Musicals of the 1950s

The King and I

Rodgers, Richard. The King and I. Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein,
2nd; music by Richard Rodgers. Based on the novel Anna and the King of
Siam by Margaret Landon.
New York, Random House [1951]
Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays

Rodgers, Richard. Shall We Dance? Words by Oscar Hammerstein, 2nd.
New York: Williamson Music, Inc., 1951.
Sheet Music Collection

The 1950s introduced numerous classic and much-revived Broadway
musicals. Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I made a star of Yul
Brynner and gave Gertrude Lawrence her last role. The ballet, The Small
House of Uncle Thomas, injects a bit of 19th century American culture
into the exotic production. The score is outstanding, with such notable
songs as Hello, Young Lovers, Getting to Know You, Something Wonderful,
and I Have Dreamed.

Guys and Dolls

Loesser, Frank. Guys and Dolls. Souvenir album.
New York: Kal Efron, [1951?]
Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays

New York itself looms large in two other 1950s musicals: Guys and
Dolls and West Side Story. Guys and Dolls, based on Damon Runyon's
stories of Broadway hustlers and their "dolls". The show's amusing
libretto overshadowed its score, which included A Bushel and a Peck,
Adelaide's Lament, and Luck Be a Lady.

West Side Story

Bernstein, Leonard. West Side Story : a musical (based on a conception of
Jerome Robbins); book by Arthur Laurents; music by Leonard Bernstein;
lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
New York : Random House, c1958.
Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays

Bernstein, Leonard. A-me-ri-ca. Words by Stephen Sondheim.
New York: G. Schirmer and Chappel & Co., Inc., 1957.
Sheet Music Collection

West Side Story showed a darker side of New York, in the fights between
the two rival gangs, the Jets and the Hispanic Sharks. The jangling gang
songs contrasted with the lyrical songs of the romantic story; notable among
them are I Feel Pretty, Maria, Something's Coming, Somewhere, I Have a Love,
and Tonight. West Side Story was Stephen Sondheim's first Broadway credit.

The Pajama Game

Ross, Jerry. The Pajama Game; a new musical comedy. Book by George
Abbott and Richard Bissell. Music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry
Ross [pseud.]
New York, Random House [1954].
Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays

Ross, Jerry. Hey There. Words and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross
New York: Frank Music Corp, 1954.
Sheet Music Collection

The Pajama Game's plot echoed the leftist and pro-labor shows of the
1930s and early 1940s; The show was noteworthy for its choreography;
Bob Fosse made his Broadway debut as a choreographer, and in it Carol
Haney first appeared on Broadway. Hernando's Hideaway and Steam Heat
are tributes to their talent.

My Fair Lady

Loewe, Frederick. My Fair Lady, a musical play in two acts, based on
Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw. Adaptation and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.
Music by Frederick Loewe.
New York, Coward-McCann, c1956
Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays

Loewe, Frederick. The Rain in Spain. Words by Alan Jay Lerner.
Cover illustration: Al Hirschfeld.
New York: Chappell & Co., Inc.
Sheet Music Collection

My Fair Lady established a long-standing record for its run, and introduced
to the musical stage the notion that non-singers could be viable performers
in a carefully constructed musical play. The play made a star of Julie
Andrews and gave Rex Harrison the crowning role of his career. The
period-flavored score included such notable songs as I've Grown Accustomed
to Her Face, Wouldn't It Be Loverly, and I Could Have Danced All Night.


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