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Musical of the Month

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Each month, a libretto of an important early American musical in a variety of electronic formats, plus associated photographs, vocal scores, and the occasional audio file.

Musical of the Month: The Body Beautiful

Spoiler alert: The following blog reveals details about the plot of Rocky. If you’ve seen the movie, there are no surprises here, but if you haven’t seen it yet, go buy a ticket to the musical, and come back soon.Read More ›

Jerry Bock's FIORELLO! Demos

Original Cast of Fiorello! / Photo by Joseph AbelesWhen Jerry Bock died in 2010, his papers (drafts, correspondence, business records, etc.) came to the library as he had planned. A year or so later, his friend and lawyer, Richard Ticktin, compiled many of Bock's personal audio recordings onto a hard drive and passed a copy to the library. While we are still in the process of processing and preserving this material, I'm very excited today to share with you a preview of the treasures in this collection. Using the library's player below, you can listen to three tapes Bock made while 

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Musical of the Month: Fiorello!

There’s a new mayor in town—a man from a party locked out of the Gracie Mansion for over a decade who ran on a platform opposing the establishment and promising to improve the lot of the city's poor and disenfranchised. Thus ends Fiorello!, the hit 1959 musical with a score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. Read More ›

Announcing LIBRETTO!

I am very pleased to announce the first release of Libretto, a prototype open source, ebook reader for reading musicals on Android devices!Read More ›

Musical of the Month: Are You With It?

A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

The cast of Are You With It? (Photo by The Graphic House)November 1945. The New York Post calls it "a long-awaited musical comedy hit;" Universal purchases the film rights for more than $100,000; and The New York Times urges its readers to "hurry, hurry folks and get your tickets. On second thought, it probably isn't necessary to break a neck: this carnival should be hereabouts for a long time to come."

If you've never heard of this raucous entertainment 

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Musical of the Month: Bless You All

A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

Between March 1946 and December 1948, six highly successful musical revues opened on Broadway, playing a combined total of 2,653 performances and marking a brief resurgence of the once fashionable form. The rapturous response to these half-dozen hits was quite likely the driving force behind the pack of ten new entries that stormed the scene in the three years that followed (1949-1951).

However, with the exception of the Bert Lahr-Dolores Gray vehicle

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Three Songs From Barefoot Boy With Cheek

Photo by The Graphic House (Theater Photo Collection B)A guest post by Ben West of UnsungMusicalsCo.

When I was approached about recording Barefoot Boy With Cheek, I jumped at the opportunity. Based on the best-selling novel by Tony Award nominee Max Shulman, the zany 1947 romp has quickly become one of my favorite musicals. Sidney Lippman and Sylvia Dee's score is top-drawer Broadway brass and Mr. Shulman's book is both endlessly witty and brilliantly constructed. Yet, the original George Abbott production never received a cast album. Barefoot Boy is truly an unsung musical. As 

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Musical of the Month: Barefoot Boy With Cheek

Photo by The Graphic House (Theater Photo File B)A guest post by Ben West

“A young alumnus of the University of Minnesota and an old hand from Harvard and Broadway have turned out a wonderfully amusing musical comedy called Barefoot Boy With Cheek. A horde of exuberant young singers, dancers and actors, all of them bursting with vigor and brimming with talent, bounced it around the stage of the Colonial Theatre last night and rolled the customers out into the aisles. It’s the newest of the hits and one of the happiest.”

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Musical of the Month: The Fig Leaves Are Falling

A guest post by Ben West.

The Company (Photo by Dixie Sheridan)Strange as it may seem given its frank narrative and its traditional sound, The Fig Leaves Are Falling is not a conventional musical. This colorful, vivacious and disarmingly sweet 1969 confection is—at its core and in its construction—a unique and exciting entertainment that marvelously straddles the worlds of 1960s musical comedy and 1940s revue. It was, in fact, Fig Leaves' 

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Musical of the Month: Listen to Very Good Eddie

I'll be posting a April's Musical of the Month later this week, but before I do, I wanted to share the results of a little experiment.

I recently discovered a new music streaming subscription called Rdio which, for a monthly subscription fee (currently about $5), allows one unlimited access to all of the songs in their catalog. It's more or less the same idea as Spotify, but with one really cool feature for programmers: an open and easy to use API (application programming interface) for playing music within 

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Musical of the Month: Very Good Eddie

The 1915 cast of Very Good Eddie (White Studio / Theater B Files)Last August, musical theater historian Laura Frankos detailed the history of the Princess Musicals in her introduction to Oh, Boy! This month's musical, Very Good Eddie, was the second of this set of smaller-and-smarter musicals produced at the Princess Theater on 39th street (following Nobody's Home and immediately preceding Oh, Boy!).

