The Story
Show Boat
Music
JEROME KERN

Book & Lyrics
OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II
This musical is based on Edna Ferber's novel of the same name. The story, which spans almost fifty years, deals primarily with the fortunes of an impressionable young woman named Magnolia Hawks, her father who owns a show boat named the Cotton Blossom, and a troubled riverboat gambler/actor named Gaylord Ravenal. Magnolia and Gaylord fall in love while acting on the showboat and eventually marry and move to Chicago. They separate, however, after Gaylord loses all of their money gambling. The subplot involves Magnolia's mulatto friend, the tragic Julie La Verne.

PHOTOS
1994 Broadway Production
2015 Sheffield Crucible Production
2016 London Production
Artworks/ Posters

VIDEOS
Tammy Amerson and Elaine Stritch lead the 1994 Broadway revival cast in "Kim's Charleston" at the Tony Awards.

MUSIC
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
Rebecca Luker
1993 Toronto Cast Recording

THE STORY

SYNOPSIS

The story spans 47 years, beginning aboard the showboat Cotton Blossom in the 1880s, on the Mississippi River near Natchez, Mississippi. Cap'n Andy Hawks, owner of the showboat, introduces all of his actors to the excited crowd on the levee.

Almost immediately, a fist fight breaks out between Steve Baker, the leading man of the troupe, and Pete, a rough, coarse engineer who had been making passes at Steve's wife, Julie La Verne, the company's leading lady. Steve knocks Pete down and Pete swears revenge, apparently knowing some dark secret about Julie. Cap'n Andy pretends to the shocked crowd that the fight was a preview of a scene from one of the melodramas performed on the boat. The troupe exits with the showboat band.

A handsome riverboat gambler, Gaylord Ravenal, comes aboard the boat and is taken with eighteen year old Magnolia Hawks, an aspiring performer and daughter of Cap'n Andy and his wife Parthy Ann. Magnolia (aka Nolie) is likewise smitten with Ravenal. She seeks advice from Joe, one of the Negro (the word then in vogue) workers aboard the boat. He replies that there are "lots like [Ravenal] on the river", [1] and, as Magnolia excitedly goes inside the boat to tell her friend Julie about the handsome stranger, Joe mutters to himself that she ought to ask the river for advice. With the other dock workers joining him in the second chorus, he then sings the most famous song in the musical, Ol' Man River.

During the rehearsal for that evening's show, full of comical blunders, the mood abruptly changes when Julie and Steve are alerted that the town sheriff is coming to arrest them. To the shock of all except Julie, Steve then takes out a large pocket knife and makes a cut on the back of her hand, sucking the blood and swallowing it. Then Pete returns with the sheriff, who insists that the show not go on, because Julie is a mulatto woman married to a white man, and local laws prohibit miscegenation. Julie admits that she is a mulatto. But Steve, because he swallowed Julie's blood (and therefore has at least "one drop of black blood" in him), is able to claim that he too is mulatto. The sympathetic troupe backs him up. The sheriff is powerless to arrest Julie and Steve, but they must leave town anyway. Pete is fired by Cap'n Andy. As Julie and Steve prepare to leave, Gaylord Ravenal returns and asks for passage on the boat: his gambling has cost him the boat ticket he planned to use to leave town. Noticing Ravenal's good looks, Andy immediately hires him as the new leading man, and suggests, over Parthy's objections, that Magnolia be the new leading lady. Julie bids a tearful goodbye to Magnolia and leaves with Steve.

Weeks later, Magnolia and Gaylord are an enormous hit with the crowds and have fallen deeply in love. Gaylord proposes to Magnolia and she accepts. The two are married while Parthy is out of town: she can do nothing, despite her disapproval of Gaylord.

Years pass. Gaylord and Magnolia are living in Chicago with their daughter, Kim. Gaylord's gambling debts are out of control, so their living quarters are a cheap apartment. Depressed and shamed by his inability to support his family, Gaylord leaves Nolie. Frank and Ellie, two actors on the boat, choose this time to visit. These old friends seek a singing job for Magnolia at the same club where they are doing a New Year's show, a club called the Trocadero. Unbeknownst to Magnolia, Julie, abandoned by Steve and now a drunken cabaret singer at the Trocadero, hears Magnolia singing "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" for her audition, the song Julie taught her years ago. Julie secretly abandons her position so that Magnolia can fill it, and Magnolia never learns of her sacrifice. (At this point, the character of Julie completely disappears from both the stage and the 1936 film versions, though in the 1951 film she is given one more scene near the end.)

On New Year's Eve, Andy, in Chicago with Parthy for a surprise visit, ends up at the Trocadero while celebrating without her. He is unaware of Magnolia's presence and troubles, only to discover her choked with emotion and nearly being booed off stage. Andy rallies the crowd to her defense by standing up and initiating a grand sing-along of the old song "After the Ball". Magnolia becomes a great musical star.

More than 20 years pass; it is now 1927. Magnolia has become an international star of the stage and radio. Cap'n Andy has a chance meeting with Ravenal and, knowing that Magnolia is retiring from the stage and returning to the Cotton Blossom with Kim, arranges for a reunion. Although Ravenal is uncertain whether he has the right to ask Magnolia to take him back, she does. As the happy couple walks up the boat's gangplank, Joe and the chorus sing a final reprise of "Ol' Man River".

