RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN: THE SOUND OF AMERICAN MUSIC (TV)

Summary

Hosted by celebrated performer Mary Martin, this documentary explores the collaborative work of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II, focusing on the stage and screen productions of "Oklahoma!," "Carousel," "South Pacific," "The King and I," and "The Sound of Music." Interspersed with clips from each of the musicals are interviews with colleagues, performers, and family members, including Rodgers's wife, Dorothy, and daughter Mary, and Hammerstein's wife, Dorothy, and son William. Also included is archival footage of interviews with Rodgers and Hammerstein on such topics as the unorthodox staging of the opening number of "Oklahoma!"; the disagreements about the ending of "Carousel"; pressure to cut the song "Carefully Taught" from "South Pacific" because of its message about racism; and the complexity of the King's character in "The King and I." Discussing "Oklahoma!" are performers Alfred Drake, Gordon MacRae, Joan Roberts, Shirley Jones, and Celeste Holm, as well as director Rouben Mamoulian and choreographer Agnes De Mille. They comment on such topics as the disastrous New Haven opening, the addition of the song "Oklahoma!" after the opening, and the show's influence on modern American musicals. Discussing "Carousel" are actor John Raitt, Mamoulian, MacRae, and Jones. They talk about the unknown Raitt winning his first role; Jan Clayton, the original Julie; and the depth of Julie's character in comparison with that of the Laurey character in "Oklahoma!" In a discussion of "South Pacific," Martin, director Joshua Logan, and James A. Michener, author of the original book "Tales of the South Pacific," recall opening night in New Haven and the controversy over the show's message against prejudice. Broadway and film star Yul Brynner discusses Martin's influence in his being cast as the King in "The King and I"; Gertrude Lawrence, who originated the role of Anna and influenced Rodgers and Hammerstein to write the show; and why the King's death was necessary to the plot. Martin and Theodore Bikel sing "Edelweiss" from "The Sound of Music" and are joined by film director Robert Wise to discuss how Bikel was chosen for the role of Captain Von Trapp in the stage version; the whistle-blowing scenes and working with the children; Zsa Zsa Gabor's reaction to the play; and the choice of Julie Andrews for the female lead in the film version. In other highlights, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber discusses how Rodgers's melodies influenced his work; Martin talks about "Flower Drum Song"; De Mille discusses Jerome Robbins's choreography in "The King and I"; and Martin Charnin talks about the song "Shall We Dance?" Performance clips include Raitt singing the "Soliliquy" and Clayton and Raitt singing "If I Loved You" from the stage version of "Carousel"; black-and-white footage of Martin singing "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy" accompanied by Rodgers on piano, and on stage with "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair;" Ezio Pinza singing "Some Enchanted Evening"; "I Enjoy Being a Girl" from "Flower Drum Song"; a recording of Lawrence singing "I Whistle a Happy Tune," accompanied by archival photos; and Brynner in a stage performance of the song "A Puzzlement."

Acquisition and cataloging of this program was made possible by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Details

  • NETWORK: PBS WNET New York, NY
  • DATE: March 16, 1985 Saturday 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:24:25
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:25081
  • GENRE: Arts documentaries; Music
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Composers; Music - Analysis, appreciation; Music, popular (songs, etc.); Musical revues, comedies, etc.
  • SERIES RUN: PBS - TV, 1985
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

  • Stephan Chodorov … Executive Producer
  • John Musilli … Executive Producer, Director
  • JoAnn G. Young … Producer, Writer
  • Glenn DuBose … Coordinating Producer, Direction (Misc.), California segments directed by
  • John C. Walker … Music (Misc. Credits), Music Consultant
  • Mary Martin … Host
  • Richard Rodgers … Composer
  • Hammerstein, Oscar, II … Lyricist
  • Julie Andrews
  • Theodore Bikel
  • Yul Brynner
  • Martin Charnin
  • Jan Clayton
  • Alfred Drake
  • de Mille, Agnes
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • Dorothy Hammerstein
  • William Hammerstein
  • Celeste Holm
  • Shirley Jones
  • Gertrude Lawrence
  • Lloyd Webber, Andrew
  • Joshua Logan
  • Gordon MacRae
  • Rouben Mamoulian
  • James A. Michener
  • Ezio Pinza
  • John Raitt
  • Jerome Robbins
  • Joan Roberts
  • Dorothy Rodgers
  • Mary Rodgers
  • Robert Wise
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