Happy Talk -- R&H Autumn '95 Newsletter PART 1

Happy Talk -- R&H Autumn '95 Newsletter PART 1 Welcome to HAPPY TALK

Welcome to HAPPY TALK

NEWS OF THE RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN ORGANIZATION.

In our newsletter, devoted to the works of Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Lorenz Hart, Irving Berlin, and others, you will find information on upcoming Broadway and regional productions, new recordings, books, television specials and other current events.

Our newsletter is divided into two folders -- current issue and past articles; each its own listing of articles. We hope you enjoy.

If you have any comments, please direct them to: Editor, HAPPY TALK OnLine

The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization

1633 Broadway, Suite 3801

New York, NY 10019

But first, a bit about ourselves:

THE RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN ORGANIZATION

Founded by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II half a century ago to produce their own works, The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization (R&H) today administers and promotes entertainment copyrights, including theatrical, concert, and music publishing properties. Through its various divisions R&H represents Rodgers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin and works by Lorenz Hart, Kurt Weill, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sheldon Harnick, W. Somerset Maugham, Elvis Presley, and others. Under the leadership of Theodore S. Chapin, President and Executive Director, R&H employs a staff of 40 and is headquartered in New York's Broadway theatre district, with an annex in Chelsea.

When Richard Rodgers (1902-1979) and Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960) founded R&H, it was conceived as a producing organization for their own works, including SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, FLOWER DRUM SONG and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. By the mid '50s Rodgers & Hammerstein had acquired the rights to their first three musicals -- OKLAHOMA!, CAROUSEL, and ALLEGRO -- from those shows' original producers, the Theatre Guild, and in 1955 the team presented the film version of OKLAHOMA! R&H continues to be the exclusive owner of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical properties worldwide.

Rodgers & Hammerstein did not restrict their producing activities to their own works; in 1944 they presented John Van Druten's play I REMEMBER MAMA on Broadway and over the course of the next 15 years followed that with more than a dozen shows on Broadway, in London, and on national tours, including Irving Berlin's blockbuster ANNIE GET YOUR GUN (1946), a triumphant revival of Kern & Hammerstein's SHOW BOAT (1947), and plays by Anita Loos, John Steinbeck, Samuel Taylor and others.

Within the organization today, copyrights are administered by, respectively, Williamson Music, The R&H Theatre Library, and The R&H Concert Library.

* Williamson Music, the company's music publishing division, was founded in 1945 by Rodgers and Hammerstein (both sons of men named William), and brought in-house in 1988. Williamson Music (ASCAP) and R&H Music (BMI) currently represent such diverse catalogues as those of Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Irving Berlin, Elvis Presley, Andrew Lloyd Webber, T. S. Eliot, and Sheldon Harnick. Equally committed to nurturing new talent, their current rosters also include writers Ricky Ian Gordon and Lindy Robbins.

* The R&H Theatre Library licenses more than 3000 productions annually. In addition to the musicals of Rodgers & Hammerstein (OKLAHOMA!, CAROUSEL, SOUTH PACIFIC, THE KING AND I, CINDERELLA, FLOWER DRUM SONG, THE SOUND OF MUSIC and others), the Library represents works by Rodgers & Hart (including PAL JOEY, BABES IN ARMS, and ON YOUR TOES); Oscar Hammerstein II (SHOW BOAT, music by Jerome Kern; CARMEN JONES, music by Georges Bizet); Irving Berlin (ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, CALL ME MADAM, MISS LIBERTY); and Kurt Weill (STREET SCENE, LOST IN THE STARS, THE THREEPENNY OPERA). Other titles in the R&H Theatre Library catalogue include: the 1985 Tony Award winner, BIG RIVER; Andrew Lloyd Webber's SONG & DANCE; HEARTBEATS by Amanda McBroom; FOOTLOOSE, based on the popular film; Bock & Harnick's THE ROTHSCHILDS; Mary Rodgårs' ONCE UPON A MATTRESS; Randy Newman's MIDDLE OF NOWHERE; Duke Ellington's SOPHISTICATED LADIES; and RAGS by Charles Strouse, Stephen Schwartz and Joseph Stein.

