Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités


Historique du musical

Génèse du musical

The original Broadway production, directed by Edgar MacGregor and choreographed by Bobby Connolly, opened on September 6, 1927 at The 46th Street Theatre, where it ran for 557 performances, which was a very successful run, as few Broadway shows had reached 500 performances since 1919's Irene. The cast included John Price Jones as Tom Marlowe, Mary Lawlor as Connie Lane, Gus Shy as Bobby Randall, and Inez Courtney as Babe O'Day. Donald Oenslager designed the production's sets. To emphasize the collegiate atmosphere, ushers wore jerseys, and George Olsen's band (featured as the "College Band") reached the orchestra pit by running down the aisles as they shouted college cheers. University of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne received credit for "Advice in Football Technique". The musical was set in what was then the present day, the Roaring Twenties, and, according to musical theatre historian Gerald Bordman, it was clearly a reflection of that era: "The decade's jazzy sounds, its assertive, explosive beat, its sophomoric high jinks were joyously mirrored..." The plot hinged on a professor's unexpected generosity: Tom fails Professor Charles Kenyon's astronomy class, and, even though Connie tutors him, he still fails his makeup exam. Professor Kenyon gives him a passing grade, though, because he, unbeknownst to the students, is actually a football fan.
In the 1970s, producer Harry Rigby started the Broadway nostalgia craze with his revivals of No, No, Nanette and Irene. He decided that Good News would be his next project. Rigby planned to feature former movie musical stars in Good News, as he had in No, No, Nanette and Irene. John Payne was cast as the football coach, and Alice Faye was cast as the (now female) astronomy professor, who was renamed Professor Charlotte Kenyon. The book was rewritten to create a romance between their characters, reducing the impact of the college student characters who had made the 1927 version popular. Because Rigby had already produced No, No, Nanette, a revival set in the 1920s, he moved the setting of Good News to the Depression-era Thirties. During the development of the revival, the score was also altered; some songs from the original 1927 production were removed, while six songs from other Ray Henderson scores were interpolated. Abe Burrows was hired as director and adapter, and Donald Saddler was hired as choreographer; however, during the development of the revival, they were replaced by Michael Kidd as director/choreographer and Garry Marshall as adapter. A few weeks before the Broadway opening, John Payne, whose contract had run out, was replaced by Gene Nelson. After a try-out in Boston, a nationwide tour for almost a year, and 51 previews, a lavish production opened on Broadway on December 23, 1974 at the St. James Theatre where, having failed to charm the critics as its predecessor had, it ran for only 16 regular performances. Saddler was nominated for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography.
In 1993, Mark Madama and Wayne Bryan (who had played the role of Bobby Randall in the 1974 production) revised the book and score for Music Theatre of Wichita. They retained some of the book and score changes from the 1974 production, including the romance between the (female) astronomy professor and football coach, but they returned the story to the 1920s and recentered the book so its main focus was the college students. They also altered the story so Tom, because of Connie's tutoring, passes the test on his own accord without any undeserved help from Professor Kenyon. The production starred Michael Gruber, Kim Huber, Ann Morrison and Bryan. This version was licensed for amateur performance and has enjoyed many productions since. A studio cast recording of this adaptation was released in 1995.
MGM released two film versions, the first in 1930 with Bessie Love and Cliff Edwards and the second in 1947 with June Allyson and Peter Lawford. The Railroad Hour broadcast a 45-minute condensed version as its first episode on October 4, 1948.



Liste des chansons

Act I
Opening Chorus (includes Good News and He's a Ladies' Man) - Company
Flaming Youth - Babe O'Day, Millie, Flo, Slats, Windy
Happy Days - Tom Marlowe, Jim, Ben, Pete
Just Imagine - Connie Lane, Patricia Bingham, Millie
The Best Things in Life Are Free - Tom and Connie
On the Campus - Flo, Millie, Windy, Sylvester
Varsity Drag - Flo, Millie, Windy, Sylvester
Baby! What? - Babe, Bobby Randall
Lucky in Love - Connie, Tom
Tait Song - Kearney, Johnson, George, Company
Finaletto - Company

