Betsy 1926

Musical numbers
  • The kitzen engagement
  • My missus
  • Stenewall Moskowits march (collaboration Irving Cesar)
  • One of us should be two
  • Sing
  • This funny world
  • Bugle blow
  • Cradle of the deep
  • If I were you
  • Birds on hight
  • Shuffle
  • In our parlot on the third floor back
  • Follow on
  • Push around
  • At the Saskatchewan(Dropped before the New York opening)
  • Is my girl refined?(Dropped before the New York opening)
  • Six little Kitzels(Dropped before the New York opening)
Re-used
  • Come And Tell Me(Dropped before the New York opening)
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Music by Richard Rodgers
Produced by Florenz Ziegfeld
Book by Irving Cesar and David Freedman
Directed by William A. MacCuire
Choreoghraphy Sammy Lee
Starring: Belle Baker and Jimmy Hussey
It ran for 39 performances.
Early titles:Buy Buy Betty and Betsy Kitzel

Plot

Mama Kitzel wouldn't allow any of her other children (three sons and a daughter) to get married until her daughert Betsy, who had no boyfriend, found a husband.

Overview
 Overview    Betsy was a beautifully mounted mess, top-heavy with ensemble numbers in the Ziegfield New Amsterdam Theatre. The show was a beautifully mounted mess, top-heavy with ensemble numbers in the Ziegfeld fashion and heavy-handed "Jewish" routines. Al Shean formerly part of the vaudeville comedy duo Gallagher and Shean, played a social lion called Stonewall Moskowitz, who has money in the bankowitz so's as good as any mankowitz (Mankiewicz, get it?). That may have been one of he best jokes in the script.

The audience had a long wait for the first "charm" song, when Belle Baker (Betsy) and Allen Kearns, as boyfriend Archie the pigeon-fancier, sat on a fire escape to sing the cute duet "In Our Parlor On The Third Floor Back" Then Belle Baker-drab in the clothes of a cleaning woman in a vaudeville house-sang "This Funny World" a song whose downbeat sentiment offer a glimpse of the other side of Larrv Hart's mercurial character. It didn't do down well. "Follow On" an ensemble by the "Daughters of the Belles of New" was followed by the first of two grandiose solos by Borrah Minnevitch and his Harmonica Symphony Orchestra (later to become known as the Harmonica Rascals), a knockabout specialty, act.
This in turn was followed by an ensemble of "National Dances" which looked lovely but hardly moved the so-called plot forward. After these, Belle Baker sang her second solo "Push Around". More ho-hum. The uninspired ensemble which followed "Bugle Blow" purported to show how jazz had turned a nation of immigrants into "good Americans'' It led directly into the first-act finale; the audience's response was less than rapturous.

Act Two, set on Conev Island, opened with Evelyn Law and ensemble doing the bright "Cradle Of The Deep" Next came "If I Were You", with its cleverly juxtaposed sentiments ("I' d tell me that I really loved me"). It was at this point that Dick and Larry received the shock of their lives. Belle Baker stepped up front and belted out a song they'd never heard before!

It turned out Rodgers and Hart weren't the only ones who'd smelled turkey. The night before the show opened, Belle was in despair. This was her Broadway debut, and her two solo numbers gave her no chance to show off that great big voice of hers. She called her old friend Irving Berlin, who came over to see her. Belle told him her troubles and begged him to come up with something. Berlin told her he had an idea for a song, but he couldn't get a middle eight for it. He played it for her on the piano: two notes, then four, then five. He kept banging away one-fingered on the black notes (Berlin could only play in one key) halfway through the night till he found what he wanted, and then put words to the whole tune. Next morning, he and Belle played it for Ziegfeld, who turned it over to an arranger.

It was this song that Belle Baker now stepped up and sang. It was "Blue Skies'' and it stopped the show cold. The audience wouldn't let her off. She did twenty-seven encores. On the twenty-eighth, she blew the lines. Ziegfeld had them put a spotlight on Irving Berlin, who stood up and fed her the words.

It was a great moment-provided you weren't Rodgers and Hart. Nothing they had written came anywhere close to the verve of the Berlin song, and nobody knew it better than they.

When the show was over, Dick slunk off in one direction, and Larry, who always brought his mother to every opening, slunk off in another. On the sleet music of "Blue Skies,'' published shortly after the opening, there is a drawing of Belle Baker tying strings around three embarrassed-looking men. Two of them look surprisingly like the composer and lyricist. It isn't diicult to imagine the reason for their embarrassment. The critics tore Betsy apart, and the show died on its feet with only 39 performances to its credit, a catastrophic flop.

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