Joseph Swain was a professor of music at Colgate University. He is an authority on Broadway shows and the music which carries them to success. He wrote" The influence of 'Showboat' was subliminal or subconscious, but there is no doubt that members of the younger generation of stage composers, especially George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers, were impressed by the play. It established a new set of dramatic ideals only approximated in the 1930s, but realized again and again thereafter." When George Gershwin labored to produce the folk-opera, 'Porgy and Bess' he was unjustly criticized as an outsider because the American Negro in 1935 coudl speak for himself. Things haven't changed in the past seventy years for some people; Essie Johnson declared at the KTA meeting that "we have NOT overcome." She is a product of the Gem Theater theatrics of that prohibition era, singing and dancing herself into the sidelines of local politics. And she's still not satisfied, but still holding old grudges. George Gershwin's 'Porgy and Bess' is a complicated case owing to its intensity of ethnic setting and expression. The main dramas of Porgy's loneliness and Bess' weakness remain an extreme but typical case of ethnic usage.
As did Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's 'Oklahoma' based on the play "Green Grow the Lilacs." Both of these musicals had beautiful songs intermingled with the story line. Who will ever forget "Old Man River." In 'The King and I' there is "Shall We Dance," and in 'Flower Drum Song, "You Are Beautiful" and "I Enjoy Being a Girl." 'Kiss Me Kate' is based on Shakespeare's drama. 'Fiddler On the Roof' has the most beautiful music throughout of all the musicals.
All the great composers like Jerome Kern, Frank Loesser, Lerner and Lowe, and Leonard Berstein with those mentioned above are included in this concise book about Broadway Musicals. They are good but, since I have yet to go to New York, I enjoy the movie versions, especially Richard Harris in "Camelot." He was a great King Arthur, the best there is, by far greater than Richard Burton on stage. I could go on and on about this fabulous music and the men who wrote it, but there comes a time for a conclusion so I hope that the English teacher at Grainger County High will not be too critical of my feeble renderings.