sfn|Fordin|p=322}} == Writing and casting == [[File:John Steinbeck 1962.jpg|thumb|upright|left|alt=Photo of a bearded, aging man in half profile|John Steinbeck]] Steinbeck continued to write in late 1953 while Hammerstein and Rodgers went to London to produce the West End production of ''[[The King and I]]''. As Hammerstein received new material from Steinbeck, he and Rodgers began to map out the musical, conceiving scenes and deciding where songs should be placed. On January 1, 1954, following the completion of Steinbeck's novel, Hammerstein began to write dialogue and lyrics. ''Sweet Thursday'' was published in early 1954 to mixed reviews. Steinbeck later commented, "Some of the critics are so concerned for my literary position that they can't read a book of mine without worrying where it will fit in my place in history. Who gives a damn?"{{sfn|Nolan|p=230}} By that time, Rodgers and Hammerstein were busy producing [[Oklahoma! |the film version of ''Oklahoma!'']]{{sfn|Nolan|p=230}} For the part of bordello-keeper Fauna, the duo fixed on the famous diva, [[Helen Traubel]].{{sfn|Nolan|p=231}} There was precedent for such casting—former opera star [[Ezio Pinza]] had starred as suave Frenchman Emile de Becque in ''South Pacific'', and had received rave reviews for his performance.{{sfn|Hyland|pp=179–189}} Traubel, in addition to being well known for her [[Richard Wagner|Wagnerian roles]], was also noted for her nightclub singing.{{sfn|Hischak|p=297}} In 1953, the new [[Metropolitan Opera]] [[impresario]], [[Rudolf Bing]], feeling that she was lowering the tone of the house, declined to renew her contract.{{sfn|Mordden|p=172}} Hammerstein had seen Traubel at her first appearance at the [[Copacabana (nightclub)|Copacabana]] nightclub in New York, and afterwards had gone backstage to predict to Traubel that she would be coming straight to Broadway.<!-- Pun intended, please be kind --> He saw her show again in Las Vegas several months later, and offered her the part.{{sfn|Fordin|p=324}} When offered the role, Traubel eagerly accepted,{{sfn|Mordden|p=172}} though she later noted that she had never represented herself as much of an actress.{{sfn|Fordin|p=325}} From the beginning of the project, Feuer and Martin wanted [[Henry Fonda]] to play Doc. The actor put in months of lessons in an attempt to bring his voice up to standard. Fonda later stated that at the end of six months of singing lessons, he "still couldn't sing for shit".{{sfn|Nolan|p=231}} Following his first audition for Rodgers, Fonda asked the composer for his honest view, and Rodgers stated, "I'm sorry, it would be a mistake."{{sfn|Nolan|p=231}} Cy Feuer remembered: {{quote | So finally, after we go through all this, we turn <nowiki>[Fonda]</nowiki> over to Rodgers and Hammerstein and he's out. Oscar didn't want Fonda because Fonda was his son-in-law and besides Dick said, "I have to have singers," and he hires Helen Traubel to play the madam and she turns out to get top billing and Doc is now the second lead!{{sfn|Nolan|p=231}} }} The duo eventually settled for [[William Johnson (actor)|William Johnson]], who had played the male lead in a touring company of ''[[Annie Get Your Gun (musical)|Annie Get Your Gun]]'', which they had produced, to play the role of Doc.{{sfn|Hischak|p=219}} There are conflicting accounts of who was the first choice for the role of the itinerant prostitute, Suzy. By some accounts, Rodgers and Hammerstein attempted to get [[Julie Andrews]], only to find that she had just signed a two-year contract to appear in a musical by [[Alan Jay Lerner]] and [[Frederick Loewe]], tentatively titled ''My Lady Liza''. Andrews's role, as Eliza Doolittle in ''[[My Fair Lady]]'', would launch her to stardom. Another candidate was [[Janet Leigh]], whom Rodgers admired greatly, but the actress proved to be unavailable. The producers settled on [[Judy Tyler]], auditioned after Rodgers spotted her on television while watching ''[[The Howdy Doody Show]]'',{{sfn|Nolan|p=232}} in which she appeared as [[Princess Summerfall Winterspring]].