Showboat - 1967

'Showboat'

Armidale Town Hall - October/November 1967

Stage Direction by Jim Graham
Musical Direction by Leonard Bell and Neville Meale 

By Oscar Hammerstein II. Music by Jerome Kern. 

SYNOPSIS 

Act I 

The story opens on the Levee at Natchez in about 1890 - the Show Boat is in and the coloured stevedores are loading cotton bales. The town 'belles' are beaux arrive and Captain Andy of the Show Boat introduces his troupe of entertainers. Pete - a 'no account river rat' has been making advances to Julie the leading lady of the Show Boat Troupe even though she is married to Steve Baker the leading man. When Julie refuses to respond to his advances, Pete tells the Sheriff that on the Show Boat a white man (Steve) is married to a woman with coloured blood in her (Julie) - this is a crime in Mississippi but Steve by quick thinking evolves a temporary solution.

In the meantime Gaylord Ravenal is introduced - an inveterate gambler and a man who some years before killed another man in self defence. He has 24 hours to be out of town but meets Magnolia, daughter of Andy Hawks, Captain of the Show Boat, who falls in love with him. Because Julie and Steve have to leave town in a hurry over their 'mixed blood marriage' Andy is without leading actors for his show but agrees to take on Ravenal as a leading man, with his own daughter Magnolia dubbing for Julie as leading lady. This is much to the disappointment of Ellie, who with Frank makes up the comedy team of the Show Boat - Ellie had always fancied herself as a dramatic actress. The show goes on that night, though not without several hitches. 

Ravenal realises his love for Magnolia and asks her to marry him. Captain Andy gives his blessing but Parthy his wife violently objects - as indeed she does to most things.

Act II

This act opens in Chicago at the World's Fair, some three years later. Magnolia, now married, is showing he mother the sights. Captain Andy is discovering the sights for himself. Ravenal and Magnolia have a daughter, Kim but Ravenal is unable to give up his passion for gambling.

Scene II of Act II takes us forward ten years. Ellie and Frank, the comedy pair, are looking for rooms in Chicago and by chance are shown the rooms where Magnolia and Ravenal are living. Whilst they are there Magnolia comes in and a few minutes later gets a letter from Ravenal saying that he has decided to leave her - he has lost their money and he thinks that she and Kim would be better off without him. Although he advises her to return to the Show Boat, Magnolia decides to try out as a night club singer at the place where Ellie and Frank are at present working. She gets her 'break' mainly because the opening is made for her by Julie - though the two women do not meet.

On her first night in the new job, Captain Andy happens to be in the audience. After a faltering start Magnolia turns out to be a 'hit' and her fortune is assured.

The end of the play takes place nearly 30 years later. The Cotton Blossom (the Show Boat) is still giving its performance under an aged Captain Andy. The scene is again at Natchez and Andy has found Ravenal who has not seen Magnolia since he left her. Kim, their daughter and now very grown up, is a Broadway star but sings for the fans at Natchez. Captain Andy bring Magnolia (now a star herself) and Ravenal together again and Joe the faithful negro friend brings the play to an end with his singing of the river song "Ol' Man River". 

SCENES AND MUSICAL NUMBERS 

Act I 

Scene I - The Levee at Natchez on the Mississippi. In the late 1880s.
'Cotton Blossom' - Chorus
'Only Make Believe' - Ravenal and Magnolia
'Ol' Man River' - Joe

Scene II - Kitchen Pantry of the "Cotton Blossom" half an hour later.
'Can't Help Lovin' dat Man' - Julie, Queenie, Magnolia, Joe

Scene III - Outside the Waterfront Gambling Saloon.
'Life on the Wicked Stage' - Ellie and girls
'Till Good Luck Comes My Way' - Ravenal

Scene IV - Auditorium Stage of the "Cotton Blossom".

Scene V - Box Office on Levee at Natchez - three weeks later.
'I Might Fall Back on You' - Ellie, Frank and girls
'C'mon Folks' - Queenie and coloured chorus

Scene VI - Auditorium of "Cotton Blossum" during the third act of the "Parson's Bride".

