Show Boat

Show Boat is a musical in two acts with music by Jerome Kern and book (based on a Edna Ferber novel ) and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The song Bill, originally written by Kern and P. G. Wodehouse in 1917, was reworked by Hammerstein for Show Boat. Two other songs not by Kern and Hammerstein — “Goodbye, My Lady Love” by Joseph Howard and “After the Ball” by Charles K. Harris — have always been integral to the show.

Show Boat is widely considered one of the most influential works of the American musical theatre. As the first true American “musical play”, it marked a significant departure from operettas, light musical comedies of the 1890s and early 20th century and the “Follies”-type musical revues that had defined Broadway. Show Boat is still frequently revived, not only because of its songs, but also because its libretto is considered to be exceptionally good for a musical of its era. The musical has won both the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical (1995) and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival (2008). Awards for Broadway shows did not exist in 1927 when the original production of the show premiered.

Show Boat chronicles the lives of those living and working on the Cotton Blossom, a Mississippi River show boat, from 1880 to 1927. The show’s dominant themes include racial prejudice and tragic, enduring love.

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