Musicals Thread (Rodgers & Hammerstein)

Welcome! The purpose of this thread is to talk about all things related to the wonderful world of musical theatre. Each week (or so) I will post a thread with a topic/question for everyone to respond to. This is also a great place to mention any new musicals you’ve discovered and/or general recommendations for other musical fans. Heard/seen any good shows lately? Have any theatre news to share? Tell us about it!

This week we have another subject brought to you by Bfth! As always, if you’re interested in writing anything for the thread, let me know! The subject for this week is Rodgers and Hammerstein!

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II are often considered to be the driving force behind the “golden age” of the Broadway musical. Both had written successfully with other partners: Rodgers with Lorenzo Hart (Babes in Arms, Pal Joey) and Hammerstein with Jerome Kern (Showboat) but then fate stepped in. Both wanted to create a musical based on the play Green Grow The Lilacs, but neither of their respective partners were interested. Thus a new partnership AND a new type of musical (in the form of Oklahoma!) was born!

Rodgers and Hammerstein would go on to create 11 musicals together. Probably best known (and most celebrated and revived) are Oklahoma! (originally titled “Away We Go”), Carousel (recently revived on Broadway with opera star Renee Fleming taking the role of Nettie Fowler), South Pacific (which won them a Pulitzer Prize for Drama; interestingly enough, the novel on which it is based, Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener also won the Pulitzer, but for Fiction), The King and I and The Sound of Music. Lesser known works include State Fair (which was the only time the duo wrote a musical specifically for film), Cinderella (which was written for television) and Flower Drum Song. The least successful of their collaborations include Allegro, Me and Juliet (which featured a show within a show) and Pipe Dream (based on John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, and is the only Rodgers and Hammerstein show that was a complete flop.)

[Here’s a fun clip from Cinderella during the 2013 Tony Awards!] 

The impact and influence Rodgers and Hammerstein had rings out to this day. Paul McCartney has said that when he and John Lennon started writing together their goal was to be the next Rodgers and Hammerstein. Stephen Sondheim considered Oscar Hammerstein to be his surrogate father, who influenced and helped him develop his love of musical theater and after the death of Hammerstein worked as a lyricist with Richard Rodgers on Do I Hear A Waltz?

The only Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that I have seen “live” in a theater was a high school production of Carousel, but I have seen the movie versions of South Pacific, The King and I and my all-time favorite, The Sound of Music (the last in an actual movie theater during one of its return runs.)  Someday I am hoping for a revival of The Sound of Music where I will actually have a chance to sit in the theater and see it performed as it was originally written.

What about all of you? Have you seen any Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals? Which ones would you most like to see one day? What are your favorite R&H shows? In other words, let’s talk about any and all things related to this iconic duo! Big thanks to Bfth for writing this up and sharing all of these interesting facts with us.