Scene VII - Top Deck of "Cotton Blossum" later that night.
'You Are Love' - Magnolia and Ravenal

Scene VIII - The Levee at Natchez next morning 

Act 2 

Scene I - Chicago World's Fair. 1893 (ten years later).
'Why Do I Love You" - Magnolia, Ravenal, Andy, Parthy and chorus
'Dyunga Doe' - Chorus and dancers

Scene II - A scene in a cheap boarding house in Chicago - 11 years later.

Scene III - Trocadero Night Club at rehearsal time next day.
'Bill' - Julie
'Can't Help Lovin' dat Man' - Magnolia

Scene IV - Trocadero Night Club - New Year's Eve 1904.
'How'd You Like to Spoon With Me' - Frank and Ellie
'After the Ball' - Magnolia

Scene V - Levee at Natchez - 23 years later (1927). 
'Ol' Man River' - Joe and chorus

Scene VI - Top Deck of "Cotton Blossom" - 1927.

Scene VII - Levee at Natchez - next night
'Dance Away the Night' - Kim and chorus

CAST

Captain Andy: Bruce Leman, Magnolia: Ruth Edmunds, Ravenal: John Little, Parthy: Audry Heatwole, Julie: Jennifer Hutchinson, Ellie: Carmel McRae, Frank: David Sawkins, Joe: Alan McEachern, Queenie: Els Coventry, Steve: Peter Rodgers, Landlady: Peg Leask, Windy: Arch Taylor

Vallon: Garry Randell, Rubber Face: John Leslie, Back Woodsman: Ilford Keena, Max: Bob Dunn, Pete: Peter Hutchinson, Jake: John Watson, 2nd Back Woodsman: Tony Barnett, Jedd: John Wright, Charlie: Michael Perry 

White Women: Beth Porter, Margaret Baker, Bronwyn Sewell, Alison Stewart, Judy Reece, Evelyn 'Lottie' Richardson, Caryn Richardson, Heather Aston, Nerida Curtis, Sandy Roach, Deidre Poulton, Helen McCully, Lyn Harvey, White Men: Warwick Schofield, Peter Rich, Clyde McMillan

Coloured Women: May Croaker, Beryl Richardson, Helen Little, Betty Pearson, Claire Dawson, Clarice Faint, Coloured Men: Ken Johnson, Bill Pearson, Doug Lobban, Peter Robertson, John Beckenham 

Specialty Dancers: Margaret Napier, Jenny Marsh, Marilyn McKenzie 

ORCHESTRA

Violins: Lois Kesteven (Leader), Chris Bettle, Eunice Allingham, Florence Brereton, Val Wheaton, Viola: John Sparkes, 'Cello: Arpad Got, Flute: Margaret Hawkins, Oboe: David Boehm, Clarinets: Jim Hawkins, Leo Atherton, Bassoon: Martin Wooley, Horn: Jim Ridsdell-Smith, Percussion: Davydd Williams, Piano: Betty McEachern

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Stage Direction: Jim Graham 
Musical Direction: Leonard Bell and Neville Meale 
Stage Manager: Lew Payne 
Rehearsal Pianist: Betty McEachern
Stage Crew: Howard Wheaton, Mandy Rich, Stuart Grigg, David Robins, Geoff Fox, Geoff Boaler, John McGregor 
Lighting: John Wiseman, Val Wiseman, John Moran
Make-up: Aline Christenson
Choreography: Rosalie Fairball and Margaret Napier
Costumes: Margaret Coggan with Sylvia Pink
Properties: Mary Quinn
Photography: Frank Anderson
Business and House Manager: Peter Foggioli 
Programme Cover: Peter Sourry
Posters: Jennifer Hutchinson
Designer: Dot McDermott

THANKS

Armidale Teachers' College for rehearsal venue, Armidale Technical College for rehearsal venue, Radio Station 2AD, The Armidale Newspaper Co Ltd