The Probus Club of Stokesley and DistrictMinutes of the 342nd meeting held at 10.00 in Stokesley Town Hall on Tuesday17th May 2016: Speaker – Alan Curtis ‘Musical Theatre’
Alan Curtis worked in local operatic circles for about 40 years and performed as a solo singer in Redcar, Middlesbrough and Stockton. His talk was on the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Alan opened with his own rendition of "Oh! What a Beautiful Morning" receiving Probus applause. Oklahoma opened on 31st March 1943 at St James Theatre on Broadway with concern about the likelihood of success. Green Grow the Lilacs was the original base for the Musical. This was the start of a new partnership in the careers of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. Rodgers had formed a successful partnership with Lorenz Hart but their last hit show was in 1932. Alan played a recording of “People will say we're in love”.
The show ran for 5 years and 8 months with 2212 performances. It continued in 1947 with Howard Keel and ran for over 1500 performances. In 1952 it became a film production with an outstanding cast. Alan played "Oklahoma!"
Rodgers, 40 & Hammerstein, 47 had known each other for many years but started a music collaboration. Rodgers was born 12.7.1895 into a family with a long theatre history. Similarly, Hammerstein's grandfather started a family line in the theatre. Oscar was directed to study law for a legal career but abandoned this for music. He was employed as Assistant Stage Manager. In 1923 he joined a Group and Produced "Wild Flower". His many collaborations included Rose Marie and Show Boat in 1930. Alan highlighted "The last Time I saw Paris" and "The Folks who Live on the Hill" as classics. Hammerstein put out an advert of his failed
shows with the by-
Carousel played at the Majestic Theatre in 1945 opposite to the Oklahoma show. Alan played a clip from "June is busting out all over". This has been performed by Patricia Routledge and then Bryn Terfel. The show became a film in 1956 with Gordon Macrae and Shirley Jones. Frank Sinatra had been lined up to play the lead but was too busy with Ava ardner!!! Alan played "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Lesley Garrett. He performed in the Show in 1967 and on two more occasions in later years.
Richard Rodgers wrote his first song aged 14 and his first score and show aged 15. He started his collaboration with Hart aged 17 and this led to 25 year partnership. McKennar, Logan and Hayward approached Rodgers to write a show based on two stories and to be different from Madame Butterfly. He and Oscar Hammerstein came up with South Pacific. Alan then played "I'm as Corny as Kansas in August". The Show started on Broadway in 1949 with Mary Martin and in London in 1951. Mary washed her hair every
night on stage. Alan played "There is nothing like a Dame". The Film was made in 1958 inTodd AO with Rossano Brazzi, John Kerr and Bloody Mary all dubbed. Alan Played "Some Enchanted Evening". Alan appeared in a local production as "Stewpot". RR and OH were travelling the world for material and found the film ‘King of Siam’. Gertrude Lawrence urged them to write a Musical based on this, which became "The King and I".
Lawrence played Anna. Rex Harrison was not available, so the part went to an unknown actor; Yul Brynner. Alan played "Don't Cry Young Lovers". The show ran on Broadway for 1246 performances. It came to London in 1953 with Valerie Hobson and Herbert Lom, running for 926 performances. Alan played "Shall We Dance?" The Film followed with YulThe Probus Club of Stokesley and District Brynner. Gertrude Lawrence had died and Deborah Kerr got the role but was dubbed by Marie Nixon who also did the voice for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. The Film won 5 Oscars including one for Yul Brynner.
The next show was a Rodgers and Hammerstein adaptation -
Their final production was the result of many years’ work -
Alan appeared in a Middlesbrough Theatre production in 1976. Alan was married the same year and the couple named their house Edelweiss. The Show was the longest running to date. The film produced the bestselling album ever in the UK and the USA. Marie Nixon appeared as Sister Sophie. Alan played "Do, Ray, Me".
Cole Porter said of Rodgers and Hammerstein that they "had the greatest ever partnership".Critics described their work as "too much sweetness and light", which they and the public ignored.
Rodgers continued to work and in 1962 produced "No Strings". He died in 1979 aged 77. Stephen Sondheim had collaborated with Rodgers and paid tribute to his genius thanking him and Hammerstein for their music. Alan played "Climb Every Mountain". Alan received four curtain calls after all of the 'head nodding', 'foot tapping' and 'Probus singing' had decimated many great songs. He then responded to Members’ questions.