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Babes in Arms (1937)

Compositeur: Richard Rodgers

Parolier: Lorenz M. Hart

Librettiste: Dwight Deere Wilnam

This musical concerns a teen-age boy who puts on a show with his friends to avoid being sent to a work farm.

Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités

Résumé

A group of teenagers, whose parents are out of work vaudevillians, stage a revue to keep from being sent to work on a farm. Unfortunately, the show is a flop. Later, when a transatlantic French flyer lands nearby, they are able to attract enough publicity to put on a successful show and build their own youth center.

Synopsis complet

Versions

Babes in Arms (Guare Version)
The 1937 version of Rodgers & Hart's BABES IN ARMS is the quintessential 'Hey, kids, let's put on a show!' musical, boasting one of the greatest scores ever written. A group of teenagers are left without adult supervision when their folks hit the vaudeville summer circuit, and the local sheriff is determined to send the loafers to a work farm. But the determined kids talk the sheriff into a two-week reprieve, just enough time to produce their own show and prove their mettle. The son of a wealthy Southerner agrees to bankroll the production but only on the condition that the two black kids (roles created by the legendary Nicholas Brothers) not appear in the show. The other kids are outraged, but of course the show must go on and does, in a succession of comeuppance, reconciliation and romance. The old-fashioned virtues of a 30's musical comedy are peppered with socio-political issues which have remained resonant for more than six decades, and which later became the hallmark of Rodgers' collaboration with Hammerstein. But it's the sophisticated jocularity that make his musicals with Hart utterly unique, propelling these talented teens in their onward march toward self-discovery.

Babes in Arms (Oppenheimer Version)
Set at a summer stock theatre, the plot concerns a group of young apprentices and their conviction to mount the original revue they've created while dodging the underhanded attempts of the surly theatre owner to squash their efforts at every turn. Further complications are provided by the overbearing stage mother of a beautiful ex-child star and the inflated ego of a hack southern playwright. But of course the show must go on, and so it does in a resolution of comeuppance, reconciliation and romance.

 

Historique du musical

Génèse du musical

Babes in Arms opened on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre on April 14, 1937, transferred to the Majestic Theatre on October 25, 1937, and closed on December 18, 1937 after 289 performances.
In spite of rave opening-night reviews, the ticket agencies showed little interest in Babes In Arms, maybe because of the verdict rendered by Variety's out-of-town correspondent: "No nudity, no show girls, no plush or gold plate may mean no sale," a put-down not dissimilar to one that would be pinned to the first Rodgers and Hammerstein show some years later. During April and May, receipts were just about the break-even mark, sometimes below it.
In June, Wiman cut fifty cents off the top ticket, but sales continued to slide. Then all at once, as if by divine intervention, every competing show on Broadway folded. On July 17, Babes in Arms became the only musical on Broadway. The following week's takings jumped 50 percent; after that, the show never looked back.
The Revival: Rodgers and Hart's Babes In Arms has never been quite what everyone thinks it is. It was the hit of the season when it opened in 1937, running nearly 300 performances, but essentially vanished thereafter. Little thought was given to the preservation of musicals in the 30's; a show either hit or missed and it was on to the next one. Between 1934 and 1940, three years to either side of Babes In Arms, Rodgers and Hart wrote nine Broadway musicals and four film scores, so there wasn't much time for looking back. Most of us were introduced to Babes In Arms by the 1939 Mickey & Judy movie, which retained only the title and two songs from the Broadway original (and one of them merely as underscoring). In the late 50's an entirely new book was written with the songs reordered, and that version has been performed ever since. Several attempts have been made to rework the original book into a more contemporary view of the 30's, but have either failed or never seen the light of day. Last year we were approached by Aubrey Berg, Chair of the Musical Theatre Department at the esteemed University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.
He wanted to present the original 1937 version of Babes In Arms, as he so succinctly put it, "in all its unwieldy splendor." Berg hadn't determined what the musical should be but wanted to rediscover what it really was. That notion appealed to us immediately. CCM musical director Roger Grodsky, with restoration expert Larry Moore and R&H Director of Music Bruce Pomahac, began coordinating and assembling Hans Spialek's original 25 piece orchestration, a meticulous process that took the better part of a year. When a few of us trouped out to see the show in January of ‘98, it proved to be quite a revelation. We knew that this quintessential "Hey, kids, let's put on a show!" musical boasts one of the greatest scores ever written, including such standards as "My Funny Valentine," "Where Or When," "The Lady Is A Tramp," "Johnny One Note" and "I Wish I Were In Love Again." What we didn't know was that the book, which is wildly satirical, surprisingly topical and a bit peculiar, still works like gangbusters.
Babes In Arms is about a group of youngsters who ply their showbiz aspirations in an attempt to avoid being sent to a work farm for the summer. One of its many fascinations is the way in which the more raucous virtues that typify musical comedies of the 30's are peppered with socio-political satire that has continued to resonate for six decades. For instance, the son of a wealthy Southerner agrees to bankroll the kids' production on the condition that the two black kids (roles created by the legendary Nicholas Brothers) not appear in the show. Of course the rich kid gets his comeuppance. And in an ongoing and hilarious riff on socialism, one of the boys is all for "sharing the wealth" when he's broke, denounces the notion as soon as he has a couple bucks, and ultimately returns to his Bolshevik convictions when his fortunes fade once more.
The Cincinnati premiere of the new/old Babes In Arms was greeted with cheers by critics and audiences alike. The Cincinnati Enquirer enthused, "The show is charming, the numbers sizzle, what more can you ask?" while Playbill-On-Line opined, "We're lucky to have a ‘new' version of Babes In Arms." We thought everyone should be so lucky, and are therefore making the original version of Babes In Arms available for production for the first time. It's possible that another show this fresh and youthful may come along some day, but who knows where or when?

