The musical numbers in the original production were as follows:
"Cotton Blossom" – Stevedores and Townspeople
"Cap'n Andy's Ballyhoo" - Cap'n Andy and Chorus
"Where's the Mate for Me?" – Gaylord Ravenal
"Make Believe" – Gaylord and Magnolia
"Ol' Man River" – Joe and Stevedores
"Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" – Julie, Queenie, Joe, Magnolia and Ensemble
"Life Upon the Wicked Stage" – Ellie and Townswomen
"Till Good Luck Comes My Way" – Gaylord, Pete, Frank and Townsmen
"Ol' Man River" (reprise) - Joe
"I Might Fall Back on You" – Ellie, Frank and Girls
"C'mon Folks (Queenie's Ballyhoo") – Queenie, Stevedores and Gals
"Olio Dance" - (instrumental)
"You Are Love" – Gaylord and Magnolia
Act I "Finale (Wedding Scene)" - Magnolia, Ravenal, Cap'n Andy, and Chorus
"At the Fair" – Sightseers, Barkers, and Dandies
"Dandies on Parade" – City Folk
"Why Do I Love You?" – Magnolia, Ravenal, Cap'n Andy, Parthy Ann Hawks and Company
"In Dahomey" – Jubilee Singers and Dahomey Dancers
"Bill" (lyrics by P. G. Wodehouse and revised by Hammerstein) – Julie
"Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" (reprise) – Magnolia
"Nuns' Processional" - Nuns
"Make Believe" (reprise) - Ravenal
"Goodbye, My Lady Love" (music and lyrics by Joseph E. Howard) – Frank and Ellie
"After the Ball" (from A Trip to Chinatown; music and lyrics by Charles K. Harris) – Magnolia and Ensemble
"Ol' Man River" (reprise) – Joe
"Hey, Feller" – Jubilee Singers and Queenie
"You Are Love" (reprise) – Gaylord
"Why Do I Love You?" (reprise) – Kim and Flappers
"Finale Ultimo (Ol' Man River)" - Joe and Chorus
History of revisions
The original production ran four-and-a-half hours during tryouts, but was trimmed to just over three by the time it got to Broadway. During previews, two songs, "Mis'ry's Comin' Round" and "Let's Start the New Year", were cut from the show. "Mis'ry's Comin' Round" was nevertheless published in the complete vocal score, and fragments of it are still heard in the scoring, notably in the original 1927 overture and in the miscegenation scene. The 1988 album reinstated the entire song, and it was also included in the 1994 Hal Prince revival. "Let's Start the New Year" was performed in the 1989 Paper Mill Playhouse production. These songs (and others) are generally cut when the show is staged, although productions sometimes still run to three hours or more.
Two songs, "Till Good Luck Comes My Way" (sung by Ravenal) and "Hey Feller!" (sung by Queenie), were written mainly to cover scenery changes and were discarded beginning with the 1946 revival, although "Till Good Luck" was included in the 1993 Harold Prince revival of the show. The comedy song "I Might Fall Back On You" was also cut beginning in 1946, although it was restored in the 1951 film version and several stage productions since the 1980s. On record, "Hey Feller!" appears only on the 1988 EMI album. Kern and Hammerstein wrote two new songs for revivals and three more for the 1936 film version.
The Harold Fielding production in London in the early 1970s did not use the entire score - "Hey, Feller!" and "In Dahomey" were omitted, among others. This cast album broke ground in being the first 2-LP version of Show Boat ever released.
The score also includes four songs not originally written for Show Boat: "Bill" was originally written by Kern and P. G. Wodehouse in 1917 and was reworked by Hammerstein for Show Boat. Two other songs not by Kern and Hammerstein, "Goodbye, My Lady Love" by Joseph E. Howard and "After the Ball" by Charles K. Harris, were included by the authors for historical atmosphere and are included in revivals. The New Year's Eve scene also features an instrumental version of "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight".
Some of the following numbers have been cut from subsequent productions, as noted below: (The songs "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", and "Bill" have been included in every stage and film production of Show Boat)
► Overture – The original overture, used in all stage productions up to 1946 (and heard on the three-disc EMI/Angel CD for the first time in nearly 50 years), is largely based on the deleted song "Mis'ry's Comin' Round", as Kern wanted to save this song in some form. The song was restored in the Harold Prince revival of the show. The overture also contains fragments of "Ol' Man River", "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man", and a faster arrangement of "Why Do I Love You?" The overtures for the 1946 revival and the 1966 Lincoln Center revival consist of medleys of songs from the show. All three overtures were arranged by the show's orchestrator, Robert Russell Bennett, who orchestrated most of Kern's later shows.
