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Love Life: An Overview along with Notes on Genesis and Production

© 2020 by Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.  All rights reserved.

Excerpted from the Introductory Essay of the Forthcoming New Critical Edition

KWE Series 1, Volume 21

By Joel Galand

This essay, and the critical edition of which it will be a part, uses a system of sigla (combinations of a few letters and numbers, always formatted in bold font) to refer to the many sources and additional materials upon which the edition is based. See the key following the footnotes.


            Kurt Weill’s penultimate stage work, Love Life, opened at Broadway’s Forty-Sixth Street Theatre on 7 October 1948 after try-outs in New Haven (9–11 September) and Boston (13 September–1 October). It closed on 14 May 1949 after 252 performances. Producer Cheryl Crawford had promised Weill “a landmark of production and taste,” but landmarks are expensive to maintain.[1] Buttressed at first by advance sales of $350,000, the production started losing money by week eleven. The show survived as long as it did largely thanks to Weill, librettist Alan Jay Lerner, director Elia Kazan, and choreographer Michael Kidd waiving most of their royalties after 1 January. Still, Love Life ended its run having recouped only 26% of its $200,000 capitalization.[2]  After that, it effectively disappeared.

            Love Life might be better known today had an original cast album been produced, but what has become known as the second “Petrillo Ban,” in effect for most of 1948, precluded  members of the American Federation of Musicians from making commercial recordings, while a concurrent ASCAP embargo of national radio networks attenuated air play of those few singles recorded prior to the ban.[3] No piano-vocal score was published (although eight numbers were individually issued in sheet-music format), nor was the libretto printed, although plans for a publication of the latter had advanced before being abandoned.[4] To this day, Love Life remains Weill’s only unrecorded Broadway score as either an original cast album or a substantially complete compilation. The 1948 union actions presumably had a sorry effect on box office receipts, and a divided press did not help, with four out the nine New York dailies publishing largely negative reviews, including the two most influential ones, The New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune.  Even the most ecstatic critics couched their praise in terms that may have given potential audience members pause, describing the show with such adjectives as “experimental,” “cerebral,” and “bitter,” and issuing caveats suggesting that the show was “rather tough going for the average audience.”[5]

            But those very qualities that once made Love Life appear excessively bitter, remote, and intellectual, also account for the notoriety it has acquired in recent decades, despite (or perhaps because of?) its relative obscurity. Boris Aronson, who designed it, once recalled that “There were enough ideas in this show for twenty musicals,” adding that “in many ways, [it] may have been the forerunner of today’s so-called ‘concept’ musical.”[6]  Indeed, Love Life, which Weill described as “an entirely new form of theater,” anticipated many of the traits associated with those innovative musicals of the 1960s and 70s, and virtually all the creators of those shows had seen it.[7] Its formal organization, especially its paratactic deployment of commentary numbers and book scenes, foreshadows such shows as Cabaret by nearly two decades.[8] Yet despite its position within Weill’s oeuvre and the development of American musical theater, Love Life remains, more than seven decades later,  a historical footnote—better known of  than known. Apart from the few who have seen it staged, and the fewer still who know the manifold archival materials, scholars and performers have hitherto been unable to evaluate it for themselves.

            Just what was it about Love Life that made it “experimental”?  The authors subtitled Love Life unconventionally, not as a “musical comedy” or a “musical play” or even just “a new musical,” but as a “vaudeville.”  Lerner also described it as “a cavalcade of American marriage.”[9] In the post-Oklahoma! heyday of the “integrated” musical play, neither vaudeville nor cavalcade loomed large on the generic horizon of expectations informing the reception of book musicals. And Love Life is really neither. It has elements of both while retaining aspects of conventional book musicals with linear plots. In an effort to forestall bewilderment, Lerner and Weill described its form in a prefatory note to the Broadway program:

Love Life is a vaudeville. It is presented in two parts, each consisting of a series of acts. The sketches, which start in 1791 and come up to the present day are presented in the physical style of the various periods. The four main characters, Susan and Sam Cooper, and their children, Johnny and Elizabeth, who present the story, do not change in appearance as time moves on. The vaudeville acts which come between each sketch are presented before a vaudeville drop and are styled and costumed in a set vaudeville pattern.[10]

            In an article published shortly before the play opened in Boston, Lerner while alluding to the term’s French origins, explained that by “vaudeville” they meant “an assortment of acts, sketches, and songs strung together.”[11] Vaudeville in this sense is an American form of variety show that flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Weill, writing to Caspar Neher not long after he and Lerner began work, likened the form to that of a Varieté-Schau.[12] Vaudeville’s disparate acts could include popular songs, operatic numbers, circus routines, magic shows, dramatic sketches (both serious and comic), and, even movies, among a myriad other possibilities. Weill and Lerner paid tribute to one of the historical antecedents of American vaudeville when they ended Love Life with a minstrel show.[13] The acts in vaudeville shows, however, were normally unrelated to each other (vaudevillians brought to the shows individual, well-honed “turns”).[14] In Love Life, however, Weill and Lerner enlist acts and sketches alike in support of a central concept—a study of American marriage in the aftermath of the industrial revolution.

            The Edition’s organization preserves the authors’ distinction between “sketch” and “act” and follows the 1948 typescripts in labeling sections on either side of the Entr’acte as “parts” rather than “Acts I and II.” Each part contains one sketch comprising dialogue only: “The New Baby” in Part One and “Radio Night” in Part Two. Otherwise, Love Life is notable for its sheer amount of continuous music. Three of the sketches are entirely musicalized, or nearly so: “The Cooper Family,” “My Kind of Night” (in which all dialogue is underscored), and “A Hotel.” Music in the sketches is entirely non-diegetic, apart from some dance music (e.g., the music played by the ship’s band in “The Cruise”). The “acts” are mostly sung, although the ones in which the Coopers take part (“The Magician,” “The Locker Room Boys,” and “The Minstrel Show”) include underscored dialogue. The 157-year genealogy of American marriage unfolds in a series of sketches presented in a fairly realistic style. Vaudeville acts interrupt this narrative flow, offering songs that Weill composed as pastiches of popular styles. The songs comment on the socio-economic underpinnings of the ensuing sketch, either directly (as in the satirical “Progress,” “Economics,” “Mother’s Getting Nervous”), or obliquely, in a meditative or allegorical manner (“Love Song,” “Madrigal: Ho, Billy O!”). These numbers tell us that the choices the protagonists, in their false consciousness, believe they are making as autonomous subjects are largely predetermined by their socioeconomic circumstances. The vaudeville acts do not advance plot but “enter at a point when certain conditions are reached,” as Weill described his music for Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny.[15]

            This tidy division between “sketches” and “acts,” or between reality and illusion, breaks down during the framing magic and minstrel shows, which abandon any semblance of naturalistic theater. In those scenes, the Coopers enter the vaudeville world, whose members no longer merely comment but actively participate, spurring Sam and Susan towards self-awareness. At the outset, a magician uses illusion, paradoxically, to demystify, sawing Susan in half and suspending Sam in the air; these physical states are metaphors for their inability to cope simultaneously with “love” and “life” in the contemporary world.[16] Suddenly, an uncanny chord (the G-major diatonic collection plus the flattened sixth degree) interrupts the waltz accompanying the Magician’s patter. The lights dim, and the Coopers, abandoned in their awkward positions, must confront a reality thus far avoided. Appropriately enough, a fugato (which Weill borrowed from his unused 1937 score to the film The River is Blue), underscores their analysis of how they came to this pass. A flashback follows, presented as a series of historical aperçus chronicling their progressive estrangement across successive economic conjunctures.

            How Lerner launches into the past this journey of self-discovery may have reminded audiences of The Glass Menagerie, which also opens with an actor introducing himself as an illusionist of sorts: “Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion. To begin with, I turn back time.” Love Life’s magician, too, turns back time and reveals truth in the guise of an illusion. So, in a way, do the Minstrels in the chain finale. There, the Interlocutor and his colleagues offer the Coopers illusions in the context of a minstrel show (Sam and Susan are the end men) that is a “travesty on the compensation mechanisms of disoriented Americans,” as one critic observed.[17] But vaudeville also provides the pair a possible way out of their impasse. Having rejected various antidotes to reality drawn from popular culture (astrology, Hollywood films), they risk a final trick of obvious metaphorical import: the curtain falls on Sam and Susan, precariously balanced on a tight rope, trying to move toward one another, their children looking on anxiously.

            The concept of alternating “sketches” and “acts” emerged during the summer of 1947, early in the collaboration, but their number and contents remained variable until a few weeks before the production closed. Love Life’s modular construction permitted the authors to insert, reorder, and delete entire segments to a degree that would have been impossible in the composer’s two previous stage works, given their generic allegiances (operetta for The Firebrand of Florence, opera for Street Scene). Rather, Love Life’s structure recalls Lady in the Dark’s, about which Ira Gershwin predicted, accurately, that “[T]here’s so much of an experimental nature to be written by us, I feel we’ll probably have to overwrite and then cut.” [18] It indeed would remain Weill’s most “overwritten” stage work until Love Life.[19] More un-orchestrated music survives in holograph drafts (Dh) and fair copies (Vh) than for any of Weill’s other Broadway works. Dh includes a forty-one-page continuity draft of the suffragette scene in an early, discarded version.[20] Vh contains four un-orchestrated numbers. In keeping with the policies of the Kurt Weill Edition, this volume includes only music that Weill orchestrated or whose orchestration, for dances and utilities, he delegated to an arranger.[21] Even with this restriction, the Edition has to account for roughly twenty percent of the full score that was no longer being performed when the show closed. Given its mutability and the absence of a definitive version fixed by the authors, the Edition offers a maximal version of the show, including “Susan’s Dream,” “The Locker Room,” “Is It Him or Is It Me?”, of which the first two were cut during tryouts and the last towards the end of the New York run. Other orchestrated, cut numbers appear in the Appendix.

            Love Life’s vaudeville interludes gesture not only towards Broadway’s future but also to Weill’s past. Throughout his career, he was drawn to similarly carnivalesque formal devices that undermined the ersatz psychologism of the conventional theater he so deplored (witness his judgment of Cocteau’s “idiotic play” L’aigle à deux têtes shortly before he started collaborating with Lerner).[22] I invoke that somewhat overworked carnival trope as literary critic Dominick LaCapra understands it (with an obvious nod to Bakhtin):

[A]n engaging process of interaction through which seeming opposites––body and spirit, work and play, positive and negative, high and low, seriousness and laughter––are related to each other in an ambivalent, contestatory interchange that is both literally and figuratively “recreative.”… [Carnivalisation] involves dismemberment or creative undoing that may be related to processes of renewal….The larger question raised by these strategies is that of the interaction between the quest for unity, which may continue to function in direct or parodic ways, and challenges to that quest operative or experimented with in the texts themselves.[23]

Oppositions at once structural and contested, undoing in the name of renewal, and unity challenged yet somehow preserved—“it has form in a formless way,” Weill wrote about Love Life—are hallmarks of Weill’s work. [24] Interpreted in the context of his career, Love Life’s vaudeville interludes constitute yet another of the many “angles” from which Weill approached the “form-problems of the musical theater.”[25]

Genesis and Production[26] — Inception

Only the pyramids appeared without any cultural preparation….The first crude steam engine was built in Alexandria, Egypt, in the second century BC. However, it did not become a practical invention until James Watt developed it into a useful instrument in 1769. What he did was turn on the valve of the industrial era which hatched the industrial revolution, filled the skies with the grey clouds of the factory, created a new kind of working and middle class, and with men leaving home to go to work for the first time, probably did as much to upset the sexual balance of man and woman as any single event since the inception of marriage.[27]

            At some point during the spring of 1947, Alan Lerner came up with the idea of writing a “calvacade of American marriage,” beginning with the industrial revolution.[28] The topic evidently preoccupied him for much of his adult life: without explicitly referring to Love Life, he began his chronicle of the American musical—a book still in press when he died—with an excursus on the industrial revolution’s  effect on sexual relations. Nearly four decades after Love Life had closed, Lerner was still promoting its central theme, or “concept,” even though he had long discouraged reviving it, once quipping, “I’ve turned into everything I satirized in that show” (he married eight times).[29]

            Lerner pitched his idea for a new show not to his usual collaborator, Fritz Loewe, but to Kurt Weill. In the spring of 1947, Lerner and Loewe “had a mysterious falling out,” and Lerner found himself seeking a new project and a new composer.[30] Only twenty-nine (Lenya thought he looked like a college kid behind his tortoise-rimmed glasses), Lerner already had to his credit three shows produced on Broadway (all with Loewe) and one divorce. His first hit, Brigadoon, was still running; it would close after 581 performances, nine days before Love Life went into rehearsal. Lerner was then living with Brigadoon’s leading lady Marion Bell, whom he would marry that September, only to leave her part way through Love Life’s run. Undergoing psychoanalysis at the time, Lerner later claimed that his personal circumstances led him to contemplate a musical play about divorce.[31]

            Lerner’s first Broadway outing, What’s Up (1943), a conventional farce set in a private school for girls, fared poorly (63 performances), despite choreography by George Balanchine and sets by future Love Life designer Boris Aronson. The Day before Spring (1945) did better, with 167 performances. It was conductor Maurice Abravanel’s first job after One Touch of Venus, and it was apparently he who first suggested to Weill that he team up with Lerner:[32]

One day after Brigadoon, Fritz and I had luncheon. I was worried about Kurt Weill not getting the right librettist. Obviously Kurt could not work with the Hammerstein type—AABA, AAAAA, repeat, repeat. Ogden Nash on the other hand had gone a little far. Two thirds of the audience could not understand the wonderful wit of his lyrics when sung….

