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Arms and the Girl

Opening night: 2ndFebruary 1950
Performances: 134

Composer: Morton Gould
Book: Herbert / Dorothy Fields, Rouben Mamoulian

Performers: Nanette Fabray, Georges Guetary,Pearl Bailey

Musical Numbers
A Girl With A Flame
That's What I Told Him Last Night
I Like It Here
That's My Fella
A Cow, A Plough And A Frau
Nothin' For Nothin'
He Will Tonight
Plantation In Philadelphia
You Kissed Me
Don't Talk
I'll Never Learn
There Must Be Somethin' Better Than Love
She's Exciting
Mister Washington! Uncle George!
I'm Scared (cut)
Johnny Cake (cut)
Little Old Cabin Door (cut)

The source of Arms and the Girl was a play called The Pursuit of Happiness, written by husband and wife team Lawrence Langner and Armina Marshall (under the pseudonyms Alan Child and Isabelle Louden). The couple were also the cofounders of the Theatre Guild and tried to produce a musical version in 1948. Harry Warren was approached to write the music, but he was only interested if Rouben Mamoulian would direct (they had just worked together on the movie musical Summer Holiday).

At the time, Mamoulian was not interested, but when Langner and Marshall resurrected the project a year later, Mamoulian was hired, but with Burton Lane as composer and Dorothy Fields as lyricist.

Burton Lane did not remain long on the project - he disliked the book the Fields had written and withdrew. In fact the Fields duo had experienced great difficulty with the book, constantly rewriting the adaptation of the American Revolution story. Morton Gould stepped in and he and Dorothy produced a tuneful score.

Creative team : Herbert Fields, Morton Gould, Dorothy Fields.

The story concerned a romance between a Hessian soldier and an independently-spirited American girl. One aspect of the story which attracted interest was the depiction of the colonial bundling custom. It seems unmarried couples would get into bed together, fully dressed, and separated by a wooden board. Strange.

Dorothy's lyrics received some praise, but the show also included the song often cited as the low point of her achievements: an attempt at depicting a rural paradise in A Plough, a Cow and a Frau. ( A Frau? Well the character's German.)

The individual who came away from Arms and the Girl with most credit was Pearl Bailey in a supporting role as a former slave. She had two show-stopping numbers Nothin' is Nothin' and There Must Be Something Better Than Love.

Poor reviews hastened this show's closure after only four months.

The show was recorded (see picture) on four ten-inch 78s. In 2003 the tracks were combined witha recording of Up in Central Park and released on CD.



Sheet music cover for the song You Kissed Me:

Thanks to Sally Plowright for the information on Harry Warren's invitation to write the score.

Anyone interested in the French performer Georges Guetary who starred with Nanette Fabray in the show (he has a very distinctive voice!) can find out more at the Guetary fan site.

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