Inside U.S.A.

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For other uses, see Inside U.S.A. (disambiguation).
Inside U.S.A.
Music Arthur Schwartz
Lyrics Howard Dietz
Book Arnold M. Auerbach
Moss Hart
Arnold B. Horwitt
Basis Book by John Gunther
Productions 1948 Broadway

Inside U.S.A. was a musical revue by Arthur Schwartz (music) and Howard Dietz (lyrics) and was loosely based on the book Inside U.S.A. by John Gunther. Sketches were written by Arnold M. Auerbach, Moss Hart, and Arnold B. Horwitt.

Production[edit]

The revue opened on Broadway at the New Century Theatre on April 30, 1948, transferred to the Majestic Theatre on September 23, 1948, and closed on February 19, 1949 after a total of 399 performances.

The sketches were directed by Robert H. Gordon, dances and Musical numbers were staged by Helen Tamiris, the production design was by Lemuel Ayers, costume design was by Eleanor Goldsmith, Beatrice Lillie's costumes and gowns were by Castillo and mask design was by John Robert Lloyd. The cast included Jack Haley, Beatrice Lillie, Valerie Bettis, Talley Beatty, Jack Cassidy, John Tyers, Jane Lawrence, Carl Reiner, and Nellie Hill.

Synopsis[edit]

The revue consists of a number of sketches related only in that they generally focus on a particular State. The opening is a serande to the United States by the company ("Inside USA"). Lillie provides a "mocking madrigal" that praises the industry in Pittsburgh ("Come, Oh Come to Pittsburgh"). A woman loses her boyfriend to the horses at Churchill Downs ("Blue Grass").In one sketch, a superstitious maid unnerves an actress on a Broadway opening night, using a ouija board and numerology (written by Moss Hart). New Orleans is featured in "At The Mardi Gras", with Lillie as the Queen. Wisconsin is featured in "First Prize At The Fair." Lillie and Haley, costumed as New Mexico Indians, declare "We Won't Take It Back." The romantic "Rhode Island Is Famous For You" turns into a ragtime number and names the most famous products of various states. In the Western number "My Gal Is Mine Once More" a cowboy celebrates remarriage to his first wife. Haley teaches apprentice waiters to make dining customers unhappy. Lillie is the "priggish, unimaginative leader of a choral society" and a mermaid with a strange romantic life. Herb Shriner, without harmonica, provides a wry Western themed monologue as "A Feller from Indiana."[1][2][3]

Songs (partial)[edit]

  • Inside USA
  • Come, Oh Come to Pittsburgh
  • Blue Grass-Thelma Carpenter
  • Rhode Island Is Famous For You-Estelle Loring and Jack Haley
  • Haunted Heart
  • First Prize At The Fair
  • At The Mardi Gras
  • My Gal Is Mine Once More
  • Atlanta
  • Protect Me (cut)

[4]

The biggest success from the musical was Haunted Heart,[5] with which Perry Como and Jo Stafford had hit recordings.[6] It was also the title track of Haunted Heart (Renée Fleming album).

Blossom Dearie recorded "Rhode Island is Famous For You."[7]

Critical response[edit]

Reviews were favorable from Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times ("keen and impeccable") and Robert Coleman of the Daily Mirror ("a handsome hit"). However, the only song that became a hit was Haunted Heart. A strike by ASCAP delayed the recording and radio play from the show, which may have been the reason for the lack of more hit songs.[8] The Time Magazine reviewer wrote that the revue was the "least enjoyable Bea Lillie show in a long time. Not that it is really bad or botched: it is all thoroughly professional. It is also thoroughly unoriginal and unexhilarating; it not only fails to shed light of its own, but even dims the cherished Lillie luster."[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1948 Theatre World Award
Valerie Bettis (winner)
Estelle Loring (winner)

Television[edit]

A television show titled Inside U.S.A. with Chevrolet, was based on this revue, with music, comedy, and dance that showed different states.

The TV show aired on the CBS network from September 29, 1949 through March 16, 1950, with Schwartz and Dietz providing original music and Peter Lind Hayes the Master of Ceremonies, with name guest stars. Margaret O'Brien was the first guest and Joan Blondell the last, with Lucille Ball and Ethel Merman also guesting.[10]

Recording[edit]

Inside U.S.A.'s original cast recording was recorded before the production was fully cast in order to beat the 1948 ASCAP strike. The 1948 musical revue 'Inside U.S.A.' was commemorated with a 78 rpm album consisting of four records released by RCA Victor Records featuring the show's principals, Beatrice Lillie and Jack Haley, as well as performances by non-cast member Billy Williams and Perry Como's hit recording of "Haunted Heart." Russ Cass and his Orchestra provided the music.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Atkinson, Brooks. "At The Theatre", The New York Times, May 1, 1948, p. 19
  2. ^ Cullen, Frank, Hackman, Florence, McNeilly, Donald. Vaudeville, old & new (2007), Routledge, ISBN 0-415-93853-8, p. 689
  3. ^ Green, Stanley. The World of Musical Comedy (1984), Da Capo Press, ISBN 0-306-80207-4, p. 170
  4. ^ 'Inside USA' listing, Arthur Schwartz songwritershalloffame.org, accessed August 5, 2009
  5. ^ Dan Dietz Off Broadway Musicals, 1910-2007: Casts, Credits, Songs, 2010 "most enduring standard, the ethereal “Haunted Heart.” Over a halfcentury later, the ballad is still popular: It was the theme song for the 1999 film The End of the Affair, and it was the title of opera singer Renee Fleming's CD collection of popular ..."
  6. ^ "Inside U.S.A. / The Band Wagon" recording listing, allmusic.com, accessed August 5, 2009
  7. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ig2daWp-Pls
  8. ^ Cuthbertson, Ken. Inside:The Biography of John Gunther (2002), E-Reads Ltd, ISBN 0-7592-3288-1, p.265
  9. ^ "The Theater: New Revue in Manhattan, May 10, 1948",Time Magazine, May 10, 1948
  10. ^ Inside U.S.A. with Chevrolet tv.com, accessed August 5, 2009

External links[edit]