► "Cotton Blossom" – This number is performed in all the stage productions, and shorter versions were used in the 1936 and 1951 film versions. Not heard in the 1929 film version.
► "Where's the Mate for Me?" - Ravenal's first song; heard in all stage versions, partially sung in the 1936 film version, and sung complete in the 1951 film version. Not sung in the 1929 film version.
► "Make Believe" – Performed in all stage versions, and in the 1936 and 1951 film versions, but not the 1929 one.
► "Life Upon the Wicked Stage" – This comic song is usually included in stage versions, but is heard only instrumentally in the 1936 film. Not included in the 1929 film, but sung and danced in the 1951 film version.
► "Till Good Luck Comes My Way" – Kern and Hammerstein cut it from the 1946 revival, but it was reinstated in the 1971 London stage revival. It is heard only instrumentally in the 1936 film and is omitted altogether in the 1929 and 1951 films.
► "I Might Fall Back on You" – This was usually cut after 1946, but it has been reinstated in revivals beginning in 1966. It was absent from the 1929 and 1936 films, but included in the 1951 film.
► "C'mon Folks (Queenie's Ballyhoo)" - Always included in the show, it was sung in the prologue to the 1929 film version, but omitted from the 1936 film and heard only instrumentally in the 1951 film.
► "Olio Dance" – This is rarely performed now, since it was composed simply to cover a change of scenery. It is an orchestral piece that partially uses the melody of "I Might Fall Back on You", and can be heard on the EMI 3-CD album (as Villain Dance). The 1936 film substituted the new Kern-Hammerstein number "Gallivantin' Around", performed as an olio by Irene Dunne (as Magnolia) in blackface. It was omitted from the 1989 PBS Paper Mill Playhouse production. Some modern productions move the song "I Might Fall Back on You" to this spot.
► "You Are Love" – Kern considered this popular waltz to be the score's weakest song: he tried unsuccessfully to eliminate it from the 1936 film version. It has never been cut from any stage production. It was shortened, and the introductory section was omitted, in both the 1936 and the 1951 films. It was not performed in the 1929 film.
► "Act I Finale" – This was shortened in the 1936 film and omitted from the 1929 and 1951 films.
► "At the Chicago World's Fair" – Used in all stage productions except for the Harold Prince 1994 revival, and was omitted from all the film versions, however, it was played instrumentally in the 1936 film.
► "Why Do I Love You?" – Used in all stage versions, this number was sung during the exit music to the 1929 film, filmed but cut and heard only as background music for the 1936 film, and was sung in the 1951 film version. In the 1994 Hal Prince revival it was sung by Parthy.
► " In Dahomey" - Now always cut from productions, this is a number that is potentially offensive to modern sensibilities. It is sung at the Chicago World's fair by a group supposedly made up of African natives, who chant in supposedly African dialect at first and then suddenly break into modern English, singing about how happy they are to return to their apartments after the day is over.
► "Goodbye, My Lady Love" – This is only used in American productions. It is included in the 1936 film, but not in the 1951 film or the 1929 one.
► "After the Ball" - Performed in all stage productions and in both the 1936 and 1951 films, but not the 1929 one.
► "Hey, Feller" - Used in nearly all stage productions up until 1946, and sung in the prologue to the 1929 film. Not used in the 1936 film, but used as background score in the 1951 film before the singing of "Cotton Blossom".
Additional numbers have been included in films and revivals as follows:
► "Mis'ry's Comin' Round" – Though this was cut from the original production, Kern ensured that it was published in the complete vocal score. The 1988 album reinstated it, and it was also included in the 1994 Hal Prince revival.
► "Let's Start the New Year" - Cut from the original production but performed in the 1989 Paper Mill Playhouse production.
► "I Have The Room Above Her" is a romantic duet written by Kern and Hammerstein for Ravenal and Magnolia in the 1936 film. It was included in the 1994 Broadway revival.
► "Gallivantin' Around" is a cakewalk-style number written by Kern and Hammerstein for Magnolia for the 1936 film.
► "Ah Still Suits Me" is a comic duet written by Kern and Hammerstein for the 1936 film, and sung by the characters Joe and Queenie (Paul Robeson and Hattie McDaniel). The number was also included in the 1989 Paper Mill Playhouse production.
► "Nobody Else But Me" was written by Kern and Hammerstein for the 1946 Broadway revival, to be sung in the spot where Kim usually sings a reprise of "Why Do I Love You". This was the last song written by Kern; he died shortly before the 1946 production opened. In the 1971 London stage revival, the song was sung by Julie, in a new scene written especially for that production. It is not sung in any film version of the show, but was frequently heard in stage revivals up until about the 1980s.
► "Dandies on Parade" is a dance number arranged for the 1994 Broadway production by David Krane, largely from Kern's music.