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January 9, 2012 / adgerellis

SHOW BUSINESS IN THE ZIEGFELD STYLE

ZIEGFELD: The Man Who Invented Show Business, book author by Ethan Mordden. Book published by St Martin’s Press in the year 2008. To continue the book review and critique with the whole point of this posting summed up in a dialogue between Fanny Brice and Abraham Erlanger as follows, …”Eelanger was objecting to the dialect because it was vulgar. He wasn’t questioning the ersatz quality of the art: he just didn’t want it in a Syndicate production till its vulgarity was corrected.

‘Where do you think you are,’ Erlanger went on, and this is a tell: ‘in  a burlesque snow?’

The italic are mine, because Ziegfeld was in fact bringing the attitudes of burlesque onto the top-level of the theatre world- doing, as they would put it in the 1920’s, the uptown lowdown. Coon songs were of course not new to Broadway; we’ve seen Anna Held make them elemental in her songbook. But the Syndicate’s Follies was supposed to be to ‘sophisticated’ for the degradations of pop. At lest, Abe Erlanger thought so. However, Ziegfeld’s notion of ‘sophistication’ was the literal one. ‘Adulterated,’ says Webster. ‘Complex.’ A blend of the available arts. Copyrights to protect artist and producers is good and fair so that a decent living can be made on a work of art, but a copyright and proprietary rights with unrealistic expectations of making a profit can doom a work of art into oblivion, so that people not only forget that it ever existed, but actually by historical change in public “taste” make it virtually impossible to revive the forgotten work of art because nobody is any longer interested.

What truly astonishes us is the confidence that Brice showed in standing up to the man who owned Ziegfeld and the Follies combined. Remember, there was no union protecting actors in 1910; one could be fired for anything at any moment, especially for defying the regime of Abraham Lincoln Erlanger. And yet, as- one imagines the entire house froze in awe, Brice stepped downstage to inform Erlanger that she lived on the edge of Harlem and could swear to the authenticity of the pronunciation. ‘I can’t sing (those numbers) any other way,’ she told him. ‘You’re out!’ Erlanger shouted. ‘No one says ‘No’ to me on my stage!’ ”

Notice not only the “flash firing,” but with out an Actors Union Fanny Brice had no recourse, but to accept her premature termination. There is another hidden issue here, the is in part the reason for these post about musical comedy, that the incident of Fanny Brice’s firing is less than a footnote in the history of the Ziegfeld Follies. Many people today could care less, even when told about this incident and that goes for the long and magnificent history of musical theater and stage revues. This accretion can be proven by a search engine check for old musical theater shows on the internet. Almost none of the grand old musical shows can be seen on video, and the shows that are on video, with a few exceptions have very bad sound quality. Really, please think. The main point of a musical comedy is the music. When the musical comedy does is not recorded with high fidelity sound with the microphones in the appropriate places, the whole point of the musical is defeated. True to form, with irony held high, Adolf Hitler was rumored to like the operetta, “Die Lustige Witwe,” better known in English as “The Merry Widow.” Just because “Die Lustige Witwe,” was rumored to be Adolf Hitler’s favorite operetta does that mean this music should be forgotten into oblivion?…- Das Studium der Weiber ist schwer…Link to video,…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0l9xMnND4A. L-O-L, the study of women is difficult.

Feminist Unite! Just because the suffragette won women the vote, does not mean that a musical tribute like the show, “Bloomer Girl,” should go into oblivion. See LICENSING BLOOMER GIRL…http://www.tams-witmark.com/musicals/bloomer.html. The music and plot to this show is already obscure…”Set during the Civil War, BLOOMER GIRL is the story of rebellious Evalina Applegate, an abolitionist who falls in love with a Kentucky slave holder. The original production included a Civil War Ballet choreographed by Agnes De Mille.”No more said, but a work of art that is tightly controlled may eventually be of no interest to anybody. An internet search for songs from the BOOMER GIRL, show no results as of this date, but the motion picture…The Harvey Girls 1946 TRAILER HD – YouTube, has a memorable showing. “Chew- Chew! ” And away we go, only when the internet link holds…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioQlOml6vvA.

 

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