            If Fritz told me what the problem was between them, I don’t remember now. But he said, “That son of a bitch, if I never write another note, I will not write with him again.”…I said, “Now Fritz, if you’re serious, I’m going to tell Kurt, because I think they could hit it well together.” So I told Kurt, and he came to see Brigadoon.

            Kurt was a marvelous guy, but he had that funny superiority on his face. Afterward he said about Alan, “Oh Maurice, that’s not really up to my level.” But then later he worked with Alan on Love Life.[33]

            Weill, too, was seeking new projects and collaborators. That spring, he corresponded with William Saroyan and Tennessee Williams about possible ventures. Meanwhile, he and Maxwell Anderson were exploring ways of recycling material from for their unproduced musical Ulysses Africanus (1939), which they had abandoned after Bill Robinson proved unwilling to play the lead. At some point, Anderson had come up with the idea of using “Lost in the Stars” as the title song for a “spaceship musical,” perhaps starring Danny Kaye. But shortly after Weill returned in June from a trip to Europe and Palestine, Anderson decided to make it more of a “plain play—with a few songs in it,” before eventually abandoning the project altogether. Around that time, Weill had about half a dozen conferences with Herman Wouk about a musical version of Aurora Dawn.[34] But Weill’s only concrete project for 1947–48 was an expanded revision of the short radio opera Down in the Valley for a staged production at Indiana University in the summer of 1948.

            Cheryl Crawford, Brigadoon’s and One Touch of Venus’s producer, apparently arranged Weill and Lerner’s first meeting. The exact date of the meeting is unknown. Lerner recalled that it was probably in April after a performance of Brigadoon Weill and Lenya had attended with Crawford.[35] But Weill had either met Lerner already by then or had somehow formed a favorable impression. Having hired the Hollywood agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar to seek out film offers, Weill wrote him on 17 March proposing two projects to be pitched to the studios: musical versions of Maxwell Anderson’s High Tor and of John Galsworthy’s “The Apple Tree.”[36] Weill suggested Lerner as librettist for the latter, but Lerner’s account of their initial meeting does not mention it:

Kurt went to see Brigadoon. He was a great friend of the producer, Cheryl Crawford, and was enthusiastic about the show. We had never met. Cheryl thought it would be a wonderful idea if we collaborated. So I met Kurt the night he saw the show. We had a drink together afterwards. A couple of weeks later I went up to have lunch at his house in the country. Afterwards, we had a long walk up the road. We talked of working together. He was going off to Israel to see his family (this was in April, 1947). He said he’d be back in June. [37] Somewhere along the line, while he was gone, I’d gotten the idea of doing a cavalcade of American marriage; of taking one family, beginning with the start of the Industrial Revolution, and showing what happened to them in a satirical way. I called up Kurt when he returned and told him about it [probably around 20 July].[38] He said it sounded interesting, that it needed a vehicle—a way of telling it. A week or so later, I thought of doing it as a vaudeville! I called him again and told him my idea. He was fascinated! I moved out to New City, where he lived, and we started working in August.[39]

In a later interview with George Davis, Lerner elaborated on his initial impressions of Weill:

Alan had two or three meetings with Kurt, and discovered a quality that was unique in his experience, a quality that he says was almost like talking to a wiser version of yourself, of reaching through all one’s own flounderings with an idea, and articulating for you, of understanding exactly what you were groping for….[S]imply by suggesting a scene, he could sense that Kurt had grasped the whole of what he was seeking….[No][ matter how daring or unconventional an idea was, Kurt was determined to find a way for the public to accept it.[40]

            Soon it was semi-official: on 30 July, the New York Times announced that the new team of Lerner and Weill “may do song and dance show.” Lerner rented “Crow House,” which the artist Henry Varnum Poor had built for himself on South Mountain Road, adjacent to Weill’s “Brook House.” In the 1920s, Poor and his wife Bessie Breuer had sparked a community of artistic folk settling in this bucolic neighborhood nestled in High Tor’s shadow, some thirty-five miles north of Manhattan in Rockland County.[41] Maxwell Anderson had lived there since the 1920s, Weill since 1941, and now Lerner and Bell joined the colony. By then, both elements of the show’s format—the150-year narrative span and the interruptive vaudeville acts—were agreed upon and ready to be worked out. Not long after the New York opening, Lerner offered a somewhat more sensational account of how the authors arrived at their idiosyncratic concept: “Kurt Weill and I discussed the basic story idea first. We knew what we wanted to say. And then we talked and talked and talked—for about two months before we figured out the form our story ought to take….Finally, after discussing hundreds of notions, the idea of doing the show as a vaudeville found its way to our misty heads.”[42] But the idea must have surfaced sooner, for Weill’s draft of “Progress,” the first vaudeville interlude, is dated 26 August.

            Love Life would not be a vaudeville in manner of the Palace Theatre shows. Unlike those spectacles, Love Life was organized around a theme, its individual sketches coalescing into an overarching, if unusual and disjointed, narrative thread. Above all, Love Life would be “an experiment with form,” as Lerner described it in an article published before the Boston opening:

“Love Life” is a serious subject, treated, most of the way, lightly…To tell a story such as this, which I am sure at first glance would seem to be intensely tragic, we selected the most theatrical and basically American form we could think of. Vaudeville. This does not mean the vaudeville we associate with the old Keith Orpheum circuit…By vaudeville, as we see it, we mean an assortment of acts, sketches, and song strung together….

            Mostly our feeling is that this is certainly a fluid form and one which offers a host of possibilities for the future. Unlike the musical play form which strives for complete integration of the words, the music and the movement, the form of the vaudeville is that it has form. Consequently, it is much more free and is admirably suited for the presentation of any idea….

            Even though the musical has grown in stature and import as theatrical fare, it is my belief that we cannot rest on our oars; we must continue to invent and improvise…In the case of “Love Life” we felt that one way to move ahead was to reach back to an older form—and give it new direction by investing it with meaning.[43]

Lerner identified three functions for the vaudeville interludes in Love Life. First, they promoted continuity of a sort, “lead[ing] from one scene to the other, preparing the audience for what is coming while linking it to what had gone before.”[44] Second, the interludes, performed “in one” before a drop, covered scene changes. And third, the “loose” and flexible structure of a vaudeville bill encouraged formal experimentation away from the “integrated” musical play, which had fast become the norm. Plumbing the origins of the musical in vaudeville and minstrelsy was one way to reinvigorate the genre. It is probably not unreasonable to link Lerner’s thinking here with Weill’s pronouncements, some two decades earlier, about creating Urformen of popular musical theater, and to regard Love Life as another realization of that goal.[45]

Genesis and Production – Before rehearsals: Creation

            Lerner and Weill experimented restlessly with their show over a long genesis: Weill’s first dated holograph is a draft of “Here I’ll Stay” (23 August 1947). “Love Song,” the last vocal number added, was composed in mid-September 1948.[46] With Lerner and Weill living a short stroll apart, no correspondence about Love Life between its authors has surfaced. Indeed, there is little documentation about the show’s development prior to March 1948, when the authors deposited for copyright a “dramatico-musical play entitled A Dish for the Gods: A Vaudeville” (Tt1). From Maxwell Anderson’s diary, we gather that the late summer and fall of 1947 was a period of intense collaboration, punctuated by convivial late-night gatherings, when the new work and the Playwrights’ Company’s possible role in its production were discussed in between hands of poker.[47] Lerner remembered that writing Love Life was “enormous fun. What made it so was discarding a lot of old rules and making up our own rules as we went along.”[48]

            Because Weill dated some of his drafts, we know that he had substantially completed much of Part One by mid-October. Besides no. 3 (“Here I’ll Stay”), other dated drafts include no. 4 (“Progress”) on 26 August,  no. 13 (“You Understand Me So”) on 8 September, no. 6 (“Green-Up Time”) on 10 September, no. 8 (“Susan’s Dream”) on 20 September, no. 7 (“Economics”)  on 1 October, and no. 9 (“Mother’s Getting Nervous”) on 7 October. This chronology mostly matches the ordering of these numbers in Tt1.

            Weill ceased to date materials after 17 October, after which there is scant information about how work progressed.  The continuity drafts for the remaining numbers in Tt1—no. 5 (“I Remember It Well”), no. 12 (“I’m Your Man”), no. 15 (“Ho, Billy O!”), no. 16 (“The Locker Room”), no. 18 (“Is It Him or Is It Me?”), and the eventually discarded “There’s Nothing Left For Daddy but the Rhumba”—must have been completed by the end of Winter 1948. On 4 February, the Times reported that Weill and Lerner “expected to have completed work in about ten days.” That places the completion towards the end of February, which makes sense, given the14 March Library of Congress accession date for Tt1. On 27 March, Weill and Lerner “played, read, and sang” the entire show for  Maxwell and Mab Anderson and Burgess Meredith, followed by criticism and discussion well into that Easter morning.[49]

            Compared to the version of Love Life that went into production, the two most striking elements about A Dish for the Gods as transmitted by Tt1 are how much Susan dominates the show and how unpleasant her marriage is from the start; the entire exercise of going back in time seems futile. In September 1947, the Times had described the show as “the history of a woman,” and that is indeed how Weill and Lerner first wrote it.[50] Sam has no solo number; he sings only in the duets “Here I’ll Stay,” “I Remember It Well,” and “You Understand Me So.” In the opening “act,” Susan appears alone and persuades the Magician to transport her back 150 years. But first, a male octet performs “Progress” to prepare us for the following scene, which takes place not 150 years earlier but in 1816, on Sam’s first day at the factory, with the marriage already starting to go wrong. Sam and Susan sing “I Remember It Well,” which motivates a flashback within the flashback, completing the backwards trajectory the Magician had promised Susan. This internal flashback begins, like the 1821 scene in subsequent scripts, with Susan giving the children a history lesson, though here it is versified, as is the subsequent passage in which Susan’s brother Henry comments on newspaper items about the coming industrialization (Dh includes sketches for this continuous stretch of music).

            When Tt1 introduces Sam, he cuts an ungracious figure. Susan wants to go to the green-up dance at Mr. Brown’s (it was she who suggested the event), but Sam curtly tells her they can’t go—he has to finish a chair. “Why do you take it from him?” asks Henry, who wants Susan to assert herself. She sings “Green-Up Time” regretfully, excusing herself when neighbors come to fetch her. As it turns out, Sam wanted to stay home so he could give Susan her birthday present—the chair he has been working on all day. This tender moment motivates “Here I’ll Stay,” but it all seems too little, too late. Why not have the chair and the dance?

            In Tt1, as in all subsequent versions, Sam does appear in the Minstrel Show, where he joins Susan in rejecting a series of illusions, including the one offered by Miss Ideal Man (the eleven o’clock number “Mr. Right” was already there). But once all the illusions have been shattered, the Coopers have nothing left, and they part for good. The curtain falls with Susan, back at the magic show, saying through her tears, “Thank you Magician. You can go on with your act now.”

            We don’t know what advice Anderson and Meredith gave after that Maundy Saturday reading, but the team soon realized that their script was excessively bleak. Moreover, no actor of any stature would have consented to play Sam as currently written. That spring, Lerner and Weill revised, while Weill and Anderson outlined a musical treatment of Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country. Weill tried to keep it a secret from Lerner, “for fear that Alan would give up thinking of ideas for him.”[51] Weill and Lerner expanded Sam’s role, made the couple more appealing, and ended their show on a note of guarded optimism. By 3 May, Anderson could report that Weill and Lerner “have found an end to their musical—the man + his wife approach each other on a tight rope.”[52] The day before, the Times announced that the title A Dish for the Gods would be “thrown to the dogs,” and that the authors had produced a revised script in which the husband “has assumed increased importance.”[53]

*       *       *

iv. Before Rehearsals: Casting and Production

            Love Life’s protracted genesis is intimately bound up with its casting. While it took only three months for Weill and Lerner to develop their concept and then draft most of Part One, five more months elapses before they deposited a script for copyright. When the authors had begun  work, they hoped to open in the Spring of 1948.  But by late Fall 1947, no leading lady had emerged. When the authors signed a Dramatist’s Guild contract with Crawford on 21 November, the three of them had already decided to postpone production until fall, further work being put on hold while Lerner traveled to London to plan a West End production of Brigadoon.

