USTheater is devoted to plays, operas, and performances, American and international, performed and published in the United States. We also are open to new plays by playwrights.
All materials are copyrighted as noted. The blog is edited and much of it written by Douglas Messerli
most people know this wonderful Noel Coward song from his musical Sail Away from Elaine Stritch’s
wonderful cabaret review At Liberty,
where she still sings it most forcibly, but without the slightly more dulcet
tones of her original recording.
This being a Coward song, it’s filled with
sarcastic jibes at both those “wrong” people who endlessly travel, and the
“right” people in Omaha who stay at home. Indeed there is a sort of dismissive
attitude of all Americans with their rare steaks smothered in catchup; the
right people staying people back home “eat hot donuts.”
Stritch does the song so well, that we truly do feel all the tourist processions of Houston Texans with all the
cameras around their necks seeing Pompeii on the “only day when its up
to”—“with molten lava,” while the right people “sit back home with all their
Kleenex,” is a kind of important distinction. Stritch, after all, plays a
tourist guide, set upon by all those impossible tourists, particularly the
totally obnoxious Sweeneys.
Her best song appears very late in the
show, but it’s a remarkable show-stopper, worth being included in “My Favorite
Musical Theater Songs.”
Stritch began the show in a basically
minor role as Mimi Paragon, but proved so popular that Coward and choreographer
Joe Layton quickly got rid of their lead, Jean Feen, and gave Stritch the major
role. As Stritch admits something to the effect, “That’s the way it is!” And
Coward always argued that his choice had been the right one, even though the
musical lasted only 167 performances at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York. It
did slightly better in London, lasting 252 performances. But the song still
exists today basically because of Stritch’s wonderful hollering out of its
lines in her At Liberty performances.