January 16, 2012

Musical Monday: Bonanza Bound

Starting the week, we will feature a drawing of a musical every Monday.

We begin Musical Mondays with a decided thud. A very rare musical flop by the two and only Comden and Green. After their astonishing rise from cabaret to their first Broadway hit with a young Leonard Bernstein, On the Town, they followed with the tuneful if not very successful Billion Dollar Baby. In December 1947, 14 months after Hirschfeld, Perelman, Duke and Nash closed Sweet Bye and Bye in the same Shubert Theater in Philadelphia, Comden and Green opened in the same theater, Bonanza Bound with music by Saul Chaplin. Never heard of it? It closed one week later and the duo, like Hirschfeld and Perelman a year earlier, decamped to Hollywood. For Hirschfeld and Perelman it was the launching point of a round the world odyssey that resulted the best selling book, Westward Ha (or Around the World in 80 Clichés).Betty Comden and Aldolph Green stayed in the movie colony and wrote in quick succession Good News, the film version of On the Town, Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon, before returning to New York with their classic Wonderful Town and a nearly uninterrupted string of hits for the next four decadesincluding Peter Pan, Bells Are Ringing, Do Re Mi, Applause, and The Will Rogers Follies.

For Hirschfeld, his nine-month hiatus meant that he missed drawing the original casts of shows such as Finian’s Rainbow and Brigadoon. His first theater drawing upon his return was a triptych centered on The Heiress, written by his close friends, Ruth and Gus Goetz. He returned to his nearly every other week perch in the Times Drama section with drawings of Terrence Rattigan’s The Winslow Boy, Shaw’s Man and Superman with Maurice Evans, Katharine Cornell’s production of Antony and Cleopatra, Marucie Mosticovich in Shylock and His Daughterbefore closing out the year drawing his wife, Dolly Haas with Lillian Gish and John Gielgud in the stage adaptation of Crime and Punishment. Bonanza Bound was not Hirschfeld’s only theater advertising art in the waning months of 1947. He drew a design for the cover of Angels in the Wings starring Paul and Grace Hartman, and his Man and Superman drawing was later used to promote that production in New York and on tour.

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