One Touch of Venus
a musical by S. J. Perelman and Ogden Nash based on 'The Tinted Venus' by F. Anstey.Lyrics by Ogden Nash. Music by Kurt Weill.
Produced at the Imperial Theatre, New York, 7th October 1943 with John Boles (Savory), Kenny Baker (Rodney), Mary Martin (Venus) and Paula Laurence (Molly). A film version was produced by Universal in 1948 with Tom Conway, Robert Walker, Ava Gardner, Eve Arden and Dick Haymes (Joe).
Whitelaw Savory, a wealthy art collector, is just installing in his museum a priceless 3000-year-old statue of Venus from Anatolia, which he has acquired partly because it reminds him of the girl in his life who got away. As his assistant Molly sings, 'One Touch Of Venus' can do things to a man. Savory is amazed that his barber Rodney Hatch prefers the charms of his fiancée and when Rodney is alone, he tries to prove that Gloria's fingers are more delicate than the statue by placing on its hand the engagement ring he has bought. A flash of light, a roll of thunder and Venus comes to life, released by the ring. She pursues Rodney, madly in love with her rescuer: he hides in his flat and sings 'How Much I Love You' to Gloria's photograph, but in vain - Venus arrives and continues her pursuit of him, flattening his inquisitive landlady in the process. She then wanders into the city to see whether people are still in love. Office workers stream out for their lunch break and in the 40 minutes for lunch she pairs off a boy and a girl for fun, then wanders through a shop window to try on a dress she fancies. Savory, seeing in her his lost love, rescues her, but she leaves him unhappy and alone to return to Rodney.
He, however, is having trouble with his suspicious Gloria and her nagging mother Mrs. Kramer, who have returned from a shopping expedition). Where is the ring? And who was the girl in his flat? Eventually he tells Gloria bluntly that he has given the ring to Venus.
Savory still believes that Rodney has stolen the statue and Mrs. Kramer confirms his suspicions, but before he can raid the barbershop, Venus arrives at his flat to tell him her woes. He advises her to eliminate her rival, then goes to Rodney's shop to find the statue. First he chats with Rodney then he and his detective trick Rodney and lock him in the cellar, and tie up Gloria who comes in, but they take flight when they hear another visitor, and dash off. It is of course Venus; she releases Gloria, but gets sworn at for her pains, so she spirits her off to the North Pole. After a tender reunion between Venus and Rodney, he inevitably gets arrested on suspicion of murdering the missing Gloria, but Venus accompanies him to jail!
Venus uses her powers to help Rodney escape from prison, while he helps protect her from a fierce Anatolian, who has come to get her back for 'her own people'. The two lovers spend a blissful night in a hotel. He is still worried that he is under suspicion of murder, so Venus brings Gloria back from the North Pole - but when Gloria sees them together, she swears at them and walks out of their lives forever. Now he is free, Rodney dreams of his future happiness with Venus, in the suburbs of Ozone Heights, but she realises that this is not the life for a goddess and transforms herself back to the statue, on her museum pedestal.
Poor Rodney - all seems lost. But, as he stands gazing at Venus and softly singing 'Speak Low', a young girl comes in, to enrol for an art class at the museum. And she comes from Ozone Heights and she looks exactly like Venus - so The Goddess of Love has not forgotten Rodney and it is natural that he and the girl walk off together as the curtain falls.
- WHITELAW SAVORY - A forceful operator and over-lifesize enthusiast, for contemporary art and for his Venus, to help him recapture the love of his young life. (Baritone)
- MOLLY GRANT - She is very much the little helpmate, but witty and pert - which Savory appreciates. (Mezzo-soprano)
- RODNEY HATCH - The typical 'little' man, pre-destined for a hen-pecked suburban existence. Events move so fast that he hardly gets a chance to enjoy his whirlwind romance with the divine Venus. (Tenor)
- VENUS - Passionate and serious about her love for Rodney, and not afraid to continue using her divine powers, she still draws back at the prospect of committing herself to the humdrum existence of humankind. (Mezzo-soprano)
- GLORIA KRAMER - A compendium of all the least attractive characteristics of the wedding-bound young woman. (Mezzo-soprano)
- MRS. KRAMER - A model for her daughter - and the worse for that. (Mezzo-soprano)
- ZUVETLI - The "unconstructed Anatolian" - a caricature of the typical Middle Eastern Balkan bandit. (Speaking role)
Reed 1: Clarinet, Alto Sax
Reed 2: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Sax,
Tenor Sax, Flute, Piccolo
Reed 3: Clarinet, Alto Say, Tenor Sax, Flute,
Reed 4: Clarinet, Tenor Sax, Flute, Piccolo
3 Trumpets, Trombone
Timpani & Percussion