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Genre et identité dans le théâtre anglophone

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Nicole Vigouroux-Frey

Partie II. États-Unis

Eugene O’Neill’s Men and Women Making Broadway Music: Stein and Russell’s Take Me Along (1959)

Trudy Bolter

Texte intégral

  • 1 My thanks to Sanford Aborn, Vice President of the Tams-Witmark Music Library, for allowing me to t (...)

1This paper deals with the way that some male and female characters created by Eugene O’Neill for his 1933 comedy, Ah! Wilderness, have been made to change their tune by Robert Merrill, Joseph Stein and Robert Russell, the authors of Take Me Along, their 1959 adaptation for the Broadway musical stage1.

2The great stars of the Broadway musical comedy genre were typically women – Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun (1946), Gertrude Lawrence in The King and I (1951), being classic examples. Nevertheless, male stars could play a strong role on the Broadway musical stage – even when middle-aged and hardly able to sing, or hardly able to dance, and even when quite unable to do either. In 1949, Ezio Pinza, a fiftyish, non-dancing opera singer, became a matinee idol in Rodgers’and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, starting the trend, but, in 1956, the mature Rex Harrison, a totally non-singing (and also non-dancing) stage actor, playing Henry Higgins in Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady, made an artistic triumph of his lack of traditional qualifications.

  • 2 Mark W. Estring, ed., Conversations With Eugene O’Neill, Jackson and London, University of Mississ (...)
  • 3 Gleason (1916-1987) had a strong off-stage persona as a drinker and braggart: his popularity was g (...)

3In the first production of Ah! Wilderness in 1933, the role of Nat Miller was taken by George M. Cohan, “America’s First Actor”, for the first time playing a role he hadn’t written himself. Because of this heavily publicised and greatly successful piece of casting, in O’Neill’s opinion, the thematic thrust of the stage version was shifted more heavily onto the father than he would have liked, since he thought the son, Richard, to be the main character of his play2. Take Me Along pushes the shift even further away from Richard, providing two important roles for middle-aged male actors not primarily associated with the musical stage. One – that of Nat Miller, newspaper-owner and benevolent paterfamilias – was taken by Walter Pidgeon, the popular film star born in 1897, and the other – Nat’s brother-in-law, Sid Davis, a bibulous journalist – by Jackie Gleason, a popular comic television star of the Fifties3. In comparison with the O’Neill original, these roles were magnified, and become the leads in the musical. At the same time, while accentuating the masculine, Take Me Along reduces the importance of the feminine roles written by O’Neill (already secondary in his version), except for one, that of Lily Miller, the sister of Nat, a spinster schoolteacher, who is disapprovingly but everlastingly in love with Sid.

4In constructing Take Me Along, the adapters contradict the decision taken by O’Neill in his original play, and allow Lily to be reconciled with (and by strong implication wedded to) Sid. By marrying off characters O’Neill considered unfit for conjugal bliss, Stein, Russell, and Merrill have so strongly branded their adaptation with the iron of the Fifties that, in my opinion, they made any permanent artistic significance impossible, given that the male-female Zeitgeist of the Fifties was shortly to be overtaken by changes in world-view imposed by the advent of Feminism, which, along with other upheavals, severely diminished the charm of the intertextual metaphor of small-town Americana, of which that Zeitgeist is one spur. Take Me Along, joining the world of film (through Pidgeon) and that of television (through Gleason) to the lustrous tradition of the classical American stage (through O’Neill) thus stands as a multi-media concelebration of what is, at a point of transition, a collective figure built up on stage and screen by many hands over a quarter-century, which O’Neill’s Thirties play had been instrumental in consolidating.

  • 4 James D. Hart, The Popular Book, A History of America’s Literary Taste, Berkeley, Los Angeles and (...)
  • 5 The movement had many ramifications such as the Twenties fashion for Early American architecture a (...)

5Ah! Wilderness is one of O’Neill’s most audience-friendly plays and has often been revived by New York professionals (most recently in February 1998), played in summer stock, and produced by amateurs, including school groups for whom the family values expressed the narrow range of social types and the stereotyping of the different roles (Mother, Father, Son, Drunkard, Spinster, Tart, Ingenue, etc.), make the piece especially accessible A series of analogous later Broadway hits, Lindsay and Crouse’s Life With Father (1939, based on memoirs published in 1935), Thornton Wilder’s Our Town (1939), John Van Druten’s I Remember Mama (1943) followed in the wake of Ah! Wilderness, aiming, as did O’Neill’s play, at evoking the essence of a gender common past, the image of an America one hoped was more authentic than that of the crisis-torn nation of the Thirties and Forties. According to James Hart4, neglecting the middle-brow novels of Booth Tarkington and the noir approach of fiction-writers dealing with small towns like Sherwood Anderson or Sinclair Lewis, the first truly literary work in this vein was Stephen Vincent Benet’s John Brown’s Body, a best-selling book club choice, published in 1928; but the movement goes beyond literature (including dramatic literature and film scripts) alone. Ah! Wilderness, – as a work of idealised national consciousness-raising, has important links with some works of Regionalist painting and other expressions of a Twenties and Thirties search for specifically American themes in art, themselves part of a wider artistic wave of nostalgia pushing through Western culture5.

  • 6 There were three further sequels in 1944, 1946 and 1958.

6Ah! Wilderness-was adapted twice for the screen, in two productions made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The first adaptation came in 1935, and was a successful black-and-white non-musical version of the play, directed by Clarence Brown,, using the original tide. The second version was Summer Holiday, a Technicolor musical flop of 1946 (released in 1948) produced by Arthur Freed, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, and starring Mickey Rooney as Richard Miller, the adolescent character often interpreted as the author’s sublimated portrayal of his own youthful self. Although O’Neill treated the play lightly (in comparison to his 1926 Lazarus Laughed, for example, which he believed would have huge impact on the theatre of the future), Ah! Wilderness has been a really seminal work with unique influence on American popular culture, not least because the success of the 1935 film in reflecting the play’s development of the father-son relationship, – a widely -acclaimed feature of the original production, was crucial to M-G-M’s decision to launch the spin-off series of thirteen B-films, involving the teenage Andy Hardy (played by Mickey Rooney) and his family, which, in 1942, collectively won an Academy Award for their representation of the American way of life6.

  • 7 The list in all its detail (dates and publication data) is given by Margaret Ranald in her indispe (...)
  • 8 “How much is that doggie in the window?/The one with the waggly tail?/How much is that doggie in t (...)
  • 9 “If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake, hired a band... howd’ye do, howd’ye do, how d’ye (...)
  • 10 Russell Lynes, The Lively Audience, New York, Harper and Row, 1985, p. 197.

