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Show Boat revival? - Page 1

Globefan
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Show Boat revival? #1
Posted: 4/10/20 at 6:12pm

Do you think Show Boat will be revived anytime soon? 

Jarethan
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Show Boat revival? #2
Posted: 4/10/20 at 6:25pm
I would imagine that we will see a production in7 years, when it turns 100. Ideally, at Lincoln Center (VB), directed by Bartlett Sher.

The last (magnificent) revival, 25 years ago, was highly acclaimed, laden with Tony awards, ran two years (more impressive then), and lost money. So, minus an occasion, or an attempt to scale down, I don’t see it happening before then.
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Scarlet Leigh
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Show Boat revival? #3
Posted: 4/10/20 at 7:21pm

Jarethan said: "I would imagine that we will see a production in7 years, when it turns 100. Ideally, at Lincoln Center (VB), directed by Bartlett Sher.
 

This. Lately, if feels like with classic musicals they only have two chances of working out. Either they need to do something to totally reinvent and update the production OR it needs to be a very lush big budget and loving handling of it. And no one does that better than the Lincoln Center and Sher combination. I would honestly love to see what they did with the boat as a set piece at the VB.   

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Call_me_jorge
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Show Boat revival? #4
Posted: 4/10/20 at 7:25pm
I’d hope the 1994 revival was the last time the show will be on broadway. Despite loving the music, it’s a very dated show and of it’s time. I think the show would get grilled by critics and the media alike, if a revival would happen today.
Jarethan
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Show Boat revival? #5
Posted: 4/10/20 at 7:46pm

Call_me_jorge said: "I’d hope the 1994 revival was the last time the show will be on broadway. Despite loving the music, it’s a very dated show and of it’s time. I think the show would get grilled by critics and the media alike, if a revival would happen today."

Disagree emphatically.  Sure, it is a little dated, but it is also history.  The score is both old-fashioned and top-tier.  Would I ever start out to listen to a recording of You Are Love?  No.  Does it work in the context of the show?  Yes.

IMO the last production was truly great; with the right director, the next one can be truly great also.  Unfortunately, you can’t cheap out on SB or it looks like Summer Stock.  Could someone like John Doyle or Daniel Fish come up with a small scale version that speaks to today’s audiences?  Who knows.  I would like to see them try.  I always hated Oklahoma, acknowledging that much of the score is for the ages. What Fish did was incredible to me...maybe the next revival of SB will be incredible for you.

Jarethan
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Show Boat revival? #6
Posted: 4/10/20 at 7:46pm

Call_me_jorge said: "I’d hope the 1994 revival was the last time the show will be on broadway. Despite loving the music, it’s a very dated show and of it’s time. I think the show would get grilled by critics and the media alike, if a revival would happen today."

Disagree emphatically.  Sure, it is a little dated, but it is also history.  The score is both old-fashioned and top-tier.  Would I ever start out to listen to a recording of You Are Love?  No.  Does it work in the context of the show?  Yes.

IMO the last production was truly great; with the right director, the next one can be truly great also.  Unfortunately, you can’t cheap out on SB or it looks like Summer Stock.  Could someone like John Doyle or Daniel Fish come up with a small scale version that speaks to today’s audiences?  Who knows.  I would like to see them try.  I always hated Oklahoma, acknowledging that much of the score is for the ages. What Fish did was incredible to me...maybe the next revival of SB will be incredible for you.

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Scarlet Leigh
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Show Boat revival? #7
Posted: 4/10/20 at 8:35pm

Jarethan said: "Could someone like John Doyle or Daniel Fish come up with a small scale version that speaks to today’s audiences? Who knows. I would like to see them try. I always hated Oklahoma, acknowledging that much of the score is for the ages. What Fish did was incredible to me...maybe the next revival of SB will be incredible for you."

Totally feel you on the Oklahoma comments. I have always loathed Oklahoma but won the lotto for the revival so figured why not and was blown away by how you could take the same book and yet make a totally different show.

However, I don't know how well that treatment would work for this one. Show Boat is like THE classic of classics. I feel like a reinventing just would be VERY hard for it. But while yeah there is some stuff in Show Boat that has not aged... well, I don't think it's as controversial as some other more problematic classics revived as of late. The most touching thing would be what, Julie's background? I think it's sort of saving grace is that the controversy over it is addressed and denounced WITHIN the plot itself. Captain Andy alludes to having known Julie's background before hiring her and not caring about that and not being happy about having to let them go. At least that's how it was played in the 1994 revival from my memory (one of the first shows I ever saw as a child and saw it 3 times) It would be different if like... the reveal happened and he threw them out in a rage. He's very supportive and happy to employee them and it's that appreciation to him that they go so willingly.