            The contract included sixteen “special arrangements” beyond the Writer’s Guild Minimum Basic Agreement.[54] One of them called for a delivery date for the complete script and piano-vocal score by 1 May 1948, thus precluding a spring opening. Other special arrangements included the usual non-interpolation clause that Weill always required; the stipulation of 8.5% royalties, later amended to 9% (5% to Lerner, 4% Weill); Weill’s approval of chorus, musical arranger, contractor, rehearsal pianist, conductor, and musicians; and stipulations concerning the size of the orchestra. Weill required an orchestra of no fewer than twenty-four players, or at least twenty-seven if the house were the size of the Ziegfeld Theatre or larger (i.e., a capacity of at least 1638). Indeed, when Weill started orchestrating, he had twenty-seven players in mind, including fifteen strings (6 Vn I, 4 Vn II, 2 Vn III, 2 Vc, 1 Cb). But the Forty-Sixth Street Theatre (1319 capacity) was smaller than the Ziegfeld , so the production ended up with twenty-five players. The decision to eliminate one stand of Vn I appears to have been made fairly late. The 1948 instrumental parts (Im) include a third Violin I book for most of the score, save material added during try-outs.  The book is only lightly marked, suggesting that the string section was reduced shortly after orchestral rehearsals began.

            The special agreement concerning arrangements stipulated that “Kurt Weill agrees to provide musical arrangements and to orchestrate the score at his own expense, but in the event he requires assistance the Manager agrees to pay for same.” According to her own estimate, Weill thereby  saved Crawford approximately $5000.[55] In the case of Love Life, at least, Weill seems not to have derived supplementary income from orchestrating his own show.[56]

            Well before Lerner and Weill signed their contract with Crawford, she was helping them find a leading lady. Crawford’s papers contain a list of nearly thirty possibilities to play Susan, including Gertrude Lawrence and Mary Martin.[57] No doubt with Weill’s two most recent commercial successes in mind, they were the first approached. The list is undated, but Crawford was negotiating with Gertrude Lawrence’s lawyer Fanny Holtzmann by September. On the 17th, the New York Times reported that Lawrence would star in Weill and Lerner’s new show, to be staged by Brigadoon director Robert Lewis.[58] But negotiations broke down when Lawrence proved unwilling to perform during the summer. Weill and Lerner did not have any better luck with Mary Martin, who was starring in the road company of Annie Get Your Gun.

            Other names on Crawford’s list included Lucille Ball, Joan Blondell, Kitty Carlisle, Irene Dunne, Mary Ellis, Celeste Holm, Patricia Morison (who would appear in the next season’s Kiss Me, Kate instead), Ginger Rogers, and Nanette Fabray. We don’t know how seriously all of them were considered, but Rogers, at least, got an audition in  February 1948 when Weill and Lerner visited her in California.  Afterwards, the Times reported that “the lady can’t tear herself away from Hollywood,” and the Herald Tribune asserted that Rogers balked at a one-year minimum commitment.[59] Lerner later suggested, diplomatically, that Rogers rejected the part because her mother deemed the show “too anti-capitalist,” but Maxwell Anderson’s diary entry for 24 February suggests a different reason: “Kurt just back from California. Ginger R. can’t sing.”[60]

            The Herald Tribune had made the right call on 16 December: “There has been much speculation as to who will play the feminine lead in ‘A Dish for the Gods.’…This department has reason to believe they will wind up offering it to Nanette Fabray.”[61] In early May, reports began circulating in the press that Nanette Fabray was arranging to leave the cast of High Button Shoes in order to play Susan.[62] She signed the contract (which bumped her salary from $1000 to $1250 a week) over the weekend of 29 May.[63] High Button Shoes (opened 9 October 1947) had given Fabray her first chance to create the leading female role in a long-running Broadway show. (In By Jupiter and Bloomer Girl she had taken over from the original stars.) Fabray had played the vaudeville circuit as a child star. Although Weill had considered her, however briefly, for the part of Angela in Firebrand of Florence, they seem not to have met until the spring of 1948.[64] Fabray later described her first impressions of Weill and his score:

We went up to [Lerner’s] place in the country for the weekend and he [Weill] played the songs and I just absolutely fell in love with them. And then I met with Kurt Weill, and I was just stunned, because I studied with Max Reinhardt…and so when I met Kurt Weill I was just absolutely overwhelmed, because I knew who he was and how famous he was.[65]

She remembered his adjusting certain songs for her; he transposed “Women’s Club Blues” (down a whole step), “Is It Him or Is It Me?” (down a fourth), and “Mr. Right” (down a major third) when orchestrating them.[66]

            On 17 May, Anderson reported that “Gadge” Kazan had agreed to direct. Rumors about Kazan’s involvement had been circulating since April, when  Robert Lewis had already withdrawn.[67] For some reason, Lerner and Weill had been considering replacements for Lewis for some time; they had met with Jerome Robbins and Rouben Mamoulian before deciding on Kazan.[68] According to Variety, their giving a “private audition” with Josh Logan was Lewis’s reason for backing out.[69] Lewis himself gave a different account:  Kazan had persuaded him to withdraw from the show because the book needed too much revision but then, directly after Lewis had done so, Kazan signed with Crawford. [Joel:  Lewis had directed Brigadoon, so that’s probably why he was in the running.]

            In any case, on 22 May, the Times announced Kazan’s hiring: “His new commitment, it is understood, will entail some postponement of Arthur Miller’s new play [Death of a Salesman].” Kazan’s contract stipulated a $5000 fee, 2% royalties, and 15% of the net (after the limited partners had recovered their investments, which they didn’t). “My idea of a tough contract,” Lerner wrote.[70] It was reportedly the highest fee ever promised to a Broadway director.[71] Kazan was indeed at the peak of his career. He had just won the Oscar and Golden Globe awards for Gentlemen’s Agreement and would soon have three shows running simultaneously in New York: Street Car Named Desire (opened 3 December 1947), Love Life, and Death of a Salesman (opened 10 February 1948).[72]

            It is unclear why Kazan was engaged, given everyone’s reservations about his handling of One Touch of Venus (Kazan himself thought he had been little more than an overpaid stage manager for that show). His biographer calls Weill’s choosing him “one of those insoluble theater puzzles,” and speculates that “Crawford talked him into it; probably its structural resemblance to The Skin of Our Teeth was a factor.”[73] Harold Clurman thought otherwise: Weill “always took the best he could get” and so insisted on Kazan. From the very beginning of their association, Weill seems to have held him in high regard, wanting him, for example, to direct Johnny Johnson with Stella Adler, despite Kazan’s inexperience at the time.[74] After Venus, Weill had asked him to direct The Firebrand of Florence.[75] The esteem appears to have been mutual, for during work on Love Life, Kazan sent Kurt a note: “Thank you again for the pleasure of working with you. In all my wanderings I have never met a greater craftsman or man of the Theatre than you. I admired you from the first and every day it just grew.”[76] As late as December 1948, Kazan intended to direct Lost in the Stars.[77] Yet in a 1970 interview, Kazan reported that “Weill and I did not part on very good terms. I don’t know exactly why. … I’d prefer not to talk about it.”[78]

            Harold Prince thought that “Love Life was too much of everything, and I don’t think Gadge knew how to organize that.”[79] Perhaps Weill, too, came to believe that Kazan should shoulder most of the blame for the show’s demise. Kazan was probably ill-suited for the sort of collaboration that musical theater required.[80] According to Aronson, Kazan had wanted to try a second musical because “he was interested in all phases of theater,” but problems arose from his “attempt to unify the show, to give it logic and continuity,” when  it “required a light touch, charm, humor, and pure theatricality” and “was basically written in the form of a revue.” [81] Fabray concurred: “One of the big problems we had was Kazan. He’s probably one of the most brilliant directors that ever lived … but he was not a man with a light touch, he was not a man of fun and magic. … I think he directed the show with a heavy hand.”[82] Kidd thought Kazan should have remained on the sidelines (as would have been customary) when musical numbers were staged: “[H]e tried very hard to stage some of the musical numbers, and I think … where it was a realistic number, he did beautifully. Where it was a highly stylized number like the Minstrel Show, he was not really in his element. … I never felt that he should have insisted on taking that active a part in staging certain musical numbers.”[83] Conversely, Kazan blamed Weill for insisting on conventional performances of musical numbers: “Though we kept saying that this shouldn’t be like other musicals, Weill wanted the performers down center, down front, facing the audience for his songs. He was the most traditional of the authors—he wanted success very badly.”[84] But what may have seemed conventional to Kazan might have been necessary musically. Weill knew where the singers would have to be to be heard.

            Kazan’s genius lay in his ability to “draw performances out of actors who had some sort of psychological affinity with their roles.”[85] Love Life did not provide many opportunities for that mode of presentation, but Kazan found psychologically fraught moments wherever he could. [86]

Kazan invested even minor roles with idiosyncratic characterizations. Thus, George is the man behind whom the people retreat, “making him the spearhead of the town’s opinion.” Jonathan is “his successor to be,” and Charlie, “his brown nose.”[87] Kazan also had an eye for sexually charged situations, even if they were not obviously such in the script. In “The Cruise,” he suggested that Sylvia Stahlman play Leffcourt’s daughter as “a teen-age girl whom everyone on the boat has laid and keeps laying.” In the modern apartment scene in Part Two, he sought an atmosphere of “neurotic intrigue” and “general dislocation” among the kids, with hints at Oedipal and Elektra complexes. Johnny wants to “unconsciously beat up on the old man” while feigning illness to win his mother’s sympathy. Elizabeth, wearing a pair of “neurotic, cat-like” glasses, is supposed to exude “sex—getting Sam on her side.” (Kazan was, after all, the man who would later direct Baby Doll.)

            The Times announced Boris Aronson’s involvement on 6 June; his 24 June contract stipulated a $5000 fee plus $100 a week.[88] His association with Crawford went back to Group Theatre days. Aronson seems to have held Love Life in high regard, recalling in 1973 that “There were enough ideas in this show for twenty musicals. … Throughout, the vaudeville numbers served as comments on the preceding [sic] scenes. In many ways, this show may have been the forerunner of today’s so-called ‘concept’ musical.”[89] Indeed Aronson’s role in conceiving the physical productions would provide a direct link between Love Life and its successors, including Fiddler on the Roof (1964), Cabaret (1966), and the Sondheim-Prince shows up until Sweeney Todd. Aronson’s moderne apartment for the 1948 scenes anticipated his designs for Sondheim’s Company, while his Minstrel Show decor resurfaced in the Loveland sequence from Follies. His designs supplemented other structural and narrative similarities between the Love Life and Follies finales.[90]

           Aronson’s sets and drops for Love Life were remarkable. The most lavish was the art deco set for “The Cruise,” which cost $5455, or some 11.5% of the total budget for sets, drops, and painting.[91] For the travelers and minimal sets that the vaudeville acts required, Aronson “followed the vaudeville approach by designing a variety of sketchy scenes and vaudeville drops, each making a comment of its own.” Aronson created a non-realistic set for “The Magician,” with Matisse-like cutouts and figures. He adorned the curtain for “The New Baby” with languorous nudes, even though, as it turns out, nothing sensual is happening in that bedroom. For “My Kind of Night,” he designed a stylized, vaguely unsettling Victorian house, with the exterior wall removed stage left of the porch, so that the raucous proceedings inside could be juxtaposed with benighted, somnolent Sam rocking on the porch. The interior wallpaper, gray-green and purple, looks sickly; the painted trees in the corners oppressive.[92] For “The Locker Room,” where the men feel more at ease than they do at home with their wives, Aronson provided another style moderne design, supplemented by an incongruous, folksy sampler, “Home is where you find it.”

            Choreographer Michael Kidd, who signed on 24 June for $5000 plus a 1% royalty, had made his Broadway debut with Finian’s Rainbow, which had opened on 10 January 1946, the day after Street Scene.[93] Kidd recalled, “The creative team of Lerner, Weill, and Kazan worked very closely together, and most of the decisions were made jointly. I think they got together to discuss who should do the choreography. I assume they had seen Finian’s Rainbow, so they decided to ask me.”[94] Costume designer Lucinda Ballard’s 21 June contract called for a fee of $1500 plus $50 a week. By 23 June, conductor Joseph Littau, most recently the music director for Carmen Jones and Carousel, had agreed to conduct Love Life.[95] (Weill’s longtime friend and associate, Maurice Abravanel, who had conducted Weill’s five previous Broadway shows, had recently left New York to become music director of the Utah Symphony.)

