Music & Lyrics
In this first volume of a lavishly produced two-volume collector’s edition, The Library of America presents eight enduring masterpieces charting the evolution of the musical from the groundbreaking Show Boat through the genre’s glorious mid-century. Based on new research, the complete libretto of each musical is presented in its Broadway opening night version, making these beloved cultural treasures available as never before. The texts are supplemented with additional song lyrics, biographical sketches of the musicals’ creators, original cast lists, detailed accounts of each show’s sources and production history, textual and explanatory notes, and full-color portfolios of illustrations featuring posters and photographs from each musical’s original Broadway run.
This volume gathers eight landmark musicals written by an astonishing roster of talents: Show Boat (1927) by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern, an epic work that revolutionized the musical form; As Thousands Cheer (1933) by Irving Berlin and Moss Hart—published here for the first time—a peerless example of the Broadway revue and a time capsule of the early Depression era; Pal Joey (1940) by John O’Hara, Richard Rodgers, and Lorenz Hart—in a newly restored text—with its sophisticated take on sex and ambition in a Chicago nightclub; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s triumphant Oklahoma! (1943), a celebration of the American heartland that signaled a major leap forward in the development of the book musical; On the Town (1944) by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Leonard Bernstein, the spirited tale of three sailors enjoying an unforgettable twenty-four-hour shore leave in “New York, New York”; Finian’s Rainbow (1947) by Fred Saidy, E. Y. “Yip” Harburg, and Burton Lane, an improbable fusion of Irish mythology, Jim Crow politics, and the economics of the atomic age; Kiss Me, Kate (1948) by Samuel and Bella Spewack and Cole Porter, which brushed up Shakespeare to an irreverent Broadway sheen, and won the first Tony Award for Best Musical; and South Pacific (1949) by Rodgers, Hammerstein, and Joshua Logan, a Pulitzer Prize–winning success that tapped into still-vivid emotions about the experience of World War II.
Laurence Maslon, editor, is an arts professor in the Graduate Acting Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He has written several books about musical theater and popular culture, including The South Pacific Companion, and co-wrote (with Michael Kantor) the companion volume to the Emmy-winning documentary Broadway: The American Musical. He is also the host of the weekly radio program Broadway to Main Street.
This Library of America series edition is printed on acid-free paper and features Smyth-sewn binding, a full cloth cover, and a ribbon marker.
Project support for this volume was provided by Mark Krueger Charitable Trust, the Susan & Elihu Rose Foundation, Roger Berlind, The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, the Cole Porter Musical & Literary Trusts, and Mary Rodgers Guettel.
American Musicals 1927–1949: The Complete Books and Lyrics of Eight Broadway Classics is kept in print by a gift from Candace Drake Wainwright to the Guardians of American Letters Fund, made in memory of her father Alfred Drake, who starred in the original Broadway productions of Oklahoma!; Kiss Me, Kate; Kismet; and Gigi.