Two Smithsonian museums, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American History, are collaborating on the exhibition, "Red Hot & Blue: A Salute To American Musicals." 400 items will comprise the exhibition of Broadway and Hollywood memorabilia, which opens Oct. 25 at the Portrait Gallery and runs to July 6, 1997.
Titled after a 1936 Cole Porter musical, "Red, Hot & Blue" is "a collective biography of the performers, producers, directors, composers, lyricists, choreographers and designers who gave voice and vision to the American experience on stage and screen."
Co-curators Amy Henderson (Portrait Gallery) and Dwight Blocker Bowers (American History) have chosen the photographs, paintings, drawings, posters, models, costumes, and audio and video clips to (according to Henderson) "follow the evolution of Broadway and Hollywood musicals together, on a continuum."
"This is one of the best ways to understand musicals as an expression of American life," added Bowers.
Highlights of the Washington DC exhibition include: Audio and video installations capturing performances from vaudeville to Kiss Of The Spider Woman Ginger Rogers' charcoal drawing of Irving Berlin Self-portraits by George and Ira Gershwin One of the pairs of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard Of Oz" Fred Astaire's dance shoes from "Top Hat." A gold cigarette case with an etched portrait of Cole Porter (dated 1934) Julie Andrews' ball gown for My Fair Lady Carol Channing's red Harmonia Gardens dress and feather hat from Hello, Dolly! Eugene Lee's set model for the 1994 revival of Show Boat Chita Rivera's Spider Woman costume.
The exhibition has five sections: Setting The Stage, 1866-1906; Curtain Up, 1907-1927; Light The Lights, 1927-1942; The Heights, 1943-1960; Side By Side, 1960-present.
An illustrated, 268-page catalog, authored by Bowers and Henderson, will accompany the exhibition, as will a 4-set Smithsonian CD of American Musical songs, called "Star Spangled Rhythm." The CD won't be released until late November, but the catalog is already available for purchase.
For information on the free exhibit "Red, Hot & Blue," call (202) 357-2700.