This was the first full length show where the Gershwins (George and Ira) and the Astaires
(Fred and Adèle) collaborated. Fred and George had first met when they were in their teens, around 1916,
on "Tin Pan Alley" - New York's West 28th Street and home of the birth of American popular song. Fred
was working in Vaudeville, partnered by his sister Adèle, and was in search of new music for ther new routines which
he choreographed, and there was George, working as a song demonstrating pianist for the Remik Music Publishing Company.
They hit it off immediately, both as friends and as artists. Over a number of years Fred danced to George's music, taking
it to London and on tour, but it was not until 1924, after George's name had been made as a composer with "Rhapsody
in Blue", that they succeeded in realising their dream of collaborating on a whole show. This was "Lady be Good",
although it first appeared as "Black Eyed Susan", only later taking its name from Ira's lyrics.
"Lady be Good" opened on Broadway in Autumn 1924 to outstanding critical acclaim and ran longer than any other Gershwin musical of the 1920's, touring to London with great success. Fred and Adèle played Dick and Susie Trevor, developing dance routines as the show progressed. Other stars also came - and went - including Ukele Ike, (Cliff Edwards), the pianist duo Arden & Ottman and Walter Catlett, the most popular comedian of his day (Watty). It was the first time that George Gershwin had collaborated with his brother Ira to write lyrics - the beginning of many years of successful and popular teamwork. The Astaires were real masters of their art - talented and popular. Fred was the workhorse of the team, and Adèle bubbly, beautiful and courted. In 1932 she succumbed to the charms of Charles Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Devonshire, married him, and went to live in his large mansion in Ireland leaving Fred without a partner. His loss was Hollywood's gain as it was then that he joined with Ginger Rogers to create so many memorable rôles on film.
"Lady be Good" represents the beginning of the careers of these greatly talented artists who became legends of their time. The original production, of course, was hard to repeat with songs and routines being "adapted" to suit current needs - (this is how the original show has gone.) Subsequent research has attempted to re-amass the original material. Some of Ira's original lyrics even turned up on the back of an envelope.
The Stagers were pleased to present "Lady be Good", an historic show of its time, and one which represented the nation of non-stop merrymaking which became a trademark of the 20's.
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