Saturday, July 18, 2015

Irene, On the Rocks

 Irene premiered on Broadway in 1919...
and ran for 675 performances,
a record in those days for the longest running show!
Above, Gladys Miller, Bobby Watson, and Eva Puck
 It was based on James Montgomery's tale, "Irene O'Dare,"
about an immigrant shop keeper who is hired to re-decorated
an upper-class estate. 
And you know where that leads.

 It was revived in 1973...with walloping changes in the plot.
Here is Debbie Reynolds, evidently NOT wearing her 
"Alice Blue Gown" (what IS that thing?),
but posing as a countess to further the reputation of 
dress designer Madame Lucy (played by George S. Irving
who replaced Billy DeWolf).
Interesting trivia: Do you see daughter Carrie at Debbie's feet?

 Previews proved a fiasco.
In Toronto, Debbie suffered a throat ailment and couldn't talk.
So....director John Gielgud 
(Really? Gielgud directing a Broadway musical? 
Don't worry, he was replaced before the show's opening by Gower Champion. Whew.) 
spoke her dialogue from the wings
and Debbie mimed the words.
Have stranger things ever happened.

How does this thing work again?
Here's leading man Monte Markam, 
trying to help Debbie tune a piano.

The production lasted 574 performances, 
enjoying perfectly mixed reviews.
Debbie stayed with the musical for 5 months,
then she was replaced by Jane Powell (another feisty lady).
Clive Barnes of the Times called it,
"the best 1919 musical in town."

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