Happy Ma's Day
We'll finish our Mother's Day celebration with one of my favorite songs about mothers -- and one of the littlest known, I'd think. It's from an unsuccessful musical, Juno, that opened in 1959 and only ran for 16 performances. But it had a pretty interesting pedigree.
The show is based on the famous Irish play, Juno and the Paycock (an Irish pronunciation of "peacock") written by Sean O'Casey, and was adapted as a musical by Joseph Stein -- who in a few year would write the book for Fiddler on the Roof. And it had music and lyrics by Marc Blitzstein (a protege of Kurt Weill), who had adapted The Threepenny Opera for its off-Broadway debut, and wrote the score to The Cradle Will Rock for Orson Welles. (The story surrounding that production was made into the film, Rocking the Cradle, made my Tim Robbins.) And Juno starred Shirley Booth.
Shirley Booth is probably best-remembered for starring in the sitcom, Hazel, which won her two Emmy Awards playing the housemaid, though she also won a Tony Award and later an Oscar for starring in the powerful drama, Come Back, Little Sheba. She wasn't a great singer, but she stole the stage musical version of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, in a supporting role. (It's later been suggested that this was, in part, the reason for that show's short run. She was so wonderful in the musical that it changed the focus of the show, and the balance of the tender story was off.) Later, she was in another flop musical, playing the Mother Superior in Look to the Lilies, a stage version of Lilies of the Field.
Alas, Juno didn't last on Broadway. .But it did have several interesting songs. And most notably for me is this one -- "Song of the Ma."
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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