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Show BoatPerforming Race in an American Musical$
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Todd Decker

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199759378

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199759378.001.0001

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A Ziegfeld Soprano and a Shubert Tenor

A Ziegfeld Soprano and a Shubert Tenor

(p.71) 4 A Ziegfeld Soprano and a Shubert Tenor
Show Boat

Todd Decker

Oxford University Press

The performers playing the six white leads in Show Boat exercised considerable influence over how Hammerstein and Kern wrote their roles. Draft scripts and other archival evidence demonstrate the power performers exercised over the process of making Show Boat in 1927. The vaudeville team of Eva Puck and Sammy White moved Ellie and Frank into a contemporary Twenties musical comedy idiom. Songs written specifically for operetta tenor Howard Marsh as Ravenal were substantially different in range and style from those composed before Marsh was cast, tilting the show towards operetta. Variety performer Norma Terris as Magnolia used her clout as a star to shape her character's vocal identity as a musical comedy role defined by white rather than black style.

Keywords:   Norma Terris, Howard Marsh, Charles Winninger, Edna May Oliver, Eva Puck, Sammy White, Jules Bledsoe, Sigmund Romberg, The Student Prince, Blossom Time

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