The Saturday List: “Joseph’s Coat” – or a List of Colourful Songs, Part 2

Promotional artwork for Pieter Toerien's production of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT

Promotional artwork for Pieter Toerien’s production of JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT

Last week, Musical Cyberspace ran the first of a three-part series of Saturday Lists celebrating the brand new South African revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from Pieter Toerien Productions and the Really Useful Group. Having played a week of previews prior to its official opening, the show is currently running in Johannesburg. The South African revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is directed by Paul Warwick Griffin, with musical supervision by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, musical direction by Louis Zurnamer and choreography by Duane Alexander. Earl Gregory stars as Joseph, with Bianca le Grange as the Narrator and Jonathan Roxmouth as the Pharaoh. (Bookings are through Computicket.)

Last week, I looked at the first dozen colours that appear in “Joseph’s Coat”, the song in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat that sees Tim Rice listing a series of colours to a bouncy tune from Andrew Lloyd Webber. For each colour, I attempted to find a song title of a show tune that referenced the colour in one way or another. This week I’m working my way from lilac to rose, bringing the tally of colours to twenty.

‘And lilac and gold and chocolate  and mauve…’

Lilac and nostalgia go hand in hand when it comes to musical theatre, it seems. Whether you listen to Lilac Time or Nunsense, chances are that things are going to turn sentimental. That said, my choice of song is Ivor Novello’s parlour duet from Perchance to Dream, “We’ll Gather Lilacs.” Of course, the best reference to lilac comes from Bea Arthur, quoting Tallulah Bankhead: ‘There’s a touch of homosexual in all of us.  It’s not the cock.  And it’s not the twat.  It’s the eyes, don’t you know, and sometimes, the smell of lilac.’

“Gold” from Once is soul music. One of the couple of songs not written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová for the score of the show, “Gold” was composed by Fergus O’Farrell. In this song, which closes the first act of the show and is reprised later in a stunning a cappella arrangement, Guy sings about loving a woman and, for the first time, it’s a song all about Girl and not the ex-girlfriend for whom he has been pining throughout the showuntil that point.

“The Chocolate Soldier”, from the operetta of the same name by Oscar Straus, Rudolf Bernauer and Leopold Jacobson, takes us back to yesteryear. This little charm song plays on the joke that Bumerli, who has arrived in Nadina’s bedroom, uses his ammunition pouch to carry chocolates, which renders his revolver useless. The operetta was based on Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, who famously despised this adaptation of his play.

When I read through the list of colours I would tackle, I thought mauve would stump me. It has. Anyone know a show tune with “mauve” in the title?

‘And cream and crimson and silver and rose…’

There’s only one defendable choice here: “Ice Cream” from Joe Masteroff, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s She Loves Me, which is currently enjoying a revival on Broadway and racked up eight Tony Award nominatons this past week. At this point in the story, Georg has just visited Amalia, who is ill, and given her a gift of vanilla ice cream. Amalia tries to write a letter to a pen pal with whom she trades romantic letters, who is – unbeknownst to her – also Georg. Instead, she finds herself thinking of Georg, whose kindness towards her represents a clear shift in their real-life relationship.

Get ready for your third dose of operetta. Blame crimson, which offers only one option: “The Colonel of the Crimson Hussars” from Sybill by Victor Jacobi, Ferenc Martos and Miksa Bródy. The English-language version, in which the titular singer lost an ‘l’, featured lyrics by Harry Graham. The number is performed Sybil, the object of Russian officier Petrov’s affections, and a chorus of officers that she, at this point, likes better. Guess what’s different by the time the curtain falls.

“Look for the Silver Lining” by Jerome Kern and B.G. DeSylva was written for the Zip, Goes a Million, which flopped, and reused in Sally, which didn’t. In the show, the song is sung by Blair Farquar, the son of a millionaire to ‘Sally of the Alley’, a dishwasher in need of some cheering. She cheers up considerably, becoming a star of the Ziegfeld Follies and the wife of an heir to a fortune.

There is a story told by Stephen Sondheim that Jerome Robbins’s first reaction to “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” was to wonder whether the audiences of Gypsy would be left wondering, “Everything’s coming up Rose’s what?” That story alone is worth the inclusion of the Rose to end all Roses in this list and might leave you rosy cheeked as you think about the song that Jule Styne wrote with Sondheim to close the first act of the show. Look, I know that this pick is something of a cheat, but did you really want me to pick something dreadful like “Spanish Rose” from Bye Bye Birdie?

So… what do you think of part two? Which songs would you have picked for these colours? Any suggestions for the final week? While you think about that, enjoy this playlist of the songs mentioned in this column, and then head on to the comments section below!

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