I'd Rather Be Right
|I'd Rather Be Right|
Original 1937 Playbill Cover
|Book||Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman|
1937 Broadway2011 Revival
I'd Rather Be Right is a musical with a book by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, lyrics by Lorenz Hart, and music by Richard Rodgers. The story is a Depression-era political satire set in New York City, about Washington politics and political figures, such as President Franklin Roosevelt. The plot centers on Peggy Jones (Joy Hodges) and her boyfriend Phil (Austin Marshall), who needs a raise in order for them to get married. The President steps in and solves their dilemma.
It premiered on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on November 2, 1937, produced by Sam H. Harris, and transferred to the Music Box Theatre, and ran for 290 performances. It starred George M. Cohan as Franklin Roosevelt.
Cohan, playing FDR, danced in such pieces as "Off the Record", not possible in real life for the disabled President.
H. G. Wells wrote enthusiastically about the musical, and Cohan's performance as Roosevelt, in an article "The Fall in America 1937", published in Collier's on 28 January 1938 and reprinted in his World Brain (1938).
The musical is prominently featured in the 1942 Cohan biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy, where it serves as a narrative bookend. James Cagney, playing Cohan, after meeting FDR in the Oval Office, performs a joyous tap dance as he walks back down the stairs of the White House. In the film, we also see Cagney as Cohan performing "Off the Record" during the show's run. (Because the film was made during World War II, the film also anachronistically added some morale-boosting lyrics at the end of the song as part of Warner Bros.' wartime propaganda).