The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York on June 12, 1949 · Page 29
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The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from Brooklyn, New York · Page 29

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Sunday, June 12, 1949
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OFF STAGE By George Currie Considering Tunefulness in Theater, Things Continue On as Usual The other day the old, old question: "Why are not modern musicals as tuneful as their predecessors?" came up and Milton Berle was the germ of the idea, on family fireside television. He had somebody singing Irving Berlin's "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody." , Now, everybody in his right mind knows that Mr. Berlin can translate from his ear sweet melodies and some of them have passed over into the. folk song of the nation. His "White. Christmas" ranks with "Silent Night" and even "Auld Lang Syne," particularly when Bing Crosby is dragging it off a record. But the "Pretty Girl" song is old and it points up an answer to those who expect to sit at a musical comedy and get a surfeit of music from such as Jerome Kern's "Showboat." All agree that the first act of this lovely piece leaves people in their seats, avid for more, eager, even for reprises. This, of course, is looking with rose-colored glasses back through the years. How many remember the cute little wooden-shoed clog dance in Victor Herbert's "Sweethearts"? How many, for that "matter, remember the resounding "March of the Bulgars" from the "Chocolate Soldier," which bequeathed to the growing generation of all time the grandiose and thrilling "My Hero"? . The public's ear, it might be said, has been deafened by both radio and television. This is not quite correct. The other night we were listening to a musical program which put on the totem dance song from "Rose Marie." It was unfamiliar to most in the room, all of whom would have gladly recognized the "Indian Love Call" from the same piece. Often songs hit from musical failures. What might be called a contemporary "classic, in this instance, would be "All the Things You Are." a red seal record sung by John Charles Thomas, from "Very Warm for May," which so rapidly cooled off at the box office. The fabulous Tony Farrell's "All for Love," a flop, put two songs on the Hit Parade. The point is that nostalgia and fading memories identify past musicals by certain songs in a purple glow. Not all of these productions were hits. Some of them fared on the4hin edge of failure. Even with Anne Swinburne dancing down the stairs, the "Count of Luxembourg" barely broke even. But you will still hear "Love Is a Dream" on the radio, and frankly, the more often, the better. Many people now with gray hair thought "Balling the Jack," with Donald Brian and Julia Sanderson, was immortal. But one notices they are reviving "They Wouldn't Believe .Me" from the same show ("The Girl From Utah") and sometimes, itmust be confessed, the orchestras commit murder upon it. Hazel Dawn's great triumph, "The Pink Lady," is still remembered by "Beautiful Lady," yet that show had the truly fine song, "By the Banks of the Saskatchewan." And so it goes. "Kiss Me, Kate," when comes the time to fold its tents, will be remembered for "So in Love With You Am T," regardless of its other good numbers. My guess is that "South Pacific" will go down to posterity on the minor chords of "Bali-Ha'i ". rather than "Some Enchanted Evening." Yet here are two current musicals fairly crawling with music. "Oklahoma!," the most recent musical melodic from stem to stem, is rapidly becoming in memory "0, What a Beautiful Morning." The fact is, tuneful music has survived two World Wars and in theater, is running its course, as usual. And, as usual, the shows are, being remembered by what the patrons chose to identify them with. This would be exactly why the "Floradora" sextet has survived while Its show, itself, has vanished. And why you can trip up people by merely asking, "What show put on 'Every Little Movement Has a Meaning All Its Own'?" Because this is not a "Stop the Music" program, the answer is "Mme. Sherry." We haven't changed. Good musicals merely appear only now and then as always. tmmxim-- i - - . . ; ;- k f, r 1 f& V, :-, - An 4 mmmm . .v i f' ilillii , ' ' "X llililllilllil fj lllillir VrM- ipsiii w m . ' j tepfif 1 " - - - ; L - - r t . , I - ' ' y - ' ft y -mm - j .' - BROOKLYN EAGLE, SUN., 'JUNE 12, T949 29 ROBERT KEITH, HENRY FONDA AND MURRAY HAMILTON reflecting Pacific boredom in "Mister Roberts,' the Thomas Heggen-Joshua Logan hit presented by Leland Heyward at the Alvin Theater. Voice Radios 'Lemonade' A full performance recording of the "Lemonade Opera" production of "The Man in the Moon" will be made by the Voice of America, portions of which will be broadcast through Its channels in German' and Austria. The presentation by the youthful company (nightly except Sundays) marks not only the American Premiere for