            Soon after the creative team had been assembled, Crawford wrote Weill to assure him that she had “fallen in love with the show” and promising him “a landmark of production and taste.”[96] Years later, though, Crawford expressed a rather different opinion: “Its theme was fresh, the form unusual, the cast exceptional, the settings by Boris Aaronson delightful. But it had no heart, no passion. The audience couldn’t get emotionally involved in the marital problems of the couple. And though it was satirical, it lacked penetrating wit for the most part. Because Kurt’s score served the style of the writing, it didn’t have the warmth of his best ballads.”[97]

            “Landmarks of production and taste” cost money, however, and Crawford budgeted only $170,700 (it ended up costing $168, 634.43).[98] By the end of April, she had raised $200,000; the additional funds would cover bonds and out-of-town expenses. Love Life’s capitalization was the second largest of Weill’s Broadway career, after The Firebrand of Florence ($225,000). On 3 May, Cheryl Crawford and fifty-six investors formed a limited partnership, “Dish For the Gods and Company.” Louis Lotito, the owner of City Playhouses, Inc., was the biggest investor at $18,000. He had another vested interest in the show’s success, for on 14 June, Crawford booked his Forty-Sixth Street Theatre for Love Life. His business partner, Robert W. Dowling, contributed another $4000. Finian’s Rainbow, the current occupant, would close on 1 October.[99]

            By mid-July, then, the show had a revised script, a mostly orchestrated score, a production team, financing, a leading lady, and a singing and a dancing chorus (the last call for auditions at the Martin Beck Theatre was 13 July).[100]  But it lacked a leading man. The New York Times reported, “Oddly enough, although rehearsals are scheduled to get underway on August 9, a male performer to play opposite Miss Fabray is still to be found.”[101] Alfred Drake had considered the role but chose Kiss Me, Kate instead[102] Not until 19 July did the press announce that Juilliard-trained operatic baritone Ray Middleton, who had created the role of Washington Irving in Knickerbocker Holiday, would leave Annie Get Your Gun for Love Life (despite Rodgers and Hammerstein offering him a salary increase). “I want an aria,” Middleton soon demanded.[103] In fact, he received two new numbers, “I’m Your Man” and “This Is the Life.”

            For the time being, Middleton and Fabray were the only featured players. Non-singing actor Lyle Bettger, recently featured in Norman Krasna’s hit John Loves Mary, was hired at $100 a week for the relatively small part of Bill Taylor, Susan’s potential love interest in “The Cruise.” The seventeen-member singing ensemble (nine women, eight men) covered the remaining adult roles in the sketches and the choral passages in both sketches and acts.[104] Among them was nineteen-year-old Sylvia Stahlman in her first professional stage appearance; she sang the challenging coloratura part of Miss Ideal Man in the Minstrel Show and would go on to have an international operatic career. David Collyer, a veteran with a string  of small roles on Broadway (most recently in Allegro), was a well-respected vocal instructor. He negotiated Sven’s song in “The Locker Room”—a tongue-twisting feat in the manner of Lady in the Dark’s “Tschaikowsky.” Fabray’s understudy Holly Harris and Middleton’s then girlfriend Carolyn Maye, both members of the singing ensemble, sang “Madame Zuzu.”

            The fourteen-member dancing ensemble handled Kidd’s choreography. Arthur Partington and Barbara McCutcheon were the lead dancers, assigned the roles of Punch and Judy in the “Divorce Ballet.” Melissa Hayden (best known  as Claire Bloom’s dance double in Chaplin’s Limelight) had an important solo in that number. She left the show prematurely at the end of October to join New York Ballet Theatre; Shirley Eckl, one of the original dancers in the Bernstein-Robbins Fancy Free, replaced her.

            Some of the vaudeville acts required specialty casting. In his typescripts, Lerner specified that “Economics” and “Susan’s Dream” should be sung by a “Negro Quartette,” presumably to emulate the style of such currently popular groups as the Golden Gate Quartet, the Ink Spots, the Mills Brothers, and the Delta Rhythm Boys. As John Chapman of the Herald Tribune pointed out, “Economics” is somewhat in the style of “Dry Bones,” which the Delta Rhythm Boys had recorded in 1947. Weill may well have heard it; the album included “September Song.”[105] But rather than casting an existing group, the team drew their quartet from African-American singers who appeared in Broadway shows featuring largely Black casts (e.g., Crawford’s revival of Porgy and Bess, The Hot Mikado, and Our Lan). One of them, Joseph James, would go on to understudy Todd Duncan in Lost in the Stars. For “Mother’s Getting Nervous,” Crawford hired trapeze star Eve Ardelty, the “Russian Bird of Paradise.” She had supposedly studied with Pavlova and had enjoyed a distinguished career in vaudeville, music hall, and circus, particularly in Paris (Folies Bergère, Cirque Medrano), frequently working with Barbette, famed aerialist and female impersonator. At $350 a week, Ardelty commanded the highest salary in the cast, other than the two leads. She left after one month to resume her appearances in the Ringling Brothers Circus, replaced by another Ringling veteran, Elizabeth Gibson.

            Only on 3 August did the press announce that vaudevillian Rex Weber had been hired as one of the show’s three leads, alongside Fabray and Middleton. Weber is best-known today for having introduced the depression-era song “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime.” Weill was surely aware that he had played the role of Peachum in the short-lived 1933 New York production of “The Threepenny Opera.” In Love Life, Weber  was to play four vaudeville parts: the Magician, the Con Man/Interlocutor in the final scenes, and the Ventriloquist in a reprise of “Economics” that had originally occupied the slot between Part One’s last two sketches. That act, inspired by the likes of Edgar Bergen, featured a cuckolded dummy. The ventriloquist suggests that the dummy would do better with girls were he more competitive, earned more money, and seemed less interested in love. This advice actually runs counter to what unfolds in the following Cruise Scene, when Sam is cuckolded (or nearly so) precisely because he is too engrossed in making money. The team may have wanted one actor to play four incarnations of a disquieting figure (Kazan wanted the Magician to be played as “a heavenly yet diabolical cur”) who would reappear throughout the evening.[106] Weber’s casting was timely, for rehearsals began on 9 August at the Martin Beck Theatre (another Louis Lotito enterprise) and the Nola Dance Studios. That day, Kazan told a reporter that “’Love Life’ is the most interesting musical play I’ve ever known; absolutely original and there was never anything quite like it. … It will be the second musical show for me, and I hope I can get away with it.” [107]

Genesis and Production – Rehearsals, tryouts, and Broadway

Between Middleton’s casting in July and the New York opening on 7 October, Love Life went through an astonishing amount of rewriting, acquiring new numbers, shedding others, and cutting or expanding most of the remaining ones. How it all ended can be reconstructed from surviving documents.

            Stages of revision documented in Tt2b and comparisons between programs, correspondence and diaries provide evidence for how the show evolved during the summer of 1948, particularly with respect to Middleton’s new numbers. Tt2b has a gap where the Tt2 version of “The Cruise” would have begun; replacement pages comprise a revision eliminating the original opening number, “There’s Nothing Left for Daddy but the Rhumba” and adding “I’m Your Man.” Preserving the rhumba would have made the scene excessively long, and it would have introduced a diegetic commentary number within a sketch, breaking the formal pattern established thus far. Weill retained a dollop of Latin flavor by opening the scene with a brief arrangement of “Green-Up Time” as a beguine. After no. 12a, Tt2b corresponds to Tt2 until shortly before Bill Taylor leads Susan into his cabin. At this point, additional replacement pages omit “You Understand Me So” and resume with Sam decking Bill, as in Tt3. The sketch ends, as in the definitive version, with a reprise of “I’m Your Man,” but including a final strophe for the abandoned Susan putting up a front.[108] This strophe, however, never made it out of rehearsals.

             Although “This Is the Life” was originally going to be incorporated into the “Divorce Ballet,” it became a separate scene, requiring that Aronson design a hotel set for no.20 and a drop for the Con Man scene, so that it could be performed “in one” while the hotel set was moved out and the “Minstrel Show” set moved in. (In a nifty metadramatic touch, the drop depicted a city street with a theater billboard advertising Love Life.) Since the drop could be raised to reveal the final set without a break, Weill welded the Con Man’s reprise of “Here I’ll Stay” and the Minstrel Show into a single sequence. Instead of the spoken dialogue that originally separated the two numbers, the Con Man now tempts Sam and Susan in song, with the Minstrels seamlessly taking it over as the traveler rises. These revisions (documented in VhMin and revisions to Fh) resulted in everything after no. 18 (“Is It Him or Is It Me?”) comprising continuous music.

            Part One, Sketch ii (“The Farewell”) changed radically in the weeks preceding the New Haven performances. Tt2b and corresponding revisions to Fh show the authors continuing the process of making the couple more sympathetic. To that end, they restored “I Remember It Well,” which now segues directly into “Green-Up Time.” Sam no longer refuses to attend the party. In fact, he hosts it, even though “those dances sometimes last until morning.” Thus, “Green-Up Time” became a production number. Michael Kidd recalled: “‘Green-Up Time’ was … a song illustrative of that feeling of American greening, that ebullient, buoyant, joyful, optimistic, innocent feeling … I tried many different ways of doing that particular dance, and none of them seemed to have any life in them until finally I said, try it in the polka form, and suddenly it became alive.”[109] That the polka could not have existed in 1821 Connecticut did not matter. Kidd was not trying to recreate “authentic folk dances” (because “the songs weren’t authentic folk songs either”). Songs were either comments on a period or else “theatricalization[s] of the period” that merely “had a feel as if they occurred during that period.” As Kazan put it, “The Era of Good Feelings is a convenient historical fact for the spirit of ‘Green-Up Time’.”[110] In its definitive version, “Green-Up Time” stands as a valedictory to a form of life on the brink of extinction. (In Aronson’s design, a new backdrop showing smokestacks belching black fumes where a pastoral landscape had once stood, was all that differed between the 1791 and the 1821 sets.) Weill’s setting of the song’s refrain, with its turn to the minor in its second subphrase, neatly encapsulates the ambivalence of the moment. Weill had repeatedly promised Lerner—who didn’t want “2000 years of Jewish misery” creeping into ‘Green-Up Time—an “all-major song,” but Weill used modal mixture anyway. [111] These portents of troubled times ahead notwithstanding, Sam and Susan have been given a respite.

            “Mother’s Getting Nervous” (no. 9) too, became a production number in rehearsal. Lerner’s text is something of a pastiche. In the style of a sentimental, turn-of-the-century waltz, a trio of children wonders why Mother is nervous. The situation recalls a parodistic waltz song the Whiffenpoofs had recorded the previous year, “My Daddy is a Yale Man,” whose kids also wonder “What’s got into Mother?” Whether or not Weill knew that song, no. 9 is stylistically similar. The trapeze act might have suggested yet another waltz in that vein, “The Man on the Flying Trapeze,” to which the second episode in dominant key (mm. 120ff.) bears a superficial melodic resemblance. The trio makes a clearer musical allusion to the 1908 hit “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” a fitting intertextual reference for this scene, since that song was something of a feminist statement when it first appeared. The verse reveals that the person who wants to be taken out to the ball game is a “baseball mad” young lady who is not merely content with watching the game but even argues with the umpire, something proper young ladies would not have done at the time.[112] In the first episode (mm. 71–88), Lerner spoofs the lyrics of the maudlin song “M–O–T–H–E–R, a Word That Means the World to Me,” a poem regularly trotted out on Mother’s Day in twentieth-century America.[113] Weill does not cite that song but does switch to its duple meter. Before the tryouts, Schlein added a dance break titled “Foxtrot (Kronk),” kronk being an old jazz term for “corny.” This choice of idiom reinforces the spoofing of old-time, sentimental popular songs.[114] One other song was expanded during the rehearsal period. Within no. 10b (“Women’s Club Blues”), Weill had inserted in Vh a thirty-six bar dance break in boogie-woogie style; as arranged by Schlein, it more than doubled in length.

            A sudden casting change required last-minute revisions. On 2 September, exactly one week before the New Haven premiere, the press announced Rex Weber’s departure from the production.[115] Robert Strauss, best remembered as Stanislas “Animal” Kuzawa in Billy Wilder’s Stalag 13, replaced him as the Con Man/Interlocutor and was billed as a featured player in the first three tryout programs. For some reason, he, too, soon dropped out. From 27 September on, chorus member Victor Clarke took over these roles, but without the featured billing. The ventriloquist act disappeared; a “Progress Reprise,” augmented with a soft-shoe dance evolution, replaced it during the tryouts and was replaced in turn by “Love Song” when that song was moved from its original location in Part II after the Boston try-out. Assistant Stage Manager and chorus member Jules Racine temporarily managed the magician’s part.[116] In New York, Jay Marshall, a popular professional magician, took over. In fact, Marshall had tried out earlier for the show, lost out to Weber, but was hired to design the levitation and sawing-woman-in-half tricks. Being left-handed, he built them accordingly, which apparently accounted for some of his predecessors’ problems.[117] Although, Marshall was also a ventriloquist, that scene was not restored. He bicycled to his engagement at the Village Vanguard directly following his four-minute appearance (for which he received $175 a week, making him the highest paid cast member, per minute). “Maybe I don’t get to stop the show, but I sure as hell get to start it,” he quipped.[118] The casting disarray entailed scrapping the genial idea of the Magician providing unity across vaudeville acts.

