As Thousands Cheer
As Thousands Cheer is a revue with a book by Moss Hart and music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, first performed in 1933. The revue contained satirical sketches and witty or poignant musical numbers, several of which became standards, including "Heat Wave", "Easter Parade" and "Harlem on my Mind". The sketches were loosely based on the news and the lives and affairs of the rich and famous, and other people of the day, such as Joan Crawford, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Noël Coward, Josephine Baker, and Aimee Semple McPherson.
|As Thousands Cheer|
As Thousands Cheer 1998 cast
The revue was a successor to the creators' Face the Music and was Marilyn Miller's last stage appearance before her death. It was also the first Broadway show to give an African-American star, Ethel Waters, equal billing with whites.
Moss Hart said that he and Irving Berlin did not want to write the typical revue with "blackout sketches" and musical numbers, and they had the idea of doing a topical revue "right off the front pages of the newspapers." Berlin deferred his own fees as composer, lyricist, and theater owner, keeping the cost of the show to a "restrained" $96,000.
Each of the 21 scenes was preceded by a related newspaper headline, and the sketches poked fun a wide variety of subjects, including the marital woes of Barbara Hutton, Gandhi, and British royalty; the weather report was turned into a song ("Heat Wave"); President and Mrs. Hoover leaving the White House, with the President giving his cabinet a Bronx cheer; "Supper Time", an African-American woman's lament for her lynched husband; John D. Rockefeller refusing to accept Radio City Music Hall as a birthday gift; commercials interrupting the singing during a Metropolitan Opera broadcast (P.D.Q. Bach later did this); a hotel staff falling under the influence of Noël Coward; and a Supreme Court decision that says musicals cannot end with reprises, resulting in a new number, "Not For All The Rice In China" (satirizing Barbara Hutton's relationship with Alexis Mdivani), as a finale.
Selected musical numbersEdit
- "Majestic Sails at Midnight" -- Helen Broderick, Leslie Adams, Jerome Cowan, Hal Forde, Harry Stockwell
- "How's Chances?" -- Marilyn Miller, Clifton Webb
- "The Funnies" -- Marilyn Miller
- "Easter Parade"† -- Marilyn Miller, Clifton Webb
- "Our Wedding Day" -- Marilyn Miller, Clifton Webb
- "Heat Wave Hits New York" -- Ethel Waters
- "To Be Or Not To Be" -- Ethel Waters
- "Supper Time" -- Ethel Waters
- "Harlem on my Mind" -- Ethel Waters
- "Lonely Heart" -- dance
- "Not for All the Rice in China" -- Marilyn Miller, Clifton Webb
† Omitted from 1998 revival
The revue opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre on September 30, 1933 and became a hit, running for 400 performances, which was rare during the Great Depression. It was staged by Hassard Short with choreography by Charles Weidman. The musical starred Helen Broderick, Marilyn Miller, Clifton Webb and Ethel Waters, and featured José Limón as the lead dancer. The London-based version of the show, retitled Stop Press, opened on February 21, 1935 at the Adelphi Theatre.
In 1934, Dorothy Stone took over the roles played by Miller.
The Drama Department presented the revue at the off-Broadway Greenwich House Theater from June 2, 1998 through June 14, 1998. Directed by Christopher Ashley with musical staging by Kathleen Marshall, the cast included Kevin Chamberlin, Judy Kuhn, Howard McGillin, Paula Newsome, Mary Beth Peil and B. D. Wong. Reviews were extremely positive. The show has had a number of other revivals both in the U.S. and internationally.
- Description of the revue and list of scenes at guidetomusicaltheatre
- Bergreen, Laurence (1996). As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80675-4
- R&H Theatricals