The Cabaret Girl
|The Cabaret Girl|
|Lyrics||George Grossmith and
P. G. Wodehouse
|Book||George Grossmith and
P. G. Wodehouse
|Productions||1922, Winter Garden Theatre,
Drury Lane, London
2008, Ohio Light Opera,
The Cabaret Girl is a musical comedy in three acts with music by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by George Grossmith, Jr. and P. G. Wodehouse. It was produced by Grossmith and J. A. E. Malone at the Winter Garden Theatre in London's West End in September 1922 and featured Dorothy Dickson, Grossmith, Geoffrey Gwyther, and Norman Griffin (later replaced by Leslie Henson) in the leading roles.
The first performance was originally scheduled for Thursday, 14 September 1922, with Henson in a leading role, but he fell ill on the morning of the scheduled opening, which was delayed to allow Griffin to prepare for the part. The show finally opened the following Tuesday, 19 September. According to the reviewer in The Times, "Last night the piece received the warmest of receptions and thoroughly deserved it." The production ran for 361 performances, closing on 11 August 1923. Henson took over from Griffin in January 1924 and the latter then took the show on tour.
The Cabaret Girl was first given an American production in 2004 when San Francisco's 42nd Street Moon company produced a staged concert of the show. Its first full American production was in 2008, when the Ohio Light Opera gave seven performances, between 26 June and 8 August, as part of their 30th Anniversary season. The same company released a commercial recording of the work in 2009 on Albany Records. The recording is the earliest work composed by Kern to be restored and recorded in its original form. The first New York City production was given in March 2009, in a concert staging by the semi-professional troupe Musicals Tonight!
Actor-manager George Grossmith, Jr. and his partner Edward Laurillard bought the New Middlesex Theatre in London's West End in 1919 and, after its refurbishment, re-opened it as the Winter Garden Theatre. The first production was Kissing Time, written by P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton and starring Grossmith and Leslie Henson. After Grossmith's partnership with Laurillard broke up two years later, Grossmith retained control of the Winter Garden where, between 1921 and 1926, in partnership with Pat Malone, he produced a series of shows, many of which were adaptations of imported shows and featured Henson. The first production by the Grossmith-Malone partnership was Sally, with music by Jerome Kern, a book by Bolton and some of the lyrics by Wodehouse, which was the London transfer of a Broadway hit. The second, with an original book, was The Cabaret Girl.
Kern and Wodehouse had both worked with Grossmith early in their careers and had, together with Bolton, created an innovative series of musicals for the Princess Theatre on Broadway. In his 1933 autobiography, Grossmith described how he, Wodehouse and Kern managed their collaboration. While the two writers travelled to New York, drafting the lyrics of the ensemble numbers and finales on the boat, Kern was already at work at his home in Bronxville, New York, composing the melodies. When the trio gathered at Bronxville, Kern began setting the completed lyrics to music, while Grossmith and Wodehouse prepared "dummy" lyrics for Kern's melodies, the actual lyrics being completed on the return voyage. The trio worked from piano or "fiddle" copies of the music, leaving Kern to follow them to London with the completed orchestration a few weeks later.
The hero, James ("Jim") Paradene (Geoffrey Gwyther) is the nephew of the Marchioness of Harrogate. He has been left a small fortune by his father, on condition that he must marry a lady who meets with the approval of the Marchioness and her son, the Marquis of Harrogate. Unfortunately, Jim wishes to marry Marilynn Morgan (Dorothy Dickson), but his trustees disapprove of her because she is a chorus girl.
Act 1: The Showroom of Messrs Gripps & Gravvins, Music Publishers, Bond Street
Jim comes to the offices of Gripps and Gravins looking for a song to sing at his local village concert. When Marilynn also arrives, to audition for a cabaret that Gripps (George Grossmith) and Gravvins (Norman Griffin) are producing, Jim tries to persuade her to give up her career and settle with him in the country, but she refuses and suggests that they should part. Jim, however, has an idea: if he and Marilynn pretend to be married, his trustees will no longer be able to withhold their approval. Gravvins has "a little place in the country", "The Pergola" at Woollam Chersey, Hertfordshire, and invites the young couple to visit it.
Act 2: "The Pergola", Woollam Chersey
Jim and Marilynn arrive at "The Pergola" in the guise of a honeymoon couple. The plan is that Gravvins will invite the local aristocracy to a garden party, to meet the honeymoon couple, with the intention that the Marchioness will be impressed with Marilynn's social standing. But all the notables of the district are away on holiday, so the members of the Gripps & Gravvins cabaret troupe are enlisted to impersonate them. Gravvins himself takes the part of the local vicar, but the plot is unmasked when the real vicar appears. Marilynn, thoroughly embarrassed, admits her part in the deception and announces that she will have nothing more to do with Mr James Parradine, before fleeing the scene.
Act 3: "All Night Follies" at The Cabaret
Marilynn is performing in the Gripps & Gravvins production, "All Night Follies", at The Cabaret, where Jim comes looking for her. He has realised that he cannot expect Marilynn to give up the bright city lights and is prepared to go along with her wishes if she will agree to marry him. The curtain falls before the Marchioness and her son have given their approval, but as she has expressed admiration for Marilynn and he has fallen for the charms of Lily de Jigger, another member of the cast, a happy ending seems probable.