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poisonivy2
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Show Boat revival? #8
Posted: 4/10/20 at 8:48pm

I don't see what's so dated about Show Boat? It tackles issues like racial prejudice, failed marriages, and broken dreams in a straightforward way. It also has a subtext of how different races borrow each others' musical traditions.

I think the biggest thing preventing a Show Boat revival is that it really needs classically trained voices. The Broadway pop belt will not work at all.

Globefan
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Show Boat revival? #9
Posted: 4/10/20 at 8:57pm

If not a Broadway revival, then maybe a new film adaptation. 

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poisonivy2
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Show Boat revival? #10
Posted: 4/10/20 at 9:01pm

The 1936 movie is pretty great IMO.

Globefan
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Show Boat revival? #11
Posted: 4/10/20 at 9:09pm

Who could possibly direct a new film adaptation of Show Boat? 

Updated On: 4/10/20 at 09:09 PM
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frontrowcentre2
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Show Boat revival? #12
Posted: 4/11/20 at 12:47am

The operetta elements of SHOW BOAT put off younger audiences who do not understand the genre, although they seem to respond to ALW's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. 

When the revival of SHOW BOAT opened in Toronto, one of the school board trustees in North York was extremely vocal about her opposition to it. She refused to attend  the show and instead galvanized her supporters to try to barricade the theater opening night. They failed. Their numbers were too small to make any kind of impact. (I was there that night.) Prince did an admirable job combining all previous SHOW BOAT scripts and interpolating songs from the 1936 film. The miscegenation scene was still powerful, the score was still thrilling.

 

One aspect he could not solve was the ultimate fate of Ravenal: His character should disappear and not return (as happens with Julie) and in the end Magnolia should be strong enough to carry on without him. Hammerstein couldn't solve this even in the Universal film version - nor could John Lee Mahin for the M-g-M Technicolor remake.

 

Getting contemporary audiences to understand the period would be a challenge for any modern film or stage director, even without the operetta elements.

Cast albums are NOT "soundtracks."
Live theatre does not use a "soundtrack." If it did, it wouldn't be live theatre!

I host a weekly one-hour radio program featuring cast album selections as well as songs by cabaret, jazz and theatre artists. The program, FRONT ROW CENTRE is heard Sundays 9 to 10 am and also Saturdays from 8 to 9 am (eastern times) on www.proudfm.com

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CATSNYrevival
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Show Boat revival? #13
Posted: 4/11/20 at 1:35am
I really enjoyed the concert at Lincoln Center a few years back. Aside from the limited rehearsal time and some minor miscasting whoever edited the book and arranged the song stack did an excellent job. I wish that version was available to license. I loved the inclusion of “It’s Getting Hotter in the North.”
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Scarlet Leigh
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Show Boat revival? #14
Posted: 4/11/20 at 4:03am

frontrowcentre2 said: "One aspect he could not solve was the ultimate fate of Ravenal: His character should disappear and not return (as happens with Julie) and in the end Magnolia should be strong enough to carry on without him. Hammerstein couldn't solve this even in the Universal film version - nor could John Lee Mahin for the M-g-M Technicolor remake."

And the recent revival of My Fair Lady sort of leaves me thinking that Sher is the very man to tackle the ending. Didn't change a word but totally reinterpreted the ending into something unexpected.

I had to look up the ending dialogue of Show Boat cus it's been awhile. Cut the few lines between Magnolia and her father about the water barrel and you can possibly stage an ending where they DON'T end up back together. They sing a reprise of "You Are Love" first separate then together. So let's see... what would be a real SHER level ending to this? He starts to sort of get his courage up to go and beg his wife's forgiveness while he singing his verse, not realizing that she has noticed he is there. She starts to go for him but ultimately decides not to and watches him to see what he will do. And of course in true "Gay is a jerk" fashion, he chickens out for the last time and starts to go not realizing Magnolia saw him there. She COULD start her verse to let him know she has seen him, to stop him from leaving... but she doesn't. She stays strong that though she loves him still, if he can't man up, then she lets him go. It's not until after he has left the stage that she sings her verse but it's not to him anymore. It's to an empty stage. And perhaps she should be sad but while it starts as that, the verse changes emotion. She is angry. All the years of anger for what he's done to her come out in a mighty rage in her final verse which is now not a love ballad anymore but basically says I loved you but no more. No duet between them. And then, still alone, Old Man River starts in and the last line of "Look Gay, There's Kim" is delivered to no one because he once again and for the last time, he's abandoned his family.