{{sfn|Mordden|p=172}} To direct the play, the duo engaged [[Harold Clurman]], noted for his work in drama and one of the founders of the [[Group Theatre |Group Theatre]]. [[Jo Mielziner]], veteran of several Rodgers and Hammerstein productions, was the stage designer. In contrast to the complex staging of ''Me and Juliet'', Mielziner's sets were uncomplicated, a system of house-frame outlines in front of backdrops representing Monterey.{{sfn|Mordden|pp=172–173}} Boris Runanin was the choreographer, [[Robert Russell Bennett]] provided orchestrations, and [[Salvatore Dell'Isola]] conducted.{{sfn|Hischak|p=218}} The two producers had hoped to hire the prestigious [[Majestic Theatre (Broadway)|Majestic Theatre]], where ''South Pacific'' had run, but the writing process took too long, and the Majestic was lost to ''Fanny''.{{sfn|Mordden|pp=172–173}} Instead, they booked the [[Shubert Theatre (Broadway)|Shubert Theatre]], in the top rank of Broadway theatres, but not as prestigious as the Majestic.{{sfn|Mordden|pp=172–173}} Uniquely for their joint work, they solicited no backers, but underwrote the entire cost themselves.{{sfn|Nolan|p=234}} Feuer later said of the bargain he and Martin had made with Rodgers and Hammerstein, "And the deal was pretty good: 50&nbsp;percent of the producers' end. And we thought, We're rich! And we turned it over to them and they destroyed it."{{sfn|Nolan|p=230}} == Rehearsals and tryouts == [[File:Hammerstein.jpg|thumb|upright|left|alt=Photo of Hammerstein in middle age, seated, wearing a suit|Oscar Hammerstein II]] When rehearsals opened in September 1955, Rodgers assembled the cast and told them that he was going into the hospital for a minor operation. In fact, Rodgers had been diagnosed with cancer of the jawbone. He spent the weekend before the operation writing one final song for ''Pipe Dream''. The surgery required removal of part of the jawbone and tongue, and some of the [[lymph nodes]]. The operation took place on September 21, 1955; within ten days of the operation he was back in the theatre watching rehearsals, though for some time only as a spectator.{{sfn|Hyland|pp=229–230}} After rehearsals began, Steinbeck wrote to Hammerstein to express his delight at the adaptation. He became more dismayed as the play was slowly revised in rehearsal and during the tryouts. According to Traubel, the play was being "cleaned up&nbsp;... as scene after scene became emasculated".{{sfn|Fordin|p=326}} The revisions made Suzy's profession less clear, and also fudged the nature of Fauna's house. One revision removed Suzy's police record for "vagrancy".{{sfn|Fordin|p=326}} These changes were sparked by the fact that audience members at the tryouts in [[New Haven, Connecticut|New Haven]] and Boston were uncomfortable with the setting and Suzy's role;{{sfn|Hischak|p=220}} by the time the revisions were completed, the script could be read to say that Suzy was merely boarding at Fauna's.{{sfn|Fordin|p=326}} Steinbeck noted this tendency on a page of dialogue changes: {{quote | "One of the most serious criticisms is the uncertainty of Suzy's position in the Bear Flag. It's either a whore house, or it isn't. Suzy either took a job there, or she didn't. The play doesn't give satisfaction here and it leaves an audience wondering. My position is that she took the job all right but she wasn't any good at it. In the book, Fauna explains that Suzy's no good as a hustler because she's got a streak of lady in her. I wish we could keep this thought because it explains a lot in a short time."{{sfn|Fordin|pp=326–327}} }} In another memo, Steinbeck noted that the pathos of Suzy being a prostitute had given much of the dramatic tension to the scene in which Doc rejects Suzy, and later, her rejection of him. "I think if you will finally bring the theme of this play into the open, but wide open, you will have solved its great weakness and have raised it to a high level&nbsp;... If this is not done, I can neither believe nor take ''Pipe Dream'' seriously."{{sfn|Fordin|p=327}} In the end, Suzy's activities at the Bear Flag were glossed over, as Hammerstein concentrated on her relationship with Doc. Alluding to Hammerstein's emphasis on the scene in which Suzy makes Doc soup after Hazel breaks his arm, Steinbeck stated, "You've turned my prostitute into a visiting nurse!"