Passed | | Biography, Musical
Biography of songwriter, Broadway pioneer, Jerome Kern. Unable to find immediate success in the USA, Kern sought recognition abroad. He journeyed to England where his dreams of success became real and where he met his future wife Eva.
The film features Angela Lansbury performing as a London music hall soubrette, swinging in a London vaudeville music hall production number. All of her previous MGM musicals had her singing performances dubbed. Sh convinced producer Arthur Freed (I) that she should do her own singing, as a London music hall soubrette, a light lyric soprano with a very youthful voice. Coloratura and soubrette are very closely related. A coloratura will have the flexibility and a few more usable notes on top, while a soubrette is required to have low A's. Her London music hall "swing" number was choreographed by Hermes Pan with a ton of dancing chorus boys, elaborate sets and costumes. She was 20 1945 when the sequence was filmed. Judy Garland at age 22 performed her "Till the Clouds Roll By" production numbers, directed and staged by her new husband Vincente Minnelli. There is only one MGM stage on the lot where the theatre scenes were always filmed. The stage, located in the middle of the lot, is on the main street dividing the lot in half. The elephant doors on this filming stage, centered in the sound stage exterior/interior wall, is raised off the main street approximately five feet off the street ground level (when it rained heavily,, this main street was a conduit for flash flooding because of the street's downhill grade, from the main gate to the back gate). This stage was the interior back wall of the raised theatre stage, where all musical stage production numbers were filmed. All scenery had to be loaded into the stage off trucks (scenery was usually built in the studio carpenter shop and mill). The stage had a complete counterweight pin rail system, with arbor pipes for stage lighting fixtures, hanging drops, scenery, drapery legs and borders, stage lighting, etc. The stage was 30 feet deep, with the front of the stage apron dropping into an orchestra pit. This interior four-foot-high raised stage floor with a centered stage pit, a floor pit cover, removable to configure for filming requirements of production numbers. In front of the footlights stage apron was another pit, with a floor pit cover, allowing for the orchestra-size area configuration as required, including allowances for a prompter's box position center stage, and for a conductor center podium position. The theatre's raised four feet high stage" had a stage pit for water sequences if needed. Normally studio lighting was carbon arc fixtures. Electric "stage lights" were used as set dressing on the stage arbor pipes, with carbon arc lamps hung on scaffolding over the set, actually lighting the production number. The other part-half of the stage was raised one foot off ground level, where a theatre audience area could be installed. The stage configuration had a frame for the stage proscenium, which could be re-configured scenically, to represent different styles of theatre prosceniums. The sides of the stage were wide enough for European-style theatre box seating, with a rear balcony over the raked main audience area, usually built for the theatre (stage) audience floor. Otherwise, the actual stage floor was level. The audience armchair seats were all arranged on rails for easy access to strike for camera positions. This also allowed aisles to be configured, either a center aisle down the middle or two aisles dividing the center seats and side seat flanks. The "studio theatre" never had an overhead ceiling. Should a ceiling be seen in the finished film, this was accomplished with a matte shot. Chandeliers could be hung for set dressing the theatre audience area. Every musical production number, supposedly in a theatre, showing an audience, with an orchestra, was filmed on this stage. When no film musical production numbers were being required for the stage's filming schedule, other productions used the stage for normal stage sets required for dramatic and comedy subject films. Stage scaffolding installed over the stage set were hung from the stage ceiling rafters.
James I. Hessler:
Don't waste your time fussing with those wheezy little tunes - think big. Try to be somebody.
When Kern goes to see Sally at Club Elite in Memphis, he hasn't written Show Boat yet. Therefore, it would be before 1927. However, the song she performs with Van Johnson, "I Won't Dance", wasn't written by Kern until 1935.
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