Babes in Arms

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For the film of the same name, see Babes in Arms (film).
Babes in Arms
Babes in Arms Logo.png
Original Broadway Logo
Music Richard Rodgers
Lyrics Lorenz Hart
Book Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Productions 1937 Broadway
1939 film

Babes in Arms is a 1937 musical comedy with music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Lorenz Hart and book by Rodgers and Hart. It concerns a group of small-town Long Island teenagers who put on a show to avoid being sent to a work farm by the town sheriff when their actor parents go on the road for five months in an effort to earn some money by reviving vaudeville.

Several songs in Babes in Arms became pop standards, including the title song; "Where or When"; "My Funny Valentine"; "The Lady Is a Tramp"; "Johnny One Note" and "I Wish I Were in Love Again".[1]

The film version, released in 1939, starred Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney and was directed by Busby Berkeley. It radically revised the plot retained only two songs from the original stage version, Where or When and Babes in Arms. The film is credited with making the trope of kids putting on a musical show for charity popular.

The original version had strong political overtones with discussions of Nietzsche, a Communist character and two African-American youths who are victims of racism. In 1959 George Oppenheimer created a "sanitized, de-politicized rewrite" which is now the most frequently performed version.[2] In the new version, the young people are trying to save a local summer stock theatre from being demolished, not trying to avoid being sent to a work farm. The sequence of the songs is drastically changed, the orchestration changed, and the dance numbers eliminated.

The sanitized version was the only one available for performance until 1998 when the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music presented the original version (with a few race references slightly re-edited.)[3]

Production history[edit]

Babes in Arms opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on April 14, 1937, transferred to the Majestic Theatre on October 25, 1937, and closed on December 18, 1937 after 289 performances. The production, under the auspices of Dwight Deere Wiman, was staged by Robert B. Sinclair with choreography by George Balanchine. Settings were by Raymond Sovey, and costumes by Helene Pons. Hans Spialek created the orchestrations and Gene Salzer led the orchestra which included pianists Edgar Fairchild and Adam Carroll. The cast featured Mitzi Green, Ray Heatherton, and Alfred Drake, as well as the Nicholas Brothers[4]

A studio cast recording starring Gregg Edelman as Val, Judy Blazer as Billie, Jason Graae as Gus, Donna Kane as Dolores, Judy Kaye as Baby Rose, Adam Grupper as Peter, with JQ and the Bandits as the Quartet and featuring the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra was released by New World Records in 1990.

Later revivals of original 1930s version[edit]

In addition to the revival of the 1930s original mentioned above, a City Center Encores! staged concert version of the same ran in February 1999, directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall with Erin Dilly, David Campbell, Jessica Stone and Christopher Fitzgerald.[5]

Other performances of the 1950s version[edit]

The musical was produced at the Chichester Festival Theatre from June 7, 2007 through July 7, 2007, and cast Judy Garland's daughter Lorna Luft as the domineering mother of former child star Baby Rose Owens. One reviewer complained that the musical seemed to have lost its legendary political bite, evidently unaware that this was the revised 1950s de-politicized version.[6] She was given two new songs from neither the stage version nor the film in which her mother appeared. In 1985, Ginger Rogers directed a production in Tarrytown, NY that starred Randy Skinner and Karen Ziemba. Skinner also choreogaphed the show.

Characters and original Broadway cast[edit]

  • Billie SmithMitzi Green
  • Val LamarRay Heatherton
  • Marshall BlackstoneAlfred Drake
  • Peter Jackson – Duke McHale
  • Baby Rose – Wynn Murray
  • Gus Fielding - Rolly Pickert
  • Dolores Reynolds - Grace McDonald
  • Ivor DeQuincyHarold Nicholas
  • Irving DeQuincyFayard Nicholas
  • Lee Calhoun - Dana Hardwick
  • Sheriff Reynolds - George Watts

Musical numbers[edit]

Overture [including the Lamars’ act and the Blackstones’ act] — Orchestra

ACT I

  • "Opening Act I" — Orchestra
  • "Where or When" — Billie & Val
  • "Babes in Arms" — Val, Marshall, Billie & The Gang
  • "I Wish I Were in Love Again" — Gus & Dolores
  • "Babes in Arms - Reprise" — Marshall, Sheriff & The Gang
  • "Light On Our Feet" with dance (originally the racially insensitive "All Dark People Are Light On Their Feet") — The DeQuincy Bros.
  • "Way Out West" with dance break — Baby Rose & Men's Quartet
  • "My Funny Valentine" — Billie
  • "Johnny One Note" — Baby Rose
  • "Ballet - Johnny One Note" including: — Orchestra
    • Section 1: Tango and Jazz Ballet
    • Section 2: The Scene Moves Backstage
    • Section 3: Move Back to Ballet
    • Section 4: Finale - Act I

Entr'acte — Orchestra

ACT II

  • "Imagine" — Men's Quartet, Baby Rose, Peter, & Marshall
  • "All At Once" — Val & Billie
  • "Imagine - Reprise #1" — Peter & The Men's Quartet
  • "Peter's Journey (Ballet)" — Orchestra
  • "Imagine - Reprise #2" — The Men's Quartet & Peter
  • "The Lady Is a Tramp" with encore — Billie
  • "You Are So Fair" with 2 dances — Gus & Dolores with Orchestra
  • "Reprise: The Lady is a Tramp" — Billie
  • "Specialty #1 (Light On Our Feet) & Specialty #2 (Imagine)" — Orchestra
  • "Finale Ultimo" — The Gang with Val & Billie
  • "Bows (Johnny One-Note)" — Orchestra
  • "Exit Music (Where or When)" — Orchestra

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Many Hit Songs in Babes in Arms". The Ottwawa Journal. 11 March 1961. p. 40. Retrieved 2 September 2014 – via Newspapers.com. open access publication - free to read
  2. ^ "Babes in Arms- staged concert production". 1999. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "UCLA Music workshop presents". Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  4. ^ "Babes in Arms". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  5. ^ Brantley, Ben."THEATER REVIEW; Ageless Fun, With the Beat And Bounce Of Springtime",The New York Times, February 13, 1999
  6. ^ What's On Stage, accessed May 12, 2009

External links[edit]