The New Yorkers

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The New Yorkers
Music Cole Porter
Lyrics Cole Porter
Book Herbert Fields
Productions 1930 Broadway
1996 Marriott Theatre

The New Yorkers is a musical written by Cole Porter (lyrics and music) and Herbert Fields (book). Star Jimmy Durante also wrote the words and music for the songs in which his character was featured.

The musical premiered on Broadway in 1930. It is based on a story by cartoonist Peter Arno and E. Ray Goetz. The musical satirizes New York types, from high society matrons to con men, bootleggers, thieves and prostitutes during Prohibition. The musical includes Porter's famous, sad song about a prostitute, "Love for Sale". The original Broadway production received some good reviews, but the song was banned from the radio for its frank lyrics, and the show closed after 168 performances.

History[edit]

The musical was "built to order around star comic Jimmy Durante, indisputably featured special material (songs as well as bits) that wouldn't scan without Schnozzola himself delivering it."[1] In fact, Durante himself wrote 5 of the 17 songs featured in the musical—the only 5 songs in which he was a featured performer.

Ray Goetz, who was the producer of the show as well as production supervisor, wanted to help audiences forget the Great Depression and so made The New Yorkers "as bright and sparkley as possible-from the variegated costumes and the Arno settings to the large and dynamic cast...He also featured a young group that had never appeared on Broadway and had not yet made any commercial recordings as the stage band for the show: Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians." The clean-cut band sang as well as played instruments.[2]

Synopsis[edit]

Wealthy New York socialite Alice Wentworth has a romantic interlude with Al Spanish, a nightclub owner and bootlegger. During their time together, they escape from the police and go to the bootlegging factory, among other adventures. Jimmy Deegan and his buddies Ronald and Oscar aid in their escapades, invent a new alcoholic drink, murder Feet McGeehan and assist with the gangland wedding of Al and Alice, while offering tributes to money, wood, and "The Hot Patata".[3] Jokes and songs about alcohol, and how far people will go to get it, such as "Drinking Song" and "Say It With Gin", reflect the musical's origin from the Prohibition period.[4]

Musical numbers[edit]

Music and lyrics by Cole Porter except as noted

Productions[edit]

The New Yorkers began pre-Broadway tryouts at the Chestnut Street Opera House, Philadelphia, on November 10, 1930 [5]and then moved to the Shubert Theatre, Newark on November 24, 1930.[6]

The musical opened on Broadway at The Broadway Theatre on December 8, 1930, this theatre's first stage production,[7] and closed on May 2, 1931 after 168 performances.[8] Direction was by Monty Woolley, choreography by George Hale,[7] special numbers staged and directed by Fred Waring, and production supervised by E. Ray Goetz. Costumes were by Peter Arno and Charles Le Maire, and the set design was by Dale Stetson, based on sketches by Peter Arno. The conductor was Max Meth.[8] The cast featured Frances Williams as the hostess Mona Low, Charles King as Al Spanish, Hope Williams as Alice Wentworth, Ann Pennington as Lola McGee, Marie Cahill as Gloria Wentworth,[7][8] the Fred Waring Orchestra,[7] Lou Clayton as Cyril Gregory, Eddie Jackson as Ronald Monahan, Jimmy Durante as Jimmie Deegan, Kathryn Crawford as May[8] (later replaced by Elisabeth Welch),[9] and Oscar Ragland as Mildew.[8] (Clayton, Jackson & Durante were a successful vaudeville act.)[10][11][12]

The musical was performed at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire in 1996.[13] "Musicals Tonight!" presented the musical as a staged concert in April 2003 in New York City.[14] The "Lost Musicals" series presented The New Yorkers at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, in March and April 2009, starring Anna Francolini as Alice and Dawn Spence as Mona Low.[15][16]

Response[edit]

Brooks Atkinson, theatre critic for The New York Times wrote that the musical "manages to pack most of the madness, ribaldry, bounce and comic loose ends of giddy Manhattan into a lively musical." As for Porter's songs, "most...hold well to the average of song-and-dance scores." [17]

The song "Love for Sale" was sung by an actress playing the role of a prostitute ("appetizing young love for sale"). As recounted by Charles Schwartz in his biography Cole Porter, the critic for the World, Charles Darnton, "excoriated" the song and called it "in the worst possible taste." The song was subsequently banned from the radio.[2]

The reviewer of the "Musicals Tonight!" 2003 concert noted that Peter Arno (who provided the story) was a cartoonist whose drawings appeared on the cover and pages of the magazine The New Yorker. "His subjects were jazz babies, society dames, gangsters, café habitues, with a specialization in the lusty and lustful. Herb Fields's book...is full of that kind of sexuality, with a heaping helping of puns and double (and triple) entendres."[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Denton, Martin."2002-03 Theatre Season Reviews" nytheatre.com, April 5, 2003
  2. ^ a b Schwartz, Charles (1979). Cole Porter. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80097-7, pp. 115-116
  3. ^ "The New Yorkers. Original Broadway production". sondheimguide.com. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  4. ^ "Review: The New Yorkers, Lilian Bayliss Theatre, Sadlers Wells". karinski.net. 1 April 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Chestnut St. Opera House pre-Broadway tryout program
  6. ^ "The New Yorkers listing" www.sondheimguide.com, accessed August 31, 2009
  7. ^ a b c d Green, Stanley; Green, Kay (1996). Broadway Musicals Show by show (5 ed.). Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 74. ISBN 0-7935-7750-0. 
  8. ^ a b c d e The New Yorkers at the Internet Broadway Database
  9. ^ "Elisabeth Welch". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "Jimmy Durante" redhotjazz.com, accessed August 31, 2009
  11. ^ Golden, Eve. "Jimmy Durante - That Well Dressed Man", filmsofthegoldenage.com, Fall 1998
  12. ^ Bakish, David (1994). "Jimmy Durante", McFarland. ISBN 0-89950-968-1, p. 26, accessed August 31, 2009
  13. ^ Bommer, Lawrence (18 April 1996). "The New Yorkers". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  14. ^ 'The New Yorkers' 2003, musicalstonight.org, accessed August 23, 2009
  15. ^ McHugh, Dominic. "Cole Porter: The New Yorkers", musicalcriticism.com, accessed August 23, 2009
  16. ^ "Lost Musicals, 2009", lostmusicals.org, accessed August 23, 2009
  17. ^ Atkinson, Brooks. "The Play: Gilded Gotham" The New York Times, December 9, 1930, p. 34
  18. ^ Mackler, David."Upper crust and other assorted flakes"The off-off-Broadway Review, accessed August 24, 2009

External links[edit]