For all “Jeopardy” fans out there, today's category is 1930s musicals — five clues, each slightly more difficult than the one before it. Get all five correct and you'll earn $3,000 — or at least the satisfaction that you're a true musical theater aficionado.
This show was written as a sequel to “Of Thee I Sing.”
The pit orchestra for this production featured Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey.
This musical introduced the classic “Dancing in the Dark.”
An argument over which star should receive top billing in this musical was solved by crisscrossing Ethel Merman and Jimmy Durante's names above the title.
This musical marked the first partnership between Moss Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II.
How did you fare? The answers are “Let 'Em Eat Cake,” “Girl Crazy,” “The Band Wagon,” “Red, Hot and Blue!” and “Face the Music.”
Of these five 1930s musicals, how many have you seen? I'm guessing none. Why? The reasons range from weak books to unmemorable scores.
There are, however, two popular productions that were introduced during the 1930s, one a carefree musical whose convoluted plot didn't detract from its hit-filled score, the other, an operatic masterpiece that premiered not at the Metropolitan Opera but on Broadway.
Curiously, both musicals recently returned to Broadway, each show's leading lady won a Best Actress Tony Award and both productions took the Best Revival Tony Award. They are Cole Porter's “Anything Goes” and George and Ira Gershwin's “Porgy and Bess.”
Summerstock Productions will close its 2012 season this month with a production of “Anything Goes.” Directed and choreographed by Shannon Hurleigh, “Anything Goes” stars Renee Anderson as Reno Sweeney, Dallas Lish as Billy Crocker and Justin Larman as Moonface Martin.
“We wanted to present a classic show that everyone knows but something that hadn't been done recently,” Hurleigh said. “When ‘Anything Goes' was brought up, we jumped on it. The lyrics are clever and you leave the theater humming the songs.”
“Anything Goes” is indeed an embarrassment of musical riches. Its playlist includes “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “You're the Top,” “Anything Goes,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and “All Through the Night.”
For the 1987 revival starring Patti LuPone, three additional Cole Porter songs were added: “Easy to Love,” “Friendship” and “It's De-Lovely.”
“Anything Goes” has undergone numerous revisions over the years, most notably for revivals mounted on Broadway in 1962, 1987 and 2011. The convoluted plot focuses on an evangelist turned nightclub singer, a stowaway, an heiress and a pair of gangsters whose antics take place aboard an ocean liner traveling from New York to England.
In addition to its classic score, “Anything Goes” places a premium on tap dancing. The musical's title number closes the first act, with most of the cast featured in a terrific and lengthy tap dance routine that takes place on the production's three-level set.
“It's always been my philosophy to keep the choreography clean and precise,” Hurleigh said. “That's what wows people. When everyone is on stage tapping and everything is together, the choreography really stands out.
“I'm used to being the first one to show up for rehearsals but with this show, there are usually some cast members who are already going over dance numbers when I show up. They're really rising to the challenge because they want to make it look fantastic.”
Hurleigh earned a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree in dance from Oklahoma City University, a Bachelor of Music degree in music theater from the University of Central Oklahoma, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in theater arts from Texas Tech University. Last year, she joined the music theater faculty at UCO.
“I love being around students and helping them to find their way,” Hurleigh said. “With ‘Anything Goes,' we talked about the stamina they'll need. I told everyone to get on the treadmill and hum their favorite tune. In this show, they're on the go all the time.
“During rehearsals, we'll run a number, I'll give them notes and then we'll run it two more times. They have to get it into their bodies and learn how to pace themselves in a scene, an act and the whole show. I love the ‘aha' moment when they figure something out and you see how proud they are.”