The musical is an adaptation of Over Night, a play written by co-bookwriter, Philip Bartholomae, 

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Musical of the Month: Make Mine Manhattan

A guest post by UnsungMusicalsCo director, Ben West

The CompanyPhotograph © Dixie Sheridan Currently in its fifth year, UnsungMusicalsCo. (UMC) is a not-for-profit production company that I founded with the aim of researching, restoring and presenting obscure but artistically sound works from the Golden Age of musical theatre. It should be noted upfront that I am perhaps more liberal than most in my definition of the Golden Age, by which I mean those 40 glorious years between the Follies: Mr. Florenz Ziegfeld's in 1931 and Mr. Stephen 

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Musical of the Month: Night Boat

A guest post by Levi Branson

Ernest Torrence and the chorus (Theater Photo File B)

By 1920 Jerome Kern had achieved success as a noteworthy American composer with a uniquely American career. His melodies graced many entertainment platforms, but he was most prominently represented on the musical stage. His early composing career included scores for the successful Princess Theatre musicals as well as song interpolations into others' musicals. In 1919 a Charles Dillingham production paired him with a songwriter and librettist who would become a frequent collaborator in the 

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Musical of the Month: Sally

A guest post by Maya Cantu

Marilyn Miller in "Sally" "America at the close of the Great War was a Cinderella magically clothed in the most stunning dress at the ball... immense gains with no visible price tag seemed to be the American destiny," as historian Ann Douglas has noted. In the expansively optimistic and prosperous America of 1920, there could hardly have been a musical — or heroine — more suited to its times than Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton's Sally, a Jazz Age Cinderella story clothed in opulent enchantment.

At the dawn of the 

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Musical of the Month: Evangeline

A guest post by Brian D. Valencia

Evangeline Ad - Ann Arbor Courier 1-18-1888 (Old News, Ann Arbor)

Evangeline, or The Belle of Acadia rounds out the Musical of the Month blog's consideration of the four most popular American-devised musicals of the late 19th century. Only The Black Crook  (1866) surpassed Evangeline in frequency, longevity, and popularity—and  

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Musical of the Month: Dorothy

A guest post by Tracy C. Davis, Barber Professor of Performing Arts — Northwestern University.

Extracted from the preface to Dorothy in Tracy C. Davis, ed., The Broadview Anthology of Nineteenth-Century British Performance (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2012). The full text of the book and lyrics (based on the British Library's manuscript) appears for the first time in this volume.

Florence Dysart as Lydia [Victoria & Albert Museum]Dorothy premiered in 1886 it was billed as a 

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The Music of Oh, Boy!

A guest post by Professor William Everett

Part of the innate appeal of the Princess Theatre musicals comes from the songs, which famously emerge out of the plots. Musical numbers in these shows illuminate some dimension of the story; characters often reflect on what is happening at the time or offer insights into their personalities and desires. As Stephen Banfield asserts in his extraordinary study of Kern and his music, songs in the Princess Theatre musicals constitute the middle parts of sequences that generally move from dialogue to song to dance. (Banfield,

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Musical of the Month: Erminie

A guest post and edition by Andrew Lamb.

Irene Williams and Warren Proctor as Erminie and Eugène in the 1921 revival (*T PHO B) The works of Gilbert and Sullivan dominated nineteenth-century British comic opera from the start. Yet in neither London nor New York was a work of theirs the longest-running British comic opera of its time. Indeed, in New York The Mikado wasn't even the most successful British comic opera of its year.

That distinction belongs to a work now virtually forgotten — Erminie, a comic opera with libretto by Claxson Bellamy and 

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Musical of the Month: Oh, Boy!

A guest post By Laura Frankos Oh, Boy!: Kern, Bolton, Wodehouse and the Princess Theatre Musicals The Genesis of the Series

Image ID: th-56990In 1913, the Shuberts added another theatre to their empire at 104 West 39th Street, on the edge of the theatre district. Architect William Albert Swaney, who had built the Winter Garden for the brothers, designed an intimate 299-seat house, with an understated Georgian exterior of red brick and limestone and five stories of office space for rental income. The theatre, dubbed the Princess, spent its first seasons as "the Theatre of 

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Musical of the Month: A Biography of George M. Cohan

A guest post by Professor William Everett.

Wikimedia CommonsHis statue stands in Times Square, the only one located at the "Crossroads of the World." This legendary showman did it all—actor, writer, composer, producer, manager, sheet music publisher. If one individual had to be chosen as an embodiment of the breadth of the stage entertainment industry at the turn of the twentieth century, an ideal choice would be George M. Cohan 

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