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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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(p.210) 14 Redhead
Coming up Roses

Ethan Mordden

Oxford University Press

The story behind this show starts in the mid-1940s, when Dorothy and Herbert Fields got interested in Madame Tussaud's waxworks in London. They thought it would prove a dandy setting for a musical murder mystery, with a spinster heroine who at last finds romance. Robert Fryer and Lawrence Carr optioned it, and sought a star for the lead, such as Ethel Merman, Bea Lillie, Celeste Holm, or Gisele MacKenzie. Each one would have tilted composition in a different direction, so all the show was at this point was an idea, a script that knew it was doomed to be rewritten, and a title, The Works. In any case, everybody turned it down. Not until Gwen Verdon was consulted and her husband, Bob Fosse, invited to direct it in a package deal was the show finally set.

Keywords:   Broadway musicals, Ethel Merman, Bea Lillie, Celeste Holm, Gisele MacKenzie, Robert Fryer, Lawrence Carr, musical murder mystery, Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon

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