Broadway: The American Musical: Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ (1943-1960)
Airs Friday, April 26, 2013 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV
Originally published November 7, 2012 at 2:42 p.m., updated April 2, 2013 at 3:32 p.m.
This six-part documentary series chronicles the Broadway musical throughout the 20th century and explores the evolution of this uniquely American art form. The series draws on a wealth of archival news footage, lost and found television moments, original cast recordings, still photos, feature films, diaries, journals, intimate first-person accounts and on-camera interviews with many of the principals involved in creating the American musical. 2005 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. It originally aired on Fridays, November 2-16, 2012 on KPBS TV.
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Episode Four: "Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin' (1943-1960)" - The new partnership of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II changes the face of Broadway forever, beginning with the record-breaking "Oklahoma!" in 1943, featuring a landmark ballet by Agnes De Mille.
"Carousel" and "South Pacific" then set the standard for decades to come by pioneering a musical in which story is all-important. For challenging the country to confront its deep-seated racial bigotry, "South Pacific" wins the Pulitzer Prize.
“Cole Porter led the way in writing adult songs about love and sex,” says theater historian Robert Kimball. “He defied the censors. He, probably more than any other songwriter in this century, made it possible for the openness that we have in all popular music.”
In 1956, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe triumph with "My Fair Lady," featuring an 18-year-old Julie Andrews. TV’s “The Ed Sullivan Show” becomes the most important showcase for Broadway musicals.
The episode features interviews with actor Julie Andrews, writer/lyricist Betty Comden, choreographer Agnes De Mille, writer/lyricist Adolph Green, Oscar Hammerstein’s grandson Andy Hammerstein, choreographer Michael Kidd, author James Michener, theater historian Steve Nelson, musician John Raitt, choreographer Jerome Robbins, Richard Rodgers’ composer/daughter Mary Rodgers and conductor Michael Tilson-Thomas.
Highlights include never-before-broadcast footage of Jerome Robbins’ choreography for "On the Town," 1960 TV footage of Rex Harrison re-enacting “I’m an Ordinary Man” from "My Fair Lady," and the first American broadcast of 1950 footage of the original "Guys and Dolls" cast performing in London.