Before Lois Lane was a ground-breaking female reporter at the Daily Planet, Edna Ferber worked at the Appleton Daily Crescent and the Milwaukee Journal, had published her first novel, and covered both the 1920 Republican and Democratic National Conventions for the United Press Association.
Before ballet choreographer Agnes de Mille created dances that advanced plot and developed character in “Oklahoma!” (1943)
and before Betty Comden, with writing partner Adolph Green, provided lyrics, libretti, and screenplays to some of the most beloved Broadway shows (such as “On the Town, 1944), Edna Ferber’s novel “Show Boat” was made into a ground-breaking Broadway musical (1926).
It’s recognized as the first “modern” American musical.
Nice, big, fat shout-out to Paper Mill Playhouse Saturday night during the Channel 13 screening of the 1951 version of “Show Boat” as part of its weekly Reel 13 classic movie feature.
At the end of “Show Boat” Prof. Richard Peña, currently the director of programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, talked about all the changes made to musical over the years including downplaying the African-American characters, changing offensive lyrics, eliminating songs.
He noted that a live performance by the Paper Mill Playhouse was videotaped for television and shown on Great Performances on PBS contains more of the songs (and fewer cuts) than any of the film versions. It also restored not only the original book of the 1927 Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein but other songs and dance numbers thrown away over the years, he said.