* The R&H Concert Library licenses concert performances of the works of such renowned musical theatre composers as Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill and Cole Porter. The R&H Concert Library is also North American concert representative for the Warner/Chappell catalogue, which includes works by George and Ira Gershwin and Lerner & Loewe, and also features the scores to such film classics as GONE WITH THE WIND, ROBIN HOOD, STAR WARS and BATMAN.

From: HAPPY TALK, NEWS OF THE RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN ORGANIZATION *** Volume 3, # 1, Autumn 1995

ON HIS 100th BIRTHDAY, A HAMMERSTEIN PREMIERE

During SOMETHING WONDERFUL, the concert tribute to Oscar Hammerstein II held on the Broadway stage of SHOW BOAT on his 100th Birthday, host Ted Chapin introduced the SRO crowd to a Hammerstein premiere.

Chapin explained that, in 1994, archivists at the Library of Congress discovered among Hammerstein's collected papers a missing piece to a long-perplexing puzzle: the complete music and lyric manuscript for "Suddenly Lovely," a song written for Lt. Joe Cable in SOUTH PACIFIC and cut from the score. Years earlier, SOUTH PACIFIC director Joshua Logan had suggested that the melody from another cut song from SOUTH PACIFIC called "Suddenly Lucky" had provided the music for THE KING AND I's "Getting To Know You." However. when "Suddenly Lucky" turned up in the files, its lyrics did not fit the melody we have come to know. In '94, however, "Suddenly Lovely" was found and-voila-a perfect match.

The previously unpublished lyric to "Suddenly Lovely" follows. We present it to you as a historical anecdote finally corrected, and as another fascinating insight into the creative process of the Rodgers & Hammerstein collaboration.

Warning: do not interpolate this into your next production of SOUTH PACIFIC- "Younger Than Springtime" is far better!

Suddenly lovely,

Suddenly my life is lovely.

Suddenly living

Certainly looks good to me.

Suddenly happy

Suddenly my heart is happy,

Is it a girl?

Could be, could be!

Suddenly lovely

Suddenly to be together,

Suddenly sharing

Ev'rything we hear and see.

Suddenly won 'ring,

Suddenly I wonder whether

Are we in love forever and for good?

Are we happy as we could be?

Could be!

Lyric copyright 1994

Estate of Oscar Hammerstein II

Williamson Music. All rights reserved.

From: HAPPY TALK, NEWS OF THE RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN ORGANIZATION *** Volume 3, # 1, Autumn 1995

(STILL) CELEBRATING THE LORENZ HART CENTENNIAL

Last spring, in his hometown of Manhattan, Lorenz Hart's 100th birthday was celebrated in grand style with a gala soiree at Rainbow & Stars on May 2 during Mary Cleere Haran's opening night of her all-Hart program, followed later in the week by an acclaimed concert staging of PAL JOEY at City Center'sENCORES! series starring Patti LuPone, Peter Gallagher and Bebe Neuwirth. As the year continues, so does the party:

* In mid October, Da Capo Press published the first trade paperback edition OF THE COMPLETE LYRICS OF LORENZ HART, edited by Dorothy Hart, the Iyricist's sister-in-law, and musical theatre historian Robert Kimball. This newly revised and expanded edition features more than 40 sets of lyrics that have come to the editors' attention since the book was first published nine years ago. Among the newfound discoveries: early Hart translations from a 1916 German operetta, DIE TOLLE DOLLY, and three more lyrics from his final, never completed score, MISS UNDERGROUND, in 1943. In between, the peak of his career is represented with "lost lyrics" from PAL JOEY, ON YOUR TOES, AMERICA'S SWEETHEART, and MISSISSIPPI.

