Robinson Crusoe, Jr.

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Robinson Crusoe, Jr.
Yaakahula.jpg
Sheet music cover (cropped)
Music Sigmund Romberg and James Hanley
Lyrics Harold R. Atteridge
Book Edgar Smith
Productions 1916 Broadway

Robinson Crusoe, Jr. is a musical with a book by Edgar Smith, lyrics by Harold R. Atteridge, and music by Sigmund Romberg and James Hanley.

Production[edit]

Robinson Crusoe, Jr. was an extravaganza that opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on 17 February 1916.[1] The original Broadway production was produced by Lee Shubert and Jacob J. Shubert, directed by J. C. Huffman and choreographed by Helen Tamiris.[citation needed] Music was by Sigmund Romberg and the book and lyrics were by Harold R. Atteridge.[2] The show was the last major musical that Jacob J. Shubert staged during World War I, and he instructed Romberg to avoid any of his Austro-Hungarian musical idioms.[3]

The cast included Al Jolson, Kitty Doner, Claude Flemming, and Mlle. Rodriguez.[citation needed] The show was built around Jolson, and was a vehicle for Jolson.[4][a] A company of two hundred supported Al Jolson in ten major scenes.[2] The show included songs from a number of sources, including some written by Jolson. He often added or removed songs from one show to another. Atteridge created a simple framing story that unified the acts.[1] The show ran on Broadway for 139 performances.[6] It then went on the road in the fall. Jolson sometimes performed twice or three times in one day in one city before moving on.[2]

Synopsis[edit]

Scene from the show

Hiram Westbury, a millionaire, is exhausted by some film makers who want to use his estate as a film location. He falls asleep. In his dream, he imagines he is Robinson Crusoe, Jr. His chauffeur, played by Al Jolson, is his Good Friday.[1] Jolson played the chauffeur in blackface.[2] The dreams make up most of the show.[7] After the opening scene the pair travel to Crusoe's island, which is given a haunted forest, and to a pirate ship crewed by chorus girls.[8] The "glittering galaxies of gorgeous, glorious, gladsome girlies mirthfully monopolized the mad, merry hours and the ten tremendous tumultuous scenes of Robinson Crusoe, Jr."[9] At one point in the story trees woke up and began to sway to the music. Jolson has comic interactions with a goat and a crocodile.[10] The shorter second act was set back in the millionaire's home.[9]

There were 27 musical numbers in the show, including five specialty dances. Many of the huge cast danced in Minstrel Days. Jolson himself did not play a major role in the musical numbers, and was always alone on the stage when he sang.[9] According to Jolson's biographer Michael Freedland, Robinson Crusoe, Jr. was "the nearest Jolson had yet come to a show with a real plot ... although from opening night on, it was quite plain that the story was not going to interfere with his domination on stage."[10]

Songs[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ Al Jolson's roots in show business came from performing in a carnival and a traveling circus, and then in vaudeville. He mostly worked in blackface, a convention that originated with minstrel shows. His breakthrough came with La Belle Paree in 1911.[5]

Citations

  1. ^ a b c Everett 2008, p. 62.
  2. ^ a b c d Hirsch 2000, p. 103.
  3. ^ Hirsch 2000, p. 118.
  4. ^ Mordden 1988, p. 32.
  5. ^ Browne & Browne 2001, p. 445.
  6. ^ Everett 2008, p. 297.
  7. ^ Everett 2008, p. 64.
  8. ^ Hirsch 2000, p. 103-104.
  9. ^ a b c Hirsch 2000, p. 104.
  10. ^ a b Bordman 2010, p. 363.

Sources

  • Bordman, Gerald Martin (2010). American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-972970-8. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  • Browne, Ray Broadus; Browne, Pat (2001). The Guide to United States Popular Culture. Popular Press. ISBN 978-0-87972-821-2.
  • Everett, William A. (2008-10-01). Sigmund Romberg. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-13835-1. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  • Hirsch, Foster (2000-09-05). The Boys from Syracuse: The Shuberts' Theatrical Empire. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 978-1-4616-9875-3. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
  • Mordden, Ethan (1988). Broadway Babies. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-536375-3. Retrieved 2014-06-03.

External links[edit]