{{sfn|Mordden|p=174}} == Plot == The action of the play is in the mid-1950s, and takes place on Cannery Row in Monterey, California. In the Steinbeck book which forms the basis for the musical, the Bear Flag is a bordello and Suzy a prostitute. This is alluded to in the musical, but never expressed outright. === Act 1 === [[File:Doc and Hazel.jpg|thumb|right|150px|William Johnson as Doc and Mike Kellin as Hazel, in Doc's lab]] In the early morning hours, marine biologist Doc is already at work in his one-man Western Biological Laboratory, getting an order of starfish ready to be shipped to a university. His unintelligent friend Hazel comes in to chat with him. Millicent, a wealthy young lady, enters from the next room, where she has been spending the night with Doc. Mac, another friend of Doc, brings in Suzy, who has injured her hand breaking a window to steal some donuts. Doc, whose lack of a medical degree does not stop the denizens of Cannery Row from seeking him out for treatment, bandages her hand, as the irritated Millicent leaves. Suzy, new in town, is curious about Doc's work and tells about her journey from San Francisco. Fauna, who runs the nearby Bear Flag Café—an establishment open even at this hour—had heard that a new girl in town had injured herself, and has come to talk to Suzy. Fauna is initially reluctant to invite Suzy into the Bear Flag, but when Jim, the local plainclothes cop gives Suzy a hard time, Fauna takes Suzy in. Suzy is fully aware of what kind of a place it is. [[File:All at once you love her.jpg|thumb|left|150px|Suzy and Doc on their date. Jerry LaZarre is Esteban.]] The Palace Flophouse, where Mac, Hazel, and other locals reside, is a storage shed behind the Chinese store now owned by Joe the Mexican, and the Flophouse residents muse on their awkward path through life. Fauna comes by briefly to tell Hazel that she has run his "horror scope" and that he will one day be President. The Flophouse boys have a problem: Joe the Mexican acts unaware that he owns the shed; he has not appeared to either demand rent or to kick them out. They would like to know whether Joe is aware of his ownership, without tipping him off. The boys come up with the idea of raffling off their shed, with the raffle rigged so that Doc, who would not kick them out, will be the winner. The prize money will allow Doc to buy the microscope he needs for his scientific work. They sound out Joe about the scheme; he offers to sell tickets in his store and displays no awareness that he owns the shed. Suzy and Doc are attracted to each other; she has in fact been quietly tidying his rooms while he is down at the tide pool catching specimens. Fauna tries to persuade Doc, who is very successful with the ladies, to woo Suzy. When Doc is dismissive, Fauna explains that she wants to get Suzy out of the Bear Flag when it is taken over for the night by a private party. Doc agrees to take Suzy out and treat her like a lady. Fauna goes back to the Bear Flag, and works to give Suzy confidence. Doc and Suzy's date is the source of great interest to the people of Cannery Row. Both are nervous; Doc wears an unaccustomed necktie, while Suzy tries to act like a lady, but her polish wears thin at times.. At the end of the meal, they decide to continue the evening on a secluded sand dune. === Act 2 === [[File:Happiest house.jpg|thumb|right|150px|Helen Traubel as Fauna and some of her "girls" in the Act 2 party scene]] The next morning, the girls of the Bear Flag are exhausted; the members of the private party wore them out.<!-- Raunchy pun intended --> They wonder how Suzy's date with Doc went. Although it is only July, Fauna is busy ordering the Bear Flag's Christmas cards. Suzy comes in and tells Fauna of the date; that Doc made no pass at her, and that Doc confided how lonely he is. She is convinced Doc "don't need nobody like me"; he needs a wife. Fauna is encouraging, but Suzy believes that Doc, knowing what he does of her history and work, will not want her. The Flophouse is to host a fancy dress party the following night, at which the raffle is to take place—Fauna proposes that at the party, Suzy sing "Will You Marry Me?" to Doc. Suzy is still nervous; Fauna reminds her that the previous night, Doc did not treat her like a tramp, and she did not act like one.