the Haydn work, but its first performance anywhere outsid of EnrOpe as well. In a revival of the opera was given in Schwerin, (ieritiany, and named "Die AVelt auf dem Monde." Geersh Group to Dance 'Documentor Ballet' A new "documentary ballet," recognizing the progress of the new republic in the Holy Land, will be featured in a recital by Eafim Geersh and his ballet to day at the Jacob Schiff Center, in the Bronx. The new ballet, "Dance of Israel," was conceived bv Mr. Geersh, who arranged the choreography and wrote the music for it. He will also be seen in the leading male role, while Sondra Weiss will be premiere ballerina. The Geersh Dancers, founded by the dancer and teacher, is believed to be the youngest ballet group in the country. Its !i2 members range in age from three to Hi vears. Mr. Geersh lives at -23-13 Coney Island Ave. RAY BOLGER, Summer stalwart, in "Where's Charley?" sturdily holding forth at the St. James Theater. Theater in 'The Round' The first of ten operettas and musical comedies will be pre sented by St. John Terrell with the opening of his "Music Cir cus in Lambertvule, N. J., July 2, with "The Merry Widow." Starring will be Wilbur Evans and Susanna Foster. Robert Zeller will conduct. This marks the first commercial use of cen tral staging of musicals which has been referred to by students of the drama as Theater-in-the- Round. The productions will Edwin Franko Goldman Back i In Park Grove Saturday Eve The Guggenheim 'Memorial Concerts by the Goldman Band under the direction of Edwin Franko Goldman, will .start their ;!2d season on the Mall in Central Park, on Friday evening, June 17, at 8:.'iO o'clock and will repeat at Prospect Park Saturday. The concerts are as Interplayers Look To Al Saxe as Guest Director Irving Stiber, co-manager of The Interplayers, has announced that Al Saxe has been signed as the group's first guest director this Sum mer, Mr. Saxe, a former member of the Group Theatre and the director of the documentary film "Native Land," was asssistant director to Klia Ka zan on his production of "The Young Go First" and on the film "Boomerang." Mr. Saxe will direct the play- that is chosen to follow The Interplavers' production of Louis MacNeice's "Out of the Picture" into their new theater In the Carnegie Hall Building. Eric Benlley will probably be !The Interplayers' second guest director this Summer, Mr. Sti :ber said. Mr. Bentley, who has Sheen traveling in Europe on a Guggenheim rellowsmp, in formed The Interplayers that he will arrive in the States June 20 and will be available for a production late in August or early September. Mr. Stiber said that he believed Mr. Bent- ley would want to direct a Brecht play Mr. Bentley is Bertolt Brecht's official trans la tor. usual the gift of the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation, and are given for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the city. After the death of Daniel Guggenheim, on Sept. 28, 1930, it was Mrs. Guggenheim's desire to continue the concerts as a tribute to his memory. She continued to take an interest in be presented on a central stage them until her death in 1011 which is circled bv the audience 'The children of the donors and enclosing the' playing Concerts will be given In Central Park on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, and in Prospect Park on Tuesday and Saturday evenings. There will be on Tuesday concerts by the Goldman Band this season. There will be 50 concerts in all. The opening concert will mark the 1,797th of this series, which had its origin on the green at Columbia University Television Invasion Arrangements are being made which may make it pos sible for the weekly performances of the Bolton Landing Players at the Sagamore Hotel, Lake George, N. Y., to be televised over one of the major television networks. The Bolton Landing Players will per form once a week in the Out door theatre at the hotel and negotiations are under way to clear the various copyrights, royalties, etc., to allow for tele vising of the productions direct from the spot. If .necessary, special plays will be presented at the Sagamore, so as to make the televising permissible. area. "The Merry Widow" will play for ten days, with the following operas playing for one week only. Col. M. Robert Guggenheim. Dr. Goldman was the organizer ("apt. llarrv F. Guggenheim and of these concerts, has conduct Mrs. Roger . htraus are carrying on the work in which their parents were so inter ested. James Westerfield's Music Now Gets Chance, Singing The announcement that James Westerfield, who plays the stage sleuth partner of Ralph Bellamy in Sidney Kingsley's hit play "Detective Story" at the Hudson Theater, would take on the extra-curricular chore of directing the Lambertville, N. J., Music Circus, marked the full ?' EILEEN SEIGH, the skating darling of "Howdy, Mr. Ice cf 1950." Miss Seigh is a Brooklyn girl and is presently starring ot the Center Theater fillment of a life-long ambition. Westerfield believes that the operetta