            On 3–4 September, the production moved to New Haven.  Following four days of rehearsals in the Taft Hotel ballroom and the Schubert Theatre, Love Life opened on Thursday 9 September for a four-performance run, including a matinee on the 11th.  The show moved on to Boston for a three-week, XX -performance engagement, beginning on 13 September at the Schubert Theatre  as part of a subscription series under the auspices of the American Theatre Society and the Theatre Guild. For Lerner, this was a chance to reunite with one of the opening-night attendees, his Choate and Harvard classmate, Congressman John F. Kennedy.[119] Reviews in both towns were generally favorable, and the critics were quick to recognize the show’s original design. Of the four major New Haven reviews (Billboard, Variety, the New Haven Journal-Courier, and the New Haven Register ) and the five major Boston dailies (the Globe, Herald, Post, Traveler, and Christian Science Monitor), only three were mostly negative: those from the Register, Traveler, and Herald. As would be the case in New York, Weill’s score came off well, despite caveats about its dearth of catchy ballads: “Mr. Weill’s music is solid and clever from light to serious mood, but of easily whistleable tunes there are few.”[120] There were comparisons, as might be expected, to Allegro, The Skin of Our Teeth, and Christopher Blake. For example:

This is a show bound to arouse diverse opinion, for it is at once sentiment and acid satire, serious and gay, reality and fantasy, and touched over with something of the moral preachment of “Christopher Blake” and “Allegro.” But most people will agree on one point: the knowing showmanship and theatrical flair with which it is done.[121]

            The most enthusiastic review was penned by Elliot Norton, a consistent admirer of Weill, who deemed it “the most mature musical the American stage has yet produced.” He predicted that it would “create controversy and perhaps indignation.” The show’s experimental aspects (“it uses some of the old conventional show techniques to unconventional ends” was cause for celebration.[122] On the other hand, Hughes felt “the overall effect is one of too much attempted, a broken narrative line, and more symbolism and commentary than people, story and music.” She understood the form all right: “Love Life” is a complicated and uneven combination of musical play, problem play, and straight vaudeville, with the latter designed to explain each serious or musical interlude before it arrives.” But she nonetheless considered the interludes “somewhat distracting and though their purpose is reasonably clear, they do tend to confuse the action and their connection to the story is not always well motivated.”[123]

            As would happen in New York, much came down to whether a critic found “broken narrative lines” intellectually stimulating, or confusing, or perhaps both, as Variety’s New Haven critic Harold Bone seemed to suggest:

            First thing to be noted about “Love Life” is its original pattern. It’s an outstanding example of how far musicals have progressed since the hackneyed books that concluded Act One with some vapid situation, the obvious solution of which at that point would have obviated the need for Act Two.

            As a matter of fact, staging of the p;ay is so unorthodox it stumbles over its own originality in getting off on a somewhat nebulous foot…which…makes necessary too much retrospective thinking to catch up with the proceedings as the story moves on.[124]

            Even sympathetic reviewers thought the show needed pruning. In New Haven, the curtain had come down at 11:45 p.m.[125] Lerner recalled that “Max Anderson, Elmer Rice, and Moss Hart, among other friends, came up….Opinion ran the gamut from ‘I don’t think you can fix this’ to ‘I’m sure you can fix it’.” Boris Aronson sensed that the show was a harbinger of things to come, though “it would take twenty years” for the show’s formal innovations to be accepted.[126] But Hart was skeptical: “Of course the show needs integration.” He thought they had two different plays: “The first act was a satire and in the second act satire was abandoned and the play was solved realistically.”[127]

            Hart’s critique doesn’t stand up under scrutiny. There is plenty of satire in Part Two, and the Minstrel Show could scarcely be said to solve anything “realistically.” The show was very much about questioning the opposition of “illusion” and “reality”—two words that crop up repeatedly in the script—and the formal structure, separating and then dissolving the boundary between “sketch” and “act,” functioned as a mise en abîme of that overall theme. “Integration” was not the goal but something to be questioned. But if even Hart failed to appreciate this, maybe there was a problem after all. As Lerner wrote shortly after the New York premiere, “Between that day [we opened in New Haven] and the day—three and a half weeks later—when we opened in New York practically every scene in the play was rewritten and three completely new scenes were added.”[128] In Boston, “all attempts were made to unify the style. When heaviness could be avoided, things were lightened.”[129]

            In the interests of lightening things up, the team replaced Part Two’s first sketch, the rather dark “A Ticket to the Fight,” with a more comical one, “Radio Night.” In both sketches, the Coopers have evolved into a two-income household; they begin with Sam dealing with the kids on his own and lead to a crisis after Susan’s return. In the earlier sketch, the children spy on their parents and turn them (even further) against one another. This “neurotic intrigue among the kids” (Kazan) is symptomatic of advanced social dysfunction, foreshadowed in the madrigal “Ho, Billy O!” that opens the act. Johnny is a mama’s boy who resents his father. Meanwhile, being her father’s pet doesn’t stop Elizabeth from trying to win her mother’s favor by framing Sam. She plants evidence––false as it turns out––that Sam lied about attending a boxing match the previous night, and Susan assumes that Sam is having an affair (“Because you’re a man and you’ve got to have a woman, and you sure never come to me”). Sam storms out, leaving a regretful Susan to sing her blues, “Is It Him or Is It Me?” The sketch and preceding madrigal had apparently been inspired by events in Lerner’s childhood:

Every Friday night my father went to the prize fights at the Madison Square Garden….I should have said almost every Friday night, for on many occasions his taste for combat drew him to other, more quilted arenas….One Saturday morning, my father later told me, as he was preparing to go to the office, two things happened that had never happened before during his entire married life. The first was that while he was dressing my mother woke up. The second was that as she opened her eyes she said: “Who won the fight?” Alas, that Friday happened to have been one of the nights that my father’s ringside seat was empty. I do not remember who fought in the main bout, but we will call them Smith and Jones. My father, taking a chance, said, “Smith.” My mother turned over and went back to sleep. My father went into the dining room and opened the New York Times to the sports page. Jones had won….By the time my mother fully awakened, my father and all that was his were gone. As he later explained, it seemed the only sensible thing to do….it avoided a great deal of noise and he would have ended up at the Waldorf anyhow.[130]

After that, Lerner’s mother would sometimes slap him for the same reasons cited by the Madrigal’s hapless narrator: “My father used to stay away/With home he’d never bother./And mother hit me twice a day/Because I looked like father.” [131]

            In “Radio Night,” the family is every bit as dysfunctional, with Sam and Susan sleeping in separate bedrooms. But the crisis is precipitated by trivial but heated bickering over which radio program to listen to, which climaxes when the receiver breaks down. “Is It Him or Is It Me?” was relocated to a new sketch, “Farewell Again,” after Sam moves to a hotel; his departure calls forth a heart-wrenching reprise of “I Remember It Well.” The comic and somber aspects of “A Ticket to a Fight” were thus segregated in two distinct sketches, separated by a new vaudeville act featuring a hobo. The vagabond whose “Love Song” goes unheard belongs to the succession of sad clowns and tramps who had populated vaudeville. Weill and Lerner wrote “Love Song” on 14–15 September, while Crawford flew to New York to audition night club and radio singer Johnny Thompson, whom she and Weill had recalled hearing at the Savoy-Plaza Hotel.[132] Thompson signed for $200 a week. Weill then rewrote the last part of the Minstrel Show, replacing sixteen measures of underscored dialogue with a climactic reprise of “Love Song” to mark that moment when Sam persuades Susan to join him in negotiating the precarious path—symbolized by a high-wire act—towards a reconciliation based on realistic rather than romanticized expectations.[133] The new ending incorporated at least two of Kazan’s suggestions: first, that after “Mr. Right,” Sam take the lead in questioning Miss Ideal Man and the other girls (“if Sam does this it means he loves Sue and wants her”), and second, that something more be said about two people making a marriage work.[134]

            To shorten the show, by 20 September the creative team had removed two numbers, “Susan’s Dream” and “The Locker Room,” by September 20.[135] At least one New Haven critic had suggested that “The Locker Room” be cut, as had John Wharton. Writing to Weill the day after the New Haven opening, Wharton expressed his conviction that the number had failed to “come off”:  “[Y]ou abandon the technique of using vaudeville acts to explain the coming scene; you jump from symbolism to reality, and back to symbolism without warning.”  The surreal hurtling together of generic registers (realistic plot elements, a commentary choral number, and slapstick comedy) apparently did not go over well. Sam’s appearance breached the hitherto rigorously maintained division between “sketches” and “acts,” which may explain why Wharton found the number confusing.[136]

            Eliminating “Susan’s Dream” seems to have been a tougher decision. Maxwell Anderson reports seeing the show on the 25th, when the number had apparently already been cut, and discussing “Susan’s Dream” with the authors the next day.[137] But “Susan’s Dream” was part of an act that already had a number, “Economics,” commenting unambiguously on the following sketch. It was less obvious how “Susan’s Dream” prepared the Bedroom scene, and two “in-one” numbers in a row slowed the production down. “Susan’s Dream” may have been temporarily relocated to that much-contested slot, between “My Kind of Night” and “The Cruise,” which  “Love Song” would occupy in New York. This would explain an alteration of its order number in Im.

            Meanwhile, in New York, the Forty-Sixth Street Theatre was doing brisk business in advance sales—$350,000 by 6 October.[138] Just before the opening, Weill wrote an entr’acte, replacing utilities of “Here I’ll Stay” and “Green-Up Time” by Chappell house arranger Walter Paul. To save time, Weill incorporated most of Paul’s “Here I’ll Stay” arrangement, but added his own violin countermelody.[139] After the 7 October opening (the same day that Crawford-Weill’s Venus had opened five years earlier), the show’s content stabilized for about five months, at which point the “Farewell Again” sketch disappeared, including “Is It Him or Is It Me?” as well as  a reprise of “I Remember It Well” (“too tragic,” Lerner recalled).[140]

            Lerner and Weill were well aware that their show’s experimental nature might puzzle audiences, and they had already tried to forestall confusion with articles, interviews, and their prefatory program note.[141] Then, four days before the New York opening, they published a skit in the Sunday Times that allows them to  explain their concept to a prospective ticket buyer in a thoroughly charming manner:[142]

MAN: Pardon me. Do you know anything about this show?

LERNER: Yes, we saw it in New Haven.

MAN: What is it? I am a little confused. It says here on the sign it’s a vaudeville.

WEILL: That’s right, it is.

MAN: You mean it has vaudeville acts?

WEILL: Lots of them.

MAN: That’s fine. Then I don’t have to worry about following a plot. That’s a relief.

LERNER: No. There’s a plot.

MAN: I thought you said it was a vaudeville.

LERNER: It’s a vaudeville with a plot.

MAN: How does that work?

WEILL: Well, the sketches and the vaudeville acts have a continuity and supplement each other….[Summarizes narrative and premise.] You see it’s very simple.

MAN: What holds it together?

LERNER: Vaudeville


MAN: Is it like a lot of little plays strung together?

WEILL: Not exactly. One sketch is a musical play, one is an American ballad, one is straight comedy, one is dramatic. All different styles.

MAN: How do they all fit together?

LERNER: With vaudeville.

WEILL: Isn’t that simple?

MAN: No. You mean it all has a form?

WEILL: Yes, in a formless way.

            Throughout the grueling process of revision, Weill maintained an outwardly insouciant demeanor. “Kurt was the most uncrumbling man…(at periods like this strong men crumble). The director gets a bad cold, the producer finds business in New York, everybody disappears.” But Lerner sensed that “Kurt’s quietness was only on the surface. He was an exposed nerve.”[143] Writing to Madeleine Milhaud shortly after the opening, Weill summed up the preceding few weeks:

It was terribly hard work because we had to change a great deal, and every time we changed something I had to sit up at night and orchestrate….The opening of “Love Life” was quite an experience. In Boston we had a very bad première and lots of things were wrong with the show. But the next morning we had wonderful notices and the show was practically sold out for 3 weeks. In New York we had the most enthousiastic [sic] opening night I’ve ever seen and the play was in excellent condition. Next morning the 2 important papers (Times and Tribune) were negative about the play (although they liked the music). Although most of the other papers were excellent, we were not sure if we would outlive those bad notices. But the play has become the most discussed theatre evening of the season. It has been sold out since the opening, the audiences love it and I think it has a good chance to survive.[144]

He wrote almost the same to his parents, adding that the usual frenzy had intensified because of the show’s experimental quality:

This time it was especially hard because I tried out an entirely new form of theater, a new mixture of various elements, and as always when one attempts something new, we had no way of knowing how effective the different parts of the work would prove with the public before actually performing it in front of a public. As a result, when we opened in New Haven we discovered that several parts that had seemed promising to us were not very effective, and vice-versa….But despite its being a lot of work, it was a lot of fun because I had excellent collaborators—a first-class librettist and America’s best director—so that the work could always carry on harmoniously and without any tiffs. On top of that we all lived in a wonderful hotel [the Ritz-Carlton] with good food service….[145]

            Crawford had calculated that weekly expenses based on the $25,000 theater owner’s minimum would hover around $17,500, making this the break-even point.[146] Buoyed by advance sales and theater parties, receipts at first exceeded the minimum. Press agent Wolfe Kaufman announced a $39,900 gross for the first full week, which he claimed was $200 above capacity with standees.[147] As advertising and other initial costs were reduced, profits reached a high of $7033.78 in week eight (ending 27 November). Had receipts continued at that level, Love Life could have amortized its investment by week thirty. (By the end of week 10, Weill had earned a respectable $16,041.19 in royalties.[148]) But Variety had made the right call on 8 October when it predicted that “it will do fair business for a spell, but it may never recoup its $200,000 investment.”[149] Sure enough, a sharp drop in attendance precipitated losses beginning in week 11, with receipts dipping below the minimum in week 12 (ending Christmas day). Variety cited cold weather and the usual holiday slump as mitigating factors, and receipts did surge to $33,500 in week 13, thanks to a top New Year’s Eve ticket price of $8.40 (the 100th performance, as it happened). But the team recognized this as a temporary respite and on 3 January agreed to a cut in royalties from 12% to 8%.[150] Thanks to this expedient, Sunday evening performances in weeks 15 and 16, and further cuts in royalties to 4.5% beginning with week 15 and to 2.25% beginning with week 17, the show continued posting modest weekly profits. But from week 19 onwards, receipts rose above the minimum only Easter week, despite a final cut in royalties to $150 and a reduction to cast and stage manager salaries of approximately 15%. In short, the show never recovered from that first downward turn in December. Lotito, who allowed Love Life to continue despite the stop clause, diagnosed the situation in an interview on 27 January: “We always have that big drop just before Christmas and there’s always that reaction after New Year’s. It’s then that the weak sisters have to go. The unhealthy thing about the whole situation is that a play running along to fine grosses has to close because of high operating costs.”[151]

            Did Lerner and Weill really hope that cutting the “Farewell Again” scene in February would turn things around? It must have been clear by the holidays that Love Life would no longer be financially viable without sacrifices all around. On 29 December, responding to Abravanel’s interest in mounting a summer performance, Weill wrote that the orchestra material will be available because the show “will close some time before summer.”[152] Cast members were making other plans. On 29 January, the Times announced that Fabray would go into Morton Gould’s The Pursuit of Happiness after her contract with Love Life ended on 1 June. Lyle Bettger left the cast to play Barbara Stanwyck’s villainous boyfriend in the film No Man of Her Own; chorus member Evans Thornton took over Bettger’s  role for the last seven weeks.[153] Love Life closed on 14 May after 252 performances, with the limited partners recouping only 26% of their investment.

