David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

Bruce/Dick, the musical

I've always had a soft spot for people with varied interests, or at least strong minors. There's something about reading philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset on hunting, or the naturalist Gerald Durrell on food that just makes my heart warm, because you know they're writing on the subject purely from love. Not that they don't love what they do normally, but it's always interesting to see what makes people step outside of their box.

For political columnist Mark Steyn, it's Broadway. I mention this week's installment of his musical musings because it's noteworthy for DCU slash fans, of whom I know one or two. Steyn discusses a lovely ballad, which I've never heard, called "Time on my Hands." The lyrics are nice, sweet, very gentle: "Time On My Hands / You in my arms / Nothing but love / In view" et cetera. Nothing whatsoever disturbing and wrong. Just *perfect* for a 1930 Broadway show called SMILES -- which, as Steyn sums it up, sounds like something you'd want to go back in time to see: "A Ziegfeld production, a Youmans score, book by expert librettist Bill McGuire from a story by Noel Coward, sets by Joseph Urban, starring Broadway’s favorite leading lady Marilyn Miller, plus Fred and Adele Astaire..."

What went wrong?

Well, they changed the song.

... Marilyn Miller didn’t care for it. She refused to sing it, and, not needing any more crises, Ziegfeld ruled that instead Paul Gregory would sing it to her. At this point, a word ought to be said about the plot of SMILES: It concerns a French moppet adopted by three doughboys during the Great War and brought to America where she grows up and falls in love with one of the soldiers who adopted her – that’s to say, Dick, played by Paul Gregory. Technically, he is her adoptive father, or one of them, and so the trick is not to remind folks of that. Singing “Time On My Hands/You in my arms” is fine. Unfortunately, shortly before opening, Miss Miller decided that she was prepared to sing just one chorus of the song after all. But not with that lyric. She wanted something better, and with Harold Adamson and Mack Gordon nowhere to hand Ring Lardner was called on to provide the new words the star had demanded. And so, for three months at the Ziegfeld Theatre, Marilyn Miller went on stage every night as a young girl in love with her adoptive father and sang to him as follows:

What Can I Say?
Is there a way
I can get gay with you?
It’s just too bad
You are my dad
Flirting would never do
Daughters can’t bother
Fooling with father
But I will tell you true
That you’ve been a pal
To this grateful gal
What more can I do, pa
For you?

Okay, so it was wrong for SMILES. But it'd be perfect for BRUCE/DICK: THE MUSICAL.

(Dick's other big musical number, of course, being "I Know Him So Well," from CHESS.)

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