Act II
Girl of the Pi Beta Phi - Patricia, Girls
Today's the Day - Girls
In the Meantime - Bobby, Babe
Good News - Flo, Boys, Girls
Tait Song (reprise) - College Band (instrumental)
Good News (reprise) - Girls, Jim, Ben, Pete, Flo
The Best Things in Life are Free - Connie, Tom
Varsity Drag (reprise) - Company
Good News (reprise) - Company

Textes disponibles on-line

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Quelques remarques

The original 1927 Broadway production met with positive reviews. Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times pronounced it "a ripping good show", with an authentically collegiate atmosphere, stating, "For once a musical play based upon undergraduate life and a football game has some resemblance to the disorderly, rhymeless scheme of things in American institutions of learning". He deemed it "a constantly fast entertainment with furious dancing, catchy tunes...excellent singing, and genuine excitement."
The 1974 production opened to mostly negative reviews. Some critics had begun to consider Rigby's revivals formulaic; Clive Barnes of The New York Times derisively pronounced Good News, and shows like it, "prefabricated...nostalgia", and Martin Gottfried of the New York Post deemed it "a joyless, mechanical reproduction". The book was harshly criticized; Barnes pronounced it "a terrible book" with "jokes obvious enough to give banana skins a bad name", and Time referred to it as an "ancient flapdoodle of a plot". Critics also questioned the practice of interpolating songs from other shows. Walter Kerr opined that preserving the original score was vital to the character of a revival, stating, "the only reason for remounting vehicles that have half-vanished...is to get beyond all that is dated into the specific textures of the scores that haven't...there's no point for enduring banality in a book if all you're going to get in return is a random rummage through an attic that produces a perhaps bountiful but essentially characterless heap".
Critics differed on what they considered the show's good points to be. In the Daily News, Douglas Watt declared, "the dancing is the best part of the show" but deemed the vocal arrangements "too-busy". Gottfried, however, said the show was "stolen by the vocal arranger", whom he credited with "dazzling harmonizations and stylings". He disliked the staging, saying it was suitable "for a concert rather than theater and [allowed] little acting". Barnes, however, pronounced the staging "very good," saying, "It has a sense of style, a sense of period and a few bursts of energy that really work". Barnes praised the sets and costumes, while Watt asserted that the costumes seemed to vaciallate between the '20s and '30s and that the sets were "uninteresting and cheap-looking".
Alice Faye and Gene Nelson's performances received mixed reviews. Watt said that Faye "doesn't add much to the show," and Gottfried asserted that "combined,[Faye and Nelson] have the stage presence of a balcony seat". Time said that "[Faye and Nelson] only succeed in underlining the show's decrepitude." Barnes, however, stated that though Faye "is not the most animated leading lady...her light baritone voice is pleasing, and she unquestionably dances with the guts of a Ruby Keeler. Gene Nelson...has enormous personal charm and stage professionalism." Kerr said that Faye "sounds winsome and welcome...she is a composed performer and a willing workhorse". The actors portraying the young college students were generally well received. In his review, Barnes praised Janna Robbins, Barbara Lail, Marti Rolph, Scott Stevenson, and Wayne Brian for their performances as the principal student characters. In Newsweek, Jack Kroll declared, "One's heart goes out to the young people in a show like this, like Barbara Lail and Marti Rolph, whose drive and energy really must carry [the show]". Marti Rolph, in the role of Connie Lane, received particular praise from critics. Watt declared, "The only really good singing voice among the principals belongs to Marti Rolph". Gottfried wrote, "The only standout, really, is Marti Rolph--the ingenue--who has a gorgeous voice and manages to inject pert spirit into a spiritless show".
The 1993 Musical Theatre of Wichita production was well received by local critics. In The Wichita Eagle, Susan L. Rife wrote that the new production was a "lavish ode to the outright goofiness of the Roaring '20s", praising the actors' exuberance and the choreography. She suggested that the show's three-hour run time was too long, and noted that "its pace swings wildly from high-energy dance numbers to slow-moving chunks of dialogue".


Versions du musical

Versions majeures de Good News

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Captations du musical