Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man

Rodgers & HammersteinShow Boat

Julie and Queenie share their devotion to their respective loves, Steve and Joe. Though composed by Kern and Hammerstein, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” functions in Show Boat‘s narrative as a traditional tune that would be familiar to Black men and women in America. When Julie, who is biracial but “passing” as white, sings the song, Queenie voices surprise that … Read More

1951 Motion Picture

Rodgers & HammersteinShow Boat

Released alongside the 1951 MGM Technicolor film, this soundtrack to Show Boat became available first in vinyl as a Long-Playing record with eight tracks, including “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man of Mine,” “Life Upon the Wicked Stage” and “Ol’ Man River.” The soundtrack features a colorful album cover with the film’s top-billed stars, Kathryn Grayson, Ava Gardner and Howard Keel. … Read More

1928 West End Premiere

Rodgers & HammersteinShow Boat

With almost no break after the Broadway opening of Show Boat, the creative team skipped across the pond to begin production on the show’s West End premiere at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, a house to which Hammerstein would return throughout his career. Hammerstein took the opportunity to fine tune certain aspects of the libretto, making small adjustments to the … Read More

Ol’ Man River

Rodgers & HammersteinShow Boat

Joe, a hardworking stevedore, acknowledges the slow, steady flow of the Mississippi River and notes its indifference to the hardships of life, particularly for Black Americans. Part anthem, part prayer and part commentary on the narrative of Show Boat, “Ol’ Man River” is the core of the musical and the show’s most famous song. “The melody of ‘Ol’ Man River’ … Read More

1946 Broadway Revival

Rodgers & HammersteinShow Boat

In 1927, when Show Boat premiered on Broadway, popular vocalists would occasionally record a single from a Broadway show, but cast albums were not regularly produced, in part due to technological restraints. Of course, that changed in 1943, when Oklahoma! debuted as a full cast album, just in time for Christmas. Three years later, Show Boat got its first official … Read More

1927 Original Broadway Production

Rodgers & HammersteinShow Boat

On December 27, 1927, crowds trickled into the Ziegfeld Theatre on 54th Street, the first to witness the latest show from Florenz Ziegfeld – a highly anticipated affair. The pre-show scene was described the following day in the New York Times review: “There they milled about elegantly in the lobby, were pictured by flashlight photographers, and finally got to their … Read More

Only Make Believe

Rodgers & HammersteinShow Boat

Gaylord Ravenal and Magnolia meet by chance on the wharf and are instantly smitten. To abide by the laws of social propriety, they pretend to have known each other already. This “almost” love song, in which the romantic leads express their attraction conditionally, became a signature of Oscar Hammerstein’s work. Later examples include “If I Loved You,” “People Will Say … Read More