            The mixed New York reviews (discussed in Section III below) undoubtedly contributed to the sudden steady decline in box office receipts after ten weeks, once the show was no longer benefiting from advance sales. A second contributing factor was the Petrillo ban and the concomitant ASCAP embargo, which took the two principal ways to promote the show off the table: the release of an original cast album and the broadcasting of recordings on national radio networks. Indeed, only two 1948 Broadway musicals received original cast recordings. Kiss Me, Kate opened 30 December 1948, two weeks after the ban had been  lifted, and was recorded 19 January 1949. There had evidently been some hope that a substantial amount of Love Life could be recorded in time, for on 25 November, Crawford’s general manager, John Yorke, announced that “it was quite possible the score would be ready for recording before December 31 [i.e. before the Petrillo Ban took effect] and that they were talking about it.”[154] But unlike the Dietz-Schwartz revue, Love Life was not far enough along in December 1947 for a substantially complete recording: the show had not been cast, and Weill had orchestrated none of the numbers. By the end of the year, Weill did produce neatly written piano-vocal scores for nos. 3, 6, and 13 on ozalid paper, each number bearing a handwritten 1947 copyright notice (collectively, Vh1). With their meticulous ink notation, they are of the same quality as the holographs Weill would typically prepare as masters for piano-vocal rehearsal materials. Although the entire score was not ready, it is likely that Weill chose three numbers that he thought had the strongest commercial prospects and prepared fair copies from which band leaders could create arrangements. Indeed, Buddy Clark and Sammy Kaye both recorded “Here I’ll Stay” and “Green-Up Time” in advance of the recording strike; the discs were released in September 1948, shortly before the New York opening.[155]

            Despite the Petrillo and ASCAP actions, recordings of “Here I’ll Stay” and “Green-Up Time” appeared in Fall 1948,[156] and Chappell seems to have done a good job, despite all obstacles, in plugging songs for live performance on radio. “The only time in all my years with Chappell’s that I got a full-fledged exploitation of a score,” Weill admitted.[157] “Here I’ll Stay” did particularly well, reaching the number two spot in Variety on 5 November, the only Broadway song among the top 25.[158] There were several live performances on popular radio shows, such as those hosted by Perry Como (27 October) and Arthur Godfrey (25 November). On 18 November, members of the cast appeared on ABC radio preforming selections on Theatre USA, a show sponsored by US Army and Air Force recruiting services with the cooperation of ANTA. Love Life also benefited from the new medium of television: Fabray appeared twice on the CBS show Toast of the Town (soon to become known as the Ed Sullivan Show), singing “Green-Up Time” on 19 December and “Mr. Right” on 16 January (only the latter used Weill’s orchestration). Weill himself appeared on NBC’s The Swift Show accompanying “Here I’ll Stay.”[159]

            Between 5 August and 29 December 1948, Chappell published eight selections in sheet music format in the following order: “Here I’ll Stay,” “Green-Up Time,” “Susan’s Dream,” “Economics,” “Mr. Right,” “Is It Him or Is It Me?,” “Love Song,” and “This is the Life.” (Ae). Chappell  also published “Here I’ll Stay” and “Green-Up Time”  in dance arrangements by Jack Mason. Sales were modest; in the six months ending 31 December, Weill earned royalties of $514.78, at two cents a copy, against a $2500 advance from Chappell (for detailed information and facsimile of “Here I’ll Stay,” see KWE IV/2).[160] The decision to print “This Is the Life,” a long aria almost entirely devoid of functional harmonic progressions, was particularly courageous, since it was obviously not destined for popular exploitation. Weill seems to have taken particular care with preparing this number for publication, for unlike the other sheet music offerings, “This Is the Life” includes subtleties of tempo and expression absent in Vh. (Indeed, it is the only portion of Ae upon which the Edition draws substantively.)

            Apart from the mixed critical reception and limited promotion, Love Life had to contend with stiff competition. The previous season’s High Button Shoes was still playing to capacity audiences and would close on 2 July 1949 after 727 performances. Annie Get Your Gun, which celebrated its 1000th performance the night Love Life opened, would close 12 February. Another holdover, the Dietz-Schwarz revue Inside U.S.A, played through 19 February. At first, the only new show to provide serious competition was Where’s Charley?, which opened five days after Love Life and lasted two seasons. Forays onto Broadway by Villa-Lobos (Magdalena) and Britten (The Rape of Lucretia) were routed after 88 and 23 performances, respectively. Sigmund Romberg’s career ended with My Romance (95 performances, opened 19 October). But starting 13 November, Bobby Clark packed them in as the hapless first husband to female president Irene Rich in As the Girls Go (music by Jimmy McHugh); noted especially for its chorus of leggy beauties, it was very much the traditional sort of Broadway offering that Love Life wasn’t, and it lasted 414 performances. Then on 30 December and 7 April, respectively, Kiss Me, Kate and South Pacific began their long runs.[161] Kiss Me, Kate and South Pacific won the 1949 Tony and New York Drama Critics’ Circle awards for best musical, respectively. Love Life won just one award: a Tony for Fabray.

Sources and Additional Materials for the forthcoming Critical Edition of Love Life

Listed by Identifying Sigla


Full Score Format

Fh                  Holograph full score (mostly Weill, with some orchestrations by Irving Schlein)

Fh(R)             Annotated reproduction of Fh (used in the original production)

Fm                 “Here I’ll Stay” utility arranged by Walter Paul

Instrumental Parts

Im                  Instrumental parts prepared for the original production

Piano-Vocal Format

Vh                  Holograph piano-vocal score for most numbers

Vh(R)             Annotated reproductions of Vh used in the original production

VhH               Early version of “Here I’ll Stay”

VhMo            Verse for “Mother’s Getting Nervous”

VhY               “You Understand Me So”

VhMin           Revised Minstrel Show opening (no. 21a, mm. 32–71)

VhFin             Revised Finale (no. 21c, mm. 26–101)

VmH1             “Here I’ll Stay,” second verse and refrain (Lys Symonette’s hand)

Vm(R)Mo      First-generation reproduction of manuscript piano-vocal score for “Mother’s Getting Nervous” (Symonette)

Vm(R)My      First-generation reproduction of manuscript piano-vocal score for “My Kind of Night” (Symonette)

VmW             “Women’s Club Blues” (unidentified professional copyist)

VmL2             “Love Song,” reflecting Im keys (Symonette)

VmI               “I’m Your Man” (Schlein)

VmT              “This Is the Life” (Schlein)

Vm(R)Mr      Reproduction of “Mr. Right” (Symonette)

Piano Scores

PhT                Holograph piano score of the introduction to “This Is the Life”

PmO              Manuscript piano score of opening orchestral introduction (Symonette)

PmG              Polka from “Green-Up Time” (Schlein)

PmMo            “Mother’s Getting Nervous” (Schlein)

PmWa            Revised ending for “Women’s Club Blues” (Schlein)

PmD               Divorce Ballet (Schlein)

PmFin            No. 21c, mm. 26–101 (Symonette)

Short Score Format

ShIs                Holograph short score of no. 18


Ae                  Sheet music for nos. 3, 6, 7, 8, 11, 18, 20, and 21b, published by Chappell (1948)


Tt2                 Second extant version of libretto

Tt2b               Script annotated by Elia Kazan, showing revisions to Tt2 version, and approximating the New Haven version

Tt3                 Final extant script, corresponding to the New York run


N1                  Program for New Haven tryout, 9–11 September (1948)

N2a–c            Program for Boston tryout, weeks of 13, 20, 27 September (1948)

N3a–c            Programs for New York run (three different versions over its course), beginning week of 7 October (1948)


R2                  Nanette Fabray’s performance of “Mr. Right” on CBS television, 16 January 1949



Dh                  Assorted loose leaves and bifolia presenting various stages of composition, from preliminary sketches to complete continuity drafts

Piano-Vocal Format

Vh(R2)              Bound, unmarked presentation copy of Vh from Weill to Lerner

VhG               Early version of “Green-Up Time”

VmH              “Here I’ll Stay” (Schlein)

VmL1             “Love Song” (Schlein and Symonette)

VmL3             “Love Song” (unidentified copyist)

PmCr             Tango (Symonette)

Piano Score Format

PmFt              Manuscript piano score of fox trot from “Mother’s Getting Nervous” in Irving Schlein’s hand

PmW              Manuscript piano score of dance break from “Women’s Club Blues” in Irving Schlein’s hand

Short Score Format

SmE               Manuscript pencil short score of no. 14 in various copyist’s hands.


Tt1                 First extant version of libretto

Tt1a               Another exemplar of Tt1, but with some pages removed and replaced

Tt2a               Nearly same version as Tt2, with one minor dialogue change in Part I, Act i and some sections missing


N4                  Souvenir program


R1                  Nanette Fabray’s performance of “Green-Up Time” on CBS television, 12 December 1948

R3                  Lerner’s performances and supervision of nos. 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 11, 21b on Lyrics by Lerner (1955)


M1                 Set designs by Boris Aronson

M2                 Cheryl Crawford’s production records

M3                 Cheryl Crawford’s scrapbook

M4                 Newspaper clippings of reviews from the tryouts and New York production

M5                 Photographs of original production


[1] Crawford to Weill, [25 June 1948]; WLA, Box 48, Fld. 26. The letter is dated merely “Friday,” but Crawford mentions she is getting away for a week, returning on Sunday, 3 July.

[2] Advance sale figures according to New York Journal-American; Clippings File. Financial figures, including reduced royalties, from post-closing financial statements prepared by the accounting firm of Seidman & Seidman (M2, Ser. IV, 30/14). Agreements regarding waiving royalties between Crawford, the authors, and the Dramatist’s Guild in M2, Ser. IV, 30/3.

[3] The ban was named after union president James Petrillo and lasted from 1 January to 15 December 1948. At issue were repercussions of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.

[4] Over the course of summer and fall 1948, Chappell published numbers 3, 6, 7, 8, 11, 18, 20, and 21b in piano-vocal format and nos. 3 and 6 as dance-band arrangements. In November 1948, it was announced that Coward-McCann, Lerner’s usual publisher (Brigadoon, Paint Your Wagon, and My Fair Lady) would print Love Life. The earliest announcement seems to have been from the Newark Star-Ledger, 22 November 1948 in M3a. The last is from 13 February 1949, New York Daily News (clipping in M3b). On 29 December 1948, Weill wrote to Abravanel—in response to the possibility of a summer production at the University of Utah—that “the book is being printed now and will be available in a couple of months”; WLA, Box 47, Fld. 1. That production, too, did not materialize.

[5] George Freedley, “Reviewer Visits ‘Love Life’ Again, Enjoys It More Than at Opening,” Telegraph, 4 February 1949.

[6] Boris Aronson, “Notes on Kazan (1973)”; M1, 9/4.

[7] Kurt Weill described the show to his parents as “eine ganz neue Form von Theater.” Weill to Albert and Emma Weill, 17 October 1948; W-Fam, 413.

[8] Several writers have described Love Life as a progenitor of the concept musical. Cf. Frank Rich with Lisa Aronson, The Theatre Art of Boris Aronson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1987), 85–94. The most thorough analysis along those lines is Kim H. Kowalke, “Today’s Invention, Tomorrow’s Cliché: Love Life and the Concept Musical,” in “…dass alles auch hätte anders kommen können”: Beiträge zur Musikgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts, ed. Susanne Schaal-Gotthardt, Luitgard Schader, and Heinz-Jürgen Winkler (Frankfurt am Main: Schott, 2009): 175–93.

