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Show Boat, part 4 December 23, 2007

Posted by Jeff in 1929 through WWII, Jerome Kern, Movies, Musicals, Oscar Hammerstein II, Show Boat, Theater.

Helen MorganHelen Morgan (1902-1941), the original Julie LaVerne, is credited as the original “torch singer,” who perfected the style of leaning on the piano while she sang bluesy songs. In fact, she had to lean on the piano to stay vertical, as she was she was an alcoholic who was frequently drunk on stage. She died after collapsing on stage during a performance of George White’s Scandals. Ann Blyth portrayed her in a biographical movie in 1957.

In what may have been another cost-cutting decision, this is the only version of Show Boat that doesn’t end with the characters reuniting at the riverboat.

“Bill,” the song performed by Julie at the Trocadero audition, was written by Jerome Kern for “Oh, Lady! Lady!” in 1918, with lyrics by P. G. Wodehouse. The two songs performed at the Trocadero on New Year’s Eve are “Goodbye, My Lady Love” by Joseph Howard and “After the Ball” by Charles K. Harris.

Jake, the ragtime piano player at the Trocadero. is played by Harry Barris, who was one of the Rhythm Boys who performed with Bing Crosby.

(NOTE: today’s section runs 31:19)


Gay sees Kim at the convent

“Bill”; Nola auditions, and Julie leaves the show

Andy ditches Parthy on New Year’s Eve; “Goodbye My Lady Love”; After The Ball”

Nola prospers and retires; Kim grows up; gay gets a job

“You Are Love”; Old Man River”


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1. Anonymous - June 11, 2008

Although Miss Morgan had a problem with alcohol, there are no reports of her ever acting drunk during a performance. The reason she sat on the piano, not leaning on it, came about when she sang in a nighclub that was so crowded she had to sit on the upright piano to fit more chairs into the space. MArmoulian, the original diector of the play Showboat used this image when she sang Bill!

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