Reviewing Rodgers – 0: The Beginning

A new series for the new year, stemming from an idea that has been percolating for some time. Richard Rodgers, famous as both …and Hart and …and Hammerstein, left behind a rich legacy of songs and shows, some of which endure, while others fade quietly away. My intention, at least once a month, is to focus on one aspect of his work at a time, including each of his eleven collaborations with Oscar Hammerstein II from Oklahoma! in 1943 to The Sound of Music in 1959. Individual songs, shows, films, themes, whatever seems apt or interesting and in no particular order.

Rodgers helped to redefine musical theatre with landmark shows such as On Your Toes, Pal Joey, Oklahoma! and Carousel, each of which contained innovations which pushed the genre in new directions. He also wrote the music for some of the most enduring songs of the twentieth century – ‘Blue Moon’, ‘My Funny Valentine’, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, ‘Oh, What a Beautiful Morning’, ‘Have You Met Miss Jones?’ and dozens more. Perhaps most importantly, he’s a composer that I admire, with a body of work which I (mostly) enjoy very much, spanning some sixty years between his first and last published songs. He’s also a composer who is very much on my mind at present, as I immerse myself in his music prior to playing him on stage.  A love of Richard Rodgers may hardly be original (though perhaps slightly unusual in one who has not quite turned 30), but one thing I hope to demonstrate along the way is that he could be surprisingly unconventional, given that we now associate his most famous musicals with a sort of safe, middle-class theatricality.

And so this post is only a beginning, a signal that there is more to come. But the beginning is, as I’m sure we all know, a very good place to start.

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