Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Golden Apple

Why have we not heard this musical over here? It was clearly a smash when originally produced in New York in 1954. Its composer, Jerome Moross, was also responsible for one of the great movie sound-tracks. There are references to the tunefulness of The Golden Apple. However, not only did it not transfer to London, it also seems to have sunk below the radar in the US.

Moross was unlucky to have been overshadowed by the surge of Rodgers and Hammerstein (Oklahoma, South Pacific, The King and I, Sound of Music) and Lerner and Loewe (My Fair Lady). There were other hits like Damn Yankees, The Pajama GameThe Music Man and Guys and Dolls all of which had West End runs in the mid- to late-1950s. As I recall, the Musicians Union rules on incoming American artists were still in force as well, which must have restricted the number of transfers.

Perhaps another reason for West End management not to take on The Golden Apple was its theme, reinterpreting Greek myths for the twentieth century. In 1949, The Olympians, with music by Sir Arthur Bliss and words by JB Priestley and similarly placing the Greek gods in a non-classical setting, had failed (though largely because of a poor production). (Incidentally, there were two concert revivals of The Olympians, one in the Festival Hall in 1972 and another by Scottish Opera in 1995, both relayed by Radio 3. I remember being charmed by these and therefore puzzled by the opera's neglect.)

Surely there is a place for The Golden Apple in musical theatre producers' schedules in between the super-safe revivals of West End hits and adaptations of high-grossing movies?

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