[9] The subtitle appears in the first typescript (Tt1), whose cover page reads A Dish for the Gods: A Vaudeville. Later typescripts, using the definitive title, Love Life, omit the subtitle, but it reappears in the 1948 programs from 20 September 1948 on. (The first two programs, N1 and N2a subtitle it “A New Musical.”)

[10] Variants of this prefatory note appear in Tt2, Tt2a, N1, N2a, N3b, and N3c. The last two sources omit the first sentence but add the third. Oddly enough, the typescripts and programs from the original production identify every scene as an act, jettisoning the authors’ distinction between “sketch” and “act.”.

[11] Lerner, “Show in Vaudeville Form: New Musical Play ‘Love Life’ Uses Songs, Dances, Sketches to Tell Story in Novel Experimental Fashion,” Boston Post, 12 September 1948. Individual numbers such as “Economics” do recall the vaudevilles with which many a French eighteenth-century comedy ended (e.g., Beaumarchais’s Le Mariage de Figaro). These were strophic songs summarizing general lessons to be drawn from the preceding play—they were, therefore, commentary numbers.

[12] Letter of 19 October 1947. Original in Österreichische Nationalbibliothek; photocopy in WLRC, Series 40.

[13] Weill had been interested in minstrelsy for some time. The Circus Dream from Lady in the Dark was originally planned as a minstrel show. Among Weill’s papers are several pages of research on minstrel shows (WLA 68/18). Weill notes that finales “should be pure hokum, shamelessly playing upon the popularity of some current idea….” Weill and Lerner seem to have had this principle in mind when they wrote the material for the Misses Horoscope, Mysticism, and Ideal Man. Weill’s notes also include references to African-American quartets.

[14] By organizing their “vaudeville” around a theme of socio-economic import, Weill and Lerner also owe something to the politically-engaged revues that flourished in the 1920s and 30s in Berlin and New York (e.g., Friedrich Hollaender’s Es kommt jeder dran [1928] and Harold Rome’s Pins and Needles [1937]).

[15] This last sentence paraphrases part of Weill’s short article, “Anmerkungen zu meiner Oper Mahagonny,” Die Musik 22, No. 6 (March 1930): 440–41; reprinted in GS2, 102.

[16] Stephen Hinton is, to my knowledge, the only scholar to have noticed that, in the original programs, the words love and life in the title are set off from each other with an unusually wide spacing, embedding the very typography of the program within a dense network of self-reflective, metadramatic commentary. Hinton, Weill’s Musical Theater, 405.

[17] John Gassner reviewing Love Life in Forum, January 1949.

[18] Gershwin, letter to Weill, 18 March 1940; WLA, Box 48, Fld. 33.

[19] Both shows had uncommonly long gestations—roughly fifteen months each from initial discussions to New York opening.

[20] When Lerner reported that he and Weill had written and discarded a “complete 20 minute opera bouffe,” it may well have been to this passage that he referred. (Alan Jay Lerner, “Lerner’s Life and Love Life,” in PM, 14 November 1948). In addition to this scene, some fifty-six other sketch pages comprise unused material.

[21] One of the unorchestrated songs from Vh, “There’s Nothing Left for Daddy but the Rhumba,” is published in Unsung Weill: 22 Songs Cut from Broadway Shows and Hollywood Films, ed. Elmar Juchem (Miami: European-American Music, 2002). All the unused lyrics from Dh and Vh (except those that do not proceed beyond an incipit) are published in The Complete Lyrics of Alan Jay Lerner, ed. Dominic McHugh and Amy Asch (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).

[22] Weill to Lenya, 17 May 1947; W-LL(e), 470.

[23] Dominick LaCapra, “Rethinking Intellectual History and Reading Texts,” in Modern European Intellectual History: Reappraisals and New Perspectives, ed. Dominick LaCapra and Steven L. Kaplan (Ithaca: Cornell University Press), 71–72.

[24] Alan J. Lerner and Kurt Weill, “Two on the Street: Collaborators Stage a Scene Aimed at Explaining Their Musical Play,” New York Times, 3 October 1948. Stephen Hinton compares the formal oppositions in Love Life to other systems of oppositions deployed across Weill’s oeuvre. Weill’s Musical Theater: Stages of Reform (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012), 407.

[25] “Ever since I made up my mind, at the age of 19, that my special field of activity would be the theatre, I have tried continuously to solve, in my own way, the form-problems of the musical theatre, and through the years, I have approached these problems from all different angles.” Weill, “Two Dreams Come True,” undated typescript, WLA, Box 68, Fld. 16. Included in the Street Scene souvenir program and as part of the liner notes for the original cast LP (1947, Columbia OL 4139).

[26] This section necessarily reviews matters already covered in Kowalke, “Today’s Invention, Tomorrow’s Cliché”; David Kilroy, “Kurt Weill on Broadway: The Postwar Years (1945–1950)” (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1992), 206–51; Foster Hirsch, Kurt Weill on Stage (New York: Knopf, 2002), 276–99; Edward Jablonski, Alan J. Lerner: A Biography (New York: Holt, 1996), 36–50; and Gene Lees, Inventing Champagne: The Worlds of Lerner and Loewe (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990), 57–63. But this account benefits from additional sources, not all of which were available at the time those earlier accounts were written, including Crawford’s production records (M2); the first of her two Love Life scrapbooks (M3a), which had been temporarily misplaced; and Elia Kazan’s rehearsal script and notes (Tt2b). In the course of editing, some musical materials, notably a rehearsal copy of the full score with markings by Weill, Littau, and Schlein [Fh(R)] have come to light.

[27] Alan Jay Lerner, The Musical Theatre: A Celebration (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986), 11.

[28] Lerner, liner notes for the recording Lyrics by Lerner (Heritage 0600, 1955; re-release DRG MRS-903, 1983, and [as CD] DRG 5246, 1998).

[29] Lerner gave this explanation for disallowing revivals in a 1964 conversation with Miles Kreuger. See Kreuger, “Some Words about Kurt Weill on Broadway,” liner notes for CD Kurt Weill on Broadway (EMI Classics 7243 5 55563 2 5), 38.

[30] Cheryl Crawford, One Naked Individual: My Fifty Years in the Theatre (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1977), 167. See also Lees, Inventing Champagne, 58. Despite interviewing numerous friends, associates, and ex-spouses, Lees never discovered just what had caused this temporary rift.

[31] Lerner in an interview with George Davis (1955) titled “Lerner, Alan on Kurt and Love Life,” unpublished typescript in WLRC, Series 37, 1/17, 1.

[32] Lenya and Lerner both recalled that Abravanel started things rolling. Lenya in an incomplete, unpublished typescript titled “Love Life,” in WLRC, David Drew Collection (where she also comments on Lerner’s appearance and personality); Lerner interview with George Davis, 1.

[33] Abravanel interview with Gene Lees, quoted in Inventing Champagne, 59.

[34] Weill to Saroyan, 1947, n. d. [but probably spring]; WLA, Box 47, Fld. 14. Weill and Anderson corresponded about the Lost in the Stars spaceship project while the latter was in Hollywood working on the screen adaptation of Joan of Lorraine. Anderson begged off on the project in a letter dated only Sunday, but probably 13 July, since Weill replied on 25 July, and moreover Anderson’s diary entry for the 13th mentions writing to Kurt. Anderson to Weill, WLA, Box 48, Fld. 19. Anderson, Diary for 1947, Maxwell Anderson Papers, HRC. Weill to Anderson, 25 July 1948; WLRC, Series 40. Wouk describes his work with Weill in a letter to Lotte Lenya, 7 October 1953; WLA, Box 51, Fld. 90.

[35] Lerner interview with George Davis, 1.

[36] Weill to Lazar, 17 March 1947; WLA, Box 47, Fld. 9.

[37] Weill sailed for Europe on 6 May, returning on 12 June.

[38] In the Sunday 25 July letter to Anderson, Weill mentions “an interesting idea which Lerner brought to me last week and which we are investigating now.”

[39] Lerner, liner notes Lyrics by Lerner. Lerner gave Miles Kreuger a different account of the walk up South Mountain—or maybe it was a different walk: “[H]e was walking up South Mountain Road, and suddenly the contrast between the vernal beauty of the countryside in New City compared with the urban quality of New York came to mind, and that drifted into an idea for a work about the industrial revolution and the effect that is has on people’s love life—and how simple and natural love used to be.” Quoted in Lees, Inventing Champagne, 59.

[40] Lerner interview with George Davis, 1, 4.

[41] Thus, two plays written by South Mountain Road residents, both directed by Elia Kazan and both produced by Cheryl Crawford, appeared on Broadway in Fall 1948. Bessie Breuer’s Sundown Beach, opened on 7 September and closed seven performances later. It had the distinction of being the Actor’s Studio’s first production.

[42] Alan Jay Lerner, “Lerner’s Life and ‘Love Life’.”

[43] Lerner, “Show in Vaudeville Form: New Musical Play ‘Love Life’ Uses Songs, Dances, Sketches to Tell Story in Novel Experimental Fashion,” Boston Post, 12 September 1948.

[44] “Lerner and Weill Attempt New Style in ‘Love Life’.” Interview by Elinor Hughes, Boston Herald, 13 September 1948.

[45] Hinton discusses Weill’s writings on Urform in Weill’s Musical Theater, 46–48 and passim.

[46] Weill wrote to Lenya on 15 September about working on what was then called “Ocean Song”; W-LL(e), 476. The last number completed was the Entr’acte (no. 14) on 4 October, according to Maxwell Anderson’s diary entry for that day. (University of North Dakota, Orin G. Libby Manuscript Collection, Maxwell Anderson Papers, Series I, vol. 14. All future references to Anderson’s1948 diary refer to this collection.)

[47] Maxwell Anderson, 1947 Diary, Maxwell Anderson Collection, HRC. The relevant entries concerning Weill and Lerner are dated August 20, 22, 26; September 3, 7, 9, 13, 14 (the day Anderson’s son Alan took a job as stage manager for Brigadoon), 16, 20, 25, 27, 29. The Playwrights’ Company did not invest in the show.

[48] “Lerner’s Life and ‘Love Life’.”

[49] Anderson, 1948 Diary.

[50] “Lewis to Direct Musical,” 17 September 1947.

[51] Lerner interview with George Davis, 3.

[52] Anderson, 1948 Diary.

[53] New York Times, 2 May 1948.

[54] Lerner interview with George Davis, 2. The Weill-Lerner contract and later revisions thereto are in M2, Ser. IV, 30/3.

[55] A budget that Crawford prepared for potential investors includes a side-by-side comparison of estimated costs for A Dish for the Gods and actual costs for Brigadoon, showing $2000 versus $7094.77 for arrangements. Crawford’s explanation: “Mr. Weill makes his own orchestrations, which accounts for the smaller amount under that item.”; M2, Series IV, 30/10.

[56] Weill’s orchestral contractor, Morris Stonzek, claimed in an interview that “$2,500 a show for arranging was another incentive for Kurt Weill to do his own orchestrations.” Ronald Sanders Papers; copy in WLRC, Series 30, 19/10. Weill did ask for $3000 to orchestrate The Firebrand of Florence, pointing out that this was a good deal because Broadway arrangers, who only notated four bars per page, cost between $6000 and $8000. (In Love Life Weill averaged six bars a page.)

[57] The list has disappeared from M2. It was part of a 2002 NYPL exhibit (“Kurt Weill: Making Music Theater”) and was evidently misfiled afterwards. During the exhibit, the item was photographed, and a copy resides at WLRC.

[58] “Lewis to Direct Musical,” New York Times, 17 September 1947. Clipping in M3a.

[59] New York Times, 3 March 1948; Herald Tribune, 19 March 1948. “With or without her, rehearsals are planned for August,” the Times reported on 27 February.

[60] Lerner interview with George Davis, 2. For Anderson’s 1948 diary (see note 22). The possibility of casting Celeste Holms must have been announced at some point, because the Times reported on 12 October 1947 that she was out of the running owing to film commitments.

[61] “Yes Yes, Nanette”; clipping in M5.

[62] Various clippings in M3a and M5.

[63] Times and Tribune announced her contract on 29 May.

[64] Fabray’s name appears among casting ideas for Firebrand Weill jotted down in pencil. The loose sheet is preserved in WLA, Box 47, Fld. 16.

[65] Nanette Fabray, transcript of oral history interview with Peggy Sherry, 1 October 1991, WLRC, Series 60, 2.

[66] David Killroy has suggested that “Murder in the Museum” was written with Mary Martin in mind. And he also claims that “Women’s Club Blues” was intended to allude to Fabray’s role in Bloomer Girl. The neat intertextual references notwithstanding, “Murder in the Museum” was largely sketched when Gertrude Lawrence was still under consideration, and there no evidence as to whether “Women’s Club Blues” was composed before or after Fabray’s casting. We only know that the number was transposed down to accommodate her.

[67] The 17 May entry in Maxwell Anderson’s 1948 diary reads: “Gadge is going to direct Kurt + Alan Lerner’s show.” Kazan was simultaneously reading Anderson’s draft of Lost in the Stars with a view to directing that show also. On 27 April, the Tribune reported that Kazan was “being sought.” The New York Times confirmed Lewis’s withdrawal on 28 April.