* On October 20 at Town Hall in New York, the Friday night performance of The Mabel Mercer Foundation's week-long cabaret convention was devoted entirely to Lorenz Hart. Produced and directed by David Staller. The sold out Hart-athon was hosted by Rodgers & Hart -- Richard's daughter Mary and Lorenz's nephew and namesake.

* Also in New York in October, Theatre-Off-Park began its extended series of Sunday/Monday night readings of Rodgers & Hart musicals. The first season, presided over by Artistic Director Albert Harris and musical director Jim Stenborg,opened I MARRIED AN ANGEL, to be followed by AMERICA'S SWEETHEART, TOO MANY GIRLS, HIGHER AND HIGHER and PEGGY-ANN.

* On November 13, Lorenz Hart was inducted into New York University's Musical Theatre Hall of Fame; other '95 inductees include Leonard Bernstein and Eubie Blake.

* More than 25 albums are currently available of Rodgers & Hart anthologies, cast albums and soundtracks. Among the very latest: Mary Cleere Haran's THIS FUNNY WORLD (Varese Sarabande), featuring her distinctive take on Hart standards and rarities...DRG Records' recording of PAL JOEY . . .and, upcoming, Dawn Upshaw's album of Rodgers & Hart standards, with musical direction by Eric Stern to be released by Nonesuch Records later this year.

Copyright 1995 The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. All Rights Reserved.

From: HAPPY TALK, NEWS OF THE RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN ORGANIZATION *** Volume 3, # 1, Autumn 1995

MUSICAL NOTES:

LIFE UPON THE WICKED STAGE: Tony winner Donna Murphy will be Anna Leonowens and Lou Diamond Phillips will be the King in the new Broadway production of THE KING AND I, produced by Dodger Productions with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, directed by Christopher Renshaw, with choreography by Jerome Robbins, musical staging by Lar Lubovitch, scenic design by Brian Thomson, costumes by Roger Kirk and lighting by Nigel Levings. THE KING AND I is scheduled to begin performances at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre in March.

Having played London and New York, The Royal National Theatre production of CAROUSEL is now touring Japan and its two alternating companies have each recorded their own Japanese-language cast albums, released in July by Toshiba/EMI). Across the globe, the U.S. national tour of CAROUSEL is scheduled to begin in Houston in January '96...

Rodgers & Hammerstein's CINDERELLA made her professional New York stage debut at the New York City Opera two seasons ago, and returned there November 9 to the l9th, directed and choreographed by Robert Johanson, with musical direction by Rob Fisher. The fairy tale cast included Jean Stapleton (as the wicked step-mother), Jone Powell (the Queen), George S. Irving (the King), Sally Ann Howes (the Fairy God-mother), and Rebecca Baxter as Cinderella.

Making the transition from screen to stage, The Theatre Guild's production of STATE FAIR began its U.S. national tour in Des Moines in August, during the Iowa State Fair, and is currently on a U. S. national tour. More on STATE FAIR in our next issue.

QUEENIE'S BALLYHOO: Gretha Boston, Queenie in the current Broadway production of SHOW BOAT, took home this season's Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and a Theatre World Award, just two of the sixteen trophies collected by SHOW BOAT this spring as the most honored show of the season. Other SHOW BOAT medals include 1995 Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Musical (Harold Prince), Best Choreography (Susan Stroman), Best Costumes (Florence Klotz) and Best Musical Revival-the second Hammerstein musical in as many years to receive that top prize (CAROUSEL took top honors in '94).

The Livent production of SHOW BOAT also received five Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Musical Production (where it beat out, among other worthy contenders, SUNSET BOULEVARD), four Outer Critics' Circle Awards including Outstanding Musical Revival, and an Astaire Award for Stroman's choreography.

