Monday Open Thread | American Musicals: Rodgers & Hammerstein Week

There would be no American Musical Theater without Rodgers & Hammerstein.


Richard Rodgers (1902–1979) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1895–1960) were an influential, innovative and successful American musical theatre writing team, usually referred to as Rodgers and Hammerstein. They created a string of popular Broadway musicals in the 1940s and 1950s, initiating what is considered the “golden age” of musical theatre.[1] With Rodgers composing the music and Hammerstein writing the lyrics, five of their Broadway shows, Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I and The Sound of Music, were outstanding successes, as was the television broadcast of Cinderella. Among the many accolades their shows (and film versions) garnered were thirty-four Tony Awards,[2] fifteen Academy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, and two Grammy Awards.

Their musical theatre writing partnership has been called the greatest of the 20th century.[3]

Previous work and partnerships

Prior to their partnership, both Rodgers and Hammerstein achieved success independently. Rodgers had collaborated for more than two decades with Lorenz Hart. Among their many Broadway hits were the shows A Connecticut Yankee (1927), Babes in Arms (1937), The Boys from Syracuse (1938), Pal Joey (1940), and By Jupiter (1942), as well as many successful film projects.[4]

Hammerstein, a co-writer of the popular Rudolf Friml 1924 operetta Rose-Marie, and Sigmund Romberg operettas The Desert Song (1926) and The New Moon (1928), began a successful collaboration with composer Jerome Kern on Sunny (1925), which was a hit. Their 1927 musical Show Boat is considered to be one of the masterpieces of the American musical theatre.[5] Other Hammerstein/Kern collaborations include Sweet Adeline (1929) and Very Warm for May (1939). Although the last of these was panned by critics, it contains one of Kern and Hammerstein’s best-loved songs, “All the Things You Are”.[6]

By the early 1940s, Hart had sunk deeper into alcoholism and emotional turmoil, and he became unreliable, prompting Rodgers to approach Hammerstein to ask if he would consider working with him.[7]




Independently of each other, Rodgers and Hammerstein had been attracted to making a musical based on Lynn Riggs’ stage play Green Grow the Lilacs. When Jerome Kern declined Hammerstein’s offer to work on such a project and Hart refused Rodgers’ offer to do the same, Rodgers and Hammerstein began their first collaboration. The result, Oklahoma! (1943), marked a revolution in musical drama. Although not the first musical to tell a story of emotional depth and psychological complexity, Oklahoma! introduced a number of new storytelling elements and techniques. These included its use of song and dance to convey plot and character rather than act as a diversion from the story and the firm integration of every song into the plot-line.

Oklahoma! was originally called Away We Go! and opened at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven in March 1943. Only a few changes were made before it opened on Broadway, but three would prove significant: the addition of a show-stopping number, “Oklahoma!”; the deletion of the musical number “Boys and Girls Like You and Me”, which would soon after be replaced with a reprise of “People Will Say We’re in Love”; and the decision to re-title the musical after the song.

The original Broadway production opened on March 31, 1943, at the St. James Theatre. Although the typical musical of the time was usually written around the talents of a specific performer, such as Ethel Merman or Fred Astaire, no stars were used in the production. Ultimately the original cast included Alfred Drake (Curly), Joan Roberts (Laurey), Celeste Holm (Ado Annie), Howard Da Silva (Jud Fry), Betty Garde (Aunt Eller), Lee Dixon (Will Parker) and Joseph Bulloff (Ali Hakim). Marc Platt danced the role of “Dream Curly”, and Katharine Sergava danced the part of “Dream Laurey”. In Oklahoma!, the story and the songs were considered more important than sheer star power. Nevertheless, the production ran for a then-unprecedented 2,212 performances, finally closing on May 29, 1948. Many enduring musical standards come from this show, among them “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'”, “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top”, “I Cain’t Say No”, the aforementioned “People Will Say We’re in Love”, and “Oklahoma!”.