[68] Lerner interview with George Davis, 2.

[69] Variety, 5 May 1948; clipping in M5. Jules Dassin’s name also came up (New York Times, 2 May 1948).

[70] Alan Jay Lerner to Cheryl Crawford, 11 May 1951; BRTC, Crawford Papers, Box 1a/51.

[71] According to the New York Post, 9 September 1948. Kazan’s contract, dated 4 June, is in M2, Series IV, 30/4.

[72] Curiously enough, the only other time Kazan had three plays running simultaneously was when he directed One Touch of Venus.

[73] Richard Schickel, Elia Kazan (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 184.

[74] Clurman interview with Ronald Sanders; Ronald Sanders Papers, New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division (photocopy in WLRC, Series 30, 19/10).

[75] Kazan begged off in a telegram dated 18 June 1944; WLA, Box 47, Fld. 16.

[76] Kazan to Weill, n.d.; WLA, Box 48, Fld. 41.

[77] Maxwell Anderson, entry for 17 December (1948 Diary).

[78] Elia Kazan interview with Ronald Sanders; photopy in WLRC, Series 30, 19/7.

[79] Harold Prince, interview with Elmar Juchem, “Weill and Lenya Come to Broadway,” in Kurt Weill Newsletter 24, no. 2 (Fall 2006): 11.

[80] “I think there should be collaboration, but under my thumb,” Kazan once said. Interview with Michael Ciment, cited in Schickel, 185.

[81] Aronson, “Notes on Kazan (1973)”; M1, 9/4. Some of this material reappears in Rich, Theatre Art of Boris Aronson.

[82] Fabray, oral history, 4.

[83] Kidd, oral history, 13.

[84] Quoted in Rich, Theatre Art of Boris Aronson, 85.

[85] Schickel, Elia Kazan, 185.

[86] Kazan, “Background Data, Facts, and a Few Schmaltzy Ideas.” Notes on two loose sheets inserted in his script.

[87] Kazan script, sheet 4, consisting of notes on scenes and cast members.

[88] Boris Aronson’s contract in Crawford Papers, Series IV, Box 30/3. Twenty-one designs appear in Rich, Theatre Art of Boris Aronson, 85–94.

[89] Aronson, “Notes on Kazan.”

[90] Kowalke explores these in “Today’s Invention, Tomorrow’s Cliché,” 190–91.

[91] Scene-by-scene construction costs (by Nolan Bros., based on Aronson’s specifications) are in M2, Series IV, Box 30/10, as are itemized costs of draperies (Weiss and Sons) and painting (Triangle Scenic Studios). Aronson’s designs for Love Life are in M1, Series VIII, Box 110.

[92] The Sunday News (27 February 1949) included a color spread of the actual set; reprinted in WPD(e), Plate 22.

[93] Contract in M2, Series IV, 30/4. The press announced his involvement already on 12 June (e.g., Herald Tribune).

[94] Michael Kidd, transcript of oral history interview with Peggy Sherry; WLRC, Series 60, 2.

[95] On that day, Weill sent Littau a telegram: “Am very pleased that you will conduct my new show. Looking forward to start working with you after July fourth.” WLA, Box 48, Fld. 26 {B47, F16? check}.

[96] Crawford to Weill, [25 June 1948]; WLA, Box 48, Fld. 26. The letter is merely dated “Friday,” but Crawford mentions she is getting away for a week, returning on Sunday, 3 July.

[97] Crawford, One Naked Individual, 171.

[98] An undated budget for “A Dish for the Gods” is in M2, Series IV, 30/10. In the same folder, another estimated budget, this time for “Love Life” and “based on actual contract figures,” is virtually on the mark: $168,700. Actual production costs according to the post-closing financial statements prepared by the accounting firm of Seidman & Seidman (M2, Series IV30/14). J.S. Seidman had a 2% stake in the show.

[99] Other investors from the worlds of show business and the arts included Theresa Helburn and Armina Marshall Langner of the Theater Guild ($2000 each); Al Greenstone, theater program publisher ($5000); Bea Lawrence, production assistant for Carousel ($8000); Edward A. Bragaline, art collector and philanthropist ($4000); Mitzi Newhouse, arts patron ($4000); Arthur Rapf and Michael Rudin, film exhibitors ($8000); Caroll Case, film producer ($8000); and Clinton Wilder, stage manager on Street Car and eventual co-producer with Crawford of Blitzstein’s Regina ($4000). Advertising mogul William H. Weintraub was one of the larger investors ($8000). Weill’s sister-in-law Rita and Lerner’s siblings Richard and Robert each invested $2000. Then there were various investors from the worlds of business, including executives Nathan Hirschfield and Lester A. Neumann of Chicago, who jointly contributed $8000. Neumann would not survive the experience, succumbing to a heart attack during a performance of Love Life that fall (unidentified clipping in M3a).

[100] According to assorted press clippings in M3a.

[101] New York Times, 15 July 1948.

[102] The New York Times (31 May 1948) has him “perusing” both shows.

[103] According to rehearsal pianist Lys Symonette’s recollection (personal communication).

[104] Assistant Stage Manager Jules Racine supplemented the chorus, assisting with small speaking and non-speaking roles (e.g., the Magician during tryouts and the Judge in the Divorce Ballet).

[105] RCA Victor–P193.

[106] Kazan script, sheet 5 (notes on back of table of contents).

[107] Kazan reportedly rehearsed Sundown Beach from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Love Life from 3 to 10 p.m.; New York Times, 27 August 1948.

[108] Text for her strophe appears in the Appendix.

[109] Michael Kidd, oral history, 3.

[110] Tt2b, inserted sheet titled “Background Data, Facts, and a Few Schmaltzy Ideas.”

[111] Lerner interview with George Davis, 5.

[112] The feminist aspects of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” were explored as part of the 2017 Library of Congress exhibit, “Baseball’s Greatest Hits: The Music of Our National Game.”

[113] Composer Theodore Morse and lyricist Howard Johnson published it in 1915.

[114] “Mother’s Getting Nervous” was the show’s most frequently revised number. At least six distinct versions may be reconstructed from the sources, including the addition of a new introduction and verse, very likely in Boston, because Schlein extracted parts. See Critical Report for details.

[115] Various clippings in M3a. That this was a sudden decision is confirmed by an invoice from the Eaves Costume Manufacturing Company dated 3 September and including a charge of $250 for Rex Weber’s Magician’s costume and $125 for a ventriloquist costume (Cheryl Crawford Collection, Houston, Series II, 2/4). Moreover, instrumental parts for the reprise of “Economics,” in which Weber was to participate, had already been copied.

[116] He was apparently a direct descendant of Jean Racine (New York Daily Mirror, 16 November 1948; clipping in M5).

[117] All of this according to an interview with Marshall: Edmund Leamy, “Magic à la Southpaw,” New York Telegram, 31 December 1948 (M3b). The Sunday News ran a similar story about the left-handed tricks on 31 October.

[118] Marshall, interview in Gotham Life, 20 November 1948. Here Marshall discussed his other engagements and his habit of bicycling between gigs (M3b).

[119] George W. Clarke, “Around Boston,” Boston Record, 15 September.

[120] Cyrus Durgin, Boston Globe, 14 September 1948.

[121] Durgin, Globe.

[122] “‘Love Life’ Big Hit at Schubert,” Boston Post, 14 September 1948.

[123] Boston Herald, 14 September 1948.

[124] “Bone,” “Love Life’,” Variety, 10 September 1948.

[125] According to “F. R. J.” of the Journal Courier, 10 September 1948; clipping in M4. There is no record of exactly when the curtain went up, but the tone (“finally came down”) suggests an overly long evening.

[126] Lerner interview with George Davis, 4.

[127] Quoted in Lerner, The Street Where I Live, 202.

[128] “Lerner’s Life and ‘Love Life’.”

[129] Lerner interview with George Davis, 5.

[130] Alan Jay Lerner, The Street Where I Live, 16–17.

[131] According to a 1960 Lerner interview in Time; quoted in Lees, Inventing Champagne, 45.

[132] On the 17th, the Boston Record reported that “Crawford flew to New York Wednesday [the 15th] to audition night club singer for a new song to go into ‘Love Life’ this week.”

[133] The Boston copyist Harry Silberman extracted the parts for the revised no. 21c.

[134] Kazan mentions these items on a list titled “To do—Big” on the verso of “Background Data, Facts, and a Few Schmaltzy Ideas,” on an inserted sheet in Tt2b.

[135] The two numbers are listed in the program for the week of 13 September but not in the one for the week of the 20th.

[136] The number does not necessarily pose a problem for modern critics. David Drew for one, thought the scene one of the show’s strengths: “The decisive collapsing together of vaudeville and drama occurs in the penultimate [sic] ‘Locker Room’ scene, where the confined space and the highly combustible subject matter ensure that the explosive effect of the satire is very much greater than the force applied.” David Drew, Kurt Weill: A Handbook (London: Faber, 1987), 358.

[137] “We ate + then to Kurt’s to talk the show over with him. Got into a discussion of Susan’s Dream—and called Alan L. down.” Anderson, 1948 Diary.

[138] New York Journal-American; clipping in M5.

[139] Maxwell Anderson reports that Weill finished the overture on 4 October.

[140] Lerner interview with George Davis, 5.

[141] See above. Oddly enough, the note is missing from the second and third Boston programs and those from the first couple of months in New York. In addition to Lerner’s article in the Boston Post, his later one in PM, and Lerner and Weill’s interview in the Boston Herald (all three cited above), Lerner and Weill were interviewed by Robert Wahls (“Lerner Says Weill Is Great—and Kurt Says Alan Is Great,” New York Daily News); undated clipping in M5, shortly before New York opening.

[142] “Two on the Street,” New York Times, 3 October 1948.

[143] Lerner interview with George Davis, 3.

[144] Letter of 17 October 1948. Original in Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel; photocopy in WLRC.

[145] “Diesmal war es besonders schwer, da ich eine ganz neue Form von Theater, eine neue Mischung der verschiedenen Elemente ausprobiert habe, und wie immer, wenn man etwas neues versucht, konnten wir nicht wissen, wie die verschiedenen Teile des Werkes auf das Publikum wirken würden, bevor wir es wirklich vor einem Publikum spielen konnten. Wir fanden daher, als wir in New Haven eröffneten, dass manche Teile, von denen wir uns viel versprachen, nicht so wirksam waren, und umgekehrt. […] Aber trotzdem es viel Arbeit war, hat es doch viel Spass gemacht, da ich ausgezeichnete Mitarbeiter hatte, einen erstklassigen Librettisten und den besten amerikanischen Regisseur, sodas die Arbeit immer sehr harmonisch und ohne jede Reibereien durchgeführt werden konnte. Dazu lebten wir alle in einem wundervollen Hotel mit guter Verpflegung.” Weill, letter to Albert and Emma Weill, 17 October 1948; W-Fam, 413–14.

[146] Theaters had the contractual right to close a production with one week’s notice if weekly receipts fell below $25,000. The theater’s share of the weekly gross was 30%, but no less than $7500 (i.e., 30% of the $25,000 minimum).

[147] Seidman & Seidman, however, calculated capacity at $41,490 without standees.

[148] Weill 1949 diary; WLA, Box 68, Fld. 20.

[149] Clipping in M3a.

[150] Crawford Papers, Series IV, 30/5.

[151] Louis Lotito interview with Ward Morehouse, New York Sun, 27 January 1949. Lotito suggests cutting “the big fellows—the authors, the top performers, the directors, and the composers,” who are probably paying 75–80% in taxes anyway. He doesn’t say anything about theater owners!

[152] Weill to Abravanel; WLA, Box 47, Fld. 1.

[153] Interestingly, the Theatre Guild had once asked Weill, unsuccessfully, to write the score for The Pursuit of Happiness. Kidd would also work on the show, which was retitled Arms and the Girl. On Fabray and Bettger, clippings in M3b.

[154] New York Herald Tribune, 25 November 1947; clipping in M5.

[155] The releases (Clark’s on Columbia 38294, Kaye’s on RCA Victor 20-3063) were announced in the New York Daily News, 23 September 1948, along with the caveat that they had been recorded before the Petrillo ban took effect; clipping in M3a. No recordings seem to have been made of “You Understand Me So.” “Here I’ll Stay” and “Green-Up Time” were recorded by other artists as well, mostly after 15 December (e.g., Sinatra’s of no. 3), but Gracie Fields’s recordings of nos. 3 and 6 were made in London (on Decca) and released in the States in November 1948.

[156] See note 69 above.

[157] Weill to Larry Spier, 19 December 1949; WLA, Box 47, Fld. 14.

[158] Clipping in M4.

[159] 31 March 1949. Video copy in WLRC, Series 140/238.

[160] M2, Series IV, 30/16. “Here I’ll Stay” did best, selling 15,907 copies, followed by “Green-Up Time” (7,951).

[161] For the Circle Award, South Pacific received 18 votes, Kiss Me, Kate 6, and Love Life 1; clipping in M3b.

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