Carole Shelley has taken on the role of Parthy; Marilyn McCoo is the new Julie, and Beth Leavel is the new Ellie...In August, Hal Leonard Publishing released a special souvenir folio edition of the SHOW BOAT vocal selections...And in May, Mic Bell sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" at the 10th Annual AIDS Walk New York before a record crowd of 31,000 on Central Park's Great Lawn.

The Toronto company of SHOW BOAT, having spent the summer on the banks of the Mississippi at the Ordway Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota, is now sailing back up into Canada for an open-ended engagement as the inaugural production of the Ford Centre for the Performing Arts in Vancouver, starting in late November. The first U.S. national tour of SHOW BOAT will open in Chicago next April.

A HUNDRED MILLION MIRACLES: Celebrations for a hundred years of Hammerstein continue. Among the recent highlights: Repeat broadcasts of the PBS/Great Performances concert special SOME ENCHANTED EVENING, starring Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Mandy Patinkin, Dawn Upshaw, Willie Nelson, Keith Carradine and others, which first aired last March, will be shown again locally throughout the fall.

GETTING TO KNOW HIM, Hugh Fordin's definitive Hammerstein biography, out-of-print for nearly twenty years, will be re-published in late September by Da Capo Press.. Also in the early fall, Fireside Theatre Book Club will offer Hammerstein's compendium, LYRICS, based on the 1985 edition revised and updated by William Hammerstein with an introduction by Stephen Sondheim, and containing Hammerstein's insightful 45-page essay, "Notes on Lyrics."

During selected dates this winter, Phillip Officer will perform his all-Hammerstein cabaret evening in Philadelphia and New York; the album, MANY A NEW DAY, will be released in November...In December, The Smithsonian Institution plans to hold a day-long Hammerstein symposium in Washington, D.C. with screenings, panel discussions and live performance.

In San Francisco, 42nd Street Moon has devoted its '95 season of "Lost Musicals" to Oscar Hammerstein and Lorenz Hart, with staged concert readings of Rodgers & Hammerstein's PIPE DREAM in July, Hammerstein & Kern's VERY WARM FOR MAY, and the U.S. premiere of Hammerstein & Kern's London musical THREE SISTERS. A designated "Oscar Hammerstein Weekend" of November 3-5 was marked with a Hammerstein cabaret.

Finally, to close out the year Williamson Music will publish a new all-Hammerstein songbook: THE OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II COLLECTION will feature an introduction from his son William, and more than 60 songs covering Hammerstein's career with such composers as Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, Rudolf Friml, Sigmund Romberg and Georges Bizet.

FOR THE RECORD: Mandy Patinkin's new album, OSCAR & STEVE (Nonesuch Records) honors both the mentor (Hammerstein) and his protégé (Sondheim), with numbers from the latter's PASSION, FOLLIES, ANYONE CAN WHISTLE, PACIFIC OVERTURES, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG and INTO THE WOODS juxtaposed with such Hammerstein songs as "I Have The Room Above Her," "You Are Beautiful," "When I Grow Too Old To Dream," "If I Loved You," ánd "Honeybun." OSCAR & STEVE was released in late October...

DRG Records has released a new recording of PAL JOEY with the same cast that gave four electrifying, SRO concert performances last spring as the second season finale to New York City Center's ENCORES! series. Patti LuPone (Vera), Peter Gallagher (Joey), and Bebe Neuwirth (Melba) star on the album, which is produced by Hugh Fordin with Rob Fisher conducting. In addition to all of the numbers performed during the May '95 concerts, the DRG recording includes a song not heard there-"Talking to My Pal," sung by Gallagher and recorded for the first time with its original orchestrations. PAL JOEY, is Fordin's second album from the ENCORES! series, following his release last spring of Irving Berlin's CALL ME MADAM starring Tyne Daly. Up next for Fordin and ENCORES!-Cole Porter's OUT OF THIS WORLD starring Andrea Martin.

