In January, Musical Cyberspace is going to work through a chain of musicals. This is how it works: each day I will discuss, in brief, a musical linked to the previous day’s musical by some kind of common ground. It follows then, that if you – dear reader – liked the previous day’s show, then you might enjoy the current day’s show. Comments, as alway, are welcome!
If you like Legally Blonde, then you might like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Legally Blonde and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes are two musical comedies about two iconic blondes. Just as Elle Woods is represents a certain aspect of womanhood in the last quarter century, so did Lorelei Lee in the era in which she was introduced to the world.
With Joseph Fields and Anita Loos working on the book and Leo Robin and Jule Styne working on the score, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ended up being a popular musical of the late 1940s. Set in the 1920s, the show tells the story of Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw’s journey on an ocean liner bound for France. After a number of romantic onboard hijinks involving a missing tiara, a fiancé back home, a couple of socialites and a team of olympic sportsmen, everyone arrives in Paris where, with two detectives thrown into the mix, more hijinks ensue. This being a musical comedy written in the 1940s, everything leads up to a great big happy ending with all the intrigues unraveled and everyone paired off with the right partner. Highlights include “A Little Girl From Little Rock”, “I Love What I’m Doing” and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is not my favourite musical comedy, even of its era, but that’s not the point of this month’s column. Certainly, dear reader, you may enjoy it; after all, that’s what we’re doing here. I’ve never been a big Carol Channing fan myself, so recordings of her takes on the songs don’t do it for me and its really only the film version (which features additional songs by Hoagy Carmichael & Harold Adamson, one of which is featured in the clip below), with Marilyn Monroe, that springs to life for me. That said, I think the show is a solid one and is worth a listen or a look, should you have the opportunity. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has been back to Broadway twice, first in the form of a “revisal” entitled Lorelei (broader and crasser than the original with a too-old Carol Channing once again playing the lead role) and then in a transfer of a Goodspeed Opera House production (which lasted a mere 8 performances with KT Sullivan as Lorelei). Perhaps there’s some life in the old girl yet: just please don’t revive it with Channing once again in this second decade of the twenty-first century. Maybe a production will come along yet that pushes this show up in my esteem.
So, now it’s time to share your thoughts on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. And what shows would you suggest to fans of this show? See which one we’ll feature here tomorrow…