LIBRETTO

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CAST & CREATIVES
Creative
Direction DANIEL EVANS
Choreography ALISTAIR DAVID
Scenic Design LEZ BROTHERSON
Lighting Design DAVID HERSEY
Sound Design PAUL GROOTHIUS
Cast
Magnolia Hawks GINA BECK
Gaylord Ravenal CHRIS PELUSO
Julie LaVerne REBECCA TREHEARN
Capt. Andy Hawks MALCOLM SINCLAIR
Parthy Ann Hawks LUCIE BRIERS
Frank Schultz DANNY COLLINS
Ellie May Chopley ALEX YOUNG
Joe EMMANUEL KOJO
Queenie SANDRA MARVIN
Creative
Producer LIVENT INC
Direction HAROLD PRINCE
Musical Staging SUSAN STROMAN
Scenic Design EUGENE LEE
Costume Design FLORENZE KLOTZ
Lighting Design RICHARD PILBROW
Sound Design MARTIN LEVAN
Cast
Magnolia Hawks REBECCA LUKER
Gaylord Ravenal MARK JACOBY
Julie LaVerne LONETTE McKEE
Capt. Andy Hawks JOHN McMARTIN
Parthy Ann Hawks ELAINE STRITCH
Frank Schultz JOEL BLUM
Ellie May Chopley DOROTHY STANLEY
Joe MICHAEL BELL
Queenie GRETA BOSTON
Creative
Producer JAMES NEDERLANDER, THE JOHN F. KENNEDY CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, THE DENVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Direction MICHAEL KAHN
Musical Staging DOROTHY DANNER
Scenic Design HERBERT SENN & HELEN POND
Costume Design MOLLY MAGINNIS
Lighting Design THOMAS SKELTON
Sound Design RICHARD FITZGERALD
Cast
Magnolia Hawks SHERYL WOODS
Gaylord Ravenal RON RAINES
Julie LaVerne LONETTE McKEE
Capt. Andy Hawks DONALD O'CONNOR
Parthy Ann Hawks AVRIL GENTLES
Frank Schultz PAUL KEITH
Ellie May Chopley PAIGE O'HARA
Joe BRUCE HUBBARD
Queenie KARLA BURNS
Creative
Producer JEROME KERN & OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II
Direction HASSARD SHORT
Musical Staging HELEN TAMIRIS
Scenic Design HOWARD BAY
Costume Design LUCINDA BALLARD
Cast
Magnolia Hawks JAN CLAYTON
Gaylord Ravenal CHARLES FREDERICK
Julie LaVerne CAROL BRUCE
Capt. Andy Hawks RALPH DUMKE
Parthy Ann Hawks EDNA MAY OLIVER
Frank Schultz BUDDY EBSEN
Ellie May Chopley COLLETE LYONS
Joe KENNETH SPENCER
Queenie HELEN DOWDY
Creative
Producer FLORENZ ZIEGFELD JR
Direction ZEKE COLVAN & OSCAR HAMMERSTEIN II
Musical Staging SAMMY LEE
Orchestrations ROBERT RUSSELL BENNETT
Scenic Design JOSEPH URBAN
Costume Design JOHN HARKRIDER
Cast
Magnolia Hawks NORMA TERRIS
Gaylord Ravenal HOWARD MARSH
Julie LaVerne HELEN MORGAN
Capt. Andy Hawks CHARLES WINNINGER
Parthy Ann Hawks EDNA MAY OLIVER
Frank Schultz SAMMY WHITE
Ellie May Chopley EVA PUCK
Joe JULES BLEDSOE
Queenie TESS GARDELLA
MUSICAL NUMBERS
ACT ONE

Cotton BlossomStevedores, Gals and Townspeople
Cap'n Andy's BallyhooCap'n Andy, Parthy Ann Hawks, the Showboat Troupe, Stevedores, Gals and Townspeople
Where's the Mate for Me?Gaylord Ravenal
Make BelieveGaylord Ravenal and Magnolia
Ol' Man RiverJoe and Stevedores
Can't Help Lovin' Dat ManJulie, Queenie, Joe, Magnolia and Ensemble
Till Good Luck Comes My WayGaylord Ravenal, Pete, Frank and Townsmen
Mis'ry's Comin' ArounQueenie, Stevedores and Gals
I Have the Room Above HerGaylord Ravenal and Magnolia
Life Upon the Wicked StageEllie and Townswomen
Queenie's BallyhooQueenie, Stevedores and Gals
You Are LoveGaylord Ravenal and Magnolia
The Wedding CelebrationCompany


ACT TWO

Why Do I Love You?Parthy Ann Hawks and Company
Dandies on ParadeCity Folk
Alma Redemptoris MaterChoir
Ol' Man River (Reprise)Joe
BillJulie
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man (Reprise)Magnolia
Goodbye, My Lady LoveFrank and Ellie
After the Ball Magnolia and Ensemble
Ol' Man River (Reprise)Joe
Dance Away the NightMagnolia
Kim's CharlestonKim, Parthy Ann Hawks and Company
FinaleJoe and Company

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
The Wind in the Willows
Carrie
SIGHTS & SOUNDS

1994 Broadway Production
2015 Sheffield Crucible Production
2016 London Production
Artworks/ Posters

Tammy Amerson and Elaine Stritch lead the 1994 Broadway revival cast in "Kim's Charleston" at the Tony Awards.

Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man Rebecca Luker 1993 Toronto Cast Recording
leonardsiron leonardsiron

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