as produced on a large scale in St. Louis and other cities is the beginning of a real people's theater. Before gaining for himself a personal triumph in "Detective Story," he was embarked on a project of renting one of New York's largest theaters for the Summer to produce a season of operettas. When the backing was not forthcoming immedi ately, the project had to be postponed. Westerfield then considered a job selling in a de partment store basement or ped dling aluminum from door to door in Brooklyn. He was determined to stay in New York for a while to give his scheme at least a trial. As the son of a famous producer-director-actor, Westerfield was brought up on the lore of the theater. As a youngster in Den ver, Col., he used to sneak off from school and up a fire escape of an old theater to watch the legendary Jessie Bonstelle com pany at rehearsal. His first role in the theater was as a spear carrier in the same Bonstelle company for which his father was once leading man. His 230 pounds and thinning hair didn't suit leading man roles, so Westerfield became "the youngest character actor in the business." He loved, as actors do, large audiences. He was intrigued by the acres of people who came from miles to see and hear the operettas at Forrest Park in St. Louis. He resolved that in musical comedy and operetta h would staka hli career. Westerfield hai rounded out, his credits as a featured performer with the San Francisco Opera Company and in Hollywood where he made "The Chase," "O. S. S." and "Undercurrent." Now, he's a detective. ed them from the very start and he has never missed a concert. The 1,800th concert of this series will take place June 20. Agent Turns Producer Frank Hanshaw, known In theatrical circles as a booking agent and personal manager of various stars, hopes to present an intimate musical revue on Broadway in the Fall, which he has titled, "On Tour!" Among the performers he hopes to feature are singing star Johnny Thompson, comed ian Dick uucKiey, songstress Betty Reilly, the McCarthy's (commentators), Hot Lips," Page and the Air Lane Trio Hanshaw plans rehearsals early in September. Theater in Borough Brooklyn's community theater, the Fraternal Arts Players, will present a third-anniversary program of one-act plays on the evenings of June 18, 19 and 25 at 927 Kings Highway. On the bill: "You're Next," by Arthur Miller; "Open Secret." a play on the atom bomb by Robert Adler and George Ballak, and "Theltappiest Man On Earth," adapted from Albert Maltz's famous short story by Joseph Da vidson. Oh the Screen eyuw 'Trail of Lonesome Pine' Returns With a New-Old Surprise Technicolor Back in 1936 "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" stepped boldly outside went on location up in the hills to become the first outdoor action yarn to employ what was then the new three-color Technicolor process. The improved technique had been used the year before on its first feature-length movie, "Becky Sharp," but that was an arty, self-consciously Technicolored work, vivid and theatrical. "Lonesome Pine" led the way in using it realistically to catch the greens and browns of the earth, blue of the sky, greens and blues of a lake or river. The naturalness of the color was pretty startling then, some 13 years ago. Yesterday "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" returned to Broadway, at the Mayfair, and the most surprising thing about the Paramount movie is still color, this .time because it has stood up so well. People and objects are much sharper, the colors truer, than I had expected. There's very little difference, in fact, between its Technicolor and that of the latest releases. Other qualities that have weathered well are the performances of Henry Fonda and Fred MacMurray, easy and nicely under-played, but today I'm concerned with color photography. Color photography is probably a much older dream than you realize, especially if you include still photography. Among the earliest known writings on the subject is a book by an Englishman, published before our Civil War. By 1925, when another Englishman wrote a book on colored moving pictures, he was able to mention that thousands of patents had been taken out for that purpose. And you might be surprised to know that Dr. Herbert T. Kalmus, head of Technicolor, began his first experiments as long ago as 1912. He and his wife, Natalie, another top authority on the subject today, were operating a small research engineering plant in Boston at the time when they were visited by a customer with an idea for adding color to these new-fangled "flickers." Vanascope he wanted to call it. The Kalmuses, previously interested in the matter, went to work and five years later believed that they had hit the, color jackpot. After installing a complete photochemical laboratory in a railroad car, they went to Florida to make their first colored movie, "The Gulf Between," with Natalie Kalmus in a leading role. That was the only trip the rolling lab ever made. At a preview of "The Gulf Between" for scientist friends, something went wrong with the projecting machine. Horses galloped across the screen with two tails, one red, , the other green. Back to work went the Kalmus pair, more experiments, trial and error, slow improvements. By 1920 they were able to sell Nicholas Schenck a bill of goods for "The Toll of the Sea" and this time the movie turned out much better. Only trouble was that the color process more than tripled the film footage cost and it took almost a year before enough prints were made for country-wide distribution. More years of experimentation to simplify and improve the process, reduce the costs and years of spreading the color gospel among the film-makers. The coming of sound and talking pictures both hindered and helped Technicolor Dr. Kalmus by now had named the process in honor of his alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the good far outstripping the bad. Hollywood at first was much too busy with this soundtrack revolution to want to concern itself with color. Things were confusing enough as it was. But once the film-makers were able to raise their heads above the babel and take a look around, they realized that color was exactly what they needed so many productions at the time were musicals and backstage stories. Color belonged in these types of movies. Warner Brothers signed for 20 features in Technicolor, M-G-M contracted for some, and the rush began. Warner's "On With the Show" was the first all-talking and singing film made completely in color. Paramount followed suit with "The Vagabond King." M-G-M had Lawrence Tibbett in "The Rogue Song." Universal produced Paul Whiteman's "King or Jazz." It was a hectic, com-bustious era, and then the depression set in. Since Technicolor added to a film's cost and the novelty had worn off the two-color process, which wasn't a true lifelike one, anyway, the rainbow-colored rush slowed down. In May, 10.'12, when the depression was at its worst, Dr. Kalmus and his associates finally came through with a three-component process that had blue looking blue, red red and, finally, that was true to the secondary colors, orange, ' green, purple, etc. It was a bad time for the Technicolor plant to expand, buy new and expensive equipment, but it -was done. It had taken millions of dollars and more than 500 experiments before the three-color process was reached. The rest vou know. j m i ; y'.: sr p It JAN STERLING AND MELVYN DOUGLAS in "Two Blind Mice," the comedy of bureaucracy at the Cort Theater. , Royal Award King Gustav V of Sweden has awarded Blanche Thebom, Met ropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano, the Swedish Pioneers Centennial Gold Medal for her assistance in connection with the celebration held in the United States last year. Lynnart Ny-lander, Swedish Consulate General, made the presentation this week at a luncheon aboard S. S. Gripsholm. Wing's 'Brigadoon' Shoves Off For Overseas, to Amuse GIs The American Theatre Wing Hospital Show of "Brigadoon," just back from setting a record for all hospital shows, having toured 42 States, travelling ap proximately 30,000 miles and playing in 120 hospitals, will shortly be seen overseas by Army Special Services to play-theaters in occupied territory throughout Europe on a four- week tour. y ' wif ' -' ' ' j ' ) :"; EDWIN FRANKO GOLDMAN, whose band opens this Summer's Guggenheim Memorial Concerts ot Central Park next Friday evening and at Prospect Park next Saturday night, with Richard Franko Goldman as associate conductor! "Brigadoon" is one of many Wing productions of Broadway hits carried to hospitals, but it was the first musical ever attempted and, at the time it was first done, was looked upon as a very doubtful experiment by everyone except the Wing and its producer, Cheryl Crawford. Applying the Wing's special techniques for reducing a play to a tabloid "hospital version" and putting all chorus ensembles on records, "Brigadoon" became a great success when played in the wards in this area. It was then picked up intact and taken on tour by Veterans Hospital Camp Shows. There it was hailed as a job of pioneering, which would open up the whole field of musical" entertainment in hospitals. All but three of the original company of twelve will go on the European journey, which starts next week from a New England airfield to open near Nuremberg. Those just returned from the hospital tour who will make the European trip are: Shirlee Dwyer, Bob Dwyer, Stuart Macintosh, Henry C. Neslo, Michael Hig-glns, Thelma Fuller, Pat Rog ers, Vic smiley ana jeii war ren. The three additions to the cast are Henry Gresham, John Anderson and Hugh Williamson. This is the second hospital show which has been converted into non-hospital entertain ment for foreign based troops. Recently returned was the company of "The Butter and Egg Man," which played to Canadian and American troops testing equipment in the Arctic at Fort Churchill on Hudson Bar

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