The original cast, in order of appearance, was:
|Marchioness of Harrogate||Miss Fortescue|
|Marquis of Harrogate||Her son||Peter Haddon|
|Effie Dix||Vera Lennox|
|Miss Simmons||)||(||Dorothy Hurst|
|Miss Tompkins||)||Assistants at the firm of||(||Dorothy Field|
|Miss Witmore||)||Gripps & Gravvins||(||Cecile Maule-Cole|
|Miss Brownlow||)||(||Eileen Seymour|
|A Customer||Dorothy Bentham|
|Mr Gripps||)||Partners in a firm of||(||George Grossmith|
|Mr Gravvins||)||music publishers||(||Norman Griffin|
|James Paradene||Geoffrey Gwyther|
|Harry Zona||)||(||Thomas Weguelin|
|March||)||Members of the||(||Seymour Beard|
|April||)||"All Night Follies"||(||Enid Taylor|
|Little Ada||)||cabaret troupe||(||Heather Thatcher|
|Lily de Jigger||)||(||Molly Ramsden|
|Marilynn Morgan ("Flick")||Dorothy Dickson|
|Feloosi (an agent)||Joseph Spree|
|Quibb (a piano tuner)||Leigh Ellis|
|Mrs Drawbridge||Housekeeper at "The Pergola"||Muriel Barnby|
|The Mayor of Woollam Chersey||Claude Horton|
|Laburnum Brown||Molly Vere|
|Lilac Smith||Vera Kirkwood|
|Poppy Robinson||Dorothy Deane|
|Hyacinth Green||Monica Noyes|
|Tulip Williams||Betsy Shields|
|The Vicar of Woollam Chersey||Ernest Graham|
|Box Office Keeper||Fred Whitlock|
|Cabaret Dancer||Mr Jinos|
- Wodehouse reused some of the names from The Cabaret Girl in his later works: "Flick" and Mr Paradene are characters in Bill the Conqueror (1924); in "Jeeves and the Impending Doom" (1926), Bertie Wooster's Aunt Agatha has a country estate at Woollam Chersey; so, too, does the hero of his play Good Morning, Bill (1928), Bill Paradene.
Many of the numbers in The Cabaret Girl derived from, or were later modified for, other works:
- "Chopin ad lib" and "First rose of summer" were adapted from Kern's 1919 Broadway show She's a Good Fellow, the book and lyrics of which were written by Anne Caldwell.
- The duet "Mr Gravvins – Mr Gripps" was a pastiche of a hit song, "Mister Gallagher and Mister Shean", from the 1922 Ziegfeld Follies.
- Kern revised the music of "Journey's end" when he included it in his 1925 Broadway show, The City Chap.
- "The Pergola patrol" reappeared, shortened and with some lyrics changed, as "Is this not a lovely spot?" in Sitting Pretty.
- "Shimmy with Me" introduced London's theatregoers to a new American dance craze, the "Shimmy". It, too, was reused in The City Chap, as "He is the type".
- Wodehouse had used a very similar version of "Nerves" in See You Later (1918).
- Kern borrowed "Oriental dreams" for Sweet Adeline.
- Play Pictorial, 1922, p. 114
- The Times, 7 September 1922
- Davis 1993
- The Times, 20 September 1922
- The Times, 11 August 1923
- The Times, 22 January 1923
- The Manchester Guardian, 31 March 1923
- Opera News, June 2008
- Fanfare, August 2009
- Opera News, July 2009
- Playbill, 15 March 2009
- TheatreMania, 12 February 2009
- Gänzl 2004
- Byrnside, Ronald and Andrew Lamb. "Kern, Jerome (David)". Grove Online, Oxford Music Online, accessed May 10, 2010 (requires subscription).
- Banfield 2006, p. 40
- Play Pictorial, 1922
- Banfield 2006, p. 80
- Day 2004, p. 299
- Day 2004, p. 314
- Day 2004, p. 302
- Banfield 2006, p. 127
- Banfield 2006, pp. 127 and 140
- Day 2004, p. 308
- Banfield 2006, p. 118
- Day 2004, p. 309
- Bacalzo, Dan (12 February 2009). "Musicals Tonight Announces Cast for Cabaret Girl". Retrieved 19 September 2009.
- Banfield, Stephen (September 2006). Jerome Kern. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-11047-0.
- Davis, Carol (July 2009). "Kern: The Cabaret Girl". Opera News 74 (1). Retrieved 26 June 2009.
- Davis, Lee (November 1993). Bolton and Wodehouse and Kern: The Men Who Made Musical Comedy. James H Heineman. ISBN 978-0-87008-145-3.
- Day, Barry (January 2004). The Complete Lyrics of P. G. Wodehouse. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-4994-5.
- Gänzl, Kurt (September 2004). "Grossmith, George (1874–1935)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online edn. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/33591. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
- "Summer Holiday". Opera News 72 (12). June 2008.
- Suskin, Steven (15 March 2009). "On the Record: Jerome Kern's "The Cabaret Girl" and Sutton Foster's "Wish"". Playbill. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
- "The Cabaret Girl". The Play Pictorial 41 (249). October 1922.
- "Theatres and Kinemas". The Manchester Guardian. 31 March 1923. p. 5.
- "The Theatres. Mr Herbert Jay's Plans". The Times. 7 September 1922. p. 6.
- "The Cabaret Girl at the Winter Garden". The Times. 20 September 1922. p. 8.
- "Theatres (classified advertisements)". The Times. 22 January 1923. p. 8.
- "Theatres (classified advertisements)". The Times. 11 August 1923. p. 6.
- Williams, Christopher (Jul/Aug 2009). "Kern: The Cabaret Girl on Albany". Fanfare 32 (6). Retrieved 19 September 2009.