Those there's no real connection, my article this morning made me think of a similarly title song, "Poppa Knows Best," from the musical Two by Two. So, I figured, what the heck?
The show had a score by Richard Rodgers, one of the last he wrote, with lyrics by Martin Charnin (who most famously wrote Annie). It told the story of Noah, based on the play The Flowering Peach by Clifford Odets, who wrote the play, Golden Boy. The book adaptation for the musical was written by Peter Stone whose many credits include 1776.
The show also had a big name on the marquee, starring Danny Kaye, and had a fair run of 351 performances -- as well as a bit of controversy in a public battle between star and composer. Danny Kaye began taking liberties with the book and tempo of the songs, which Rodgers was vocal about his displeasure -- and all the more so after Kaye broke his foot, but stayed in the show, wheeling around in his wheelchair, and often chasing the women in the cast. This has mixed reaction on the box office -- some came to see the antics, but others were not unreasonably bothered.
Controversies aside, the score is pretty good. There are some wonderful songs, and a few lovely Rodgers ballads, though it's not consistent. But enjoyable.
This particular song is a battle between father and rebellious son, Japheth, played by Walter Willison, who got a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Earlier in the show, Japheth had confronted his father for not building a rudder on his ark, with Noah insisting that because he hadn't been given specific instructions to do so by God, it wasn't necessary. (This leads into the song, "There's Got to Be a Rudder on the Ark.") Later, on the ark during a storm, the argument rises up again. I'm not completely sure of the story here, since as is clear in the song there is now a rudder, but Japheth seems to have it. But the sense I get is that Japheth has won the earlier argument (hence the rudder being there), but Noah still insisted it's unnecessary.
And so, to finish off the pair of bookends on our "Poppa Knows Best" Day, curtain up --
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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