7The plays of Eugene O’Neill have often served as the foundation for musical adaptations of all kinds. Operas have been made from All God’s Chillun Got Wings, Before Breakfast, The Emperor Jones, The Moon of the Caribees, and Mourning Becomes Electra7, A musical version of Anna Christie, updated to modern times, was planned in the Fifties by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (who had already produced the two film adaptations, as well as the Andy Hardy B-series) and they had commissioned a score for that film from Bob Merrill, author of two hit songs often advanced as proof of Fifties silliness, “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?”8, and “If I Knew You were coming I’d Have Baked a Cake”9. The Anna Christie musical film project was never completed, but on the strength of his Hollywood score, Merrill was asked to do the music and lyrics for a stage musical play New Girl in Town, produced in 1957, which ran 431 performances. This came in the midst of a general O’Neill revival: in the season in which New Girl In Town opened, The Iceman Cometh, Long Day’s Journey Into Night and A Moon for the Misbegotten were all also on New York stages. In 1959, The Iceman Cometh was aired in two parts over an American commercial television network in 1959 and « caused a buzz of interest not just among highbrows but across a broad spectrum of the viewing audience »10.

8Trying to explain its chequered past to audiences for the 1998 revival who might be upset by the jarring juxtaposition of habitual depths and horrors associated with O’Neill, and the screen or stage musical forms, John Guare, a playwright writing for the New York Times has said of Ah! Wilderness, that this play seemed made to become a musical:

  • 11 John Guare, “The Cheerful Past that O’Neill Had to Invent”, The New York Times, 15 March 1998.

This sunniest of plays already is a musical, everyone singing out their longings, their pleasures, their satisfactions... This serene “Wilderness” plants its sunny heart on its joyous sleeve as it creates sublime, only-in-America past...
Norman Rockwell? Grandma Moses?... Is his Ah! Wilderness his sell-out, his one foray into the Broadway he despised, the place he called a street of “show shops?”11

  • 12 Arthur and Barbara Gelb, Eugene O’Neill, New York, Harper & Row, 1962, Perennial Library Edition, (...)

9This rosy but perplexed vision of Ah! Wilderness, which does no justice to the dark undertow of the play, is perhaps a response to features in Ah! Wilderness reflecting, rather than any intention on the part of O’Neill to have the play become a Broadway musical, a half-conscious wish to have the play (as it did) most lucratively become a Hollywood movie, at a time when the author was best by alimony problems and burdened with the costs of house-building12. (I offer this interpretation with all due respect for the author, in the belief that art is also a livelihood, and that artists have material needs and motives not necessarily incompatible with excellence in art.) O’Neill’s play has a tone in common with the novels and plays of Booth Tarkington (a resemblance for which has been much taken to task by critics in 1933) and has much in common with such films of cognate stripe as Little Women (1933), another study of happy family life (and the youth of a famous writer) in the American past. Like the Alcott adaptation, Ah! Wilderness is perfectly in harmony with the Hays code of 1934, towards which Hollywood was tending throughout 1933.

  • 13 Other less successful Fifties musicals were adapted from works by Sean O’Casey and Jane Austen.

10The surprise shown by Mr. Guare at the incongruousness of an O’Neill play becoming a Broadway musical, shows, too, some ignorance of the Broadway musical at the time Take Me Along was created. Since the first use of a work of literature as the basis of a Broadway book musical (for Showboat, in 1927, adapted from a best-selling novel by Edna Ferber), increasingly highbrow authors had been chosen for adaptations (the 1945 Carousel, by Rodgers and Hammerstein, was based on Molnar’s Liliom), Kiss Me Kate (1947) by Cole Porter was based on The Taming of the Shrew, Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls (1950) was based on the Broadway stories of Damon Runyon and West Side Story (1957) by Leonard Bernstein again on Shakespeare. The triumphant 1956 My Fair Lady, by Lerner and Loewe, was based on Shaw’s Pygmalion, and Fiddler on the Roof, the most successful book musical musical of all, and the last in the series of great classical shows on the Oklahoma! model, was based on the short stories of the Yiddish writer Sholem Aleiche13.

11When the producer, David Merrick, decided on doing Take Me Along, he perhaps counted upon the star-charisma of the two male actors taking the parts the adaptation would foreground. An adaptation of Ah! Wilderness (like New Girl in Town) would use decor and costumes from a period (around the turn of the century) which, represented either in its rural versions or in treatments located in New York City, dominated the musical stage in the Nineteen Fifties. As Glenn Litton has said:

  • 14 Glenn Litton and Cecil Smith, Musical Comedy in America, New York, Theatre Arts Books, 1981, p. 24 (...)

Take Me Along was evidence that in 1959 audiences still couldn’t get enough of musical Americana, especially the lucrative myth promoted by Broadway that to find America’s heart you had to tramp into the country14.

Changing the Tune

  • 15 He had played the Cowardly Lion in the musical version of The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • 16 Hugh Fordin, M-G-M’s Greatest Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit, New York, Da Capo Press, 1996, p. 1 (...)

12Take Me Along is less faithful to O’Neill’s 1933 play either of the Hollywood films, and totally alters the tenor of its source. The same setting is maintained and roughly the same cast of characters. The same themes are developed, Literature and Life, sacred and profane Love, the joys and constraints of the inevitably beneficial state of Marriage, all discussed within a close group of young and old, happy and unhappy men and women. But, although critics in 1959 praised their fidelity to the O’Neill original, as we have seen, in Take Me Along, the superficially comical but deeply bitter stalemate of the Sid and Lily relationship as shown by O’Neill is transformed into a marriage at the end of the play, squaring off the chain of couples. Merrill and Stein changed the plot in a way that the adapters of Summer Holiday had intended, but been prevented from enacting because Ralph Morgan15, the actor playing Sid was too weak a singer to carry off the musical number in which the plot change – a successful marriage proposal – was meant to transpire16.

  • 17 Eugene O’Neill, Ah! Wilderness, p. 901-946, in The Collected Plays of Eugene O’Neill, London, Jona (...)
  • 18 O’Neill, Idem., Act Four Scene Three, p. 943.

13O’Neill’s Ah! Wilderness (1933) is set on July 4th, 1906 when Theodore Roosevelt was President (and Eugene O’Neill, born in 1888, was young) and tells of the revolt, essentially contained within the verbal and alcoholic sphere, and certainly within the diegetic town limits, of a bookish young boy, Richard Miller, son of the editor of the newspaper of a large small-town in Connecticut. Richard is given to reading shocking European authors like Ibsen, Wilde and Shaw, from whom he quotes extensively as a kind of enlarging contrapuntal spice to the comfortable ordinariness of his own situation (rather the way a youth of today might be constantly thinking of the titanic rhythm and galactic sound produced by upsettingly eccentric singers, which he hears on his walkman as he goes through everyday life). Richard copies out baroque verses from Swinburne to send to his young and inexperienced girlfriend, as usual expressing his feelings through a quotation. When her outraged parent finds one of these quotations, dealing with breasts being drunk as if they were honey17 – an event totally without any empirical relevance to the young people’s activity – the girl’s father complains to the boy’s, and Muriel is forced to break off with Richard. Despair thereupon sends him into a barroom where he becomes drunk and gives his money to a prostitute (in exchange for not using her services). Following Richard’s binge and day-after contrition, reconciliation is achieved and, in the most famous scene of the play, Nat Miller warns his son against fast women. The son asserts his love for and identification (even more, quasi identity) with the father. In a subplot, a drunken journalist, uncle Sid (Nat Miller’s brother-in-law), fails yet again to win the hand of Miller’s schoolteacher sister, Lily: Miller’s wife Essie keeps a morally firm hand on the household as a whole, censoring filial reading-matter and giving her husband permission to – just for once – omit his bedtime prayers. The superficially sweet proceedings are undercut by the sado-masochistic frustrations of the Sid-Lily relationship, the physical constraints placed upon the young lovers (who must wait four years for consummation until Richard’s graduation from Yale) and a certain oppressive sense of right-thinking conformity, however cozy and respectable this may be, closing inexorably in upon the boy rather as it does in Ionesco’s Jacques ou la Soumission. However, the play – written during the early days of O’Neill’s marriage to Carlotta Monterey – is bathed in the happiness of the middle-aged marriage of Nat and Essie, who end the play “surrounded by love18.

14The story of Take Me Along is not identical with the O’Neill source. Nat Miller, here the crusading editor of the Centerville newspaper, has obtained a new fire engine for the population, who acclaim him in song as the play opens. Praised by his wife and sister, he then assures them that they alone are the keys to his success. Sid returns from Waterbury ostensibly for the Fourth of July (but in fact he has been fired from his job, which he confides to Nat who hires him back on to the Centerville paper). Sid proposes to Lily who accepts him, but then rejects him first after an alcoholic episode caused by the Fourth of July celebrations, and then again when she learns that, because of his bad temper, he lost the Waterbury job. Sid swallows his pride and at last manages to keep a promise to Lily when he telephones the editor of the Waterbury paper to apologise and get his job back: at the show’s finale, Lily unexpectedly appears at the trolley depot, asking him to “take her along” with him to Waterbury.

15In Take Me Along, the character of Richard is simplified, and the thematic strand of Socialism (the political concomitant of his literary tastes) is completely excised from the musical, although for both the film adaptations it had been made even more important than in the O’Neill source. On the other hand, in the O’Neill original, his engagement to the totally prosaic and uncultivated Muriel underlines a gender gap presented as one eternally fixed given of the human condition, but in Take Me Along, the more congruous ingénue is characterised as being the mirror image of the young hero, and as sharing his callow infatuation with the literature of passion, as is shown in the duet “I Would Die”.

  • 19 Catherine Foley and Milo Stehlik, eds. Facets Complete Video Catalogue № 14, Facets Multi-Media, D (...)

16Stein, Russell and Merrill have extended the theme highlighted by O’Neill, that of the coming-of-age of the young man, so as to allow the middle-aged characters also to change and grow, and they have shifted the emphasis away from Richard towards these middle-aged male characters. Progress toward psychological maturity is made by the father, Nat Miller, who undergoes a kind of mid-life crisis involving first denial and then acceptance of the ageing process. (The fact that through his films middle-aged members of the audience had very likely followed many of the steps in Walter Pidgeon’s own ageing process gives intertextual resonance to the two-part musical number in which it is developed). Emotional growth in terms of the play’s value-system is also achieved not only by Sid, but also by Lily, who finally decides to relent enough to place her love of Sid and desire for marriage ahead of her strict principles. This change also brought the O’Neill source into harmony with extra-textual elements that would have inflected the audience reception, since Gleason, the actor playing Sid, was well-known as the male half of a happy middle-aged sitcom couple. The Sid and Lily of Take Me Along may be assumed to be heading for a kind of happiness roughly comparable to that of Ralph and Alice Cramden, the heroes of The Honeymooners, the cult sitcom (“the now legendary television comedy19”) about a lower-middle-class Brooklyner, his wife and their friends, which is still given reruns on American television. (As Pidgeon gained in prestige through playing a role long associated with George M. Cohan, the archetypal American, The Honeymooners may be assumed, by way of Take Me Along, to have taken on the connotations of archetypal Americana which adhered to O’Neill’s play.)

  • 20 With direction by Rouben Mamoulian who, in my opinion, adopted this satirical tone when directing t (...)
  • 21 Mark W. Estring, ed., Conversations With Eugene O’Neill, Jackson and London, University of Mississi (...)
  • 22 Published in 1948 as a piano score, At the Court of Kublai Khan.
  • 23 Ranald, Ibidem., p. 419.
  • 24 Estring, Ibidem, p. 135.
  • 25 Thanks to Thierry Dubost of the Univeristy of Caen for reminding me of these obviously important s (...)

17Ah! Wilderness is frequently styled as O’Neill’s only comedy, but in fact he had written another, Marco Millions, produced in 192820, the biting satire of a “go-getting Venetian Babbitt21”, which included music by Emerson Whithorne22. It is possible to see Ah! Wilderness as a comparable satirical comedy, likewise using “history for criticism of society”23. (Certainly O’Neill was obliged to emphasise to reporters that Ah! Wilderness was NOT a satire, but a “nostalgic picture of the America of its day”24.) Music is also an integral part of Ah! Wilderness. Somewhat in the way that Green Grow the Lilacs, the Lynn Riggs play (produced by the Theatre Guild in 1929) destined to be adapted as Oklahoma! used diegetically justified Western folk songs, O’Neill includes popular love songs of the 1906 era as part of the action – these occur most importantly, sung by Richard’s siblings, as the family is anxiously waiting out his unexplained absence while he rubs shoulders with debauchery at the Pleasant Beach House25. (These songs, along with journalism, and the Independence Day celebration, are presented as artefacts of American civilisation thematically put in opposition to the works of world literature to which young Richard, who never quotes from an American author in the O’Neill original, constantly refers). It is also true, however, that Richard’s intertwining of quotation and personal expression, in which European literature runs in counterpoint to the dialogues of everyday American life, creates a double-track discourse (in some ways comparable to that of Strange Interlude) which easily suggests the kind of two-tier sung-and-spoken expression that is used in American musical “comedy”.

18The Broadway musical of the Forties and Fifties was a genre very different from that of Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You or Alain Resnais’s On Connait la Chanson, recent pasticcios, with a lower-pitched level of cultural reference, which stud the plot with well-known popular songs (not especially composed for the film). To avoid confusion, a more proper name than “musical comedy” for the highly codified Broadway shows is certainly that of the “integrated musical play” (since tragedy and deep problems such as racial hatred – as in Show Boat (1927) the first masterpiece of the type, or West Side Story thirty years later – were not excluded from the range of themes dealt with in these shows).

19The “integrated musical play” epitomises “middlebrow” American culture, since, without being exclusively or predominantly avant-garde, and without standing apart from the profit motive, these plays were intended for an educated audience more or less well-versed in the cultural pleasures of middle-class life in Manhattan, habitual spectators not only of musical comedies but also of other theatre plays, users of museums, and perusers of the Book Review pages of the Sunday New York Times. Part of the pleasure given by Broadway musicals depended on their flattering an audience by referring to many forms of Culture, and not least in their relation to the works of great literature (or books considered near-great) from which, in most cases, they were adapted. Thus, although a majority of the literary quotations contributed by O’Neill to Richard’s dialogue, have been deleted (and some have been replaced by reference to more accessible American authors, like Edgar Allan Poe), in Take Me Along, the contents of the alcohol-crazed and culture-mad teenager’s brain can be phrased in terms of a “Beardsley Ballet” containing eclectic references to Oscar Wilde, his Salome, George Sand, Chopin, Lysistrata, and Camille, as connoting Old World culture. The literary education O’Neill assumed on the part of his 1933 Broadway audience no longer seems apposite, but a certain level of visual sophistication is considered to require an equivalent background of general culture.

Bridging Genres

20Take Me Along is not only an adaptation of O’Neill, but the adaptation of one theatrical genre (the straight play) to the codes and techniques of another (the musical play). The dialogue of Take Me Along is largely undistinguished, containing the lowest possible dose of borrowings from the original O’Neill text. Instead of through spoken dialogue, character is developed through music and lyrics. The significance of the characters is directly determined by the number of songs they are given to sing, each song highlighting a different aspect of personality or a step in the changes a character can undergo. Sid and Lily, secondary characters in Ah! Wilderness, are the lead couple in Take Me Along. Of the fifty musical “numbers” listed in the script (including repetitions, overtures and interludes) Sid is given seven numbers to sing and dance, individually, in duet or with a chorus, and Lily performs two solos and two duets with Sid, also taking part in two other numbers: repeats and references to the Sid-Lily material, occurring in incidentals or underscoring, occur nine times (Richard, intended to be the central character, has two solos and one duet.)

21Dramatic development is not achieved through spoken dialogue, but by means of the shadowing and mirroring effects created by the use of musical numbers. The celebrated Act Two luncheon scene of Ah! Wilderness which gives essential exposition to the Sid and Lily relationship, which was an important feature also of both film renderings, is completely omitted – the Sid-Lily relationship developed in the fragments of dialogue bracketing song, but chiefly in musical passages.

22As an aesthetic experience, the Broadway integrated musical play, essentially devoted to love stories, is clearly heir to the themes and stagecraft of Nineteenth Century Melodrama (the least-mentioned of its many historical sources), and linked in many ways not only to sound films containing songs, but also to the experiences provided by sound film using a musical scoring to underline emotion. At least since the first series of “integrated” musicals produced at the Princess Theatre from 1915-1917, with music composed by the cultivated, classically trained Jerome Kern, when

  • 26 Richard Kislan, The Musical: A Look at the American Musical Theatre, New York and London, Applause (...)

every song (had) a rightful place in the story... the songs that were once adjacent to or companions of the drama now became an essential part of the drama26.

  • 27 The lines between “musical comedy” and opera were consciously broken by Gershwin in Porgy and Bess (...)
  • 28 Kislan, Ibid, p. 117.

23At least since Oklahoma! the American musical play has had some pretention to being the “total work of art” that Wagner wished to put on the stage, in which dialogue, dance, decor and music were all supposed to advance plot and character. Some of the principles of composition are those of “grand opera”, adapted to a cultural level which is not exactly “popular” in the sense that “mass culture” is popular, and to which one might adapt the term “light classical” generally used for such works of easily accessible serious music such as Khatchaturian’s “Sabre Dance” or Tchaikowsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”27. The adaptation of the Wagnerian method of weaving “music deeper into the fabric of the musical drama”28 to the American stage was started by Jerome Kern for the Princess musicals, and was a key element in the concept of “integration”.

  • 29 Under these conditions, the value of using a well-known literary source to flesh out the proceedin (...)

24In the typical Broadway musical the spoken dramatic text is only about one-third to one-half as long as that of an average two-and-a-half hour “straight” play. The musical play is, typically, a two-act structure which allows (and requires) an interesting kind of dramatic shorthand29. This involves the technique of the “reprise” – the repetition in a different situation, or with different words of a number associated from the outset with a given character. Musical themes stated in Act One are inflected and developed in Act Two, at the same time developing and inflecting the characters and hence advancing the plot. This technique is analogous to what has come to be known as the Wagnerian use of leitmotiv (although early forms of the same principle go back as far as the beginnings of opera and oratorio) which has been described as “a system of organic development” made of “short pregnant or germinal fragments or motifs”.

  • 30 Percy A. Scholes, The Oxford Companion to Music (Tenth Edition), London, New York, Toronto, Oxford (...)

By so designing these fragments that each aptly characterises the situation or person with whom it is first associated, he enables himself to bring particular thoughts and reminiscences to the audience at will30.

25The psychological changes which take place in Take Me Along are charted with extreme dramaturgical economy, largely through using reprise. A good illustration of this technique is how the theme of ageing, centred around the character of Nat Miller, hardly mentioned in the spoken dialogue, is presented almost solely in dramatic song. (The archetypal precedent for this kind of song was of course “September Song”, written by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson, for their Knickerbocker Holiday of 1938). Since Take Me Along was perhaps originally conceived of as a vehicle for middle-aged stars, the theme of middle-age is more important than it is in the O’Neill play, where Nat makes incidental remarks about ageing at the lunch table:

  • 31 O’Neill, Ibid, Act II Scene 1, p. 919.

MILLER: (with a sad, self-pitying smile at his wife). Getting old, I guess, Mother-getting to repeat myself. Someone ought to stop me.
Mrs MILLER: No such thing! You’re as young as you ever were!31

26In Take Me Along, these are developed in Nat’s First Act solo number “I’m staying young”, criticising Muriel’s prudish father for being jealous of the young and relating how he himself holds his own while everybody else is growing old:

  • 32 SCRIPT, 2-3-16.

I’m glad I’m not getting old like that
And wind up losing my hold like that...
The moon has a few new wrinkles
He shines a bit more silver now than gold
I’m stayin’young, I’m stayin’young
But everyone around me’s growing old32

27This very long number is reprised in the second act with different lyrics:

  • 33 SCRIPT, 2-3-16.

When I meet some friend or neighbour
I say it out of common decency
I always say
“Why you ain’t changed a day”
And then I have to laugh if they agree
Cause everybody else is growing ol
Like me!33

28As in Take Me Along the Sid-Lily relationship is given a happy ending, instead of serving as in Ah! Wilderness a counter-example it becomes a mirror to the Richard Muriel couple, allowing complementarity between old and young lovers. This parallelism is brought out in complementary duets given to each couple.

29The First Act Duet, “I Would Die”, sung by Richard and Muriel also develops lines from O’Neill, here spoken during the reconciliation between Richard and Muriel in Act Four, when Richard describes his reaction to the letter in which Muriel was forced to reject him.

  • 34 O’Neill, Ibid, Act Four Scene 2, p. 939.

RICHARD: I wanted to die. I sat and brooded about death. Finally, I made up my mind I’d kill myself... If there’d been one of Hedda Gabler’s pistols around, you’d have seen if I wouldn’t have done it beautifully! I thought, when I’m dead, she’ll be sorry she ruined my life!
MURIEL: (cuddling up a little to him) If you ever had! I’d have did too! Honest, I would!34

30In the Take Me Along duet, “I Would Die”, Muriel places herself in imaginary situations derived from literature and asks Richard how he would react – his answer is “I would die”. (“I would die!” becomes the Richard-leitmotiv, as we learn later in the play when Richard uses this theme again in a tone of shouted rebellion, when, believing himself rejected by Muriel, he takes off to drown his sorrow at the Pleasant Beach House)

  • 35 SCRIPT, 1-2-12.
  • 36 Idem, 1-2-31.

MURIEL
Supposin’one morning I’m fragile and faint
I fall on the floor and I feel bad
The doctors don’t know what it is, or it ain’t...
But like as not, I’ve gotten what Camille ha35...
RICHARD
I would die, I would die,
Before even one minute went by
I could not live without you that’s why,
I would die.
MURIEL
... If you did it, I’d do it too!
I would die!36

31This Richard-Muriel duet is mirrored in “But Yours”, a Sid-Lily duet in the Second Act in which one of the love-challenges thrown at Sid by Lily is:

  • 37 Id, 2-7-27.
  • 38 Id, 2-7-28.

would you go out and slay me a dragon?37
to which her suitor replies:
Yes indeed if the dragon can be
a little sissy, a little frightened
a little shaky, like me38

32While humorously underlining Sid’s middle-age and contrasting him and Lily with Muriel and Richard, this reply continues the motif of romantic love and the love-challenge structure developed in the first act duet sung by the adolescent couple.

33At the end of the play, lines directly taken from Ah! Wilderness are given a twist by the use of a leitmotiv associated with character. Nat and Essie are settling down for the night “surrounded by love”. At the close of Ah! Wilderness, O’Neill wrote this exchange:

  • 39 O’Neill, Ibid, p. 946.

NAT: You know Essie, spring is not everything. There’s a lot to be said for autumn. Autumn can be beautiful too... and Winter, if you’re together, eh?
ESSIE: Yes, Nat39

34But in Take Me Along, this exchange is extended to underline the resemblance between Mrs Miller and Muriel. Essie continues:

  • 40 SCRIPT, 2-8-37.

But you know, sometimes I think of being young again, and having some gay young blade carry me off on his white steed –40

35At this point, Nat replies with the Richard motif and sings:

I would die! I would die!

  • 41 Idem, 2-8-37.

Before even one minute went by—41

  • 42 Id, 2-8-33. The wording of the original text is slightly different, see O’Neill, Ibid, Act IIII, S (...)

36underlining the preceding dialogue in which Richard has asserted his adherence to the sexual creed of his father (“I never did have anything to do with that type of woman... I’m never going to, Pa”)42, and suggesting that within Nat himself survives the shade of a Richard-like youth that he was.

  • 43 SCRIPT, 1-1-7.
  • 44 Idem, 2-2-8.

37Women are of secondary importance in the world of Take Me Along. Essie, Mrs. Nat Miller, is only seen and heard surrounded by other members of the family group in singing “Oh, Please”, the song defining Nat’s character at the very beginning of the play, in which he expresses his doubts about the speech he has made to an admiring crowd and his family all reassure him (NAT: Was I wonderful? LILY: Simply wonderful...43 NAT: Well, if I’m a big success then you’re the keys. 1-1-8). Later, in the Second Act, Essie expresses her doubts about the mothering she has bestowed on Richard, in a reprise of the same number (NAT: You a poor mother? Why, you’rewonderful... ESSIE: you’re just saying it/NAT: After all, the boy’ssixteen and he’s displaying it/ESSIE: Was I harsh?/NAT: You were gentle as a breeze...44).

38The role of the prostitute Belle, underlined in both the film versions of Ah! Wilderness, is very much cut-down, and does not include a musical number and the comic Irish maid, Nora, has disappeared. The only important female role is that of Lily, far more so in Take Me Along (where, in terms of on-stage time and musical numbers, her counterpart, Sid, is the leading male role) than in Ah! Wilderness. As well as two duets with Sid, Lily also has two big songs of her own “We’re Home” in the first act, in which she expresses her desire to have a family like Nat and Essie. Her second-act number (“Slight Detail Promise Me a Rose”) is an excellent illustration of the integrated musical song, which is supposed to reveal character and advance the action, as a kind of musical scene from which the convention of realism, elsewhere more or less closely followed, is suspended. These lyrics do not repeat spoken dialogue, but provide additional soliloquy dialogue in a totally different vein.

  • 45 Not very different in style from the words O’Neill gives to Sid: O’Neill, Ibid, Act III Scene 2, p (...)

39“Promise Me A Rose” song contrasts with her first duet with Sid “I Get Embarrassed”, in which her attraction but at the same time her prudishness (or coyness) are brought out. “Promise Me a Rose” recalls a detail (with no source in O’Neill) in the first act in which Sid (giving her a bouquet for which he has not paid), compliments her by saying that she should have a rose for every day of her life. It occurs in a scene in which rather banal but conventionally realistic dialogue45 is used to convey Sid’s guilt at having broken his vow of temperance:

SID
I’m to blame all right! I’m always to blame! How many times have I promised?
How many times have I broken my promise? How many years of promises?
And all of them worthless! Just like me!

40In the song, metaphor is used to describe their personalities – his, expansive and reckless, hers, hesitant and punctilious, both, less than perfectly balanced. This contrasts with the plainness of the dialogue in the unsung parts of the book. After singing that

If you promise me a rose, I go out and buy a pot
My imagination grows
Into roses by the plot (2-3-12),
or
If you even brush my hand
Absentmindedly as this
Just your touch upon my hand
I can dream into a kiss (idem)

41she finishes the song with

And though your little boat has no anchor
And my little boat has no sail
How can a dreamer on Love’s blue ocean
Be bothered by a slight detail

42We know that she is resigned to imperfection and chooses feeling over principle. Later, the song sung, she says to Sid in the simplest possible words, devoid of poetry:

  • 46 SCRIPT, 2-3-12.

Do you remember what you asked me, This morning, when you asked me to marry you?... Well, I will, Sid, I will!46

43When Sid says that they cannot go to Waterbury because he has lost his job there, the disappointment is all the greater for following on Lily’s sung declaration of acceptance, a kind of dip into meditation and feeling, a view of the character on another level than the dialogue alone would allow.

44As a final example of the economy allowed by the reprise technique let us look at the tide song, “Take Me Along”

Take me along,
If you luv-a-me,
Take me along with you

45This is used twice. First to allow Nat and Sid, who are going to the picnic together, to perform together a soft-shoe routine, establishing them as a team, two of a kind, musically linked despite apparent divergence. As we have seen, it is again used (as the tradition holds ever since the tide song was always thus used in the Princess Theatre musicals) as the finale of the show, to close the gap between Sid and Lily as well as the play itself. As Sid is about to leave for Waterbury, Lily, who was supposed to stay and wait for him, appears onstage singing “Take Me Along” No dialogue is necessary – we know that the couple has fused, and the values of the diegetic world are secure: Sid and Lily are headed for marriage. The tide song – “Take Me Along” – thus symbolises “togetherness”, whether that of same-sex relatives or a married couple. (Despite the gaps in outlook between Ah! Wilderness and Take Me Along, this “message” is in remarkable harmony with the implicit meaning of the closing scene of the original play itself, where, as a parallel to the love-kiss that Richard finally gets from Muriel, he gives a filial kiss not only to his mother, but also to his father.)

Men and Women in Love and Marriage

  • 47 Idem, 1-5-37.
  • 48 Id, 1-2-10.

46“You’re never too young to think of marriage... or too old47. Love in marriage is presented as the goal of life; Nat and Essie Miller are the archetype, the statement of the theme on which the two other couples embroider and to which they aspire. Take Me Along basically deals with the bringing into line of the deviant couples with the shining example of the Nat-Essie pair. Richard and Muriel are prevented by their youth from immediately emulating their example; but, at the end of the play, we can project this into their future. Sid is unreliable because of his alcoholism and Lily has strict principles which prevent their getting married despite their love for each other but, at the end of the play, these obstacles have been overcome: he has stiffened his character, she has softened hers. Marriage involves a promise, and parallel promises to Muriel and to Lily are broken by their suitors who are ultimately forgiven. Both the adolescent Muriel and the mature Lily, the single women, are presented as persons who are “afraid of life48, and by the end of the play they have overcome this fear, making of non-love and non-marriage a kind of neurotic behaviour which the plot of the play, acting upon them as a kind of therapy, has allowed them to transcend (thus allowing conventional behaviour to converge with a more or less Freud-derived idea of self-fulfilment).

47As I have mentioned, the role of the Spinster is given more importance than in the O’Neill original. The stereotyping is important. When Lily first appears on-stage in Ah! Wilderness and is given a compliment on her dress, she says:

  • 49 Id, 1-5-23.

“Oh, I’m just trying to cover up the fact that I’m an old-maid schoolteacher!”49

  • 50 “She conforms outwardly to the conventional type of old-maid schoolteacher, even to wearing glasse (...)
  • 51 Idem, p.902.

48The stereotype invoked when introducing her in his stage directions by O’Neill himself50, although, he pointed out, the expression of her eyes and “Her voice presents the greatest contrast to her appearance – soft and full of sweetness”51. Spinsters were a Nineteen Fifties theatrical convention worth noticing, because according to the marriage Zeitgeist issuing from men’s post-war return to the jobs women had held during the war:

  • 52 Joan Mellen, “Marriage in the Movies”, p. 261-269, in Gary Crowdus, ed. Political Companion to Ame (...)

marriage (was) not the culmination of a woman’s life, but her very raison d’être... it was the Fifties which really put the career woman in her place, and demanded that no arena of self-expression, however fruitful, compete with marriag52.

49In this context,

  • 53 Idem, p. 263.

the fate worse than death is being an old maid, that parched neuter portrayed by Hepburn in Summertime (1955), Rosalind Russell in Picnic (1956)... and Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)53.

50These were all films that had come to Hollywood from successful runs as plays on Broadway. Even more, in a recent discussion of “The Small-Town in American Cinema”, a theme highly relevant to our discussion (since the various cross-fertilisations and hybridisations between low, middle and high genres, and between Broadway and Hollywood, are built-in phenomena of art in the Twentieth Century), we are told that:

  • 54 Roffman and Simpson, op. cit., p. 399.

The ultimate indignity of small-town life is spinsterhood. The climactic moment of George Bailey’s (in Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946) occurs when he encounters his wife who, in his absence, became an old maid... George realises just how important his existence has been54.

  • 55 Idem.

51As a further illustration, the authors cite the role of the minister’s daughter in Tennessee William’s Summer and Smoke, who as played by Geraldine Page was demure on the outside but seething with frustrations within55.

52It is clear that by arranging their story so that Lily is set to get married at the end of Take Me Along, the authors are working in a highly-coded context in which they save her from a fate worse than death.

53But not only is the Lily of Take Me Along a stock Fifties character (updated from O’Neill’s own embroidering on the stock theme); in many ways, the diegetic world of this musical is a “stock” world.

  • 56 Kenneth Tynan, “Review of Take Me Along”, The New Yorker, 31 October 1959.

54At one point in the book of Take Me Along, when Richard’s parents suggest that their missing son is probably “sharing an ice-cream soda” with his girl, this is a scene that Mamoulian’s Summer Holiday shows, so Take Me Along perhaps refers to that earlier adaptation. But the reference could just as well be made to a scene in one of the Andy Hardy films, in which Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland share a soda in that way, or to any one of a large number of Hollywood films in which such a scene takes place. Although the adapters may have had the Mamoulian film in mind, audiences for Take Me Along would probably not have related this detail to Summer Holiday (a swiftly-disappearing flop), but rather to the Hardy films: the intertext for Take Me Along is not one specific source, but a vast body of films and plays dealing with life in small towns around the turn of the century. One reviewer of Take Me Along pointed out that it was set in that golden age -around 1910 – to which American musicals are forever harking back56.