Also released this fall: UNSUNG IRVING BERLIN, from Varese Sarabande, featuring the talents of Harry Groener, Crista Moore, Liz Callaway, Laurie Beechman, Jason Graae, Mary Ellin Lerner (the songwriter's grand-daughter) and others in premiere recordings of unknown songs by one of America's best-known songwriters. (For a related story in this issue, see OPENING THE TRUNK.)

Original CAROUSEL star John Raitt made his Broadway debut with that show in 1945, so '95 is a Golden Anniversary year for him too, and he is celebrating with a brand new album recorded with daughter Bonnie Raitt. Released by Angel Records, JOHN RAITT: THE BROADWAY LEGEND contains several father/daughter duets including "They Say It's Wonderful" and "Anything You Can Do," along with Raitt's renditions of such standards as "If I Loved You" and "Some Enchanted Evening."

I COULD WRITE A BOOK: Books about Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II and Lorenz Hart are out on the circuit this fall thanks to Da Capo Press, which published trade paperback editions of Rodgers' autobiography, MUSICAL STAGES in May (with a new introduction from daughter Mary Rodgers), now joined by Hugh Fordin's Hammerstein biography, GETTING TO KNOW HIM, and a revised, expanded edition of THE COMPLETE LYRICS OF LORENZ HART, edited by Dorothy Hart and Robert Kimball...Mary Ellin Barrett's profile of her father, IRVING BERLIN: A DAUGHTER'S MEMOIR, now in its third printing, is currently available in hardback from Simon & Schuster, and will be published in paperback by Limelight Press next spring.

Copyright 1995 The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. All rights reserved.

From: HAPPY TALK, NEWS OF THE RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN ORGANIZATION *** Volume 3, # 1, Autumn 1995

"SOMETHING WONDERFUL":

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II

On July 12, 1895, Oscar Greely Clendenning Hammerstein was born in New York City.

On July 12, 1995, his centennial was celebrated on the stage of the highest grossing show on Broadway-his own SHOW BOAT.

Hammerstein fans began to gather in front of the Gershwin Theatre at 5:30 in the morning. By 10AM the line stretched around the corner. At 1lAM, 1900 friends, fans and family were settled into the theatre for SOMETHING WONDERFUL, an hour-long salute open to the public, presented by The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization in association with Livent (U.S.) Inc., and SHOW BOAT.

The program began, appropriately, with Oscar Hammerstein's own words and in Oscar Hammerstein's own voice. "My own feelings about life are toward the optimistic and hopeful side," he was saying in a 1960 interview. "Surely there are things that are wrong, but then we must also admit that there are things that are right and beautiful and make it wonderful to be on earth. And this, if it isn't my mission, is at least one of my chief aims."

SOMETHING WONDERFUL was The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization's own deeply-felt personal tribute to our co-founder: a man who did so much to shape and transform the musical theatre that we are proud to be part of. Produced by Bert Fink and hosted by Ted Chapin, with a cameo appearance by several of Hammerstein's children, SOMETHING WONDERFUL had the feeling and tone of a family affair. Based on the feedback we received, it was touching for both the participants and the audience, as we honored one of our guiding spirits with song, talk, humor and pathos.

Press coverage reflected this: "A delightful and enlightening interpolation of musical numbers, historic facts and tales from Hammerstein's life and career" (THEATREWEEK); "a wonderful, compact tribute" (VARIETY); and, "this celebration, with its delightful performers, was made a pretty beautiful morning itself by Hammerstein's gift of language...from a pen which virtually sang" (NEW YORK POST).

The line-up of talent included SHOW BOAT stars and special guest artists, with Chapin serving as guide. "From his earliest writings," noted Chapin in his opening remarks, "Hammerstein was making words say what he wanted to say, and in the most theatrically imaginative way possible. As he taught himself a craft he practically invented, he taught the rest of us what was possible in the musical theatre."