In 1955 it was made into an Academy Award-winning musical film, the first feature shot with the Todd-AO 70 mm widescreen process. The film starred Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones, and its soundtrack was #1 on the 1956 album charts.[8][9]



Rodgers and Hammerstein re-worked the musical theatre genre. Early 20th-century musicals, except for the Princess Theatre musicals and a few important examples like Hammerstein and Jerome Kern’s Show Boat, were usually whimsical or farcical, and usually built around a star. Because the efforts of Rodgers and Hammerstein were so successful, many musicals followed that contained thought-provoking plots with mature themes, and in which all the aspects of the play, dance, song, and drama, were combined in an integrated whole. Stephen Sondheim has cited Rodgers and Hammerstein as having had a crucial influence on his work. [17]


Rodgers and Hammerstein also use the technique of what some call the “formula musical”. While some hail this approach, others criticize it for its predictability. The term “formula musical” may refer to a musical with a predictable plot, but it also refers to the casting requirements of Rodgers & Hammerstein characters. Typically, any musical from this team will have the casting of a strong baritone lead, a dainty and light soprano lead, a supporting lead tenor, and a supporting alto lead. Although there are exceptions to this generalization, it simplifies the audition process, and gives audiences an idea of what to expect vocally from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. However, this formula had been used in Viennese operetta, such as The Merry Widow.


William A. Everett and Paul R. Laird wrote that Oklahoma!, “like Show Boat, became a milestone, so that later historians writing about important moments in twentieth-century theatre would begin to identify eras according to their relationship to Oklahoma!”[18] In The Complete Book of Light Opera, Mark Lubbock adds, “After Oklahoma!, Rodgers and Hammerstein were the most important contributors to the musical-play form – with such masterworks as Carousel, The King and I and South Pacific. The examples they set in creating vital plays, often rich with social thought, provided the necessary encouragement for other gifted writers to create musical plays of their own.”[3]

In 1950, the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein received The Hundred Year Association of New York’s Gold Medal Award “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York.” In addition to their enduring work, Rodgers and Hammerstein were also honored in 1999 with a United States Postal Service stamp commemorating their partnership.

The Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City is named after Rodgers. Forbes named Rodgers and Hammerstein second on its list of top-earning dead celebrities in 2009 at $235 million.[19]


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29 Responses to Monday Open Thread | American Musicals: Rodgers & Hammerstein Week

  1. rikyrah says:

    A Major Blow to Voting Rights in Wisconsin
    Ari Berman on September 12, 2014 – 11:31 PM ET

    Late Friday afternoon, a panel of Democrat-appointed judges on the Sixth Circuit upheld a preliminary injunction from a Democrat-appointed district court judge striking down Ohio’s cuts to early voting. Two hours earlier, however, a trio of Republican-appointed judges on the Seventh Circuit overturned an injunction from a Democratic judge blocking Wisconsin’s voter ID law.

    This is why elections matter. And the courts are increasingly becoming the arbiters of who does and does not get to participate in them.

    In May, Wisconsin district court Judge Lynn Adelman issued a strong decision invalidating the state’s voter ID law. Three hundred thousand registered voters in Wisconsin did not have a government-issued ID, Adelman found, and those without ID were disproportionately black and Hispanic. Wisconsin presented no evidence of voter fraud to justify the burdens of the new law.

    The court axed Adelman’s ruling just hours after hearing the appeal, in a swift and stunning decision that allows Wisconsin to immediately implement its controversial law less than two months before the midterms.

    The court’s one-page opinion said:

  2. rikyrah says:

    Jamison Foser @jamisonfoser

    93 percent of FL Gov Rick Scott’s appointees to district courts of appeal are white.
    9:12 AM – 15 Sep 2014

  3. rikyrah says:

    Wesley Lowery ✔ @WesleyLowery

    The St. Louis County grand jury considering whether to charge Darren Wilson now has until January 7:
    7:13 PM – 15 Sep 2014

  4. Ametia says:

    Islamic State using leaked Snowden info to evade U.S. intelligence

    Disclosures from classified documents help terrorist group’s militants avoid detection

    A former top official at the National Security Agency says the Islamic State terrorist group has “clearly” capitalized on the voluminous leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and is exploiting the top-secret disclosures to evade U.S. intelligence.