<!-- Suzy: That's all I am, is a tramp. Fauna: Did you act like one last night? Did he treat you like one? --> As word spreads of the celebration, the community becomes enthusiastic about the get-together [[File:Tyler in pipe.jpg|thumb|left|150px|Judy Tyler as Suzy in the disused boiler]] At the Flophouse, a wild celebration takes place. Fauna, at first in the costume of a witch, seems to transform her costume into that of a Fairy Godmother. After some sleight of hand with the tickets, Doc wins the raffle, to the surprise of some. When Suzy comes out in a white bride's dress and sings her lines, Doc is unimpressed, and Suzy is humiliated. As both stalk off in opposite directions, the party disintegrates into a brawl. [[File:Doc with flowers.jpg|thumb|right|150px|Doc (Johnson) enters through the pipe to woo Suzy (Tyler)]] Suzy gets a job at a burger joint, and moves into an abandoned boiler, with entry through the attached pipe. Doc is unhappy, and Hazel decides something has to be done ("Thinkin' "). He is unable to come up with an answer, and eventually forgets the question. Some weeks pass, and Joe the Mexican woos Suzy. He has no success, and his attempts irritate Doc. The next day, Doc himself approaches the pipe with flowers in hand, still uncertain as to why he is seeking a girl like Suzy. Suzy lets him in the boiler, which she has fitted up in a homelike manner. She is doing well at the burger joint, but is grateful to Fauna for giving her confidence. She is confident enough, indeed, to reject Doc, who is unhappy, but philosophical . Hazel sees Doc even more dispirited than before, and asks Suzy for an explanation. Suzy says that she is not willing to go over and be with Doc, but "if he was sick or if he bust his leg or an arm or something", she would go to him and bring him soup. The wheels in Hazel's head begin unaccustomed turnings, and sometime later when Mac passes Hazel on the street, Mac is surprised to see his friend carrying a baseball bat. When the scene returns to Doc's lab, he is receiving treatment from a real doctor and trying to puzzle out how he broke his arm. Suzy comes in, and makes soup for him as Hazel and Mac take turns watching at the keyhole. Doc admits that he needs and loves Suzy, and they embrace. As Fauna and the girls arrive, so do the other Flophouse boys, and Mac gives Doc what was bought with the raffle money—the largest (tele)scope in the catalog. ("Finale") == Musical numbers == {{col-begin}} {{col-2}} '''Act I'''{{sfn|Hischak|p=218}} * All Kinds of People – Doc and Hazel * The Tide Pool – Doc, Hazel, Mac and Suzy * Everybody's Got a Home but Me – Suzy * All Kinds of People (Reprise) – Jim Blaikey * A Lopsided Bus – Mac, Hazel, Kitty, Sonya and chorus * Bums' Opera – Fauna, Joe, Pancho and chorus * The Man I Used to Be – Doc * Sweet Thursday – Fauna * Suzy Is a Good Thing – Fauna and Suzy * All at Once You Love Her – Doc, Suzy and Esteban {{col-break}} '''Act II'''{{sfn|Hischak|p=219}} * The Happiest House on the Block – Fauna and chorus girls * The Party That We're Gonna Have Tomorrow Night – Mac and company * Will You Marry Me - Suzy and Doc * Thinkin' – Hazel * All at Once You Love Her (Reprise) – Fauna * How Long? – Fauna, Doc, and chorus * The Next Time It Happens – Suzy and Doc * Sweet Thursday (Reprise) – Entire company * Finale – Entire company {{col-end}} == Productions == [[File:Pipe Dream Playbill.jpeg|thumb|upright|The front cover of ''Pipe Dream''{{'}}s [[playbill]] shows Traubel, Johnson, and Tyler in character.]] ''Pipe Dream'' premiered on Broadway on November 30, 1955, at the [[Shubert Theatre |Shubert Theatre]], with Helen Traubel as Fauna, William Johnson as Doc, Judy Tyler as Suzy, [[George D. Wallace]] as Mac and [[Mike Kellin]] as Hazel.{{sfn|Hischak|p=218}} The show had received the largest advance ticket sale in Broadway history to that point, $1.2&nbsp;million.