Playing a Game of Polo
I'm going to dive back to Alfred Drake for a moment. I've posted a few things from him the last few months, in part because they're good, and in part because they're rare. As I've mentioned, he was a huge Broadway star -- the lead in such original casts as Oklahoma!, Kismet and Kiss Me, Kate. But he did very little television and almost fewer movies. (I think the only film I saw him in was a tiny role in Trading Places as an official of the Stock Exchange.)
One thing he did on television was re-creating his starring role in an edited down production Kiss Me, Kate, of which I've posted a few clips. And he was in another TV musical, this one made for television, never done on stage. It was the show, The Adventures of Marco Polo, which aired on NBC April 14, 1956. It had music by Clay Warnick and Mel Pahl based on themes of Rimskey-Korsakov. I suspect that the impetus for this production came directly from the success of Kismet, which was a similar style show that used the themes of another Russian composer, Alexander Borodin (indeed a contemporary of Rimsky-Korsakov) for the musical score. Moreover, this TV production reunited Alfred Drake with his Kismet co-star, Doretta Morrow. (For those keeping track of such things, she had also been in the original cast of The King and I, playing the supporting role of Tuptim, who sings the wonderful, "I Have Dreamed" and "We Kiss in the Shadow.")
The lyrics for Marco Polo were by Edgar Eager. But perhaps the most intriguing production credit is that the book was written by William Friedberg and a fellow starting out named Neil Simon. (The Adventures of Marco Polo was produced and directed by Max Liebman, the man behind Your Show of Shows on which Simon got his big break.)
Here's the finale from that little-known, almost unknown show.
Leave a Reply.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor