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George Gershwin

George Gershwin Composer

Oh, Kay! (musical)

Performances: 22
Tracks: 49
  • Oh, Kay! (musical)
    Year: 1926
    Genre: Opera
    Pr. Instrument: Voice
    • Act 1
      • 1.Overture
      • 2.The Woman's Touch
      • 3.Don't Ask
      • 4.Dear Little Girl
      • 5.Maybe
      • 6.Clap Yo' Hands
      • 7.Do, Do, Do
    • Act 2
      • 8.Bride and Groom
      • 9.Someone to Watch Over Me
      • 10.Fidgety Feet
      • 11.Heaven on Earth
      • 12.Oh, Kay!
      • 13.Finale
This is one of the Gershwin Brothers' greatest Broadway scores. It ran a very good 256 performances on Broadway and starred Gertrude Lawrence. Script was by P. G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton. Set in the posh estates of Long Island, it involved some British nobility and a band of bootleggers, and features a virtual army of false identities. Its Broadway run ended so that Lawrence could take the show back to her native England, where it was the next season's biggest hit in London's West End. Its hit numbers included "Clap yo' Hands," "Do-do-do," "Someone to Watch over Me," "Fidgety Feet," and "Maybe." Of all the Gershwin musicals, it is the one most often revived in recent times.

© All Music Guide

Someone to Watch Over Me, song (from Oh, Kay!, musical)

With the resounding success of Lady, Be Good! under their belts—and the musical just finishing a tour in England—the Gershwins agreed to supply words and music for another Aarons and Freedley production, with the popular English actress, Gertrude Lawrence, tapped for the lead. Over the spring and summer of 1926 they worked in a desultory way on oddments tailored to Lawrence's vocal style as they waited for P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton to deliver the book. What began as Mayfair became Cheerio and, finally, Oh, Kay! Work began in earnest in early September, with rehearsals just weeks away, only to be interrupted as Ira Gershwin was rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy. Howard Dietz, later to achieve fame as the lyricist of Dancing in the Dark (to music by Arthur Schwartz), claimed that George Gershwin turned to him to fill in, and that he supplied the lyrics for Someone to Watch Over Me. Ira's recollection is that Dietz merely ad-libbed the title and that he, Ira, wrote the lyrics. Though Dietz was credited for other lyrics in the show, the published music says unequivocally "Words by Ira Gershwin." In any case, Ira recalled that George had habitually strutted the tune as a sizzling up-tempo number (in which guise it may be heard in an exhilarating 1926 cut with the composer at the piano) when one day he played it over musingly—"...half of it hadn't been sounded when both of us had the same reaction: this was no rhythm number but rather a wistful and warm one..." and the lyrics followed suit. In Oh, Kay! it was a showstopper as Lawrence sang it with hesitant longing to a Raggedy Ann which George had found for her in a toy store. Critic Percy Hammond, of the New York Tribune, wrote that Lawrence had "wrung the withers of even the most hardhearted of those present." Indeed, Someone to Watch Over Me has become an imperishable standard and a vehicle for everyone from jazz mama Ella Fitzgerald to country great Willie Nelson.

© Adrian Corleonis, Rovi

Do, Do, Do, song (from Oh, Kay!, musical)

Gershwin's 1926 musical Oh, Kay! was the greatest triumph to date in his already successful career. It featured numerous hit songs sprinkled amidst an amusing, if silly, P.G. Wodehouse/Guy Bolton story about bootleggers settling in a Long Island beach house. Among its more popular numbers were "Someone to Watch over Me," "Maybe," "Clap Yo' Hands," and this charming song, "Do, Do, Do." All of these remain popular today, both in their vocal renditions and in their spunky transcriptions for piano. "Do, Do, Do" opens with a sweetly lyrical, slightly playful theme whose innocence and charm soon yield to the suavity and swing of the refrain's music, which begins with the words "Do, do, do, what you done, done, done before, Baby...." While other songs in this score betray Gershwin's characteristic penchant for black American folk styles, this one is more mainstream for its time, sounding comparatively gracious in its cuteness and mellow in its bouncy charm. That is not to say its less sassy character makes it less compelling—this is an attractive song that will have great appeal for Gershwin or American musical theater enthusiasts.

© Robert Cummings, Rovi

Act 1 - 6.Clap Yo' Hands

Gershwin's hit musical Oh, Kay! premiered on Broadway on November 8, 1926, and garnered a spectacular run of over 250 performances. "Clap Yo' Hands" was one of its most popular songs and, like the other hit numbers in the score ("Someone to Watch over Me," "Do, do, do," and "Maybe"), was widely performed by singers in concerts and on radio, and remains popular today. "Clap Yo' Hands" is typical of Gershwin, from the sass and lilt of the music to the brilliant setting of the words (by his brother, Ira). This song, like so many by Gershwin, is closer in spirit and style to the black folk idiom than to the more mainstream Broadway music of Berlin, Kern, and Porter. That style even extends to the rhythmic nature of the lyrics: "Clap-a yo' hand! Slap-a yo' thigh!" Gershwin himself labeled the song a "modern dance spiritual," and certainly its music fully lives up to that description. The composer's accompaniment is brilliant and colorful, too, whether in the original scoring for small ensemble or for piano.

© All Music Guide
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