{{sfn|Fordin|p=329}} Some of Steinbeck's ill-feeling was removed on the second night, which he attended and then went backstage to greet the cast. After a celebratory dinner at [[Sardi's]] during which the manager sent champagne to his table, he said to his wife Elaine, "Isn't the theatre marvelous?"{{sfn|Mordden|p=177}} The author held no grudge; he later told Hammerstein that he accepted that Rodgers and Hammerstein were ultimately responsible for the show and had the right to make changes.{{sfn|Fordin|p=329}} Rodgers and Hammerstein had not permitted group sales, so-called "theatre parties" for their shows. They lifted the ban for ''Pipe Dream'', and pre-sold theatre party sales helped keep the show going, as there were few sales after opening night given the dismal reviews. More than 70&nbsp;performances were entirely sold to groups. In March 1956, in a final attempt to save the show, Rodgers and Hammerstein revised it somewhat, moving several musical numbers. Traubel missed a number of performances due to illness, and left when her contract expired a few weeks before the show closed in June 1956—she was replaced by [[Nancy Andrews (actress)|Nancy Andrews]].{{sfn|Block|pp=245–246}} Traubel's understudy, [[Ruth Kobart]], played 42 of the show's 245 performances.<ref name="moon" />

<i>Very Warm for May</i> musical

Very Warm for May is a musical composed by Jerome Kern, with a libretto by Oscar Hammerstein II. It was the team's final score for Broadway, following their hits Show Boat, Sweet Adeline, and Music in the Air. It marked a return to Broadway for Kern, who had spent several years in Hollywood writing music for movies, including Swing Time for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

James Blanchard Hammerstein was an American theatre director and producer.

<i>Elaine Stritch at Liberty</i>

Elaine Stritch at Liberty is an autobiographical one-woman show written by Elaine Stritch and John Lahr, which is composed of anecdotes from Stritch's life and showtunes.

References

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  23. "Hammerstein Honored" . The New York Times. May 24, 1961. p. 32. Mrs. Oscar Hammerstein 2nd, widow of the lyricist, unveiled a plaque today to his memory in Southwark Cathedral .... Mr. Hammerstein's will provided ₤2000 to support two choir-boys at Southwark Cathedral.
  24. 1 2 "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin': 1943-1960". Broadway: The American Musical. October 20, 2004. PBS. Oscar Hammerstein II. ...perhaps the most influential lyricist and librettist of the American theater.|access-date= requires |url= (help)
  25. "Interview: Stephen Sondheim". Academy of Achievement. Archived from the original on 2010-12-12. Retrieved 2010-05-08. People underestimate what [Hammerstein] did in the way of musical theater. He was primarily an experimental writer, and what he was doing was marrying the traditions of opera and American musical comedy, using songs to tell a story that was worth telling. The first real instance of that is Show Boat, which is a watershed show in the history of musical theater, and Oklahoma!, which is innovative in different ways ... Now, because of the success of Oklahoma!, and subsequent shows, most musical theater now tells stories through songs. But that was not true prior to 1943, the year of Oklahoma!
  26. Rich, Frank (March 12, 2000). "Conversations with Sondheim" . The New York Times Magazine. pp. 38-ff.
  27. ( Kislan 1995 , p. 141)
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  30. Jones, Kenneth (December 1, 2008). "Complete Lyrics" of Hammerstein, in Stores Now, Required Climbing Ev'ry Mountain". Playbill . Archived from the original on 2008-12-04.
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  35. Hetrick, Adam. Bock and Harnick Receive Hammerstein Award Nov. 23; Cook, Kuhn, Kudisch and More Will Sing" Playbill, November 23, 2009
  36. Gans, Andrew."Rivera, Vereen, Hirsch, Huffman and More to Salute Walton June 6" Playbill, May 31, 2005
  37. "Theater Hall of Fame members" . Retrieved February 9, 2014.

Further reading