The Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre has chosen a whopper for its season finale: “Show Boat,” one of the greatest and best-loved of all American musicals.
This Oscar Hammerstein-Jerome Kern musical was recognized immediately as a masterpiece when it premiered in 1927. It included several songs that have become American standards: “Only Make Believe,” “You Are Love,” “Bill” and, of course, “Ol’ Man River.”
This show was actually the granddaddy of the American musical, bridging the gap between the European operetta and the golden age of American musicals.
“Here’s what every musical should be, and no other has ever been,” critic John Chapman of the New York Daily News wrote about a 1946 revival. “‘Show Boat’ deserves about every superlative that can be found on a typewriter keyboard.”
“Here’s a musical play with beauty, pathos, nostalgia, panoramic pattern, and a Jerome Kern score that will endure as long as theater exists,” wrote Ward Morehouse of the New York Sun about the same revival.
The story, based on an Edna Ferber novel, is about the life and loves of a group of performers on the Mississippi show boat Cotton Blossom, spanning the years between 1880 and 1927. It is essentially a romance, but it also touches on serious issues of race.
For this show, which opens Thursday, director Roger Welch has cast Seattle gospel and opera singer James Caddell as Joe, the deckhand who sings, “Ol’ Man River.” Caddell played this role in the Seattle Opera’s version several years ago.
Aletha Everett, who was one of the stars of last year’s “Ain’t Misbehavin”’ at the Spokane Civic Theatre, will play Queenie. Everett also helped organize the 15-voice gospel choir, made up of Spokane singers, which is a part of Welch’s production.
Bill Weis, who played Cap’n Andy in the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s last “Show Boat” production in 1987, will reprise that role. Callie McKinney plays Magnolia, John Cooper plays Gaylord, Jennifer Niederloh plays Julie, and Scarlett Hepworth plays Parthy.
This show will have the most elaborate set of the season. Set designer Peter Hardie has fashioned a three-sided Cotton Blossom that rotates. , DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: “Show Boat” Location and time: North Idaho College’s Boswell Auditorium, Coeur d’Alene; Thursday through Aug. 26; 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets: Reserved seat tickets for evening performances are $18 ($12 for students); for matinees, $16 ($11 for students). Available by calling (208) 769-7780 or (800) 4-CDA-TIX.