To illustrate this point, Chapin read portions of the opening description from Lynn Riggs' play GREEN GROW THE LILACS while, off-stage, SHOW BOAT's Doug LaBrecque sang the opening lines of the song that Hammerstein drew out of Riggs' text: "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin.'" Then, in a moment quintessentially Hammerstein, LaBrecque strode out onto the upper deck of SHOW BOAT's "Cotton Blossom," singing "Mornin'" full out as the audience burst into applause.

Maureen McGovern performed the song most closely identified with Hammerstein's personal credo, "A Cockeyed Optimist"; Liz Callaway gave an exuberant "A Wonderful Guy"; Audra McDonald delivered the morning's title song, "Something Wonderful"; and, in last-minute heroics, Jonathan Dokuchitz stepped in on 24-hour notice to perform "All the Things You Are."

Among the stars from SHOW BOAT: Rebecca Luker sang a little-known Hammerstein and Kern ballad, "Can I Forget You?" from their 1937 movie, HIGH WIDE AND HANDSOME; Michel Bell gave a spirited rendition of "Stan' Up and Fight" from CARMEN JONES; and Dorothy Stanley and Joel Blum, SHOW BOAT's Frank and Ellie, paid homage to their kissin' cousins Ado Annie and Will Parker with a high-stepping "All Er Nothin'" from OKLAHOMA! Providing musical direction and accompaniment throughout were SHOW BOAT's conductor Eric Stern, and associate conductor Catherine Matejka.

The program "managed briskly, briefly but surely to run the gamut of the Hammerstein heritage," according to Clive Barnes of the NEW YORK POST. Midway through, SHOW BOAT producer Garth H. Drabinsky gave remarks, noting that "listening to the timeless lyrics of the many songs Oscar Hammerstein wrote, I continue to be amazed how with so few words he could touch so many hearts, move so many people."

Chapin also shared letters of greeting from several notables. From Europe, SHOW BOAT director Hal Prince wrote that "It is to Oscar Hammerstein that I owe a huge debt of gratitude. His view of what musicals could be enabled me to make my life in the theater!" From Chicago, where performances of her new musical VICTOR/VICTORIA were starting that very night, Julie Andrews wrote, "I feel especially privileged to have known and worked with this gentle, lovely man...l can think of no greater pleasure on this very special day than to bask in those wonderful memories." And from The White House, President Cinton saluted Oscar Hammerstein for giving life "to some of America's finest and most enduring contributions to the performing arts. Everyone who has ever laughed, cried or sung along with his inspired work," wrote the President, "reveres the unique talent that made Hammerstein a legend in musical theater."

City Hall weighed in too, with a proclamation from New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani declaring July 12, "Oscar Hammerstein Day." Schuyler Chapin, Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City (and father to Ted Chapin), presented the Mayor's proclamation to three of Oscar Hammerstein's children-son William and daughters Alice and Susan. Echoing the curtain line of another great theatrical family, William Hammerstein thanked the crowd a la George M. Cohan-"My father thanks you, my mother thanks you, my sisters and brothers thank you, and I thank you..."

The tribute came to a close with Audra McDonald singing "Something Wonderful," preceded once again by the voice of Oscar Hammerstein, this time reciting his own words: "This is a man who thinks with his heart. His heart is not always wise. This is a man who stumbles and falls, but this is a man who tries. This is a man you forgive and forgive and help and protect as long as you live."

***

Across the country and around the world there were Hammerstein tributes aplenty. But New York lived up to its Mayoral mantle, where July 12 certainly was "Hammerstein Day." Following the 11AM event at the Gershwin Theatre, a Hammerstein fan could make it uptown to a free noontime Hammerstein concert at the Museum of the City of New York featuring the New York Grand Opera company. Said fan could then dash back down to the Gershwin Theatre to catch the regularly-scheduled matinee of SHOW BOAT at 2PM, and still make it to Town Hall by 6PM for IT'S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING, a sold-out concert that boasted a stellar line-up of cabaret's Creme de la Creme in their own salute to Oscar Hammerstein.

