by Timothy Robson
George and Ira Gershwin’s 1924 Broadway show Lady, Be Good!, currently in the repertoire of Ohio Light Opera, resident at the College of Wooster, falls into the category of “They don’t write ‘em like that anymore.” Depending on one’s point of view, the response to that characterization might be either, “What a shame,” or “I’m really grateful.”
I saw the Sunday, July 14, matinee performance. As an example of musical theater of the time, Lady, Be Good! can’t really be faulted; however, we can be grateful for the revolutionary changes to the Broadway musical form by Jerome Kern’s Showboat in 1927 and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma in 1943, which much more closely integrate the show’s book, music and lyrics into a unified whole. That evolution of musical theater reached its apotheosis in the works of Stephen Sondheim, in which individual songs melt into the flow of the story.
Lady, Be Good!, on the other hand, has a flimsy and immensely convoluted storyline that requires considerable suspension of disbelief. [Read more…]