55Eight other musicals on Broadway, at around the same time, are also set in this period. They are part of the massive corpus, stretching from the Broadway stage to the Hollywood screen, of the small-town musical of which the greatest example is probably the 1944 M-G-M Freed Unit musical, Meet Me In Saint Louis, starring Judy Garland, set in Saint Louis in 1904, itself belonging to an even larger corpus, that of the dramatisation of small-town life whether it be in the Andy Hardy films, the TV, sitcom, or more recently, and frequently with a certain irony, Spielberg and Wes Craven films. In 1959, the diegetic world of Take Me Along was a totally familiar and polymorphous artistic convention, and one perhaps already slightly faded.

56There are obvious reasons for the charm held by the early Twentieth Century, whether it be 1904, 1906 or 1910: the period was recognisably modern, life was already conducted in cities (though these are presented as having the closeness of villages), and it was already an age of technology, but the contraptions then called machines (in Take Me Along, a trolley car and a fire engine) are picturesque and idiosyncratic, and, despite urbanisation, despite technology, the clothes were elaborate, with very strong gender distinctions. The potency of this period as part of the collective memory is reinforced by the fact that it is well-documented, and accessibly so, since it corresponds not only to the first decades in which photographs were widely used in the print media, but also to the early days of Film. Psychologically, for people in 1933 (when O’Neill wrote his play), the period was fascinating because it corresponded to their own youth: for those in 1959, it corresponded to the youth of parents or grandparents and could thus dovetail with episodes of orally transmitted, recent family history. It was a prelapsarian world of Before, technically part of the Twentieth Century, but before the First and Second World Wars, before the Roaring Twenties, before Prohibition, before the Great Depression, before the Atom Bomb, a mental refuge against the modern experience, masquerading as the early modern.

57The values expressed in this setting included strictly coded gender roles and values, setting and gender roles together were celebrated in a vast body of works of more or less popular art, ranging from the Nineteenth Century regionalist novels, to those of Booth Tarkington, to small-town silent films like Tol’able David or Mack Sennett’s Smith Family series of shorts, to Ah! Wilderness itself, to B-series films led by the quintessential Andy Hardy series, and eventually to television sitcoms. The images grew brighter the more they diverged from reality, and great nostalgia for this constellation was expressed in the Thirties, during and just after the war, its most perfect expression being found in, Meet Me In Saint Louis.

58This mainstream popularity of the small-town theme has always run alongside a counter-current. Small towns and their inhabitants, their folkways and values had been the object of high art criticism at the hands of Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis, starting around 1920, and negative representations re-surfaced in films like King’s Row (1942) and in the film noir. Already in 1933, the values of rectitude as determined by conformity, including strict observance of the sexual double standard, as expressed in O’Neill’s play and the 1935 film which followed it closely, seemed archaic and regressive to certain critics such as Otis Ferguson. They seemed equally quaint to Mamoulian, to such an extent that his musical film, Summer Holiday, seems almost to be a lampoon. And in watching recordings of post-Fifties productions of Ah! Wilderness, it is sometimes impossible to avoid thinking that the actors are making fun of their material, and that audience laughter is not completely with Richard in his love scenes, but is, rather, tinged with a sense of cultural shame that O’Neill should seem to be setting him up in his strait-laced ignorance and callowness as a kind of ideal American archetype.

59In the transitional decade of the 1950’s, suburban life, as the mainstream lifestyle, definitively replaced small-town life, just as television replaced the movies as the mainstream art form. 1959 was the last year of a contradictory decade, secretly progressive, superficially regressive and conformist in tone. The contraceptive pill was not to be put on the market before 1960, and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was not to be published until 1963; but, in the mid-Fifties, Kerouac and Ginsberg were publishing their anti-establishment opuses and Women’s Lib – like other needs for liberation -was simmering. Female audience values (especially in New York) perhaps did not entirely reflect those reflected on-stage in Take Me Along. Professional women, highly concentrated in the metropolitan area, would perhaps have had overt ideal selves deriving more from Katharine Hepburn playing the lawyer-wife in Adam’s Rib (George Cukor, 1949). But it is true that the Cukor film is only a little less marriage-oriented than Take Me Along, since the story has Hepburn’s Amanda learning to bend her ambition to the emotional demands of life in a couple, the highest value.

60While other, older musicals have been revived with success, such as Jerome Kern’s Very Good Eddie (1915) which, in 1975, had a long run of over three hundred performances, or his Show Boat (1927), revived four times, or Rodgers and Hart’s On Your Toes (1936), revived in 1983 when it ran 505 performances, Take Me Along was only revived once, in 1985, when it closed after a single performance. However, the terms chosen by The New Yorker’s reviewer show deep revulsion: the writer speaks of the show’s quality as being that of “pygmy diminutiveness”, talks of the “downright creepy songs” and says that this musical, which

  • 57 Brendan Gill, “Review of Take Me Along”, The New Yorker, 22 April 1985.

was moribund when it opened here a quarter of a century ago... in its current... production was an embarrassment to cast and audience alike57.

  • 58 Besides the 1964 Hello, Dolly’, there is no small-town, turn-of-the century musical of the Sixties (...)

61Granted, the musical quality is much lower than that of Show Boat, and the absence in 1985 of male stars as popular like Pidgeon and Gleason, or of extra-textual props such as Gleason’s television sitcom, may have been a hindrance. But one reason that Take Me Along has not endured is surely to be found in the fact that it portrays a man’s world, in which a woman’s only hope of happiness is to take her place at a man’s side. This is an assertion which, in my own Fifties-moulded female view, holds quite a lot of truth, but a truth in need of a more modern vocabulary for its expression, terms less embedded in a multi-media intertext already beginning, in the Fifties, to wither away: an artistic convention (that of turn-of-the century, small-town America) which has since been largely rejected, or at least subverted, made post-modern, updated and overhauled, like the values it metaphorise58.

Notes

1 My thanks to Sanford Aborn, Vice President of the Tams-Witmark Music Library, for allowing me to take extensive notes from a loaned copy of Take Me Along – henceforth SCRIPT – in September, 1996. The script of the show has not yet been published and is rented out by the performing rights organisation, Tams-Witmark (757 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017) to amateurs and professionals who wish to perform it (The music of Take Me Along, in an original-cast recording made in October, 1959, is available on an RCA Victor audiocassette N° 07863-51050-4).

2 Mark W. Estring, ed., Conversations With Eugene O’Neill, Jackson and London, University of Mississippi Press, Literary Conversations Series, 1990, p. 198.

