In which Richard Rodgers and John Steinbeck have a falling-out over a whorehouse
March 13, 2012 11:48 AM   Subscribe

"It's either a whore house, or it isn't. Suzy either took a job there, or she didn't.
The play doesn't give satisfaction here and it leaves an audience wondering. My position is that she took the job all right but she wasn't any good at it. In the book, Fauna explains that Suzy's no good as a hustler because she's got a streak of lady in her. I wish we could keep this thought because it explains a lot in a short time."
Pipe Dream, a little-known and rarely performed Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on John Steinbeck's novels Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday, will be revived this month in a concert production at New York City Center [SLYT] for the first time in decades. The musical had not been available for performance for years due to rights issues.

Steinbeck, who apparently wrote Sweet Thursday as a sequel to Cannery Row with hopes it would be adapted into a musical, was initially pleased with the adaptation but grew increasingly frustrated as it became clear that the female lead was being rewritten from a prostitute in a whorehouse to something vaguer, in response to early audience reviews in Boston and New Haven. The musical generally received poor reviews. Rodgers himself declared his dislike for the piece, and a biographer has suggested that it was the open sexuality of the material which put it out of the grasp of the storied musical team.

New York City-area fans of obscure, forgotten, and panned musicals are in luck, between shows like this and If It Only Even Runs A Minute, a series showcasing songs from these musicals along with historical patter, archival images, and war stories from performers, some of whom originated the roles they reprise for the series. The last showcase featured songs from a Dracula musical, Paul Simon's The Capeman, and a preposterous sequel to Bye Bye Birdie.
posted by gusandrews (9 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
1955 + 26 + 26 = 2007.
posted by mikelieman at 12:04 PM on March 13, 2012

From the Wikipedia link:
the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization (which licenses their works) once hoped for a film version featuring the Muppets with Fauna played by Miss Piggy.
posted by yoink at 12:22 PM on March 13, 2012

I know, right, yoink? I didn't see a citation so I decided not to spread that, but I thought that would have been pretty cool.
posted by gusandrews at 12:24 PM on March 13, 2012

I didn't see a citation

It's too awesome not to be true. They could have renamed it "Charcuterie Row or The Best Little Piggy in Texas." It would have made a mint.
posted by yoink at 12:44 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I was a kid, a full piano/vocal score of this thing was among my mother's? (brief career as an assistant to theatrical producers) or my grandmother's? (aspiring songwriter) vast collection of sheet music. I remember looking at the lyrics (and the perky cover illustration of a Betty-Boop like woman in a Daisy Mae ragged dress reclining seductively in a repurposed sewer pipe) and thinking WTF.

I am going to go see it, much as I hate musicals, because I want to know WTF.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:12 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ah! The same illustration was on the Broadway cast album. For some reason, I found the sewer pipe-turned-house fascinating.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:14 PM on March 13, 2012

My parents had a record with the soundtrack to Pipe Dream, and I can still sing a lot of the lyrics....
posted by edheil at 6:53 PM on March 13, 2012

"Charcuterie Row or The Best Little Piggy in Texas."

Wait, didn't these books take place in California?
posted by mannequito at 7:12 PM on March 13, 2012

sewer pipe-turned-house

It's a boiler.
posted by dhartung at 11:16 PM on March 13, 2012

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