- Pipe Dream (musical)
caption= Album cover of 1955 Original Broadway Cast Recording
Oscar Hammerstein II
Oscar Hammerstein II
"Pipe Dream" is a musical with music by
Richard Rodgersand lyrics and book by Oscar Hammerstein II. Its conception is tied up with unrealized plans by other collaborators to make a stage musical based upon John Steinbeck's best-selling novel "Cannery Row". Steinbeck, who was writing the libretto for that work, discontinued, and instead began creating the story of a sequel novel, " Sweet Thursday". Rodgers and Hammerstein acquired rights to make a musical out of this story, under the title "Pipe Dream", which is a pun on one of the aspects of the stage decor -- an old boiler-pipe that becomes the abode of the lead female character.
Background and production
"Pipe Dream" premiered on Broadway on
November 30, 1955at the Shubert Theater. The director was Harold Clurmanand the choreographer was Boris Runanin. Among the leads were William Johnson as Doc, Judy Tyleras Suzy, and operatic soprano Helen Traubelas Fauna. The show marked also the Broadway debut of film actor George D. Wallace.
The original production closed on June 30, 1956, after a ran of eight months and 245 performances, thus having the shortest run of any Rodgers and Hammerstein show, and the nearest thing to a "flop" they ever wrote together. However, it was nominated for nine
Tony Awards, winning for Best Costume Design ( Alvin Colt), and the musical is still occasionally produced, as with [http://www.42ndstmoon.com/Schedule/pipedream2002.html 42nd Street Moon's presentation in 2002] .
In his autobiography,
Richard Rodgersintimated that if anything had doomed "Pipe Dream", it was the casting of Traubel. Rodgers himself took blame for miscasting her in the role of Fauna. Another factor that may have been decisive was that Rodgers himself was absent due to cancer surgery during much of the rehearsal/tryout period before the Broadway opening. Other reasons given for the musical's failure include the artistic incompatibility between the morally conservative Hammerstein and the cheerful amoralityof Steinbeck's characters.
According to the sleevenotes on the CD re-release of the original cast recording,
Julie Andrewsauditioned for "Pipe Dream", but was told by Richard Rodgers that she should pursue the other show she was being courted for at the time, i.e., " My Fair Lady". (Andrews did, and the role of Eliza Doolittle subsequently made her a star.)
In 1989, a few months before the death of
Jim Henson, it was announced that a film version of "Pipe Dream" was being considered as a vehicle for the Muppets. This wildly implausible decision (ultimately abandoned) was clearly prompted by the only Muppet-worthy detail of the show's original libretto: the fact that the main character lives inside a pipe.
"Pipe Dream" is a story about friendship and romance among people living around
Cannery Rowin Monterey, Californiashortly after World War II. The main characters are Fauna (owner of the Bear Flag Cafe); Doc, a marine biologist and Suzy, a runaway. With the help of the Mac and the boys (who live in the Palace Flophouse) and the other girls of the brothel, Suzy and Doc are brought together at the end by Fauna.
Hammerstein in his
librettotoned down the directness of Steinbeck's portrayal of the sexually "low" aspects of the story (and, of course, the language), but the import is still there. For instance, the first scene makes clear that females stay overnight at Doc's; the Bear Flag Cafe is still a brothel -- albeit not one presented explicitly.
* All Kinds of People - Doc and Hazel
* The Tide Pool "To Suzy" - Doc, Hazel and Mac
* Everybody's Got a Home But Me - Suzy
* All Kinds of People (Reprise) - Jim Blaikey
* A Lopsided Bus - Mac, Hazel, Kitty, Sonya and the Flophouse Gang
* Bums' Opera - Fauna, Joe, Pancho and the Flophouse Gang
* The Man I Used To Be - Doc and danced by Slim
* Sweet Thursday - Fauna
* Suzy Is a Good Thing - Fauna and Suzy
* All At Once You Love Her - Doc, Suzy and Esteban ;Act II
* The Happiest House on the Block - Fauna and Girls
* The Party That We're Gonna Have Tomorrow Night - Mac and the people of Cannery Row
* I am a Witch - Fauna, Agnes, Marjorie, Beulah and Mable
* Will You Marry Me? - Suzy, Fauna and Doc
* Thinkin - Hazel
* All At Once You Love Her (Reprise) - Fauna
* How Long? - Fauna, Doc, Flophouse Boys and Bear Flag Girls
* The Next Time It Happens - Suzy and Doc
* Sweet Thursday (Reprise) - Entire Company
* Finale - Entire Company
**Steinbeck, John. "Cannery Row" [and] "Sweet Thursday." Original illustrations by Peter Whiteman. Distributed by Heron Books. Published by arrangement with William Heineman, Ltd. Geneva, 1971.
**"Pipe Dream". Music by Richard Rodgers. Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. New York: Viking Press, 1956.
**"Pipe Dream": a musical play. Music by Richard Rodgers; book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein 2nd; based on the novel, "Sweet Thursday" by John Steinbeck; orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett; vocal score, edited by Albert Sirmay. New York: Williamson, 1956.
**"Pipe Dream": an original cast recording. Recorded on Dec. 4, 1955. Compact disc. BMI Classics / RCA Victor CD 09026-61481-2, 1993.
* McLellan, Dennis. (2005, July 27). "George D. Wallace, 88; Actor With Baritone Voice Had Film, TV and Broadway Roles". The Los Angeles Times
* [http://www.ibdb.com/production.asp?ID=2560 Internet Broadway Database listing]
* [http://rnh.com/show_detail.asp?id=PD Web page for the musical] at the [http://rnh.com Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization]
* [http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/steinbeck_studies/v015/15.2newfield.html Pipe Dream Memories] , by Anthony Newfield, in the journal " [http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/steinbeck_studies/ Steinbeck Studies] "
* [http://www.42ndstmoon.org/Schedule/pipedream.html Background on "Pipe Dream" on the 42nd Street Moon site]
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