Thursday, October 21, 2004

"Hooray For What"'s Long 42nd St. Moon History

I asked Greg a couple of questions about "Hooray For What" and got an earful! I am now totally fascinated and can't wait to see it.

It's had a long history just from the perspective of 42nd St. Moon. Here's the story in Greg's own words:

""HOORAY FOR WHAT" has actually been on our “to do” list for several years — really almost since the beginning.  There are actually several shows that Stephanie and I have both felt strongly that we should do and “must” do that we just haven’t gotten on the schedule yet, for many and varying reasons.

In the case of HOORAY, I think we initially put it aside because we knew it was going to be a massive job “restoring” it — ie, that the music and script were in such a state that they required a lot of work to get it to a point just where it could be rehearsed — and even though we didn’t have to deal with the problems of orchestrations, it still represented a lot of time and a drain on our always-limited resources.  But still, the unusual nature of the show — an anti-war satire written just before Europe exploded into World War II  -- a musical comedy-fantasy with a social agenda — made it extremely attractive. I really think it was just the complicated nature of putting HOORAY back together that kept us away from it for so long.

Anyway, in mid-2001 we decided it was time to go ahead with HOORAY.  Since 2002 was going to be an all-Richard Rodgers season in celebration of the 100th anniversary of his birth,  we would be doing HOORAY in 2003. But, by the the time we sat down to finalize our 2003 season — in the late spring of 2002 — fate had stepped in.  With the Sept. 11th wounds so fresh, the mood in the country just didn’t seem right for a show that presented such a strong (albeit in a farcical way) indictment against war and war-profiteers, even though the whole thing was presented as a comic-fantasy.  From the vantage-point of mid-2002, we decided it was just too dicey a prospect, not knowing what the tenor of the times would be in 2003.

Then: in mid-2003, Lauren asked if there was a particular project that we thought might be right for a NEA Historical Preservation grant.  We immediately brought up HOORAY, and after discussing it with Lauren (and Ernie Harburg, Yip Harburg’s son) decided to go for it, even though there was a possibility that it could seem just as inappropriate in November, 2004, as it had seemed in May, 2002.  

After all, how often does a "forgotten musical" company get a chance to do something that might be considered a bit daring, even by contemporary standards?  So, we applied for the NEA grant, which we were delighted to find out earlier this year we received.  However, because the season had to be set many months before the NEA grants were due to be announced, we were locked in" to the choice of HOORAY with or without a grant.  I’m just glad that it turned out to be with!

That's just HOORAY's history with 42nd St. Moon. It also had a n interesting history back in its original day. But, I'll save that for another post.

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