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OlBlueEyes
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Show Boat revival? #15
Posted: 4/11/20 at 12:11pm

That's a great interpretation, Scarlett. I think as a producer or director it would be great fun (on someone else's money) to put a new Show Boat together from all the available pieces in the tool kit. Wikipedia has a great and long summary of all the changes and revisions and additions and subtractions from all the major stage productions and films.

The first act is much stronger than the second. Almost all the standards are introduced in the first act. "Bill" and "Why Do I Love You" are second act. (I hated giving that song away to Elaine Stritch, but I figured it was her price for accepting the role.) Kern's original finale, "It's Getting Hotter in the North" has never been used in the major Broadway productions or in any of the films, although it's a fine song. CATSNY says it was in the recent concert production.

The second act is up for grabs. You have to have Gaylord leave Magnolia, Magnolia sing "After the Ball" on New Year's Eve with her father in the audience, and Julie years later running into Gaylord and showing him the newspaper clip. After that it's pretty much carte blanche. 

I think some have missed the different versions of the Gaylord Magnolia reunion. In the original stage production (and in the Prince) when Gaylord encounters Magnolia Kim is a Broadway star. Twenty years have passed and pretty clearly Gaylord and Magnolia are not going to pick up where they left off.

In the MGM film, by which most know the show, only five years have passed, Kim is a child and Ravenol and Magnolia are free to reunite.

The first act is much more structured, but there is leeway there as well. The dirge "Mis'ry's Comin' Round" was cut from the original production I thing because producer Flo Ziegfeld thought that it was just too downbeat. Still, Kern's original overture remained centered around that song. Hal Prince not only included the song but made the miscegenation the strongest element of the plot. (Prince also restored the original Overture, bless him.)

There are many more songs written for new productions and films than can fit in the show. So choices must be made. All the songs written for any stage or film production are collected in John McGlinn's three CD set which features Frederica von Stade and Teresa Strata.

I don't think sensitivities have changed much in the 25 years since the Prince revival played for almost 1000 performances. Show Boat was anything but a racist show. We know Hammerstein. He brought out the hardships of the life of the blacks and the racist laws that worked against their race. Show Boat was also the first show to have white and black performers on the stage at the same time.

"Ol' Man River," if the song and its message are taken together, for several decades was recognized as the best song to emerge from Broadway. When I first saw Ol' Blue Eyes, then a skinny young white boy, sing it in the Kern biopic, I thought that it absolute heresy,. But in his maturity he sang the song quite movingly. His two daughters say that when Sinatra sang it in a benefit concert in Carnegie Hall, Martin Luther King wiped tears from his eyes.

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joevitus
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Show Boat revival? #16
Posted: 4/11/20 at 12:49pm

Oh, for God's sake, the Lincoln Center revival revision of My Fair Lady was terrible, and not having Magnolia and Ravenal get back together would be terrible. It's the essence of Hammerstein's art that flawed men are lucky to have powerful women who never give up on them. You don't like that idea? Fine, then be disappointed with an aspect of of his work, but don't change the viewpoint of a classic show to fit your prejudices. It isn't Edna Ferber's Show Boat or your Show Boat. It's Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's Show Boat. It should reflect their sensibility, not that of modern directors or audiences. 

Globefan
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Show Boat revival? #17
Posted: 4/11/20 at 4:04pm

frontrowcentre2 said: "The operetta elements of SHOW BOAT put off younger audiences who do not understand the genre, although they seem to respond to ALW's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

When the revival of SHOW BOAT opened in Toronto, one of the school board trustees in North York was extremely vocal about her opposition to it. She refused to attend the show and instead galvanized her supporters to try to barricade the theater opening night. They failed. Their numbers were too small to make any kind of impact. (I was there that night.) Prince did an admirable job combining all previous SHOW BOAT scripts and interpolating songs from the 1936 film. The miscegenation scene was still powerful, the score was still thrilling.