 

Détails

Liste des chansons

"Babes in Arms"
"I Wish I Were in Love Again"
"Light on Our Feet"
"Way out West"
"Imagine"
"All At Once"
"Johnny One Note"
"The Lady Is a Tramp"
"My Funny Valentine"
"Where or When"
"You Are So Fair"

Liste des rôles

THE PRESS AGENT - Introduces us to the theatre, the company and to the revue at the close of the show.
TERRY THOMPSON - Young apprentice who is sexy and tries a heavy seduction routine on first Lee Calhoun and then Steve, as though she were a mature woman - but she is still a kid in her affections toward Gus.
GUS FIELDING - A clumsy, daffy but endearing apprentice, who is a naive, romantic kid in Terry's eyes.
PETER, BETTY, BOB, LIBBY, ANN, DON, NANCY - Young starry-eyed apprentices who work in terrible conditions for the love of the theatre.
VALENTINE WHITE - Mature, responsible apprentice, to whom the others look up, and not just because he has written and composed their revue. He is very attractive to the girls and though dazzled by Jennifer, he eventually realises that Susie is his real love.
SUSIE WARD - A young apprentice who is totally devoted to Val. She idolises him in a real younger-sister way. But the optimism and determination with which she succeeds in getting the revue performed proves she has a very mature side, which eventually wins Val over.
SEYMOUR FLEMING - A hard-hearted, penny-pinching man who makes enemies easily, while trying to ingratiate himself with important people.
BUNNY BYRON - A mousy lady who is pushed around by Fleming but very popular with the kids and secretly harbours ambitions to act and generally 'let rip'.
LEE CALHOUN - A small-town Southern playwright who is alone in thinking a lot of himself. He hams his way through everything and alienates everybody with his conceit.
JENNIFER OWEN - Beautiful young actress, ex-child movie star, she is smothered by her mother and fights for the time and space to be herself - preferably in male company.
PHYLLIS OWEN - A real 'stage mum' living her life through her daughter, while totally disregarding her. She herself is a melodramatic actress, often faking sickness to get sympathy and her own way.
STEVE EDWARDS - A young producer who uses his great charm to full effect. The brother of Susie, he has an open heart and is very supportive of the revue.

Textes disponibles on-line

Aucun livret ou texte de chanson disponibles pour le moment

Pour en savoir plus

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Babes in Arms.

