In my last blog I wrote about this great book I am reading, Showstoppers!: The Surprising Backstage Stories of Broadways Most Memorable Songs by Gerald Nachman. I found myself devouring this book to the point that I finished it in just a couple of days. But, as promised, here are some more fun stories that I thought I would share:
- GUYS AND DOLLS – Frank Loesser wrote the entire score before Abe Burrows even started writing the book! The had agreed to write a musical based on a book by Jo Swerling and Loesser just took off! The librettist had to write the book and the scenes around all the songs Loesser created (usually it is the other way around)!
- Hal Prince almost cut the song “Cabaret” from CABARET because he did not want two songs that “welcomed” the audience – the first being “Willkommen” but he was talked into keeping the song by Ron Field.
- Richard Rogers (Yes, he of the Rogers and Hammerstein duo) had a career in the baby-wear business before he started writing music full time.
- The title for the Cole Porter musical “ANYTHING GOES” actually came from the actor William Gaxton. When he was asked by the director during rehearsal to change entrances from left to right, the actor replied something like, “In this kind of a spot, anything goes!” Porter then wrote the title song and the rest is history.
- Celeste Holm created the role of Ado Annie in OKLAHOMA! Annie is one of the most beloved roles in musical theatre. She got the role after she did a hog call at her audition. Imagine that. Apparently, when she was a kid, her neighbors had pigs and they were all used to calling them. (I cannot tell you how many times, I see “special talents” on actors resumes and how many times that makes them “stand out.” This is a great example.)
- “I Cain’t Say No”, Ado Annie’s hysterical solo, was such a hit that it appears everyone knew it was going to be a showstopper. When the show was in previews outside of NYC, Hammerstein wrote an encore verse and had it in his pocket and was backstage when the audience would not stop clapping. Apparently, she ran off stage and he handed her the encore lyrics and she sang the encore holding the piece of paper.
Great stuff, ha?