3 Gleason (1916-1987) had a strong off-stage persona as a drinker and braggart: his popularity was great enough to justify the publication in 1956 of a biography, The Golden Ham, by Jim Bishop.

4 James D. Hart, The Popular Book, A History of America’s Literary Taste, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, University of California Press, 1950, p. 265.

5 The movement had many ramifications such as the Twenties fashion for Early American architecture and furniture, or the New Deal-financed Design Index which catalogued artefacts of Americana (and it can be linked, even beyond this American movement, with the nostalgic quest for regional, earth-rooted and non-industrial artistic archetypes conducted in the inter-war years by the French painters described by Romy Golan in Art and Nostalgia, Yale University Press, 1995).

6 There were three further sequels in 1944, 1946 and 1958.

7 The list in all its detail (dates and publication data) is given by Margaret Ranald in her indispensable The Eugene O’Neill Companion, Westport, Connecticut, The Greenwood Press, 1984, p. 744.

8 “How much is that doggie in the window?/The one with the waggly tail?/How much is that doggie in the window?/I do hope that doggie’s for sale!”

9 “If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake, hired a band... howd’ye do, howd’ye do, how d’ye do!”

10 Russell Lynes, The Lively Audience, New York, Harper and Row, 1985, p. 197.

11 John Guare, “The Cheerful Past that O’Neill Had to Invent”, The New York Times, 15 March 1998.

12 Arthur and Barbara Gelb, Eugene O’Neill, New York, Harper & Row, 1962, Perennial Library Edition, 1987, p. 761. See also the letter to K. Macgowan dated 16.X.35, on Ah! Wilderness as a source of welcome financial comfort, in Travis Bogard and Jackson R Bryer, eds., Selected Letters of Eugene O’Neill, New York, Limelight Editions, 1994, p. 422.

13 Other less successful Fifties musicals were adapted from works by Sean O’Casey and Jane Austen.

14 Glenn Litton and Cecil Smith, Musical Comedy in America, New York, Theatre Arts Books, 1981, p. 240.

15 He had played the Cowardly Lion in the musical version of The Wizard of Oz (1939).

16 Hugh Fordin, M-G-M’s Greatest Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit, New York, Da Capo Press, 1996, p. 198.

17 Eugene O’Neill, Ah! Wilderness, p. 901-946, in The Collected Plays of Eugene O’Neill, London, Jonathan Cape, 1988, p. 909 “That I could drink thy veins as wine, and eat/Thy breasts like honey, that from face to feet/Thy body were abolished and consumed/And in my flesh thy very flesh entombed”.

18 O’Neill, Idem., Act Four Scene Three, p. 943.

19 Catherine Foley and Milo Stehlik, eds. Facets Complete Video Catalogue № 14, Facets Multi-Media, Distributed by Academy Chicago Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, 1996.p. 215. It goes on to describe it as a “groundbreaking, stylistically daring comedy that used a stripped down, psychologically dense naturalism to convey class, social and sexual tensions and make trenchant comments about the American dream...”

20 With direction by Rouben Mamoulian who, in my opinion, adopted this satirical tone when directing the film musical, Summer Holiday, in 1946-1948.

21 Mark W. Estring, ed., Conversations With Eugene O’Neill, Jackson and London, University of Mississippi Press, Literary Conversations Series, 1990, p. 134.

22 Published in 1948 as a piano score, At the Court of Kublai Khan.

23 Ranald, Ibidem., p. 419.

24 Estring, Ibidem, p. 135.

25 Thanks to Thierry Dubost of the Univeristy of Caen for reminding me of these obviously important songs, which I did not mention in the first version of this paper.

26 Richard Kislan, The Musical: A Look at the American Musical Theatre, New York and London, Applause Books, 1995, p. 117: “To weave music deeper into the fabric of the musical drama, Kern drew on the example of the ”leitmotiv“ theory from opera composition”.

27 The lines between “musical comedy” and opera were consciously broken by Gershwin in Porgy and Bess, Weill in Street Scene, and others: great seriousness of artistic intention and audience reception seem not to have been excluded from these productions.

28 Kislan, Ibid, p. 117.

29 Under these conditions, the value of using a well-known literary source to flesh out the proceedings is obvious.

30 Percy A. Scholes, The Oxford Companion to Music (Tenth Edition), London, New York, Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1975, p. 1101.

31 O’Neill, Ibid, Act II Scene 1, p. 919.

32 SCRIPT, 2-3-16.

33 SCRIPT, 2-3-16.

34 O’Neill, Ibid, Act Four Scene 2, p. 939.

35 SCRIPT, 1-2-12.

36 Idem, 1-2-31.

37 Id, 2-7-27.

38 Id, 2-7-28.

39 O’Neill, Ibid, p. 946.

40 SCRIPT, 2-8-37.

41 Idem, 2-8-37.

42 Id, 2-8-33. The wording of the original text is slightly different, see O’Neill, Ibid, Act IIII, Scene 3, p. 944. “I don’t see how you think I could-now, when you know I love Muriel and am going to marry her. I’d die before I’d –”

43 SCRIPT, 1-1-7.

44 Idem, 2-2-8.

45 Not very different in style from the words O’Neill gives to Sid: O’Neill, Ibid, Act III Scene 2, p. 930, as follows: “You’re right, Lily ‘-Right not to forgive me! – I’m no good and never will be! – I’m a no-good drunken bum! -you shouldn’t even wipe your feet on me! – I’m a dirty, rotten drunk!-no good to myself or anybody else! – If I had any guts I’d kill myself and good riddance!-but I haven’t! – I’m yellow, too! – a yellow, drunken bum!”

46 SCRIPT, 2-3-12.

47 Idem, 1-5-37.

48 Id, 1-2-10.

49 Id, 1-5-23.

50 “She conforms outwardly to the conventional type of old-maid schoolteacher, even to wearing glasses...” Stage Direction, O’Neill, Ibid., p. 902.

51 Idem, p.902.

52 Joan Mellen, “Marriage in the Movies”, p. 261-269, in Gary Crowdus, ed. Political Companion to American Film, (sans lieu) Lake View Press, 1994Lake View Press, 1994, p. 262-3.

53 Idem, p. 263.

54 Roffman and Simpson, op. cit., p. 399.

55 Idem.

56 Kenneth Tynan, “Review of Take Me Along”, The New Yorker, 31 October 1959.

57 Brendan Gill, “Review of Take Me Along”, The New Yorker, 22 April 1985.

58 Besides the 1964 Hello, Dolly’, there is no small-town, turn-of-the century musical of the Sixties or Seventies which figures in Stanley Green’s Broadway Musicals Show by Show, 1985.

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