Do You Remember Mama?



Today marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the last Richard Rodgers musical: I Remember Mama, which featured a book by Thomas Meehan and lyrics by Martin Charnin and Raymond Jessel. The show – adapted from an overwhelmingly successful play by by John Van Druten and produced by Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II in the 1940s, which was in turn based on the Mama’s Bank Account, a memoir by Kathryn Forbes – tells the tale of a family of Norwegian immigrants living in San Francisco in the early 20th Century. Running for only 108 performances in 1979, this rather sentimental musical is remembered chiefly for the (mis-)casting of Liv Ullman in the central role, earning itself a spot in Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops. Such was the initial failure of the show that an original cast album never not recorded and it was not until a 1985 studio recording was released that the score became available to the general public in the form of a recording. Not the ideal swan song for Rodgers after his auspicious career, was it?

So what are your memories – good or bad – of I Remember Mama? Head on to the comment box and share them with us!

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One Response to Do You Remember Mama?

  1. Jeff F says:

    I saw this on Broadway and it was a painful experience. Some of Rodgers’s music, especially “A Writer Write at Night” is quite good, but the show had two lyricists (Martin Charnin and Ray Jessell) and the lyrics are sometime quite awful. “Uncle Chris” may be the worst lyrics ever written for a musical. It doesn’t get any worse than “He is bad, Uncle Chris. He is mad, Uncle Chris. We don’t know how many women he has had, Uncle Chris”.

    The show had no chance, even if the lyrics weren’t that bad, because Liv Ullman, a really good film actress, was totally miscast as the mother. Her singing was unimpressive and her dancing was unwatchably embarrassing. I have the cassette and there are some good Rodger’s melodies, and a few good songs, but just as many bad ones. Not Rodger’s fault. He was dying and still did pretty well, but the show had a lot of problems.

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