    Bottom line: Islamic State killers are harder to find because they know how to avoid detection….

  5. Ametia says:

    The FCC has now received 3 million net neutrality comments

    The Federal Communications Commission has just released an updated count of how many comments it’s received on net neutrality — and the number completely blows the previous estimate out of the water.

    To date, the public has filed 3 million comments on the matter, the agency confirmed Monday. That’s more than double the last official count of 1.48 million — which itself was a substantial increase, attributed to last week’s Internet slowdown protests. The new figure also far surpasses the previous FCC comment record, which belonged to Janet Jackson for her infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction (Jackson’s momentary indiscretion was never the subject of an official FCC docket, so the net neutrality proceeding already made history as the most-commented-on docket weeks ago).

  6. rikyrah says:

    where are our cooning graphics.


  7. rikyrah says:

    Conservative Experiment Faces Revolt in Reliably Red Kansas

    SEPT. 14, 2014

    HUTCHINSON, Kan. — In his 40 years living in Kansas, Konrad Hastings cannot remember voting for a Democrat. He is the type who agonizes over big purchases, trying to save as much money as possible. He is against stricter gun laws, opposes abortion in most cases and prefers less government involvement in his life.

    But when he casts his ballot for governor in November, he plans to shun the leader of this state’s conservative movement, the Republican incumbent, Sam Brownback, and vote for the Democratic challenger.

    “He’s leading Kansas down,” said Mr. Hastings, 68, who said he voted for Mr. Brownback four years ago, when he easily won his first term. “We’re going to be bankrupt in two or three years if we keep going his way.”

    Voters like Mr. Hastings are at the heart of Mr. Brownback’s surprising fight for political survival.

    Although every statewide elected official in Kansas is a Republican and President Obama lost the state by more than 20 points in the last election, Mr. Brownback’s proudly conservative policies have turned out to be so divisive and his tax cuts have generated such a drop in state revenue that they have caused even many Republicans to revolt. Projections put state budget shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, raising questions of whether the state can adequately fund education in particular.

  8. rikyrah says:

    Largest City In Vermont Now Gets All Its Power From Wind, Water And Biomass

    by Ari Phillips Posted on September 15, 2014 at 10:16 am

    The 42,000 people living in Burlington, Vermont can now feel confident that when they turn on their TVs or power up their computers they are using renewable energy. With the purchase of the 7.4 megawatt Winooski One hydroelectric project earlier this month, the Burlington Electric Department now owns or contracts renewable sources — including wind, hydro, and biomass — equivalent to the city’s needs.

    “We’re now in a position where we’re supplying Burlington residents with sources that are renewable,” said Ken Nolan, manager of power resources for Burlington Electric Department, earlier this month. “The prices are not tied to fossil fuels — they’re stable prices — and they provide us with the flexibility, from an environmental standpoint, to really react to any regulation or changes to environmental standards that come in the future.”

    According to Nolan, the utility will get about one-third of its power from the Joseph C. McNeil Generating Station, one-third from wind energy contracts, and one-third from the hydroelectric stations Winooski One and Hydro-Québec. The McNeil power station is a biomass facility that primarily uses wood chips from logging residue leftover from the harvesting of wood for other products.

    Vermont has a statewide goal of getting 90 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, including electricity, heating, and transportation. Christopher Recchia, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service, told the Associated Press that Burlington’s achievement shows that they’re able to make this transition cost-effectively and “in a way that makes Vermonters really positioned well for the future.”

