The songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein

Richard and Oscar

2023 is the 80th anniversary of the first musical of Rodgers and Hammerstein to reach Broadway. The original Broadway production of Oklahoma! opened on March 31, 1943.

I was reminded of this fact by Dave Kibbe, when he did a presentation of From Oklahoma to the Austrian Alps: The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein at the Albany Public Library on June 20.

Kibbe briefly touched on the music of Jerome Kern and Hammerstein, most notably Showboat (1927) and Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. The latter collaboration generated several shows, most of which I never hear of, save for Pal Joey. But I initially heard many of the songs of the duo because of the album The Supremes Sing Rodgers & Hart, which I still own on vinyl.

Oklahoma! (1943)

I first saw the 1955 film starring Gordon MacRae (husband of Sheila, father of Meredith) and Shirley Jones (mother of Shaun Cassidy, stepmom of David Cassidy) probably in the 1980s. Subsequently, I’ve watched a stage version.

Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’ – Gordon MacRae. I thought this could have been anywhere in the Midwest; corn that tall was probably in Nebraska or Iowa. But whatever. 

Kansas City – My wife and I have often cited the chorus. “They’ve gone as fur as they can go.” (I’m also inclined to say about some minor flaw, “It’s a scandal! It’s a outrage.”)


Redux cast

Carousel (1945)

My mother had the soundtrack of the 1956 movie, again starring MacRae and Jones, which I have never seen, but I so remember the album cover. Only in the past decade have I watched a stage presentation.

If I Loved You– Robert Goulet. Kibbe pointed out that Hammerstein often used the indirect approach to love, going back to his period with Kern. It occurred to me that the Beatles also used this device (If I Fell, If I Needed Someone).  

Soliloquy– Frank Sinatra. This is the first version I ever heard.

You’ll Never Walk Alone. I heard this covered a lot on variety shows.- 

State Fair (1945 film)

This was a remake of a 1933 non-musical film. The musical was remade in 1962, and not well-received. I saw that version in the cinema around that time. The show finally reached Broadway in 1996.

Our State Fair, which I remember from the ’62 film

It Might As Well Be Spring– Julie Andrews. Kibbe used this, even as he mused why it appears on Andrews’ “Greatest Christmas Songs.”

Allegro (1947)

I’m not familiar with this.

Based on the book by Michener

South Pacific (1949)

I saw the 1958 movie version likely in the 1970s. In 2010, it was performed at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady; we were way up in the balcony, suboptimal for my enjoyment; here’s a newspaper review.

Some Enchanted Evening– Brian Stokes Mitchell (2013). IDK who Sam and Janet Evening are.

I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair– Kelli O’Hara (2008 New Broadway Cast Recording). Used in a series of Clairol commercials as  “Wash That Gray Right Outta of My Hair”

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught – James Taylor (2020). I always thought some of the versions of this song were too damn cheerful. 

The King and I (1951)

As is often the case, I saw the movie, which came out in 1956, at some undetermined time as an adult. The musical I saw at Proctors in May 2018, and I remember liking it very much. Here’s a  review.

Me and Juliet (1953)

I don’t know this show.

No Other Love – Perry Como, a #1 song the year I was born

Pipe Dream (1955)

Another show I don’t know.

Fairy tale

Cinderella (1957 television)

My introduction to this story was the 1965 TV version starring Lesley Ann Warren, which I loved, though Kibbe wasn’t a fan.

It wasn’t until far later that I even knew that there was an earlier iteration, this one starring  Julie Andrews. Given the vagueries of counting television viewers in those days, it MAY have had more viewers than the final episode of MASH. We have since gotten it on DVD.

I also watched the 1997 TV version starring Brandy. The show finally made it to Broadway in 2013.

The Prince Is Giving A Ball – Robert Penn and ensemble (1957)

In My Own Little Corner -Lesley Ann Warren

Impossible/It’s Possible – Whitney Houston and Brandy

Flower Drum Song (1958)

I’d heard the title, but I’ve never seen the musical or the 1961 film.

Sound of Music (1959)

My mother owned the soundtrack to the 1965 movie, which I loved. Yet I never saw the film until the 2010s with my wife and daughter.

Morning Hymn/Alleluia – the nuns. I LOVE Morning Hymn

The Sound of Music – Julie Andrews. What an opening shot!

Climb Every Mountain – Audra McDonald at the Kennedy Center n January 2019. She performed it during the 2013 live television event.

Edelweiss (reprise)- Christopher  Plummer, Julie Andrews, et al. “The great popularity of the song has led many of its audience to believe that it is an Austrian folk song… This was the final song of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical collaboration as well as the last song written by Oscar Hammerstein II, who died in August 1960.”VERY affecting.

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