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					                                Rodgers & Hammerstein

Songwriting Duo- “The Masters of postwar American musical comedy”

Richard Rodgers, born NY, NY, June 28, 1902, died NY, NY, December 30. 1979

Oscar Hammerstein II, born NY, NY, July 12, 1895, died Doylestown, PA, August 23,
1960

Considered to be among the greatest of Broadway authors. Their formula featured well-
integrated songs and book. Characters’ personalities were reflected in both words and
music. This pattern first became popular with the success of Oklahoma!

Partnership: Rodgers was looking for a new lyricist after his collaboration with Hart fell
apart. He was approached by The Theater Guild to do a musical of their successful play
Green Grow the Lilacs. The Theater Guild was in need of money and needed a
successful show.

Hammerstein was coming off of several recent failures and was thought to be washed up.
Had several successes with Show Boat, Rose-Marie, and The Desert Song, but needed a
new partner.

Oklahoma! (1943)
Produced by The Theater Guild
Popular songs: “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’”, “People Will Say We’re in Love”, “I
Can’t Say No”, “Oklahoma”
Unique because:
    a.     It dealt with three-dimensional characters in America. Most musicals still
           featured exaggerated lovers in foreign location.
    b.     Didn’t start with an opening group chorus, started with one character on stage
    c.     Featured dream ballet (choreographed by Agnes de Mille) that advanced the
           plot, not just an excuse for dancing
    d.     Villain, Jud, was a truly scary character- not “a two-dimensional mustache
           twirler”
Played for 5 years and nine weeks in NYC- longest-running musical until Hello, Dolly in
1961.
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Carousel (1945)
Popular songs: “If I Loved You”, “Soliloquoy”, “What’s the Use of Wond’rin’”, “June is
Bustin’ Out All Over”, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”
Proved Rodgers & Hammerstein were not just a fluke, also produced by The Theater
Guild
Unique because:
   a.     Lead character, Billy Bigelow, is killed and returns as a ghost
   b.     Dealt with very serious subjects: Abuse, death

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State Fair (1945)
Movie! Not originally a Broadway show!! Made into a stage musical in 1996
Songs: “State Fair”, It Might As Well be Spring” (Won them an Oscar)

Allegro (1947)
Songs: “The Gentleman Is A Dope”
Same people: Theater Guild produced, Agnes de Mille choreographed and directed,
Robert Russell Bennett did orchestrations. Was not as successful as previous shows.
Dealt with problems of the fast-paced modern world. Used large cast as a greek chorus,
had no sets or props and used a projector to suggest locations.

The failure of Allegro only partially tarnished the reputation of Rodgers and
Hammerstein; after all, it was a very respectable flop. Yet the long-term
repercussions were more serious. Never again would R&H experiment so
boldly and risk losing their audience. They would continue to come up with
surprising and wonderful things, but the days of radical and foolhardy
innovation were over. From then on they would stick to the tried and true.
Allegro marked the end of the R&H revolution. –Hiscak

South Pacific (1949)
Songs: “Dites-moi”, “There is Nothin’ Like a Dame”, “Bali Hai”, “I’m Gonna Wash That
Man Right Outa My Hair”, “Some Enchanted Evening”, “Younger than Springtime”, and
“This Nearly Was Mine”
Directed and co-authored by Joshua Logan
Won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950
Won 10 Tony Awards- Best Musical, Best Score, Best Libretto and all 4 acting awards
Based on the book The Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener- dealt with racial
prejudice and serious social commentary.
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The King and I (1951)
Songs: “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Hello Young Lovers”, “Getting to Know You”,
“Shall We Dance?”
Starred Yul Brenner
Unique because:
   a.     Two leads (Anna and the King) had adversarial relationship, did not enter
          stereo-typical romance because King dies
   b.     Songs perfectly suited to script and character’s personality. Songs propelled
          the plot forward

http://www.amazon.com/King-1956-Film-Soundtrack/dp/B00005A7XC

Brooks Atkinson from his review of The King and I:
        “Since Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II do not have to write a new
musical play every two or three years, they must have motives aside from the earning of
money. Perhaps it is merely that they have a hospitable attitude toward people. Like
South Pacific, The King and I is a skillfully written musical drama with a well-designed
libretto, a rich score, a memorable performance and a magnificent production.
        But there is more to it than that. Note that in both South Pacific and The King and
I there are no villains. There are only human beings, subject to the usual frailties of
human nature – people decent at heart, but incompletely heroic. Their impulses are good,
but they are not masters of every situation. In the course of the evening they learn from
each other. Being genuine artists, which means that they have an attitude toward life, Mr.
Rodgers and Mr Hammerstein have got way beyond the mechanical formulae on which
musical shows are founded and are saying something fundamental about human beings”

Me and Juliet (1953)
Their second failure.

1954- first time there wasn’t at least one Rodgers and Hammerstein production playing
on Broadway since 1943

 Pipe Dream (1955)
Critics were disappointed- not a flop, but not that great
“For a surprising amount of time, it is dull” –Chapman of Daily News
“The people are capable, the material keeps promising to turn into a party. But someone
seems to have forgotten to bring along that gallon jug of good, red wine” –Kerr or New
York Herald Tribune

Cinderella (1957)
Written for television- starred Julie Andrews. Another broadcast in 1965 starring Lesley
Ann Warren.

Flower Drum Song (1958)
Songs: “I Enjoy Being a Girl”
Directed by Gene Kelly
Story dealt with the conflict in San Francisco between immigrant Chinese population and
native-born Chinese
Reviewed better than past shows, but not a huge hit. Seen as overly sentimental: “The
Chinese in San Francisco cannot be quite as quaint as Rodgers and Hammerstein make
them” –Mannes from Reporter

The Sound of Music (1959)
Songs: “My favorite Things”, “The Sound of Music”, “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”,
“Do-Re-Mi”, “Climb Every Mountain”
Based on the Trapp Family Singers
The height of sentimentality! Reviewers found it too sappy and sweet
Made into a movie in 1965- has become one of the top-grossing pictures of all time

Hammerstein died in 1960

Rodgers attempted to continue by himself- No Strings (1962)
Unique because:
   a.      The score had no stringed instruments except piano and harp
   b.      Made no comment on racial difference of two romantic leads
   c.      Staging included members of the orchestra strolling through the scenes

Rodgers teamed with Stephen Sondheim (Hammerstein’s protégé)- Do I Hear a Waltz?
(1965)
Sondheim and Hammerstein did not see eye to eye

. . . and with Martin Charnin for Two by Two (1970)
“as nearly dead as a musical can be” –Brendan Gill

. . . and with Sheldon Harnick for Rex (1976)
“has almost everything not going for it” –Barnes, New York Times

. . . and with Martin Charnin and Raymond Jessel for I Remember Mama (1979)
“the result is not a marriage but a divorce of talents” – Eder, New York Times

Rodgers died in 1979- is one of only two people to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar,
Tony (EGOT). Marvin Hamlisch is the other.

				
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