I just saw the new movie, Noah. Some of it was very well done, but overall (for my taste) it was idiotic. Forget that it has little to do with the story as written in the Bible -- 600-year-old Noah as stud action hero -- the larger problem is that, while it's well-produced and tries to deal with large issue, it just doesn't tell the story it wants to tell all that interestingly.
Anyway, that got me to thinking of another telling of the Noah story.
Back in 1970, Richard Rodgers wrote the score to a show, Two by Two, one of his last musicals. The show, in fact, had a good pedigree all around. The lyrics were by Martin Charnin, who would go on to write the words to Annie, and the book was by Peter Stone who, among many other shows, wrote 1776. (And it was all based on Clifford Odets' the play, The Flowering Peach.) But most notably, Two by Two marked the return to Broadway after a 30 year absence by Danny Kaye.
It was a mixed blessing. In his autobiography, Richard Rodgers utterly hated what Danny Kaye did. During the run, Kaye broke his foot, but insisted he stay in the show. While in many ways that's extremely admirable, and may have helped keep the show running, it was also problematic because he needed crutches and often a wheelchair to perform which was needless to say distracting. Worse, he tended to throw out the book and would wheel around the stage, clowning about, doing vaudeville shtick, pinching the actresses. Audiences apparently had a fun time, but the show's creators? Not so much. The didn't flop, though wasn't a particular hit. It had a passable run for over 300 performances.
The score is very pleasant. It's not distinguished, and not all the songs work, but there's a great deal that's quite enjoyable, and includes one beautiful ballad, "I Do Not Know a Day I Did Not Love You," sung by Walter Willison, who got a Tony nomination as best supporting actor, playing the youngest son, Japheth. Unfortunately I haven't digitized my copy of the score, and I can find any of the cast album online. However, here's the title song done during rehearsals at Mars Hill College. It certainly doesn't present the score at its best, but they do it justice.
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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