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Modernized/updated Hammerstein shows?

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icecreambenjamin
Featured Actor
joined:6/7/14
I've noticed that there aren't any productions of Hammerstein musicals that have been set in different time periods. Is there a reason for this?
Wilmingtom
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/11
Because his musicals are all time specific. South Pacific take s place during WWII, OK! just as the territory was about to become a state, K&I when Siam was struggling with modernism, SOM on the eve of WWII. When else could you set these musical stories?
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icecreambenjamin
Featured Actor
joined:6/7/14
I'm talking about Carousel specifically
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BudFrump23
Broadway Star
joined:5/20/03
Peter Griffin did a pretty great updated version of The King and I. The audience loved it.
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chewy5000
Broadway Legend
joined:12/1/09
Where and when did anyone else ever have clam bakes, though?
IMHO I see Queenie as being more of a brunette...
Wilmingtom
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/11
Isn't Peter Griffin an animated character on Family Guy? Didn't realize he was also a director. I'd love to know more about "updating" the story of King Mongkut of Siam in the early 1860s.
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Gorlois
Stand-by
joined:5/18/13
Here's Griffin's take on "The King and I," Wilmingtom.


Not sure if Bartlett Sher can top it...
Wilmingtom
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/11
Ha! Thanks for clueing me in.
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Someone in a Tree2
Broadway Star
joined:10/9/12
Presumably the shows set in contemporary times when they were written could be retooled to work today. But hardly anyone seems to ever want to perform them-- State Fair, Allegro, Me and Juliet, Flower Drum Song. It's a tough sell, though, because whatever gets changed in the libretto, you're still working with mid-20th century composing styles, which would never seem present-day to most ears today.
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Mr. Nowack
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chewy5000
Broadway Legend
joined:12/1/09
Can we please get a State Fair set in WW2 Germany?
IMHO I see Queenie as being more of a brunette...
Fan123
Stand-by
joined:8/30/08
Despite the lessons of Family Guy, I wouldn't hate seeing somebody do a sci fi or fantasy version of a Hammerstein show, just for fun. "Oh, the humans and the [alien race name] should be friends..." That sort of thing is sometimes done with operas, Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan etc.

Some part of me also wants to see somebody attempt a modern-day adaptation of Oklahoma: Curly is the confident, obnoxious jock showing off his car (surrey) to impress the girl; Jud is the bitter, entitled nerd in the basement with his porn; etc. It would probably be awful, or barely resemble the original show, or both... but still, for some reason I'd want to see how it went.
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AEA AGMA SM
Broadway Legend
joined:8/13/09
Part of the reason you don't see these kinds of re imaginings is that the shows are still under copyright and thus still protected. A lot of the adaptations/re-settings of the classics and operas will make cuts and changes to help clarify the concept, which you can't do with a show that is not in the public domain.
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wonkit
Broadway Legend
joined:9/30/08
His lyrics are very moon-June-spoon, and I am not sure that they play well if the character is more modern than, say, 1960. I love all the Rogers and Hammerstein works but they come across as slightly preachy. I saw the Lincoln Center SOUTH PACIFIC four times, but the beautiful melodies are what help the lyrics slide by, for me.
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Musical Master
Broadway Star
joined:4/28/13
I personally wouldn't mind Me & Juliet getting an update, as long as it's not David Henry Hawng writing the new book...
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GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Hammerstein's lyrics are NOT "moon-June-spoon". Jeeze!

HOWEVER, they are very much written in the idiom of the character, not the lyricist (as are the lyrics of Berlin Porter and Hart). This was Hammerstein's great contribution to musical theater lyrics: he made characters sing in their own voices. Wilmington is also right that Hammerstein's books are very time-specificl

And why would we want to move these stories anyway?

