The premiere of this educational public affairs series that traces the origins and development of the American musical theater and examines the careers and contributions of the creative artists who have made the musical a native American art form. In an informal workshop setting, New York City high school students meet the composers, lyricists, and performers who have shaped the American musical and question them about their work. In this edition, the series' premiere, host Jim Morske examines the early days of musical theater through vaudeville, the extravaganza, burlesque, and musical farce. The program opens with the CBS Orchestra playing the overture to "My Fair Lady" as an example of the modern musical, after which Jack Russell and Jacquelynne Moody evoke the leisurely, sentimental and naive mood of mid-nineteenth century theater with "Little Annie Rooney," "East Side, West Side," and "A Bicycle Built for Two." Following some still photos of Victorian New York, Morske explains the influence of Tony Pastor in cleaning up and popularizing burlesque for family audiences, and Ned Harrigan and Tony Hart's famous "Mulligan Guard" plays. Next, Morske discusses the important aspects of the sentimental ballads of the period, specifically, simple lyrics, a waltz rhythm, and a sweet melody, which are demonstrated by Russell in "The Little Lost Girl" and Moody in "My Mother Was a Lady." The CBS Orchestra plays a popular barbershop quartet ballad from that era, "Sweet Adeline," and Moody and Russell sing "Strolling Through the Park One Day" to showcase ballads of a lighter nature. After the audience participates in a rendition of "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay," Morske reads from Charles M. Barras's play, "The Black Crook," to illustrate its outrageous plot, typical of the extravaganzas of the late nineteenth century. Morske defines the original meaning of the term "burlesque," and Russell sings "After the Ball," a tremendously popular sentimental ballad that had its origins in the musical farce "A Trip to Chinatown." The program closes with the audience singing "The Band Played On" as accompanied by the CBS Orchestra.

Cataloging of this program was made possible by a grant from the GRAMMY Foundation.


  • DATE: November 15, 1959 Sunday 12:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:28:42
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:55201
  • GENRE: Music
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Music, popular (songs, etc.)
  • SERIES RUN: WCBS (New York, NY) - TV series, 1959-1965


    • Ned Cramer … Producer
    • Ethel Burns … Associate Producer, For the Board of Education
    • Martin Carr … Director
    • Alfredo Antonini … Conductor
    • CBS Orchestra, The … Music Group
    • Jim Morske … Host
    • Jacquelynne Moody … Guest, Singer
    • Jack Russell … Guest, Singer
    • Charles M. Barras
    • Ned Harrigan
    • Tony Hart
    • Tony Pastor