One aspect he could not solve was the ultimate fate of Ravenal: His character should disappear and not return (as happens with Julie) and in the end Magnolia should be strong enough to carry on without him. Hammerstein couldn't solve this even in the Universal film version - nor could John Lee Mahin for the M-g-M Technicolor remake.



Getting contemporary audiences to understand the period would be a challenge for any modern film or stage director, even without the operetta elements.
"

The operetta elements would need to be overhauled 

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Show Boat revival? #18
Posted: 4/11/20 at 5:15pm

By the by, the first blu-ray of the 1936 film adaptation was released recently:

https://www.playbill.com/article/historic-1936-show-boat-film-to-get-blu-ray-release-from-the-criterion-collection

https://www.criterion.com/films/29035-show-boat

As to a revival, I recall seeing a production of this show when I was a kid. Without yet being a particular theatre fan nor knowing anything about the show going in, it seemed very old-fashioned to me. I appreciate it more now, but I'm not sure about there being much interest from the general public.

Globefan
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Show Boat revival? #19
Posted: 4/11/20 at 6:13pm

They could do a major overhaul of the whole thing 

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Show Boat revival? #20
Posted: 4/11/20 at 6:35pm

Oil’ man river is still a goosebump moment and that is 85 years later.

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Show Boat revival? #21
Posted: 4/11/20 at 10:29pm

It isn't Edna Ferber's Show Boat or your Show Boat. It's Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's Show Boat. It should reflect their sensibility, not that of modern directors or audiences. 

Don't disagree with you. Others do and must be respected.

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Show Boat revival? #22
Posted: 4/12/20 at 4:06am

OlBlueEyes said: "It isn't Edna Ferber's Show Boat or your Show Boat. It's Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's Show Boat. It should reflecttheirsensibility, not that of modern directors or audiences.

Don'tdisagree with you. Others do and must be respected.
"

I don't actually have a problem with revisionist productions in-and-of themselves. I hate hearing that a classic show "needs" the revisionist treatment. Obviously, Show Boat (or Oklahoma! or My Fair Lady) will survive whatever individual production is mounted. I think this desire to re-envision a work comes from the opera world, but the mentality there is based on people seeing the exact same Butterfly or Lohengrin they've seen a hundred times before, where the same basic canon of works are done season after season, decade after decade for a hundred-plus years. And that attitude makes sense for those Broadway musicals that are constantly being revived, too, but it doesn't really make sense for Show Boat, which many people will only see once or twice in their lifetime. It's just too big a show to be revived too often. So when it's done, giving people a chance to see what it actually is, isn't such a bad idea.

Updated On: 4/12/20 at 04:06 AM
A Director
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Show Boat revival? #23
Posted: 4/12/20 at 4:27am

When I read the libretto for SHOW BOAT, I found the second act to be a let down. Oscar H said he shouldn't have brought Gaylord back.

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Show Boat revival? #24
Posted: 4/12/20 at 4:51am

Taken from an article on PA Phil.com https://www.laphil.com/musicdb/pieces/3293/show-boat

"Its plot development [is] predictable and corny, and its ending unbearably sweet," Engel wrote of Show Boat. Even Oscar Hammerstein II himself is said to have had second thoughts about the work's ending. Miles Kreuger, author of Show Boat: The Story of a Classic American Musical, notes that "as a concession to theatrical conventions of the time, Hammerstein kept everyone alive at the end and even arranged a happy reunion for the long-parted lovers, decisions, he revealed to this writer, that he came to regret."
 

So one has to ask... though it's NOT the ending as it has always been, would knowing that the writer doubted and later regretted the choice to conform to what the conventions of the time where, would changing it now, in a time when the conventions are more in line with what he original WANTED, be considered a tribute to what he wanted but at the time couldn't write?

Not to mention that it SHOULD also be noted that Show Boat is based off a novel. And in that novel, not only is there no reunion in the end, after Gaylord leaves them, he is gone for good. In fact, he is dead by the time Kim is a star.

Updated On: 4/12/20 at 04:51 AM
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Show Boat revival? #25
Posted: 4/12/20 at 10:55am

A Director said: "When I read the libretto for SHOW BOAT, I found the second act to be a let down. Oscar H said he shouldn't have brought Gaylord back."
 

And yet, for over the next thirty years and several major revivals, he never altered the ending. 

Updated On: 4/12/20 at 10:55 AM