Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals are, well, as corny as Kansas in August. But is there anything better than some good old corn, every once in a while?
Richard Rodgers (music) worked with Lorenz Hart till Hart’s alcoholism disabled him. Oscar Hammerstein (lyrics) wrote hits like Show Boat with Jerome Kern, but jumped at the opportunity to partner with Rodgers. How successful was the Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration?
Oh, modestly succesful I think you could say. 34 Tony Awards, 15 Oscars, two Grammys, and even two Pulitzer Prizes. Before R&H teamed up, Broadway musicals were star vehicles for performers such as Fred Astaire. Plot was incidental. Beginning with Oklahoma, Rodgers and Hammerstein used the songs to further the story. It was a formula that was successful for such blockbuster plays and films as Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music.
And what songs they wrote! From Oklahoma: “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” “People Will Say We’re in Love,” and “Oklahoma!”…From Carousel: “If I Loved You,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” From South Pacific: “Bali Ha’i,” “This Nearly Was Mine,” and “Some Enchanted Evening.” From The King and I: “Getting to Know You,” and “Hello Young Lovers.” And from The Sound of Music: “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” and “Climb Every Mountain.”
Here’s a Web site you should know: http://www.locatetv.com/ Enter the name of one of the great R&H musicals, and you’ll find out if it’s going to be on your local cable system in the next two weeks. Find a show and prepare to be wowed. A couple of hours spent on a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is never wasted. Here’s Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner singing “Shall We Dance” from The King and I: