The Playbill Vault Remembers Tony Award Winner Ethel Merman

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16 Jan 2014

Legendary actress and singer Ethel Merman, who created such iconic roles as Rose in Gypsy and Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun, was born on Jan. 16, 1908. The Playbill Vault revisits memorable roles from her Broadway stage career.

After achieving success as a vaudeville performer, Merman made her Broadway debut in the musical Girl Crazy, about a wealthy New York playboy whose father sends him to a dude ranch in Arizona. With music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and a book by Guy Bolton and John McGowan, the production opened Oct. 14, 1930, at the Alvin Theatre.

Merman played the role of Kate Fothergill opposite Allen Kearns as Danny Churchill and Ginger Rogers as Molly Gray. The New York Times praised the "lively and melodious show" and the musical turned Merman and Rogers into overnight sensations.

Girl Crazy has not been seen in its original form on Broadway since its 1930 premiere, but in 1992 a heavily revised version of the musical opened at the Shubert Theatre. This new version, titled Crazy for You, won the 1992 Tony for Best Musical and featured Jodi Benson, Beth Leavel and Harry Groener in the cast.

Read the Girl Crazy Playbill here.


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