JEROME MOROSS wrote ballets, film scores and classical works, but his first love was the theater. “There’s always another melody to be written,” he would say. Among them are Ballet Ballads, The Golden Apple, Underworld and Gentlemen, Be Seated! – most rediscovered after nearly fifty years.
The Golden Apple is a blend of American folklore and Greek myth, popular entertainment and high art, musical comedy and operatic drama that “stood Manhattan on its ear,” It won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle prize for Best Musical and opened Off-Broadway at The Phoenix Theatre on March 11, 1954 before transferring to Broadway on April 20, 1954.
During the pre-World War II years of heightened populism and nationalistic fervor, lyricist John Latouche collaborated with composer Jerome Moross to create the novel production, Ballet Ballads. As Latouche wrote in 1948, “Our intention was to blend several elements of the American theatrical, dance and musical heritage into a pattern adapted to the contemporary stage.”
Gentlemen, Be Seated! is an anti-war, anti-racist musical history of the War Between the States. Music was composed by Jerome Moross with lyrics by Edward Eager. It was completed in 1956 and produced and presented by New York City Opera in 1963. This is the complete vocal score.
JEROME MOROSS was at his most inventive in the world of musical theater, and he is historically important for introducing a number of hybrid forms. In the ballet Frankie and Johnny (1938), for example, three Salvation Army “Saving Susies” wander around on stage playing percussion instruments and commenting on the action in a manner both Greek and Brechtian; in Ballet Ballads (1948), several characters are represented by both singers and dancers (showing perhaps the influence of Kurt Weill); and in The Golden Apple (1950) there is no spoken dialogue whatsoever, a feature unprecedented for a musical of its day. This last-named work received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1954 for Best Musical of the Year. His musical Underworld (1962), although containing some fine music, was never produced because of bitter disagreement between producers and authors. -Charles Turner
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