Why a Rodgers & Hart Musical Walks Like an Egyptian

Why a Rodgers & Hart Musical Walks Like an Egyptian LOOKING BACKWARD

LOOKING BACKWARD RODGERS AND HART IN EGYPT: The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis recently presented a new version of that memorable 1937 Rodgers and Hart hit, Babes in Arms. One of that show's hit songs is "Johnny One-Note," and the critic who reviewed the musical in Variety stated that the song
was staged in an Egyptian setting, "...which, hilariously, has absolutely nothing to do with the song itself."

That would be news to Rodgers and Hart. The lyric clearly states that "Poor Johnny One-Note/Got in Aïda‹/Indeed a great chance to be brave." Well, Verdi's Aïda takes place in Egypt, and back in 1937 when Babes in Arms was on Broadway, "Johnny One-Note" was appropriately staged in an Egyptian setting with the chorus garbed in Egyptian costumes, so there's nothing anachronistic about staging it in Egypt in 1996.

NOT CAUGHT IN THE DRAFT: In The Algonquin Wit, a newsletter published by New York's legendary Algonquin Hotel, we read this fascinating item: In the 1930's, when Greta Garbo used to attend the Oak Room in the Algonquin, she indulged in a ritual. Her escort had to enter first and sit at their table with a lit match to make sure that there was no draft where the Queen of Hollywood was going to sit.

--By Louis Botto