So wonkit is right that it is nearly impossible to pull the librettos from their original time periods, because the characters would not speak the same way 40 years later.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Yeah, what everyone else said. Carousel of course changed the setting drastically, and the era somewhat of Lilliom, but it's now so specifically about New England at that time frame, it would need a big rewrite to update things. Of course who knows, when these are public domain we probably well get productions like we do of opera where they still keep all the dialogue/lyrics despite the fact that they no longer fit in whatever crazy location it's been moved to.

Was Flower Drum Song updated time wise with the new book? I always assumed it was, at least slightly but... Allegro wouldn't work (and the rewrite kept the same era) because I think the values it is so closely based about are simply just so Americana, small-town wisdom, etc, of the era it was written. Even at the time, many criticized it for being too cliche and banal in its sentiment, but it would seem preposterous moved to the "now" or the 1980s or whatever--like watching aliens. Pipe Dream too.

Often contemporary set shows, which people like to update (ie Sondheim and Firth themselves updating Company to 1995 and now to some vague "now" where people still use answering machines like they did in the 90s, as well as voice messaging services like they did in the 70s, and being 35 and not married is still seen as odd--being 35 entering middle age, etc, etc It just doesn't work.)
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icecreambenjamin
Featured Actor
joined:6/7/14
It's not so much that I want to change the time period but due to lack of budget, I'm thinking of doing a scaled down version of Carousel. I'm probably going to have costumes that aren't specific to time period. Kind of like a staged concert.
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
Oh, that's certainly been done before, and probably would fit in the legal guidelines. Of course it might matter if you give them sorta vaguely traditional outfits--or just give them current street wear (even there you would probably be allowed if you mentioned when licensing it that you were doing a concert--even if technically you were semi staging it.)
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icecreambenjamin
Featured Actor
joined:6/7/14
I was planning on simple street wear that suggests the original costumes
Gothampc
Broadway Legend
joined:5/20/03
"HOWEVER, they are very much written in the idiom of the character, not the lyricist"

Um...no.

"The corn is as high as an elephant's eye" - Curly in Oklahoma

"A rockin' up on the sea, your boat will seem to be, like a dear little baby in her bassinet. For she hasn't learned to walk, and she hasn't learned to talk, and her little behind is kind of inclined to be wet." -- Jigger in Carousel

The men in Carousel and Oklahoma are some of the biggest metrosexuals in the musical canon. Not a tough guy among them.
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Phyllis Rogers Stone
Broadway Legend
joined:9/16/07
You need you a tough guy, don't you?
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
I always thought Jigger's lyric was meant to show (in a cleaned up Hammerstein-way, of course) how crude he was...
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GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
Of course it was, Eric. And It's very much the point of view of someone with no interest in children. But he didn't have to be "metro" to know that babies wet their pants.

And, goth, elephants were common features in circuses of the late 1800s and early 1900s, even in Oklahoma and Texas. Curly would know what an elephant is without having traveled to Africa.

We're still talking about a rhymed, poetic form, so you're not going to get gritty realism. And as Eric points out, profanities wouldn't have been allowed at the time anyway.

But Curly and Jigger do NOT talk about "the pants of a Roxy usher" or "a cunning cottage" or what "any Russian play could guarantee". That is the difference.
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GavestonPS
Broadway Legend
joined:6/10/12
It's not so much that I want to change the time period but due to lack of budget, I'm thinking of doing a scaled down version of Carousel. I'm probably going to have costumes that aren't specific to time period. Kind of like a staged concert.

Dress your characters in black (or white or whatever) and give each one piece (costume or prop) that suggests the period. It will read as a minimalist interpretation rather than an "updating" and will avoid the traps discussed here. CAROUSEL doesn't need to be a "costume parade" to work just fine.
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Musical Master
Broadway Star
joined:4/28/13
I'm suprised no one's talked about Cinderella, that show is an example of an update that happened to be in a good (respectful) way by Douglas Carter Beane. I've never been a fan of the original television version (nor the 97 one) but I think it's okay with Andrews and Warren giving their own neat performances.

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