Fats Wallers' lost Broadway musical

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Mike Gebert

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Fats Wallers' lost Broadway musical

PostTue Dec 27, 2016 1:58 pm

http://www.city-journal.org/html/fats-w ... 14795.html

Though it’s natural to wonder about the role of racism here, Early to Bed’s obscurity owes principally to other factors. Chronicles of musical-theater history, like those of any art form, focus on what pushed the form forward, not the state-of-the-art also-rans. Broadway musicals were at the time produced almost as prolifically as movies; for every Show Boat, two or three bread-and-butter shows came and went, unremembered. That Early to Bed was one of these is a judgment that no one would consider unfair. Even the fanatic can draw a blank on the titles of unambitious productions of Early to Bed’s era, such as Beat the Band the year before or Follow the Girls the year after.

Further, the tradition of recording original-cast albums became standard practice only in the year that Early to Bed opened, and then only for the longest-running or most prestigious productions. This meant that in 1943, even a solid hit like Something for the Boys, with a Cole Porter score and starring Ethel Merman, was not recorded as an album. Scores survive for some of the unrecorded shows of the time; unfortunately, Early to Bed is not one of them. Sheet music for six of its 13 songs was published, but a few dozen bars of piano music are a pale reflection of how a song was performed on stage with an orchestra, elaborate musical arrangement, and choreography. The rest of the score exists only in fragments.

Yet these fragments reveal that Early to Bed was as musically delightful as we would expect material written by Waller at the height of his creative powers to be. The show represents a forgotten chapter in Waller’s life and creative output. It deserves to be revived by professionals devoted to making old musicals sing again.
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Donald Binks

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Re: Fats Wallers' lost Broadway musical

PostTue Dec 27, 2016 2:07 pm

Very interesting Mike. Another bit of knowledge has come my way. "Ain't Misbehavin'" was a made-up musical based around the music of "Fats" Waller. It's then a pity that one of his original works could not have been used instead - although I am not detracting from the made-up show.

From what I have seen of modern musicals, they are mostly a pale comparison to their forbears on the stage and I would take nearly any revival in place of having to endure another bout of something like "Wicked" - a show I could only last out the first half of. The sheer volume of noise and caterwauling masquerading as music got to me I'm afraid.
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