Tuesday, May 26, 2020

121. THE DESERT SONG. From my (unpublished) ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE NEW YORK STAGE, 1970-1975


Jerry Dodge, Britt Swanson, 
 "In Lieu of Reviews"

Reviews of live theatre being impossible during these days of the pandemic, THEATRE'S LEITER SIDE is pleased to provide instead accounts of previous theatre seasons--encompassing the years 1970-1975-for theatre-hungry readers. If you'd like to know the background on how this previously unpublished series came to be and what its relationship is to my three The Encyclopedia of the New York Stage volumes (covering every New York play, musical, revue, and revival between 1920 and 1950), please check the prefaces to any of the entries beginning with the letter “A.” See the list at the end of the current entry.

David Cryer, Chris Callan.
THE DESERT SONG [Musical Revival] B/LY: Otto Harbach, Oscar Hammerstein II, and Frank Mandel; M: Sigmund Romberg; D: Henry Butler; CH: David Nillo; S/L: Clarke Dunham; C: Sara Brook; P: Moe Septee i/a/w Jack L. Wolgin and Victor H. Potamkin in the Lehman Engel Production; T: Uris Theatre; 9/1/73-9/16/73 (15)

Between its hit debut in 1926 (it ran for 465 performances) and this dreary revival, The Desert Song received only one Broadway production. However, it became a conventional offering in stock and musical theatre repertories everywhere. The complex plot, set in Morocco, tells of the dashing and romantic exploits of a mysterious hero, Red Shadow (David Cryer), but this touring version was poorly produced and pleased few reviewers.

Fondness was expressed for the lush, opulent, emotionally rich music of several Sigmund Romberg songs, but much of the score seemed unnecessary of resuscitation. The lyrics were less than enthralling, and the book was dated and hopelessly melodramatic by 1973 standards.
Shepperd Strudwick, Michael Kermoyan, David cryer.
Mel Gussow thought the directorial approach “a straight rendering” of the original. Walter Kerr saw no such unifying approach, the style seeming neither straight nor pastiche. John Simon, however, declared the staging to be “high camp,” by which he meant, “doing something grotesque, preposterous and passé as if there were no yesterday.” As for the show’s visuals, they were “Indescribably tacky.”

Previous Entries:

Abelard and Heloise
Absurd Person Singular
“Acrobats” and “Line”
The Advertisement/
All My Sons
All Over
All Over Town
All the Girls Came Out to Play
Alpha Beta
L’Amante Anglais         
American Gothics
And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little       
And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers
And Whose Little Boy Are You?
Anna K.
Anne of Green Gables
Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead
As You Like It
The Au Pair Man

Baba Goya [Nourish the Beast]
The Ballad of Johnny Pot
Barbary Shore
The Bar that Never Closes
The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel
The Beauty Part
The Beggar’s Opera
Behold! Cometh the Vanderkellens
Be Kind to People Week
Berlin to Broadway with Kurt Weill
Bette Midler’s Clams on a Half-Shell Revue
Black Girl
Black Light Theatre of Prague
Black Picture Show
Black Sunlight
The Black Terror
Black Visions
Les Blancs
Blasts and Bravos: An Evening with H,L. Mencken
Blue Boys
Bob and Ray—The Two and Only
Boesman and Lena
The Boy Who Came to Leave
A Breeze from the Gulf
Brief Lives
Brother Gorski
Bullshot Crummond
The Burnt Flower Bed
Button, Button
Buy Bonds, Buster

The Cage
Candide (1)
Candide (2)
The Candyapple
Captain Brassbound’s Conversion
The Caretaker
La Carpa de los Raquichis
The Carpenters
The Castro Complex
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Changing Room
Charles Abbott and Son
Charley’s Aunt
Charlie Was Here and Now He’s Gone
Chemin de Fer
The Cherry Orchard
The Chickencoop Chinaman
The Children
Children! Children!
Children in the Rain
Children of the Wind
The Children’s Mass
A Chorus Line
The Chronicle of Henry VI: Part 1, Part II,
The Circle
Clarence Darrow
Cold Feet
Conditions of Agreement
Coney Island Cycle
The Constant Wife
The Contractor
The Contrast
The Constant Wife
The Country Girl
Crazy Now
The Creation of the World and Other Business
The Crucible
Crystal and Fox

Dames at Sea
The Dance of Death
Dance wi’Me/Dance with Me
A Day in the Life of Just about Everyone
Dear Nobody
Dear Oscar