  9. rikyrah says:

    Dead Children And A Deadbeat Dad: Mark Sanford’s Sad, Sleazy Divorce Hearing Transcript (EXCLUSIVE, FOR REAL)
    by Kaili Joy Gray

    Sep 14 12:28 pm 2014
    In a post-divorce family court hearing transcript obtained by Wonkette, we learn even more sordid details about South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford and his divorce from ex-wife Jenny, including:
    •That Mark was a deadbeat dad who was found in contempt of court for his refusal to make his court-ordered child support payments;
    •that the previously unexplained prohibition against Mark flying airplanes at children arose because “crazy cousin” John played “chicken” by flying an actual passenger airplane at the Sanford kids;
    •that Mark and his ex-wife’s primary concern, following the deaths of TWO kids who drowned at Coosaw Plantation, the Sanford family farm, was not about making the farm safer, but rather, protecting their financial assets in case any more kids died there;
    •Mark repeatedly offered to get back together with his ex, while he was still banging his Argentine lover.
    •Mark’s needless lie about legal representation.


  10. rikyrah says:

    Twelve year old girl was mistaken for prostitute. Four plainclothes officers beat her with flashlights, leaving her in the hospital; Later arrested at school for resisting and assault on a PEACE officer…

    Posted by Luke Rudkowski on September 14, 2014


    responding to a call that three white prostitutes were working Milburn’s neighborhood. The girl’s mom sent her outside to flip the switch on the breaker box because the house had lost power, the police spotted Dymond (not white) and jumped from the van and ran toward the girl. One cop said, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me!”

    The terrified girl grabbed onto a tree and shouted, “Daddy, Daddy!” The parents ran outside and saw their daughter hysterical and holding onto a tree with one arm, while the officers hit her in the back of the head, neck and throat with a flashlight and slapping her across the face, telling her to get off the tree.

    The girl required medical attention for head, back and throat pain, a sprained wrist, contusions and abrasions, black eyes, double vision, loss of hearing, nausea and vomiting, blood in her ear, and bled from the nose. She has since had behavioral problems, nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Three weeks later police arrested the girl at school for resisting and assaulting a PEACE officer. After three years and two mistrials, the DA finally dropped her case.

    “The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances,”

  11. rikyrah says:

    Viola Davis as You’ve Never Seen Her Before: Leading Lady!

    SEPT. 12, 2014

    “Even when I get the fried-chicken special of the day, I have to dig into it like it’s filet mignon,” Viola Davis said. She was speaking not of meals, but of roles. During her 30-year career as an actress, Davis has played a crack-addicted mother (“Antwone Fisher”), the mother of an abducted child (“Prisoners”) and the mother of James Brown (“Get On Up”). Her characters often serve to “hold up the wall” of the narrative, she said, like the empathetic best friend in “Eat, Pray, Love” or the kindly stranger in “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” Or the kindly mental-institution psychiatrist in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” the kindly rape-treatment counselor in “Trust” or the kindly medium in “Beautiful Creatures.”

    “I always got the phone call that said: ‘I have a great project for you. You’re going to be with, hypothetically, Vanessa Redgrave, Julianne Moore, Annette Bening,’ ” she said, sitting in the living room of her San Fernando Valley home, barefoot on the couch in a gray T-shirt and leggings, her hair wrapped under a black turban. “Then I get the script, and I have a role that lasts for a page or two.”

    Yet over and over again, Davis has made these marginalized characters memorable. She earned her first Oscar nomination for eight minutes of screen time as the mother of a possible victim of molestation in “Doubt.” Four years later, she spent months conceiving an intricate back story to enliven Aibileen Clark, a housemaid with a sixth-grade education, in “The Help.” Davis earned her second Oscar nomination but soon enough returned to playing yet another government functionary or military officer. “I have been given a lot of roles that are downtrodden, mammy-ish,” she said. “A lot of lawyers or doctors who have names but absolutely no lives. You’re going to get your three or four scenes, you’re not going to be able to show what you can do. You’re going to get your little bitty paycheck, and then you’re going to be hungry for your next role, which is going to be absolutely the same. That’s the truth.”

