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Coming up RosesThe Broadway Musical in the 1950s$
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Ethan Mordden

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140583

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140583.001.0001

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The Street, 1958

The Street, 1958

(p.186) 13 The Street, 1958
Coming up Roses

Ethan Mordden

Oxford University Press

Here is an irony: Rodgers and Hammerstein inspired just about everybody on Broadway except Rodgers and Hammerstein. That is, the latter part of their joint career—when all Broadway was getting into the musical play and character motivation and odd song shapes—forms the less interesting half. Nothing after The King and I bears the tension of the Curley-Laurey or the Anna-King relationship, the music no longer startles, the choreography seems run-of-the-mill or even self-effacing. Flower Drum Song (1958), typically Rodgers and Hammerstein in its out-of-the-way subject—C. Y. Lee's novel on San Francisco's Chinese-American subculture—was otherwise not typically Rodgers and Hammerstein at all. The author-producers made the decision to reinvigorate their style with young affiliates—choreographer Carol Haney, for instance—and to bring in musical comedy specialists such as Oliver Smith, who had never worked with them before. Though Lee's novel, centering on a tug-of-war between a conservative father and his increasingly independent, Westernized son, had its dark side, the musical that Rodgers and Hammerstein were making of it was turning out breezy and colorful. Other musicals during the period are discussed.

Keywords:   song shape, character motivation, Rodgers, Hammerstein, Flower Drum Song

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