Produced by Donald Smith for the Mabel Mercer Foundation, IT'S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING was the culmination of a three-night cabaret festival. With special introductory remarks from Hammerstein's son James-who came directly from rehearsals of his father's "newest musical," STATE FAIR-the tribute was, according to DRAMA-LOGUE, "sheer heaven...a bright reminder of Oscar Hammerstein's brilliance."

Among the many highlights: Ann Hampton Callaway's "This Nearly Was Mine," Barbara Carroll's "Nobody Else But Me," Claiborne Cary's "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise," Lorna Dallas with the rarely-heard "Totem Tom Tom," Elaine Stritch's powerful "All in Fun," Maureen McGovern's "Indian Love Call," Jeff Harnar's "It's a Grand Night For Singing," Phillip Officer's gentle entwining of "So Far," "Shall we Dance?" and "Getting To Know You," and David Staller's good-sport interpretations of Rodgers & Hammerstein's first song ("There's Always Room For One More," 1918) and their last ("Edelweiss," 1959), the latter turned into an irresistible singalong.

Classic turns were provided by three classy ladies-Julie Wilson ("Why Was I Born?," "Don't Ever Leave Me"), Margaret Whiting ("It Might as Well Be Spring," "Boys and Girls Like You and Me"), and Hildegarde, giving what she said was her swan song, the appropriately wistful "The Last Time I Saw Paris."

Bringing the songfest to a close was Celeste Holm, who charmed the audience with stories of her first show with Oscar Hammerstein II, creating the role of Ado Annie in OKLAHOMA! She then performed the number she had introduced fifty-two years earlier and, as she had done so many times before, Celeste Holm stopped the show with "I Cain't Say No."

For the die-hard Hammerstein fan who couldn't say no either, there was still more-National Public Radio's two-hour Hammerstein centennial documentary SOMETHING WONDERFUL, produced by Jeffrey Lunden, hosted by Susan Stamberg and broadcast that evening.

Covering Hammerstein's life and career, NPR's program drew from archival interviews with Hammerstein, Rodgers, and Agnes de Mille, along with contemporary comments from Hammerstein's sons William and James, Stephen Sondheim, and others. When it was over, a turn on the dial to WQXR, New York's classical radio station, would find Hammerstein there too, courtesy of all-night DJ Nimet Habachy, who played his songs into the early morning.

***

Among other celebrations: in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where Hammerstein lived for half his lifetime, a birthday party was thrown for the adopted hometown hero, complete with recollections from neighbors who knew him and a recital of his lesser-known songs.

In Savannah, Georgia, the 1995 annual Forsyth Arts Festival, held in early July, was devoted to the Hammerstein legacy. "The Oscars: Three Generations of Hammersteins" was a symposium on Oscar I and Oscar II, given by Oscar III (a.k.a., Oscar Andrew Hammerstein, grandson to the centennial figure); it was followed by a free, outdoor screening of the 1936 movie version of SHOW BOAT. Other activities over succeeding nights at the festival included an outdoor screening of THE KING AND I, a local production of OKLAHOMA!, and the presentation of a Hammerstein revue.

In Great Britain, the "Hammerstein centenerary" was marked with a special BBC-2 radio broadcast of CAROUSEL in concert, starring Mandy Patinkin as Billy Bigelow. Of added significance, it was performed for the first time since l945 with the actual, original orchestrations.

... And back on Broadway in September, during the 4th annual BROADWAY ON BROADWAY concert held in Times Square, Susan Powell and members of "The Broadway Kids" chorus lead a crowd of 40,000 strong in a sing-along of "Do-Re-Mi," as Hammerstein's lyrics flashed on the giant Sony jubo-tron screen, filling the theatre district with the sound of words-words by Oscar Hammerstein II.

Copyright 1995 The Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization. All Rights Reserved.