  12. Please help hold Ferguson PD accountable for Mike Brown murder & law violations.

    Officials in Ferguson have refused to comply with the law regarding the public’s rights to records. A Sunshine Law case to be filed will seek to not only obtain the records but to uphold the law and hold those officials to account. Your help is needed. Pls donate if you can. If not, pass the link along so others might be able to do so.

    Get Ferguson Police to Release All Public Records

  13. rikyrah says:

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointing fewer black judges than predecessors
    Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
    Sunday, September 14, 2014 9:00am

    TALLAHASSEE — After nearly four years, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed fewer African-Americans to Florida judgeships than either Charlie Crist or Jeb Bush did in the same period of time.

    Scott has appointed nine black attorneys to judgeships in nearly four years, according to data from his office. They include reappointments of three judges who hear job-related injury claims and four county judges who decide small claims and traffic cases.

    Only twice has Scott appointed black judges to the more prestigious trial court or circuit court, and both are in Miami-Dade County: Eric Hendon and Rodney Smith in 2012. Thirteen of Scott’s 14 choices for district courts of appeal judges are white and the other is Hispanic.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Florida congressman finds new ways to alienate women
    09/15/14 09:15 AM
    By Steve Benen

    This election season, there are really only a handful of House Republican incumbents who are in real trouble. Freshman Rep. Steve Southerland (R), who narrowly won in his North Florida district in 2012, is one of them.

    In a district in which registered Democrats outnumber Republicans, it seems Southerland would be smart to play it safe and try to avoid alienating key constituencies. And yet, the GOP congressman seems to have a knack for pushing women voters away.

    For example, Southerland was recently caught misleading voters about his vote on the Violence Against Women Act. Making matters worse, voters recently learned the conservative lawmaker hosted a men-only fundraising event a few months ago. The invitation, obtained by BuzzFeed, encouraged attendees to “tell the misses not to wait up” because “the after dinner whiskey and cigars will be smooth & the issues to discuss are many.”

    Southerland’s opponent, school administrator Gwen Graham (D), criticized the fundraiser, prompting the congressman made matters just a little worse.
    Asked to respond to the Democrats’ criticism that he’s anti-women, Southerland laughed and said: “I live with five women. That’s all I’m saying. I live with five women. Listen: Has Gwen Graham ever been to a lingerie shower? Ask her. And how many men were there?”
    He didn’t appear to be kidding. In Southerland’s mind, a sitting congressman hosting a policy discussion with donors is comparable to women hosting a “lingerie shower.”

    Just as an aside, I’ll confess to having the exact same reaction to this as the Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo: “What’s a ‘lingerie shower?’ Most people know what baby showers are. And a few are probably familiar with lingerie shows. To combine the two is kinda creepy.” When a reader noted that “lingerie showers” are usually held for brides to be, Caputo added, “And that makes Southerland’s comment even less helpful to his cause.”

  15. rikyrah says:

    Wisconsin voting restrictions cleared for 2014 cycle
    09/15/14 08:35 AM
    By Steve Benen

    In July, the Wisconsin Supreme Court narrowly endorsed an unnecessary voter-ID law, concluding that “voter fraud” is a legitimate “concern.” The ruling specifically pointed to a Republican voter in Milwaukee accused of 13 counts of voter fraud – none of which, ironically, would have been prevented by a voter-ID law.

    It was not, however, the final word on the subject. A parallel case was pending in the federal courts, though as Zack Roth reported, it didn’t go the way voting-rights proponents were hoping, either.
    A U.S. appeals court has ordered that Wisconsin’s voter ID law go into effect immediately, raising the prospect of chaos and confusion at the polls this fall.

    A three-judge panel made the ruling after hearing an appeal Friday by the state of Wisconsin. The ID law had been struck down by Judge Lynn Adelman in April, who ruled that it violated the Voting Rights Act’s ban on racial discrimination.