 

Versions du musical

Versions majeures de Babes in Arms

Version 1

Babes in Arms (1937-04-Broadway Run) (Original)
Durée : 8 mois 1 semaine
Nombre : 289 représentations
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : mercredi 14 avril 1937
Dernière : samedi 18 décembre 1937
Mise en scène : Robert B Sinclair
Chorégraphie : George Balanchine
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 2

Babes in Arms (1937-04-Broadway Run-Majestic Theatre-Broadway) (Original Broadway)
Durée : 1 mois 3 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : lundi 25 octobre 1937
Dernière : samedi 18 décembre 1937
Mise en scène : Robert B Sinclair
Chorégraphie : George Balanchine
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 3

Babes in Arms (1937-04-Broadway Run-Schubert Theatre-Broadway) (Original Broadway)
Durée : 6 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : mercredi 14 avril 1937
Dernière : vendredi 22 octobre 1937
Mise en scène : Robert B Sinclair
Chorégraphie : George Balanchine
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 4

Babes in Arms (1939-10-Film) (Film)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : vendredi 13 octobre 1939
Première : vendredi 13 octobre 1939
Dernière : vendredi 13 octobre 1939
Mise en scène : Busby Berkeley
Chorégraphie :
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 5

Babes in Arms (1979-04-Goodspeed Opera House-East Haddam) (Revival)
Durée : 2 mois
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : mardi 10 avril 1979
Dernière : samedi 16 juin 1979
Mise en scène : ???? ????
Chorégraphie : ???? ????
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 6

Babes in Arms (1988-08-Open Air Theatre Regent's Park-London) (Revival)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : mercredi 03 août 1988
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Ian Talbot
Chorégraphie : Kenn Oldfield
Avec : Jessica Martin (Bunny), Aiden Waters (Gus Field), Damien Thomas (Steve Edwards) , Jane Arden (Terry Thompson), Bryony Glassco (Jennifer Owen), David Henry (Seymour Fleming), Damien Thomas (Steve Edwards), Deborah McCulloch (Susie Ward), Paul Reeves {Valentine White), Adam Price (Don), Sheila Allen (Phyllis Owen)
Commentaires :
Originally produced in New York April 1937 it was a show with a large cast of teenagers, no stars and modest scenery. It also offered a larger collection of Rodgers & Hart hit songs than any other of their shows. It was a very profitable hit in the USA. However, it waited over 40 years before this, its British premiere. The book was re-written by George Oppenheimer, changing most of the character names and re-arranging the order of some of the scenes. A number of performers whose names were announced in the pre-publicity never actually appeared - though no reason was ever given - and the production itself was roundly condemned for its “stunning awfulness and inanity”. The cast fared no better, described as “universally unable to sing, dance, act or even move on stage with any semblance of adequacy.”
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 7

Babes in Arms (1999-02-New York City Center-New York) Encores! Concert (Concert)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : jeudi 11 février 1999
Dernière : dimanche 14 février 1999
Mise en scène : Kathleen Marshall
Chorégraphie : Kathleen Marshall
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 8

Babes in Arms (2002-08-Goodspeed Opera House-East Haddam) (Concert)
Durée : 1 mois 3 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : vendredi 12 juillet 2002
Première : vendredi 02 août 2002
Dernière : samedi 28 septembre 2002
Mise en scène :
Chorégraphie :
Avec :
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Version 9

Babes in Arms (2002-10-New Theatre-Cardiff) (Revival)
Durée : 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : mercredi 16 octobre 2002
Première : mercredi 16 octobre 2002
Dernière : samedi 26 octobre 2002
Mise en scène : Martin Connor
Chorégraphie : Bill Deamer
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 10

Babes in Arms (2007-05-Festival Theatre-Chichester) (Revival)
Durée : 1 mois 1 semaine
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : mardi 29 mai 2007
Dernière : samedi 07 juillet 2007
Mise en scène : Martin Connor
Chorégraphie : Bill Deamer
Avec :
En savoir plus sur cette version

Mais aussi, quelques versions régionales ou mineures, ... de Babes in Arms

 

Multimedia on-line

Vidéos on-line

 Pas encore de video disponible pour ce spectacle

 

Principaux CD du musical

1) 1939-10-Film Soundtrack

2) 1989-07-Concert Cast

3) 1999-02-New York Concert Cast



Liste détaillée des principaux CD