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Cover to original cast recordingALLEGRO

A musical play in two acts with book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, music by Richard Rodgers.

Opened at the Majestic Theatre, October 10, 1947 with John Battles (Joseph Taylor Jnr.), Annamary Dickey (Majorie Taylor), William Ching (Dr. Joseph Taylor), Roberta Jonny (Jennie Brinker), Lisa Kirk (Emily West and John Conte (Charlie Townsend).

Synopsis

This unique and intriguing musical portrays one man's life, from birth in 1905 until his thirty-fifth year. There are no stage sets in the conventional sense, and important use is made of the singing of the chorus, which sometimes acts as a "Greek Chorus", complementing and commentating on the action between the characters in the play, sometimes moving into the action as a conventional chorus and sometimes augmenting the ballet episodes of the score.

Story

Act I opens with the birth of Joseph Taylor, Jr., first child of Marjorie and Joseph, the small-town doctor. Little Joey's first sensations and experiences - recognising voices, holding a rattle, taking a spoonful of medicine, crying for attention, standing and then walking (ONE FOOT, OTHER FOOT) - are all presented in a light-hearted montage of dialogue and song, in which his parents and grandmother alternate with the chorus. Then, "all of a sudden", Grandma is gone and Joey's first emotional trial is on him. He makes friends as a toddler with next-door Jenny, and then she becomes his first date, and the agony of whether he dare kiss her is another emotional hurdle to jump.

Exterior lamp - American College of Surgeons - E Erie St
Exterior lamp, American College of Surgeons, E. Erie St.

Joe has graduated from high school and is off to college, determined to follow his father into the medical profession. On his last night before leaving for college, he overhears his parents' intimate conversation and realises - perhaps for the first time - both how much he means to them and how close they are to each other (A FELLOW NEEDS A GIRL).

At college, Joe experiences all the normal social trials - of homesickness, peer pressure, loneliness away from Jenny that turns to jealousy when she writes that her father, Ned Brinker, has taken her to Europe where she has met another boy, and then triumph when she returns and they find each other again (YOU ARE NEVER AWAY).

But her friends are now married and she is impatient at the idea of waiting years for a penniless doctor to establish himself. Her solution is to get her wealthy father to offer a position in his business to Joe. When Joe's mother finds this out she sees that Jenny is quite prepared to deprive Joe of his promising medical career in order to appease her own selfishness, and as a result she tells Jenny that she is not a suitable wife for her son. The strain of the situation causes Joe's mother to suddenly collapse and die from a heart attack. This tragedy removes the last major obstacle to Jenny and Joe getting married. Although both their families are strongly against the union, the ceremony goes ahead and we learn that Joe has scored a minor triumph by managing, in the face of opposition from Jenny and her relations, to hang on to his medical career.

Act II

Things have changed somewhat - the Depression has come, Jenny's father has lost his business and his fortune and is glad enough to live with his daughter and son-in-law, whom he now envies as a 'professional man who can earn a decent living'. Jenny and her friends envy the lifestyle of the people they see in the magazines (MONEY ISN'T EV'RYTHING). But Joe now has another conflict; he is offered a partnership in a wealthy Chicago practice, but it means moving and leaving his ageing father to manage the small-town practice alone. He succumbs to the temptation.

In Chicago, ambitious Jenny is in her element, hosting a cocktail party for rich and influential patients and hospital trustees, while Joe's lovelorn assistant Emily tries in vain to make him concentrate on his duties (THE GENTLEMAN IS A DOPE).

After a particularly ruthless ploy of 'hospital politics' by the Chief Physician Dr. Digby Denby, whose nephew Charlie is Joe's old philandering friend from medical school and has got him the job, Joe, Emily and Charlie comment on the rat-race ("ALLEGRO"). When Joe finds out that Jenny is cheating on him with Lansdale, the big-shot trustee, all seems lost and he hears the voices of his father and small-town friends calling him back (COME HOME). The ultimate conflict then confronts our hero: Lansdale offers him the post of Chief Physician at the new hospital. Joe's speech at the dedication ceremony is the turning point of his life, and he finds the courage to announce that he is not taking up the appointment, but returning home to be his father's assistant. Jenny is outraged, but Emily - and, to general amazement, Charlie - impulsively decide to join him.

Principal Characters

Musical Numbers

Act I

  1. Joseph Taylor, Jr. – Ensemble
  2. I Know It Can Happen Again – Grandma Taylor
  3. One Foot, Other Foot – Ensemble
  4. A Fellow Needs a Girl – Dr. Taylor and Marjorie Taylor
  5. Freshman Dance – Ensemble
  6. A Darn Nice Campus – Joe Taylor
  7. The Purple and the Brown – Ensemble
  8. So Far – Beulah
  9. You Are Never Away – Joe, Jenny Brinker and Ensemble
  10. What a Lovely Day for a Wedding – Ensemble
  11. It May Be a Good Idea for Joe – Charlie Townsend
  12. To Have and to Hold – Ensemble
  13. Wish Them Well – Ensemble

Act II

  1. Money Isn't Everything – Jenny and Other Wives
  2. Hazel Dances – Instrumental
  3. Yatata, Yatata, Yatata – Charlie and Ensemble
  4. The Gentleman Is a Dope – Emily
  5. Allegro – Charlie, Joe, Emily and Ensemble
  6. Come Home – Marjorie
  7. Finale: One Foot, Other Foot (Reprise) – Ensemble

Orchestration

Orchestration by Robert Russell Bennett

FLUTE db. PICCOLO
OBOE db. COR ANGLAIS
2 CLARINETS
BASSOON
2 HORNS
2 TRUMPETS
2 TROMBONES
TUBA
PERCUSSION
PIANO
STRINGS