    “The panel has concluded that the state’s probability of success on the merits of this appeal is sufficiently great that the state should be allowed to implement its law, pending further order of this court,” the judges wrote.
    The three-judge panel on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was comprised on Judges Frank Easterbrook, Diane Sykes, and John Daniel Tinder – all three were appointed by Republican presidents. Their ruling overturns a district court from the spring that said “no rational person could be worried about” voter fraud at the polls.

  16. rikyrah says:

    John McCain is a Dangerous Radical
    by BooMan
    Sun Sep 14th, 2014 at 05:21:35 PM EST

    It should be obvious by now that John McCain wants to attack everyone, everywhere. In September 2013, Mother Jones made a map of the world showing that McCain has advocated attacking roughly half the Eastern Hemisphere’s land mass. Now he wants to attack basically everyone in Syria. Even the hawkish Jeffrey Goldberg thinks this is a bit much:

    McCain’s second criticism: Obama is not attacking the root cause of the Syrian war, which is the behavior of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its supporters in Iran. He said the U.S. should be bombing government targets at the same time it is bombing Assad’s Islamic State enemies. I, too, am dispositionally interventionist, but it seemed to me that McCain was outlining not only a formula for chaos, but also a program that could not possibly be sold to the American people.

    I asked him this question: “Wouldn’t the generals say to you, ‘You want me to fight ISIS, and you want me to fight the guys who are fighting ISIS, at the same time? Why would we bomb guys who are bombing ISIS? That would turn this into a crazy standoff.’ ”

    “Our ultimate job is not only to defeat ISIS but to give the Syrian people the opportunity to prevail as well,” McCain answered. “Remember, there are 192,000 dead Syrians thanks to Assad. If we do this right, if we do the right kind of training and equipping of the Free Syrian Army, plus air strikes, plus taking out Bashar Assad’s air assets, we could reverse the battlefield equation.”

    The U.S. could conceivably wage war on two fronts against two vicious parties that are also warring against each other, on a battlefield in which another set of America’s enemies — Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps — are also fighting. But this is a much too complicated mission for any post-Iraq War American president to prudently tackle, even a president not quite so reluctant as Obama.

    For those Americans who are moving toward McCain and away from Paul on crucial questions concerning the U.S.’s role in the world, I can’t imagine that they would be able to stomach such a war, either.

  17. Ametia says:


    At least one meal a week should taste good enough to be bad for you

    Margaret, I seem to be all over the map these days. Presidential politics, Texas politics, the immigration debate… But if I am going to be so stressed about politics, I need to balance things as I have always done…with food. And I know what people reading this are saying already: How unhealthy.

    Really? That’s what you say to someone well into her eighth decade? I’d say I’ve beaten those odds. And you all should see how much pie Margaret eats… and she’s thinner than a silver dollar. She looks like a zipper when she sticks out her tongue. Plus, she’s so tall if she fell down she would be halfway home. I love you honey, but eat a potato chip every now and then.

  18. rikyrah says:

    The 16 best places to see fall foliage

    Who just wants to stand around and watch the red and gold leaves slowly fall from their tree branches to the ground as we move from summer to fall? Instead, take in the changing seasons while you’re on the move.

    From hiking through Vermont’s North Woods to fishing in Michigan like a literary legend, we searched the country for the best spots to get the true autumn experience.

  19. Ametia says:

    These imbeciles right here:

  20. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  21. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! Rodgers & Hammerstein! YEAH just watch one of my all time favs FDS.

  22. Kathleen says:

    Richard Rodgers also composed a powerful score for Victory at Sea, a World War III TV documentary series about the war in the Pacific. I had forgotten about that until you posted this.

  23. I love Richard Rodgers’ melodies. They are absolutely memorable and singable. Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics, on the other hand, range from trite to corny to occasionally brilliant. Their musicals regularly feature high points buoyed up by a lot of crap.

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